The NorCal “radio wars”—as UCSC grad Steve Berman aka Bay Area Sports Guy dubbed them—have been going on since Entercom’s KGMZ-FM 95.7 “The Game” switched to a sports format in 2011 to challenge Cumulus’ KNBR-AM 680 “The Sports Leader.”
But truth be told, there hasn’t been much to it, with KNBR dwarfing 95.7’s signal and maintaining a monopoly on the area’s top teams. Even as there were little moments of intrigue here and there—like when cocky upstart host Damon Bruce (he of the famous viral misogynist rant of 2013) and local legend Gary Radnich were laughably mismatched on the KNBR mid-morning show a few years back, which led to Bruce’s exile from 680 and eventual defection to The Game—95.7 has never really threatened KNBR’s dominance.
That all changed last week, however, when the Golden State Warriors announced that they will be moving their games from KNBR to KMGZ. The Warriors are the hottest property The Game has ever been associated with—they also broadcast A’s and Raiders games, while KNBR will continue to be the flagship station for the Giants and 49ers. Just to underscore how huge this shake-up is, the Warriors had been on KNBR since they moved to the Bay Area in 1962.
If someone at The Game sold their soul to the Devil for this move, they got a great deal. With Kevin Durant joining a Golden State team that will be looking for revenge after the Cleveland Cavaliers ruined their historic season, the Warriors are about to launch possibly the most anticipated season in the history of the NBA—certainly since Michael Jordan was in a Bulls uniform, at the very least. However, this move was most likely less Dr. Faustus (although he was said to have a mean jump hook) and way more KNBR’s shabby treatment of the Warriors over the last couple of years. While they played arguably the biggest playoff games in franchise history this past spring, KNBR management was playing Giants pre-season games instead, shoving the Warriors onto their embarrassingly dinky sister station KTCT-AM 1050. Obviously tired of playing second banana, the Warriors signed a deal that will put them on The Game through at least the 2019-2020 season.
For Santa Cruz fans, though, the question is: will they be able to hear those games? While KNBR’s blowtorch 50,000-watt signal ensured most fans in Santa Cruz County could pick up Warriors games on their radios, KGMZ doesn’t reach anywhere close to Santa Cruz County, as far as I can tell. But fret not, guy wearing a Steph Curry jersey while driving to the Food Bin! The Warriors say they have a fix: games will be simulcast on Entercom’s KRTY-FM 95.3 out of San Jose, which comes in loud and clear here.
“Santa Cruz fans are all set,” says Lisa Goodwin, the Warriors’ director of corporate communications.