.A’s Radio Ready for the Stretch Drive?

If 860 AM is the Answer, can you imagine the Question?

Like lots of old timey baseball fans, I take in as much baseball on the radio as I do anywhere else. This season is no exception. Double Plus Good, the Oakland A’s have a great radio team in Ken Korach, Ray Fosse and whoever’s on third. But if you’ve got it tuned to 860 am (“The Answer”), you are in for something truly psychotic this season And with only two off-days left the rest of the season, it might be enlightening for those who have a pre-set to the signal that we call home to spend a moment or two contemplating what fresh hell we’ve inherited.

The A’s have gone through dozens of radio stations in the past dozen years. Country stations, college radio stations, religious stations, sports stations and news stations. This calendar year started with no station at all. Some time back in our distant A’s past we were on 860 a.m. But I can’t remember which incarnation that was. This one, however is unforgettable.

There is nothing beyond station ID’s at the top of the hour to let you know that you are listening to the Radio Home of Your Oakland A’s. It is a ghost ship of voices syndicated all day and night except for the brief moment of A’s baseball which is quickly shuffled off the air with a minimal post game show and a reminder that the A’s have their own App station that covers the ball club 24-7. The subject of another blog entry to be sure.

But staying with terrestrial signals gives you a host of right wing and libertarian talkers repeated in the morning and evening and when there is no A’s game, in the afternoon too. It isn’t even the top tier of the GOP. The programming consists of Immigrant baiting, trolling the Democrats, Russia debunking, something they keep calling Obama-gate and a syndicted news “source” called Town Hall dot com–but all of it done by has-beens, never-was’s and never-will-be’s. Everything about the station sounds like two tin cans and a string. It is bush league radio not even Double A quality. Last haters left on the playground got chosen for this gig, and it makes as much sense to play baseball on this network as it would be to host the Commonwealth Club. It is ugly and small and everything about The Answer will make you question your equanimity and ability to not rise to the rancid bait. That being said, there is one small sliver of humanity over these obviously parched airways, sadly that programming is almost seventy years old.

From 11:00 p.m. to midnight I first discovered The Golden Age of Radio after 860 hustled the A’s off the air, this is yet another syndicated show that airs on this station of broken dreams. It too has no connection to anything else aired at any time on this station or really of any radio station this century. But it is the only program other than the A’s game that won’t make you look for your passport while listening.

And it is just odd enough to make it worth not changing the channel. “Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar” was aired a couple of weeks ago . It is the story of America’s fabulous freelance insurance investigator, I had to look that up, I couldn’t believe it when I heard it. But apparently this was not only aired on the network but it was considered to be one of the last radio serials ever aired. Then just last night, the “Frontier Gentleman” which only aired in 1958 rode again. And in syndicated style, the adventure which featured a mixed race Native who went rogue stopped at midnight, mid-adventure, because, um, nobody in the world was listening to this fourth rate station at this hour and minded that the lost gold or kidnapped settler was still missing. And then it was a new hour and a program dedicated to demonizing the Washington Post.

The long and short of it is that the A’s are on a totally unsuitable station for baseball or really human beings, and if we make the post-season more people may get the opportunity to hear what the Bay Area up to now has been able to ignore. The Answer to the Question-how fast can you change the station after the game?


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