HOUSTON -- The Cardinals are coming home.
The club announced on Wednesday that, beginning in 2011, its games will once again be carried on the radio by iconic station KMOX (1120 AM), ending a five-year stint on KTRS (550 AM). The move marks a return to the outlet that carried Cardinals games from the mid-1950s through the 2005 season.
Two sources with knowledge of the situation said that the contract is for five year. The club did not confirm the length of the agreement.
For the 2006 campaign, the Cards moved to KTRS, a less-powerful station, but one in which the club purchased a 50-percent stake. Many fans were frustrated by the change, which left listeners outside of the St. Louis metro area without a terrestrial radio signal for games. Cardinals games have been, and remain, available through MLB.com and Sirius XM satellite radio.
It's likely that the move back will be much more popular than the move away.
"There's sentiment and I think there's a sense that, when you're making a big decision, if you put the fans first, you're making the right decision, " team president Bill DeWitt III said. "We just feel that we're putting the fans first, in this case. All the other stuff obviously plays into it, but that's the most important thing. And as a result, I think people will view it positively in the market."
Mike Shannon and John Rooney will remain as the club's broadcast team. The move was initially announced in a press release shortly before 5 p.m. CT on Wednesday. A few minutes after the hour, DeWitt went on KMOX to announce the decision over the airwaves.
The club pondered two primary offers as it considered its options for 2011, DeWitt said. One was to return to KMOX. The other was to stay with KTRS, possibly with the station bringing in an FM simulcast partner. DeWitt said that, from both a financial perspective and a less tangible viewpoint, KMOX was the way to go.
"I think it's hard to put a ranking on the various factors," DeWitt said, "but the way I look at it is, there are four things. Fan sentiment [is] a key one. Then obviously, the history and tradition, which is so much part of the first one. Those are big factors. The signal strength, I think, is wrapped up into those issues as well, and then the financial piece. I like to think of it as a multiple-issue reason."
The Cardinals-KMOX connection dates back all the way to the 1920s, with a consecutive run of games on the now-50,000-watt station from 1955 through 2005. That association allowed many fans in widespread areas to hear the games, but it also created a legacy and feeling among fans, one that was hard to swallow in some quarters when the split occurred.
"We paid attention to all of that, and I think the early stuff, we had to let that dust settle and fade through and get comfortable with the arrangement," DeWitt said. "And we have been very pleased with how it's evolved, and that's why this was a tough decision."
The club will maintain its ownership stake in KTRS, DeWitt said.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.