Sports Radio 96.5 FM, a Harrisburg, Pa., radio station, is dropping the Philadelphia Phillies in favor of the Washington Nationals next season.
Dave Sottile of PennLive.com first reported the decision by Cumulus Media Pennsylvania for its Harrisburg-based Sports Radio 96.5 FM. The one-year deal brings the defending NL East champions' games to Harrisburg, home of the Nationals' Double-A minor league affiliate.
"Our agreement was up and we made the decision last week to part ways with the Phillies and flip to the Nationals," Giovanniello said. "Nothing against the Phillies, but clearly the Nationals are a team on the rise. They won the NL East last year and are picked to win it again this year.
"Obviously [a winning team] helps in all ways, and they certainly will be a postseason contender that makes a deeper run in the playoffs this year. Unfortunately, I don't see that in the Phillies' immediate future."
Giovanniello also told The Washington Post that renewal talks with the Phillies fell apart. Cumulus recently moved its CBS Sports Radio programming over to the 96.5 frequency after acquiring the FM signal.
Harrisburg is 120 miles from Nationals Park, about a two-hour, 12-minute drive, according to Google Maps. The Phillies' Citizens Bank Park is 111 miles, just over a two-hour drive. According to an interactive map of baseball fandom by The New York Times, the Nationals aren't among the top three most-popular teams in any of the zip codes registered to Harrisburg, while the Phillies are clearly the top team in the region.
The decision by Sports Radio 96.5 FM gives the Nationals their first broadcast affiliate in Pennsylvania. The team also has affiliates in D.C., Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia.
The Nationals won the division last season after finishing 96-66. They lost in the NLDS to the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants.
The Phillies finished a division-worst 73-89, missing the postseason for the third straight year.
- Mike Fiammetta