To say that the Cubs and WGN have a long-standing relationship would be a mild understatement. The Cubs on WGN radio dates back to 1925. WGN radio was the exclusive home of Cubs baseball from 1959 - 2014. This year the team has moved to WBBM. With the Cubs being pretty lousy the past five years, their radio ratings were down, dragging down WGN's overall rating. But when the Cubs were winning, the opposite was happening and WGN's ratings were up because of the Cubs. I guess the executives at WGN ran out of patience and let the Cubs go. It will be interesting to see what happens to the ratings at WBBM now that the Cubs are doing better.
On a personal note, the move away from WGN hurts because WGN has a booming signal that I could pick up pretty clearly here in SW Michigan. I could run errands around town and still listen to the Cubs in the car. While WBBM also has a 50,000 watt signal, it's not as clear as the WGN signal. It comes in with a lot of static.
On the TV side, WGN-TV went on the air in 1948 and televised their first Cubs game that same year. The Cubs have been on WGN every year since. I grew up in the era when just about every single game was on TV. Fans of most other teams weren't as lucky. But I got to watch the Cubs all the time.
When we moved to Michigan in 1998, I must confess that one thing I checked before moving was the availability of WGN on the Sturgis cable TV system. It was carried.... we moved. We were good until 2000 when about half of the Cubs games moved to FSN Chicago (and later to Comcast SportsNet Chicago). I could still listen to all the games on the radio, but my TV viewing was cut in half. Boo!
Then along came Extra Innings on cable, and MLB.TV on-line. It would cost me some dollars, but I could now watch all the games again. I was lucky because I live in an area that MLB considers Detroit Tigers territory. Just three miles south of me is the Indiana border. If I lived in Indiana, I'd be blacked out of all the Cubs games since NW Indiana belongs to the Cubs and the White Sox.
This season I've had to change again. WGN America no longer carries the Cubs. It seems like a dumb move for WGN (as the Cubs improve, they should get better ratings than another episode of America's Funniest Home Videos) and for the Cubs, who will no longer be a national team. The cable created a generation of Cubs fans from across the country.
So this year my only options for watching the Cubs this year are Extra Innings or MLB.TV. I have to pay if I want to watch. I went with MLB.TV, since I could watch games anywhere. I've got an AppleTV hooked up to the TV, so I get a really nice HD picture on the big TV. Upgrading our internet service has helped too....no more buffering.
It's worked out nicely. The only games I won't be able to watch with MLB.TV are when the Cubs play the Tigers. They will be blacked out and I'll have to watch via Fox Sports Detroit with the Tigers announcers.
Among these two cards are fifty seasons worth of Cubs TV announcers. Jack Brickhouse did the Cubs from 1948 - 1981 and the Harry took over from 1982 - 1997. Since then its been Chip Caray (1998 - 2004), who got the job only because of his last name, and current Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper.