Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Turning Off The Mike On Morning Radio

As we touched on last week, the many changes at ESPN are much more than the staff reductions and the impact that has on its coverage of the various major sports. This week we learn officially that management is going a step further, messing with their radio bread & butter.

Mike & Mike, the staple of the ESPN Radio Network, will see the long time team of Greenberg and Golic broken up sometime before the end of the year. After all these years together, this show has been the one that some of the stations around the country have often made a major effort to carry, often in place of a local morning show.

It will soon become "Mike & Trey" as Mike Golic will be joined by Trey Wingo for the three hour show. Mike Golic Jr., who hosts the 4 AM to 6 AM ET spot, will stay on to participate with his father (and Wingo) for the first hour each morning.

Incredibly, the "Mike & Trey Show" will also be coming off the long standing (Mike & Mike) simulcast on ESPN2, which takes away an anchor morning show from the TV side. The simulcast won't completely vanish, although moving it to the lesser viewed ESPNU is not likely to spark an audience increase, especially with new co-hosts.

Instead, ESPN will debut a so-called "new" show in early January which will air from 7 AM to 10 AM ET and be hosted by Mike Greenberg, with SportsCenter moving to ESPN2. If you consider ESPNU in the morning as an option, it means that from 8 AM to 10 AM ET on weekdays, TV viewers would now have choices "between" Mike & Mike instead of the staple program which successfully ran for years.

Combine this change with the significant reduction of Baseball Tonight (from seven nights to one) and this is what the paying subscribers (who have not cut the cord) get for their increasing monthly fees. And, we still don't know what ESPN might be thinking for its expanded NFL and NBA coverage shows yet.

Meanwhile, while ESPN reduces its TV baseball coverage, the radio ratings for the month of April show how much baseball means to the ratings.

In Boston, the two sports stations came in at #5 and #6 overall in the market. WEEI-FM jumped back up .6 to a 4.8, while WBZ-FM Sports Hub held steady right behind with a 4.7 Nielsen rating for the month.

The Yankees helped New York's WFAN-FM jump up to #9 overall (including #1 at night) with its Yankees broadcasts, while Mets flagship WOR jumped .5 overall for the month.

Chicago Cubs broadcasts helped WSCR The Score 670 to jump more than 40% from March to April into the top 10 after being just 21st overall for March. This while WMVP ESPN 1000, now without any major local play-by-play, dropped .4 to its lowest rating of 2017 despite strong midday numbers.

San Francisco's KNBR 680 rose more than one full ratings point and back into the top five in the market, while KGMZ-FM The Game dipped slightly from March.

Philadelphia's WIP-FM with the Phillies broadcasts rose another .7 to be at #7 overall in the market during April, while WPEN-FM dropped one-half point during the same period.

In Detroit, WXYT-FM The Ticket rose more than 30% from the previous month and is now at #2 in total listeners, while Baltimore's WJZ-FM rose another 1.4 ratings points in one month and is now at #5 in the market.

Pittsburgh's KDKA-FM showed a rise of 1.8 to the #6 overall position, while St. Louis saw KMOX with its Cardinals broadcasts finish #1 in the market for the first time since 2015 with a rise of more than two full ratings points.

However, the markets which always struggle with sports stations still did not show gains, even with baseball (in some instances). Both Los Angeles sports stations, even with airing Dodgers (KLAC 570)  and Angels (KSPN 710) games, failed to crack the top 30 in the market while showing overall ratings of under one rating point.

Houston's three sports stations each failed to crack the top 20, even though KBME-AM showed a nice increase of .6 of a ratings point to edge out KILT-AM, which doubled up on KFNC-FM. San Diego's XPRS-AM dropped while KLSD-AM showed a slight increase, but neither registered more than a 0.8 overall.

Fox Sports continues to increase the role for Alex Rodriguez as he makes his game analyst debut this week. He will be the analyst on Thursday (5/18) when Fox Sports 1 airs the Yankees vs. Royals game in prime time. The fact is that if Rodriguez wasn't going to be making his debut in the booth, we might not have even known that FS1 is airing this game nationally.

