WOR TVAs a follow up companion piece to a recent one on the radio flagship homes of Mets baseball, this one will discuss the TV homes, though a much quicker look than the radio one.  Although several different changes to the same station, both over-the-air and cable wise are interesting for those who like to follow such histories of local television.

First off is the iconic WOR, Channel 9 in New York, well Secaucus, NJ to be exact but covering the New York market.  These days it is owned 20th Century Fox and is part of the MyNetworkTV affiliate system.

But from 1962-1998, and that included several different call letter changes, it was the home of Mets baseball.  Due to various legal issues with the FCC for the better part of the mid-1970s through the mid-1980s, the station was sold to MCA/Universal, and the callsign was changed to WWOR, which it technically still is today despite several secondary names that have bigger branding, in 1988.

While this was all going on, the cable TV revolution was well underway.  And operating out of Long Island, Cablevision, with a partner in NBC, would launch SportsChannel in 1979 as the first regional sports network.  Starting in 1980, the New York version would be the cable home to both the Mets and Yankees.  The Yankees would leave for MSG in 1989, but the Mets pretty much rode out the network’s existence, right up to the creation of SNY in 2006.

That would include Cablevision partnering with Liberty Sports and Fox Sports to rebrand the regional network Fox Sports in 1998, and the New York affiliate would be called Fox Sports New York.

It would also be called Fox Sports Net New York in 2000, and finally FSN New York in 2005, before being rebranded as MSG+ based on Cablevision pretty much divesting themselves of the original network back to Fox and Comcast to concentrate on the Madison Square Garden properties.

And of course, the Mets, following the lead of other sports franchises, launched their own sports cable network, SportsNet New York starting in the 2006 season.

Okay, so going back to the over the air history.  We left off with WOR changing callsign to WWOR in 1988.  It would remain that way until 1994, when its parent company, now BHC Communications banded with Paramount Pictures to create United Paramount Network.  UPN, along with The WB that started around the same time, was to be challengers to the big 4 over-the-air national networks (NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX), and the now rebranded UPN9 was the flagship station.  The Mets would stay on UPN through the 1998 season, with WPIX, ironically the long-time Yankee TV home, picking up the rights.

Now, the Mets have been with WPIX, Channel 11, since 1998, but the name of the station has changed just about as often as Channel 9 has had during the same time frame!  WPIX was part of their owner’s Tribune Corporation’s partner Time Warner’s developing WB Network that would launch January of 1995.  So while the Mets were on WPIX Channel 11, the branding of the station that would broadcast their games in 1999 was WB11.

In 2006, CBS, now controlling Paramount’s TV division, and Time Warner effectively ended both The WB and UPN by creating The CW Network.  Tribune signed a 10 year deal with the network to have most of its affiliates to have their programing, but the network does not have ownership interest in the station.  So since 2006, the Mets over-the-air station has been CW11, and also since 2008 the localness of the station is now PIX11, to be said as in “I’m taking pics.”

And so now let’s conclude this look at Mets broadcast partners with a look at the denizens of the Met television booth, now of course bearing the name of Ralph Kiner;

Over The Air
1962-1978 Ralph Kiner, Bob Murphy, Lindsey Nelson
1979-1981 Ralph Kiner, Bob Murphy, Steve Albert
1982           Ralph Kiner, Lorn Brown
1983-1985 Ralph Kiner, Tim McCarver, Steve Zabriske
1986-1988 Ralph Kiner, Tim McCarver, Steve Zabriske, Rusty Staub
1989           Ralph Kiner, Tim McCarver, Steve Zabriskle
1990-1993 Ralph Kiner, Tim McCarver
1994-1998 Ralph Kiner, Tim McCarver, Gary Thorne
1999-2001 Gary Thorne, Tom Seaver, Keith Hernandez
2002           Gary Thorne, Tom Seaver
2003-2005 Dave O’Brien, Tom Seaver, Keith Hernandez, Ralph Kiner
2006-Present Same as SNY’s Cable broadcast crew.

1980           Art Shamsky, Bob Goldsholl
1981           Ralph Kiner, Bob Murphy, Steve Albert, Art Shamsky
1982           Ralph Kiner, Lorn Brown
1983           Ralph Kiner, Tim McCarver, Bud Harrelson
1984-1985 Ralph Kiner, Tim McCarver, Fran Healy
1986-1988 Ralph Kiner, Tim McCarver, Fran Healy, Rusty Staub
1989-1995 Ralph Kiner, Fran Healy, Rusty Staub
1996-2001 Howie Rose, Fran Healy, Ralph Kiner, Matt Loughlin
2002-2005 Howie Rose, Fran Healy, Ralph Kiner, Matt Loughlin, Ted Robinson, Keith Hernandez
2006           Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, Ralph Kiner, Chris Cotter
2007-2013 Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, Ralph Kiner, Kevin Burkhardt


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5 comments on “Mets TV homes through the years

  • Marie DeSario

    And Ralph Kiner and Tim McCarver r still my favorite…………..it takes me back to the “OLD” Days. Keeping my fingers crossed for NEXT YEAR. I LOVE THE MESS, sorry METS, hit the wrong key…………..

  • Sean Flattery

    Ahhh, the forgotton Sportschannel helmed by Fran Healy. Can’t really say that station didn’t have the right idea considering all the cable sports stations now.

    McCarver was great in his earlier years before national TV inflated his ego. He deserved to get national games, but it went straight to his head to the point he thought hi word was gospel. Real shame. Aside from that Mets fans don’t have much too complain about. Great coverage

  • Chris Walendin

    Excellent piece, Steve. Thoroughly enjoyed both this one and the radio refresher. Sidenote: Maybe it’s just me, but feels like Gary Cohen’s been on the TV broadcast a lot longer than 8 years. But then, the last 5 have been awfully long years.

  • Elizabeth K

    I am doing some research for a screenplay and I hope you can help. During the 1981 season when the players’ strike was going on, do you know what WOR played in place of the Mets games? Did they rebroadcast any games or just go to old movies, etc?

    • Brian Joura

      My memory is far from foolproof but I don’t have any recollection of WOR rebroadcasting old games. They likely didn’t have the permission of MLB to do that. We’ve all heard countless times, “Any rebroadcast, retransmission, or account of this game, without the express written consent of Major League Baseball, is prohibited.”

      But we’re also talking about a completely different era. This was years before Classic Sports and the idea of rebroadcasting old games. My guess is that it was never even a consideration for WOR.

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