In another blow to fans of play-by-play coverage of the Detroit Tigers, the team's Grand Rapids affiliate has pulled the plug on the broadcasts, leaving the state's second largest city without a local radio outlet for Michigan's only Major League Baseball team. WMFN-AM 640 changed its format to Adult Urban Contemporary this week, and along with blowing out the old lineup of talk, sports, and comedy shows, Tyrone Bynum, WMFN's new general manager, has decided that the Tigers don't generate enough ratings or ad revenue to keep on the schedule of the revamped station.
Since the Tigers and Red Wings move off of WJR to WXYT several years ago, it has become increasingly difficult for fans to pick up the games -- both in the metro Detroit area because of reception problems on WXYT and outstate because a good number of former affiliates no longer carry the games. The Tigers also lost their over-the-air TV deal this season when WKBD-TV 50 Detroit couldn't reach an agreement with the club.
For those that *really* want to listen and watch, there are still options-- but you'll have to pay. Fox Sports Net Detroit will air nearly 120 Tigers' games on cable/satellite TV and XM radio provides radio coverage of every game (though you won't be able to hear the Tigers' announcers all the time).
The Tigers poor performance on the field in recent years has no doubt has helped stations make the decision to drop the games -- lack of fan interest leads to poor ratings and that usually means less money. In the broadcasting biz these days, keeping a non-performer on the schedule is increasingly difficult as the bottom line becomes more and more important. So it's understandable what is happening -- but still kind of sad for someone like me that grew up being able to hear the Tigers on free radio no matter where you were in Michigan.