Station does turnabout: Tigers return to local airwaves
Thursday, May 19, 2005
By Brian Vanochten
The Grand Rapids Press
The Detroit Tigers returned to local radio Wednesday night.
WMFN-AM (640), which dropped the Tigers from its programming lineup May 9 following a format change instituted by new general manager Tyrone Bynum, have put the state's major-league baseball franchise back on the air.
The change of heart is permanent, Bynum said.
"I think we're both happy," Bynum said of WMFN's affiliate contract with flagship station WXYT-AM (1270) in Detroit. "I hope we carry the Tigers forever."
A week ago, Bynum took a much different position.
He told The Press he was "under no contractual obligation" to broadcast the Tigers and he didn't "care if the Tigers go to the World Series, I'm not paying" for the right to air their games.
He cited the lack of advertising and listener support as reasons for dumping the team.
"The Tigers are no longer costing me money," Bynum said. "It is a profit-making venture for us in every aspect. The agreement will continue as long as we both mutually benefit from it and the community benefits from it."
Its affiliate contract runs through the 2006 season.
Bynum claims the Tigers' return to the station is based upon a groundswell of support from local baseball fans and advertisers in the West Michigan community.
He insists it's still not costing him anything to air the games.
"I'm not paying," Bynum said. "I wanted to put them on in the first place, but I'm trying not to go broke. This is a business. We've got sponsors who are deferring that cost, and we've got more sponsors coming on board."
An official from WXYT told The Press that it was made clear to Bynum that he must honor the current three-year agreement or face potential litigation.
The source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Press that Infinity Broadcasting, WXYT's parent company, sent a formal request to Bynum last Friday calling for the Tigers' immediate return to WMFN's lineup. If not, Infinity pledged to pursue legal action to enforce terms of the contract.
"The Grand Rapids market is critical to us," WXYT general manager Rich Homberg said. "Hopefully, the people of Grand Rapids will be listening to the Tigers all the way through the World Series."
Bynum declined to comment on terms of the settlement.
He promised the Tigers would remain a fixture in WMFN's programming lineup for the duration of its agreement with the flagship station. The ballclub returned to the local airwaves Wednesday, and it's regularly scheduled game against the Tampa Devil Rays this afternoon also was supposed to air at 1:05 p.m.
"WXYT has been supportive, our advertisers have been supportive and the community has been supportive," Bynum said. "Everyone has been very supportive."
http://www.mlive.com/tigers/grpress/ind ... 102670.xml