Longtime readers will note that I'm something of a radio geek. While the Royals have one of the largest and most geographically interesting radio networks, they certainly aren't alone. With the Continental U.S. nearly saturated with Major League Baseball and hundreds of thousands of radio stations large and small there are scores of curious and interesting couplings that have popped up. Here are a few that I have found:
Sikeston, Missouri (KRHW AM-1520)/ Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodger Radio Network isn't quite the regional giant that it once was - although two affiliates remain as far east as New Mexico -- as a once wide-open West has been pretty much claimed, if not over-claimed by newer franchises like the Padres, Angels, Mariners, D'Backs and Rockies. Just this year however, the Dodgers added an affiliate in Sikeston, Missouri, thanks to the emergence of hometown boy Blake DeWitt. Located south of Cape Girardeau, Sikeston is a minor Dodger outpost in Cardinals Country. Over the years, we've seen a number of hometown affiliates pop up like this and in a way they are the least interesting type of interesting radio affiliates.
Marshfield, Missouri (KMRF AM-1510): The White Sox have some notable Missouri boys on their roster (Crede, Buerhle) but as far as I can tell none of them are from Marshfield, a town of 5700 outside of Springfield. If there isn't a hometown boy connection, then this would truly be one of the oddest radio affiliates in the United States, considering that the White Sox have a geographically tiny fanbase and that Marshfield is a random dot in Missouri, and one far west of the northeastern portion of the state that could have some Sox fans. To say nothing of the fact of the clear fact that, even if we assume not everyone might not be a Cardinals fan, there's the little fact of the Royals. If anyone knows more about this, I'd love to hear from you.
Hilo, HI (KPUA AM-670)/ San Fransisco Giants: The Hilo affiliate is even more interesting than the Giants station in Honolulu. Everyone knows about the wide-ranging Mariner network, but I was surprised to see the Giants with such a large foothold in the Sandwich Islands. You show up in Hilo, and you've made a commitment. Unbeknownst to everyone on the mainland, Hawaii is the site of an epic battle between the Giants and the Mariners.
Ashland, WI (WATW AM-1400) Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers have a pretty boring radio network by Midwestern standards, as they have no out of state affiliates. None in Iowa, none in Minnesota, none in the UP of Michigan, none in Illinois. Nope, just Wisconsin. In a way, its a pretty damning indication of just how few Brewers fans there probably are (as a Royals fan, I should talk). Still, within the confines of Wisconsin and standards of the Brewers Radio Network, Ashland represents the faraway. Three hundred and fifty miles from Milwaukee, Ashland sits on the southern shore of Lake Superior and is home to less than 10,000 people. Savor her loyalty Milwaukee.
Mt. Carmel, IL (WVMA AM-1360) / Cincinnati Reds: While a Reds affiliate in Indiana might be more expected, the lone affiliate in Illinois sticks out like David Eckstein in the weightroom. Once a radio giant in the strange, hard to define region of the upper South/eastern Midwest/Appalachian area that is the Reds stronghold, Cincinnati's radio network has shrunk drastically from its seventies heyday. Mt. Carmel is about as far from Chicago as it is from Cincy (about 250 miles), although its actually much closer to St. Louis (150 miles) than either C-behemoth.
Hermosillo, Mexico (XEHOS AM-1540)/ Arizona Diamondbacks: The D'backs have carved out a nice little radio network in a short time, making strong inroads east into New Mexico, a state which has long been quietly loyal to the Dodgers and, in certain pockets, the Texas Rangers. Five New Mexico affiliates are nothing compared to having one in Old Mexico. Part of Arizona's three-city Spanish Radio Network, Hermosillo is the only Mexican city to be listed as an official network affiliate, though numerous teams can be heard across the border. The capital of the Mexican state of Sonora, Hermosillo is home to over 700,000 people and is roughly two hours inland from the border at Nogales.
Springville, New York (WSPQ AM-1330)/ Toronto Blue Jays: The Jays' lone American affiliate, Springville is an interesting sister affiliate to Hermosillo in a way. Overall, the Jays Network can be thought of as really two networks in one: a core in Ontario that functions like a standard regional model, along with a wider set of major Canadian cities, in line with their status as Canada's team. Thus, Jays games can be heard from Vancouver, B.C. to Halifax, Nova Scotia. While Springville is in upstate New York, nestled as it is in Buffalo's MSA, it isn't quite the rural hamlet one might expect to be selling out to the Canadians. For what its worth, the now defunct Montreal Expos once had affiliates in New Hampshire, Vermont and New York.
Omaha, NE (KOZN AM-1620)/ Chicago Cubs: This one hurts. Sure, the Cubs have established themselves as Red Sox-East and built up a huge, self-obsessed fanbase and scores of annoying fans who invade road ballparks and who venerate a tiny ancient stadium and declare themselves lovable losers despite a huge payroll. I can accept all that. But a radio affiliate in Omaha? I double-checked this one, and reference to the Cubs is all over the KOZN website. Having lived in parts of Indiana and Iowa that were solidly part of the Cubdom, I have come to fear all things Cubbie Blue. Moreover, the continuing strength of the Cub brand in Iowa and, potentially Nebraska, is a serious blow to the Royals, who are already fighting a losing battle with the Cardinals on the eastern front as well.