Listeners have difficulty finding Royals on radio

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BOONVILLE - The Kansas City Royals have made it farther than the St. Louis Cardinals in post-season baseball for the first time in 29 years, but this won't make it any easier to find the Royals on the dial for the 2014 World Series.

There are only three Royals affiliate radio stations in Mid-Missouri. The three are KZJF-FM - 104.1 The FAN in Jefferson City, KWRT - 1370 AM in Boonville and KMMO 102.9 FM in Marshall.

Matt Billings became the full-time co-owner, manager, and anchor at KWRT in Boonville. The station broadcasts over 50 high school basketball, football, softball and baseball games, and this is the station's first year as a Kansas City Royals affiliate.

The head of marketing for the Kansas City Royals got in touch with Billings earlier in the year and asked him if he was interested in becoming an affiliate.

"I thought about it for a little bit," Billings said. "I started thinking more and more about it and said why not?"

Billings and his wife signed a three-year contract with the Royals.

While the Royals are difficult to find, the options on the radio seem endless for Cardinals listeners. Affiliates are located across nine different states, and there is a total of eight Cardinal affiliate stations in Mid-Missouri alone.

Billings didn't even have the option of becoming a Cardinals affiliate because the team already has so many affiliates within the area.

Zimmer Radio and Marketing Group in Mid-Missouri carries three local Cardinal affiliate stations. 94.3 KAT-FM Country in Jefferson City, 93.9-FM The Eagle and 1580 KTGR-AM ESPN Radio, both located in Columbia, all broadcast the baseball from the east side of the state.

Jim Robertson is a Cardinal fan from Ashland, and he said he doesn't even understand why Zimmer only carries the Cardinals.

"One is plenty," Robertson said. "It might not be a bad idea to have the Royals on one of their stations."

Jamie Mac with Zimmer Radio said the broadcasting company is constantly evaluating contracts and content. He said content is based on the interest of the majority of their listeners.

"What we found with our quantitative and qualitative research we've done locally, we see about 75 to 80 percent in Columbia Cardinals versus Royals fans, and in our Jefferson City market it's closer to 80 to 90 percent," Mac said. "You don't start seeing a 50/50 ratio until you get west of Marshall, Missouri."

Mac said as Zimmer looks through contracts, an affiliation with the Royals would be something the company may consider for next year.

For the 2014 World Series, Royals fans in Mid-Missouri are stuck with limited radio options, but Billings said not to worry, KWRT will carry all Royals games until their season is complete. 

"I've got guys who sit on the back porch, and they only listen to the game on the radio. If something goes wrong they will even give me a call at home," Billings said.

Billings said perhaps KWRT brought the Royals luck as a first-year radio affiliate; others said they think the underdog reputation brought the Royals this far.

"We've been the underdog all season, and that's what our team thrives on. I hope people keep cheering against us and the magic keeps happening," Zach Nichols, an avid Royals fan, said. 

The Royals will continue trying to make the magic happen Tuesday, Oct. 21 against the San Francisco Giants in Game 1 of the 2014 World Series.

(Editor's note: This story was updated to reflect that KMMO is a Royals affiliate.)