It wasn’t that long ago when the Padres radio station wasn’t a big deal. It was just there, ready for you to tune in when you got in the car and a game was on. You could drive up to Santa Barbara and have the voices of Jerry, Ted, and Bob keep you company the whole way. We took it for granted. And then the switch to Entercom happened last year, and we started realizing just how good we had it. The 2017 season was marred by Spring Training games being relegated to an HD2 station that no one could figure out how to tune, carpetbagger hosts with minimal talent on the mic and unresearched bluster masquerading as “analysis”, a significantly reduced signal that dropped by the time you hit Rancho Bernardo or Carlsbad, all being broadcast on a station that treated the Padres like their games were a nuisance, or worse, just pretended they weren’t broadcast at all.
Fast forward to 2018 and somehow, it’s even worse. It’s been well documented what an unmitigated disaster the 97.3 THE MACHINE experiment has been. Dan Sileo has proven himself to not only be a racist, homophobe, and misogynist, he’s also been shown to be a total joke after friend-of-Gwynntelligence Darren Smith totally pwned him on Twitter this weekend. The signal is just as awful, and now, even worse than at 94.9 (theoretically), the lead-in to evening Padres games is a syndicated Seattle DUDES TALK show that you can be damn sure will never mention the Padres. And now today.
Apparently making light of suicides is the new comedy bit for 97.3’s new morning host, Kevin Klein. A host most famous for literally hitting a girl’s ass at full force with a golf driver has now decided that people jumping off the Coronado Bridge is funny. Cool, cool. Look, I don’t need to tell you that 97.3 sucks. It’s been said, and we all know it. But what does this mean for our beloved Padres. Well, after Dan Sileo’s hiring was announced, fears ran rampant that this meant that Sileo would return to pre/post-games. The Padres actually drafted a release to state that they would not be involved with Sileo. Dennis Lin wrote “According to a Padres spokesperson, the team has been ‘assured’ that its radio content for the upcoming season will not involve controversial sports-talk host Dan Sileo.” In a lot of ways, the Padres could have been looked at as victims of an onerous contract entered into by their deposed and shamed former President, Mike Dee. Dallas McLaughlin, from The Kept Faith, has written excellent pieces on the 97.3 The Machine saga, and on the most recent TKF podcast stated that maybe the team’s not to blame, maybe they don’t get any choice what station they get put on, and maybe they don’t get any say into programming on their partner’s station. These are probably all true statements, and just a statement of reality. Contracts of this magnitude almost certainly have liquidated damages clauses in case of early termination. The Padres are in all likelihood stuck with Mike Dee’s Entercom for another four seasons. And so in that lens, it does appear the Padres are just victims here.
Had the Padres stuck to this firewall plan with consistency, they might have insulated themselves from blame for association. But as is often the case with the Padres, they have problems seeing plans through. Since Sileo’s debut, they’ve provided quasi-employee Mark Sweeney several times, and on Monday, provided voice of the Padres (and Padres employee) Jesse Agler to Sileo’s show. This does not sound like things are going in accordance with that press release “assuring” fans that its content would not involve Dan Sileo. While the Padres may not be able to control the station under the Entercom umbrella they are on, nor the personalities put on air by their radio partner, they most certainly can choose whether to provide their employees as guests to their radio partner. This is a team whose Chief Marketing Officer, Wayne Partello, has denied coming on our podcast to answer questions because the phrase “Padres Jagoff” is too naughty and “bad for the brand”. He’s that goddamned worried about brand image, and yet Partello happily pushes their squeaky clean announcer onto a noted racist’s radio show as a guest. It’s hypocritical at best. What it is is complicit. By providing their people to Sileo and 97.3 they are signing the deal with the devil, and become complicit with everything vile that 97.3 is doing. They are linking their brand to Sileo’s racism, homophobia, and misogyny, they are linking their brand to Kevin Klein’s idiotic suicide jokes, and they are linking their brand to 97.3’s general branding of “hey dudes, you know who’s really annoying? WOMEN!”. Having Jesse Agler on the Sileo show is spitting in the face of some of the Padres’ most knowledgeable and devoted fans that just happen to be women. So while Wayne Partello and his staff work diligently to get MS Paint Padres dong art Twitter accounts banned from the internet, they also work diligently to complicitly link their own brand to 97.3’s brand of trash.
It’s a pipe dream to think we can tweet our way to getting the Padres to move off of 97.3. They’re probably stuck there. What we can do is express our displeasure, point out their hypocrisy, and demand that they don’t be complicit by providing their employees to the station. When we organized #FireMikeDee Day, one of the underlying points we all made was that the Dee Era was most represented by a repeated attempt to game short term profits at the expense of long term investment. Mike Dee and Wayne Partello’s move away from 1090, a trusted partner, to Entercom in the pursuit of more quarterfly income is a great example of this attitude, and this entire 97.3 affair is the payback for this shortsighted plan. Hey but at least Wayne Partello and the marketing gang devoted enough resources to take care of what’s really important for their company: making sure no one is making Padres jokes on the internet.