Thursday, April 11, 2019

Seb Gorka and Jay Sekulow and the Green and Gold

The good news: The A's are still on the radio. The bad news, they are on a super low wattage frequency and on a very politically charged station.

The Signal

Most A's games are night games and their new flagship, KTRB 860 "The Answer" is capped at 5,000 watts at night. In comparison, KNBR 680 is 50,000 watts all day and night, meaning -- in terms of terrestrial radio -- the Giants' signal is 10X stronger after dark.

Radio and A's fans should count their blessings, however,  as once upon a time during the Finley years they were on a 10 watt station out of Berkeley -- with Larry Baer at the mic.

But what about TuneIn? We'll get there.

The Company You Keep

Vince and Ken and Ray and Townie and Joe Walsh? and Sebastian Gorka? and Jay Sekulow?

Search any one of the three and you may very well find one or all of these loud firebrands offensive and just about the polar opposite of the progressive politics the Bay Area is known for.

Let's just look at Sekulow. In addition to being President Trump's attorney, Sekulow is chief counsel for The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). The group is decidedly anti-LGBTQIA+ as detailed in a 2017 Advocate article:

The ACLJ has represented many anti-LGBT and antichoice clients and causes. “ACLJ’s materials are often explicitly homophobic, and their fundraising emails signed by Sekulow have warned that the homosexual agenda is ‘bent on destroying our communities’ and ‘the family as we know it,’” the Human Rights Campaign reported in a 2014 press release.  

It has advocated for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, supported sodomy laws, denounced LGBT-inclusive antibullying policies in schools, and opposed allowing openly gay leaders in the Boy Scouts, according to HRC. It has also sought to export homophobia.

Since 2015, the A's have had a "Pride Night" at the Coliseum, in part to honor former Athletic and the first openly gay baseball player Glenn Burke. Being on a station with Jay Sekulow as one of its "stars" is a step backwards, and cannot be brushed aside simply because "there were no good other terrestrial options."

Radio Still Matters

The ubiquity of terrestrial radio is undeniable. Every car and almost every house and apartment has one. The A's deal creating a dedicated TuneIn channel is innovative and laudable, but the fact that they signed any radio deal shows that they know that streaming alone won't satisfy their audience.

While both smartphones and unlimited data plans are increasingly the norm, they aren't for everyone. And, the average age of a baseball fan nationally is 57 -- a demographic that is often less tech savvy.

If one tries to find the game on the radio and either: a) the signal is too weak at night; and/or b) the accompanying programming is offensive, they may just eschew following the team.

It's About Minting Fans, Right?

As reported in the Mercury News, the A's have had 15 "flagship" Bay Area radio stations since moving to Oakland in 1968. In contrast the Giants are 40 years and counting on KNBR. It behooves the A's to find a consistent, clear signal -- preferably in clear FM stereo, like KGMZ. And, ideally, the team should strive to be on a politically neutral outlet.

The above Merc article included a broadside by a KGMZ host, "We’re in the audience business and they’re not." With company like well-known islamaphobe Seb Gorka on KTRB what kind of audience are you looking to build? It seems obvious, but listening to a baseball team's radio station should be a safe space.

Ken and Vince and Ray and Townie deserve better; but, instead it looks like another 50 years of roaming the dial and, for now, being part of the "America First" Bay Area radio lineup.