Then, on Saturday (5/20), Rodriguez will team with Joe Buck for the Fox Sports prime time regional telecast of the Mets vs. the Angels. Most of the Midwest as well as northern California and surrounding areas will get the Giants vs. Cardinals telecast which will have A.J. Pierzynski as the analyst while Joe Davis does the play-by-play.

Compass Media Networks has announced its radio broadcast schedule of 72 NFL and major college football games for the 2017 season. On the NFL side, they will provide national coverage of the Dallas Cowboys along with regional coverage of Oakland Raiders games.

ATLANTA: Recently retired outfielder Jeff Francoeur has joined the Braves TV crew as an analyst for some of the upcoming telecasts on Fox Sports South and Fox Sports Southeast. Francoeur will make his debut on June 5th when the Braves host the Phillies.

PEORIA: It will play in Peoria. Sports radio, that is. WNGY 95.9 The Sports Nut is, at least for now, airing Fox Sports Radio programming.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Coverage Cutbacks Are "Off Base"

It's not just personnel changes that are resulting from the financial concerns at ESPN. Unfortunately, we are already seeing how their coverage is also being negatively impacted.

Baseball is the first of the major sports to feel the crunch. Letting several baseball analysts go was bad enough. Since that time, the staple Baseball Tonight show is now gone from the weeknight schedule during the show's 27th season. Granted, it had aired at inconsistent times and on ESPN or ESPN2, making it hard to find, but it was always there.

Now, the show only airs on Sunday nights as a lead in to Sunday Night Baseball telecasts, and already has become more of a pre-game show (along the lines of NFL Countdown) than the true highlights and updates show it had been.

The network and some fans will respond by saying that SportsCenter shows all of the highlights. It always has. However, many baseball (and fans of other sports) agree that the format of jumping around from one sport to another and adding more feature stories has made SportsCenter too tough to deal with in terms of wanting scores and highlights - it's original purpose.

We don't know yet whether or not ESPN will start similar reductions toward its NFL and NBA related programming.

However, the network fails to recognize that the fans (and even the non-fans) are still being charged the same high monthly fees to receive ESPN. This is not the way to serve a customer base. Not adding or improving is one thing, but cutting back on existing programming is another. More reasons for consumers to cut the cord.

Meanwhile, ESPN Cleveland has taken the network's money grab to another level. At least consumers have a choice with this one, but the trend is dangerous if people actually do sign up.
WKNR ESPN 850 has taken to offering podcast versions of station programming without commercials on a paid subscription basis at $85 per year or $8.50 per month starting this month.

If people actually do start paying out of pocket to hear "Steve from Akron" comment on how few games the Browns will win this coming season, and other such delights, this sends the wrong message to the industry.

By promoting these paid podcasts, the station is in effect telling its audience that advertisements are bad, along with taking away from the audience those very same advertisers are paying to reach. They seem to have forgotten that the hardcore fans who might actually pay for this content are the ones the advertisers want to reach the most!

Now we have a network wanting people to pay more to hear opinions without commercials instead of watching the reduced coverage on the TV network. There is one positive to this, at least to this point.
Our monthly phone bills aren't being raised to support the ESPN App we are forced to carry.

Speaking of the money grab, there is the NFL taking in $21 million for streaming rights to ONE regular season game. For whatever reason, Verizon thinks it is worth that much money to stream the Sept. 24th game in London between Baltimore and Jacksonville on its various platforms. One game. I have a hunch there will be more than a few commercials for one product during the streamed telecast.

They must have overlooked that the game will be over the air in both local markets and available as usual to those who have Sunday Ticket.

If only they had asked me. I would have pointed out how that $21 million could have sponsored Baseball Tonight on ESPN seven nights a week and maintained the coverage we have enjoyed all these years - at no extra cost to the consumer.

Over at CBS, the newest addition to the Sunday NFL Today show is Nate Burleson, who has been named to replace Bart Scott. Although there has been no announcement (as of press time), Scott could be moved to a lesser role on the CBS Sports Network Sunday NFL pre-game show.

In a surprisingly quiet development, Solomon Wilcots is out after 16 seasons as an NFL game analyst, with no explanation as of press time.

CHICAGO: It appears that WSCR 670 The Score's decision to add Ryne Sandberg to its roster for the Cubs post-season run last season proved a popular one. Sandberg has been brought back to be a part of the team's post-game coverage for all remaining home games this season, being teamed with host Mark Grote.

