The Baltimore Sun's Eduardo A. Encina talks about the first day of Orioles minicamp in Sarasota, Fla. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
Orioles radio broadcasts are heading back to the FM dial for the upcoming season.
The Orioles announced Monday that they have signed a multiyear deal with CBS Radio's WJZ-FM 105.7 The Fan to become the club's flagship radio station. The station will broadcast all 162 regular-season games and select spring training games, as well as pregame and postgame shows.
"It's good for the fans to have a dedicated FM all-sports station as the home to turn to for all Orioles-related news," Orioles vice president of communications and marketing Greg Bader said.
The switch doesn't affect the radio broadcast team of Joe Angel and Fred Manfra, who are employed by the Orioles and will return in 2015 for their 12th season together.
The move comes after the Orioles had signed a multiyear extension with Hearst-owned WBAL-AM NewsRadio 1090 before the 2014 season. But the deal contained a standard-based opt-out clause that allowed the team to bring the broadcast rights up for negotiation again after the season.
The Orioles now will reunite with 105.7, which held radio broadcast rights for the 2007 through 2010 seasons, marking the first time the club's games weren't heard on the AM dial in Baltimore. The Orioles Radio Network includes 34 stations across seven states.
WBAL has been synonymous with the Orioles during the team's history. The station been the Orioles' flagship for 45 seasons in the team's 61-year existence, including the past four years.
But Bader said the move to 105.7 will give the Orioles added exposure on CBS Radio's other stations in the market, crossing over different demographics.
"Our fan base is incredibly diverse in terms of age and background, so a 105.7 [deal] is also a deal with CBS' other stations in the market," Bader said. "So for us to be able to reach families and diversify the fan base we're reaching through promotions and contests and sweepstakes and other news information is beneficial to the club and beneficial to the fans."
In a statement distributed by the Orioles, CBS Radio Baltimore senior vice president Bob Philips talked about the club's return to the station.
"We are thrilled that the Baltimore Orioles are coming home to 105.7 The Fan," Philips said. "This partnership with the Orioles is a great addition to our market-leading No. 1 sports brand and platform in Baltimore."
Cary L. Pahigian, who took over as president and general manager at WBAL in June, said the station will still offer premium coverage of the Orioles despite no longer being the flagship.
WBAL served as the Orioles' radio broadcast home from 1957 to 1978, from 1988 to 2006 and then from 2011 to 2014. Pahigian said the station's mix of news, traffic, weather, analysis and sports is still exclusive to the community.
"WBAL has been an important part of the Baltimore and Maryland community for 90 years. We have great respect for the Orioles organization. We can only wish them the very best and our admiration for them remains intact," Pahigian said. "And we'll remain Orioles fans. …
"It's an interesting radio station, WBAL, and there might not be another one like it in this country. It's so indigenous to Baltimore. It's almost like a clearinghouse for everything Baltimore."
Despite losing the Orioles games, Pahigian said WBAL will continue to cover sports and is working on several other projects.
"We will stay committed to our sports coverage. We're committed to the Ravens, Navy football. …We have a number of announcements coming out soon that we'll call programming enhancements. We just went 24-7 with news, traffic and weather, and we've got a couple other things we've been working on that hopefully we will roll out pretty soon."