Why Won’t Local Sports Radio Cover the Nationals?

Washington’s baseball team has the best record in the entire National League—but sports radio stations are talking about Redskins training camp instead.

By: JP Finlay

Located somewhere inside Washington, DC, a baseball team finds itself in first place. That’s right: The Washington Nationals have the best record in the entire National League and lead the NL East by four and a half games.

But on the city’s radio airwaves, it’s almost like the Nats don’t even exist. This week marks the first day of training camp for the Washington Redskins, and both sports-talk radio stations in town decided to go all Skins, all the time.

So we’re clear, local sports radio wants to cover football practice over a baseball team in first place. A Nats team that just completed arguably the most important series in team history.

Last Friday night the Nats suffered a late-inning collapse in a loss to the Atlanta Braves, a bad loss in a season mostly devoid of them. The only thing worse than the blown win was that it came at the hands of the Braves, the second-place team in the NL East and the contender most likely to knock the Nats from their perch. But the Nats proved resilient, bouncing back from the losses Friday and Saturday to win the final two frames of the series. The series split sent Atlanta home with no ground gained in the division standings. These games were exciting, and attendance proved it. The four-game average attendance for the Atlanta series surpassed 35,000 fans.

Enough about that, though, because we can talk about Redskins practice.

Huh?

To borrow a phrase from Allen Iverson, “We talkin’ about practice. Not a game. Practice.”

I love the Redskins. I understand people get fanatical about the team, and about the NFL in general. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a deep breath and remember that the first Redskins regular season game isn’t until September 9.

That’s more than six weeks away.

Football will be here soon. We can all watch and enjoy rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III when he gets on the field. In the meantime, let’s enjoy this Nats team.

The Nats truly are a special bunch. There are storylines for a month’s worth of talk radio: 19-year-old Bryce Harper, 69-year-old manager Davey Johnson, incredible pitching, the inevitable shutdown of Stephen Strasburg, staggering injuries. This Nats team has everything a fan could ask for—except talk radio coverage.

Late Friday afternoon I got an e-mail from ESPN 980, DC’s first all-sports radio station, with a subject line that read, “ALL REDSKINS AND RG3.” This e-mail came a few hours before the Nats faced the Braves, the most important game of the season to that point, with ace Strasburg on the mound.

ESPN980 describes itself as the flagship station of the Washington Redskins, but it also shares ownership with the Skins. Yep, Dan Snyder bought the station a few years back. Good business idea? Maybe. A means to hype up your own team? Definitely.

Which brings us to 106.7 the Fan. The Fan bills itself as the anti-ESPN 980, mostly by pointing out the station does not share ownership with the Redskins. The Fan is also the radio partner for the Nats. I’m no business major, but wouldn’t it make sense for the Fan to talk about the Nats? Maybe generate some excitement, and in turn listeners, for the games on its airwaves almost every night of the summer?

I guess not, because as Dan Steinberg put together at the DC Sports Bog, 106.7 the Fan has been running promos for its all-encompassing Redskins coverage. When does this begin? You guessed it: training camp.

Nationally, DC’s baseball team is big news. It’s a shame the same can’t be said locally.

About our new columnist: JP Finlay is a lifelong fan of Washington sports. Some of his fondest memories are of RFK Stadium and Redskins Super Bowl parades. Likes: hot dogs, Arrested Development, the beach. Dislikes: Duke, onions, The Big Bang Theory. Find him on Twitter @jpfinlay.