HOUSTON: Although many other MLB markets have streaming for cable/satellite subscribers for local telecasts, it's a slow road in Houston. Now, as of this week, Root Sports subscribers can stream their Astors telecasts, with a "coming soon" for AT&T subscribers. No word yet on any of the other cable services being able to offer this.

DALLAS: KRLD has decided to pick up The Joe Pags Show for nights, taking Joe Pagliarulo's show live from WOAI San Antonio. Pags now airs in the majority of Texas markets.

SAN DIEGO: San Diego State University has finally gotten a nice radio deal for both its football and basketball games starting in the fall. KSLD 1360 will air every game it can, while play-by-play conflicts will send some broadcasts over to classic rock KGB-FM. In addition, KTDD Fox Sports 1350 Riverside will also carry the broadcasts.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Some Callers Are Worthwhile On Sports Talk!

For as much as I comment about the constant overemphasis of fan opinions on sports talk stations, they got me with this one.

When the caller is actually a Major League Manager, I can accept that!

This past Monday night (5/1), that's what happened on the Blue Jays post-game call-in show on 590 AM in Toronto, which had just aired the Jays' 7 - 1 win over the Yankees. It was clear that Manager John Gibbons was happy with the rare win.

Gibbons actually called in to the radio post-game show and had the producer alert host Mike Wilner to take the call. The caller began talking about Jays pitcher Marco Estrada and poked fun at Wilner, who was reportedly critical of Gibbons' pre-game decision about which catcher had started the game.

During the call, Wilner did not tell the listeners that it was Gibbons, instead using "John in the Bronx" to identify this caller. Gibbons added to the goof by asking for free tickets in return for calling in.

A fun moment, and a bit of a lesson for sports talk hosts to keep in mind that you never know who might be listening in.

Stronger first round series helped viewership for the NBA Playoffs all around. Average viewership for the entire first round was up roughly 12% over last season and is the highest since 2014. And that was the year in which five of the opening series all went to 7th games.

ESPN/ABC announced that analyst Mark Jackson has been signed to a new multi-year deal to continue in that role. Ironic timing, coming just days after the same network let go of roughly 100 of its people across the country.

LOS ANGELES: We got our answer to last week's question about local media coverage of the Chargers now that they have moved in. Powerful KFI 640 AM rejoins the world of sports by becoming the new flagship station for the team.

Sister station KLAC will air several hours of Chargers programming throughout the week, but could not air the games due to Dodgers conflicts. (Keep in mind that the Dodgers own 49% of KLAC, so it's not as though the Chargers would have had any kind of priority for game broadcasts.) KLAC will also air some of the surrounding game day coverage when there are no Dodgers conflicts, airing part of what will be a 10-hour game day broadcast each week.

No word, as of press time, regarding the broadcast teams.

KFWB 980, now a Spanish station, will air the Chargers games in Spanish, also starting with the upcoming season. On the TV side, KABC-TV Channel 7 will air the team's pre-season games not shown on national TV.

KABC-TV will also air Saturday shows specific to the Chargers during the regular season.

HOUSTON: Recently retired Astros broadcaster Bill Brown has returned to the Astros booth for this week, but it's not exactly a happy homecoming. Brown is filling in for Todd Kalas due to the passing of his mother, the former wife of the late Harry Kalas (the former NFL films and Phillies play-by-play voice). Our thoughts and prayers to the Kalas family.

DETROIT: While WDFN 1130 continues to struggle to attract a sports talk audience against 97.1 The Ticket, they have dismissed long time morning host Matt Shepard as of this week. This is actually the second time Shepard has been let go from WDFN. He had joined them in 2001 and was let go in 2007, only to be rehired in 2009.

Shepard is expected to continue as the play-by-play voice of University of Michigan basketball along with Eastern Michigan football, as well as reporting duties for Fox Sports Detroit.

VANCOUVER: The purchase of CISL 650 by Rogers Media means significant changes for local sports fan. The station is being converted to Sportsnet 650 and will carry the Toronto Blue Jays. In addition, the station will become the flagship station for the Canucks, which have been airing on CKST Team 1040 through this past season.

