As a geek for all things media who grew up watching Chicago sports, it’s not lost on me that WGN Channel 9 is in its final year broadcasting live sports. My first experience watching sports on WGN was with the Cubs in 1992. As an eight year old (badly) playing little league, I thought it would be cool to watch real baseball games on television that summer. While WGN was the television home of the Cubs, they would air one or two White Sox games a week, so I had the opportunity to grow up watching both teams.
Today, as a White Sox fan, I am grateful for the many years I’ve had listening to Steve Stone analyze ball games, first with the Cubs (along with Harry Caray), and the last decade with the White Sox. Many of those games were on good ol’ Channel 9.
While I do have nostalgia for WGN, I don’t suspect I’ll spend much time thinking about it at this time next year. In recent years, I’ve come to prefer game broadcasts on NBC Sports Chicago (previously Comcast SportsNet). Between their increased cast of analysts on their pre and post-game shows, along with the added presence of Chuck Garfien on White Sox home game broadcasts, the NBC Sports Chicago broadcasts seem to have more of a big game feel (the same feeling also applies for Blackhawks games). One specific gripe I do have with WGN Sports is their badly designed (and cheap looking) graphics package, which Jeff Agrest details to perfection via the Chicago Sun-Times.
Despite all that, I have felt sadness over the last year while watching White Sox or Blackhawks games on WGN when reminded that their time on the station will soon end. As silly as this may sound, WGN feels like an old friend who has always been reliable.
For anyone else feeling WGN nostalgia, yesterday’s Laurence Holmes show interview with Dan Roan on 670 The Score is a must-listen. There, they discuss the heritage of WGN Sports and the significance of its pending end (in addition to some cool Chicago sports stories).
The possibility still exists that either the Cubs or the White Sox will allow for a handful of games to air on WGN after this year. I can see that happening, more likely with the Cubs because of their 71 year relationship with the station. As a matter of fact, I would be surprised if that did not happen, even if it were only a simulcast of a few select games from the Cubs new television broadcast home, the Marquee Sports Network.
Until any such arrangements are made, Sept. 28 is the final WGN Sports broadcast, which will feature the White Sox vs. the Tigers. That will mark the end to a significant chapter in Chicago television history. I expect there will be a shared sentiment of interest, along with some sadness, among a particular circle of fans that day.
That will be a broadcast I go out of my way to watch.