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On the radio: Expect stronger Astros signal in 2019

November 21, 2018

A programming change by the Houston Astros should make it easier for many Southeast Texans to follow the team in 2019.

The Astros have announced that radio broadcasts of their night games will air next season on KTRH (740 AM) in addition to flagship station KBME (790 AM). The latter station will air the complete Astros schedule.

In 2013, as the Astros were in the midst of their three consecutive 100-loss seasons, iHeartMedia Houston requested to change the Astros’ flagship station from 50,000-watt KTRH to 5,000-watt KBME, which has signal issues outside the city.

That occurred during the brief tenure of George Postolos as team president. Overturning it has been a top priority for his successor, Reid Ryan, the Astros’ president of business operations.

“One of my first goals when I got here was to get back on 740,” Ryan told the Houston Chronicle. “They (iHeart) have had tremendous revenue growth with their Michael Berry show, and the compromise we came up with was one that enables them to maximize their drive-time revenue and then have games air at 740 beginning at 7 p.m.”

During summertime months, this will be a significant boost for the Astros’ audience, particularly in areas outside Beltway 8 and beyond.

“We want to be able to reach all the areas that 740 reaches,” Ryan said. “One of the biggest complaints I’ve had is that fans from The Woodlands and Lufkin and Kingwood and all the way over to San Antonio and elsewhere couldn’t hear the games on 790. Now if you’re in the Houston market, you won’t have an issue hearing our games.”

Day games, primarily the Wednesday afternoon getaway games before road trips, will air only on 790 AM so KTRH can reap the advertiser and listener benefits of Berry’s afternoon show. Nights on both stations, however, will belong to the Astros with the exception of Rockets conflicts, including potential playoff games, early in the MLB season.

Astros fans who invest in an HD radio can find the games on the FM band as well, with KBME’s signal at 94.5 HD-2 and KTRH at 99/1 HD-2.

The Astros also announced that Robert Ford and Steve Sparks will return for a seventh year on Astros radio. Ford was already under contract, and Sparks agreed to a new deal for two years with an option year.

“It’s a great opportunity to be along for the ride at such an exciting time with this organization,” Sparks told the Chronicle.

Reid Ryan said Astros fan surveys indicated support for sticking with the Ford-Sparks team on radio.

“Steve brings insight and a lighter side to the game, and Robert brings that Syracuse University traditional radio voice,” he said. “They have great chemistry and provide a fun broadcast.”

david.barron@chron.com

twitter.com/dfbarron

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