PHOENIX: As you know, it is very rare that we post a link on The Broadcast Booth, but this story is a worthwhile read. It's the "final" column of Paola Boivin as it appeared in the (Phoenix) Arizona Republic this past Sunday, and details several challenges sent her way during her career:

Monday, April 24, 2017

No Jumping Through Hoops To Get These Ratings

The NBA playoffs are the hot item for sports viewing these days, and that figures to continue for a while. This past weekend (April 22/23) saw a 13% increase in total viewership over the seven telecasts compared with the 2nd weekend of opening round telecasts last season. On Friday night (April 21), ESPN's doubleheader games finished as the top two most watched cable programs (of any type) for the night.

Although NHL Stanley Cup Playoff viewership had started to rise after the opening weekend, NBC and its group figure to take a hit with the elimination of Chicago, Minnesota, and Boston after the opening rounds. It's certainly not NBC's fault, especially with its even more improved coverage, that it has "only" St. Louis, Nashville, and Edmonton as three of its four Western Conference markets starting this week.

In addition, have the much anticipated East matchup between Pittsburgh and Washington may be good for those ratings, it hurts in the long run that one of those two teams will be gone before the semi-finals begin.

The NFL gets some of the spotlight later this week as ESPN provides live coverage of the entire NFL Draft again this year. It will have a different feel without Chris Berman, like him or not, since this will be the first time he will not be hosting at least the opening round of an NFL Draft live telecast.

Fox Sports Radio is hitting its draft coverage hard, especially looking to helps its Philadelphia affiliate WPEN-FM. The network plans to be on live from a Philadelphia restaurant on Thursday at 7 PM ET, with WPEN-FM morning host Anthony Gargano hosting an earlier "pre draft" show live starting at 6 PM ET which will also air across the network.

Here's hoping that the sports media will wait until picks are made and report the facts instead of seemingly endless projections and "expert" picks which have no bearing on actual news.

The NFL schedule, released late last week, will not allow NBC a flex scheduling option for Week 16, which surrounds Christmas weekend. In a seemingly rare move to actually please the paying fans, the NFL has determined that the Saturday Dec. 23rd Minnesota vs. Green Bay and the Christmas night Eagles vs. Raiders games will remain in prime time on NBC no matter what. By doing this, it eliminates the possibility of fans having to change holiday weekend plans because of changed starting times.

On Week 17, which surrounds New Year's weekend, an oddity has all four California NFL teams (at least for the coming season) playing within California on December 31st. The Raiders are scheduled to host the L.A. Chargers in Oakland, while the L.A. Rams will be hosting the San Francisco 49ers at the same time with 4:25 PM ET kickoffs.

Speaking of California teams, a curious move by KSWB Channel 5 in San Diego for the coming exhibition season. The station, which had aired all available Chargers exhibition games in the past, has dropped the team since its move to Los Angeles.

Instead, KSWB will air three of the L.A. Rams exhibition games. Ironically, the one August game it cannot air is a national telecast on CBS on August 26th, in which the L.A. Rams will take on, you guessed it, the L.A. Chargers.

While this is going on, there has yet to be an announcement about which Los Angeles radio station will become the flagship station for the Chargers. Even the team's official web site still has "Coming Soon" for its radio broadcasts, as of press time.

In recent seasons, San Diego Chargers games were carried in L.A. on KLAC 570 when available (when no conflicts with Dodgers broadcasts). Of course, now that the Chargers are a local team, they need a station which will air every game along with full pre-game and post-game programming.

KLAC is not a logical candidate, given that the station is 49% owned by the Dodgers, which have games throughout September and possibly post-season games during October.

COLUMBUS: Former NFL standout A.J. Hawk joins WBNC 97.1 The Fan for a daily Noon to 1 PM talk show with co-host Anthony Rothman. It will begin on May 8th and be titled "Off Season with A.J. Hawk". The station has already announced that Hawk will remain part of the midday "Carpenter & Rothman Show" during the season on "Football Fridays".

DETROIT: Health issues have caused WXYT-FM 97.1 The Ticket morning show co-host Terry Foster to announce his retirement, effective immediately. Foster suffered a stroke almost one year ago and missed most of the second half of 2016.

As you would expect, Mike Valenti will remain with the morning show. Since this announcement caught everyone by surprise, it's too soon to think about who the replacement will be.

CHICAGO: Even though the Bulls have attracted attention with winning their first two playoff games against Boston and helped the ratings, their regular season proved a local TV ratings disaster. The ratings for CSN Chicago, which aired most of their games, were the lowest for any season since 2007-08, down roughly 33% from the previous season, and down around 58% from two seasons ago. Their highest rated single game telecasts were all during November and December.

DENVER: Ed McCaffrey and KOA 850 have completely parted company. The former Broncos receiver will no longer co-host his sports talk show, as well as coming out of the Broncos radio booth. He had been an analyst along with play-by-play voice Dave Logan since the 2012 season.

RICHMOND: The sale of ESPN 950 WXGI will result in even more coverage with what will soon be a three station simulcast. WXGI will continue to air sports, along with adding 102.7 FM. In addition, next market south WTPS 1240 Petersburg will also carry the station. All three will air live play-by-play of both the Washington Nationals and Redskins, along with University of Richmond football and basketball.

TULSA: KJRH Channel 2 Sports Director Al Jerkens has announced that he will retire when his current contract expires this coming August 3rd at the age of 65. Jerkens has been a fixture throughout his 43 year TV career. He will be missed.

HOWELL MI: Sorry to learn of the passing of former WHMI Sports Director Dave Johnson. He lost his battle to pancreatic cancer last week at the age of 48. Our thoughts are with his family.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sports Radio Stations Hold The Line In March Ratings

The radio ratings are being released this week around the country for the month of March, with the majority of the large markets not showing much of a change for the sports stations.

We always monitor Boston due to its two rival sports stations always being so strong. However, March was not kind as both stations combined to lose more than 10% of their total audience compared with the February results.

WBZ-FM Sports Hub lost .7 of a ratings point, although finishing #6 overall remains one of the stronger sports station showings around the country. WEEI-FM dropped .6 of a ratings point, coming in one-half point behind and in the #8 overall position. The April book should prove more interesting, since this month brings the start of the Celtics and Bruins in the playoffs along with the Red Sox season and the team expected to be a strong contender.

In Philadelphia, WIP-FM 94.1 finished #8 overall in the market, scoring its best ratings thus far in 2017.

On the other hand, San Francisco's KNBR 680, which has been as high as #1 in the market within the past 18 months, dropped again during March and is now at #10 overall. Their April ratings will be crucial if KNBR is going to rebound, as the Warriors begin their playoff run and the Giants begin their regular season.

Speaking of ratings, the TV people are pleased with the viewership for the start of the NBA Playoffs. ABC scored very well with its Golden State vs. Portland opening game telecast, while TNT also started strong on Sunday (4/16) night. The prime-time opening game doubleheader with the Chicago upset over Boston followed by the OK City vs. Houston opener was the cable TV overall winner for the night. These games also finished with roughly 39% higher ratings than the first TNT doubleheader last year.

A quick note to headline writers from sports fans. A mock draft is not and should never be "breaking news". We understand that ESPN, which televises the NFL Draft next week, and other sports heavy news organizations want to promote their "draft experts". But who they think will be picked in the first round is NOT news or factual.

It's not only some of the pro sports teams taking over and providing their own "controlled" content for fans these days. It somehow slipped under the radar that Kevin Durant has gone as far as to start his own YouTube channel to serve the fans.

Durant has already done a live stream from his home which included the view from his balcony and his dog. This channel already has more than 40,000 subscribers.

LAS VEGAS: The new NHL Golden Knights will also have games broadcast in Spanish when the team debuts next season. KENO 1460 ESPN DEPORTES will carry them.

PHOENIX: The NBA now has one less "Albert" calling its games due to the announced retirement of Steve Albert. Steve had done the Suns on TV for the past five seasons and has decided to call it a career after 45 years.

TAMPA: WXTB 98 Rock has a new multi-year contract in place to continue as flagship station for the Buccaneers broadcasts. In addition, the radio broadcasts will also be streamed via the team's web site starting with the upcoming season.

HARTFORD: WTIC 1080 has now bailed on sports talk only shows, dropping the team of Joe D'Ambrosio and Andy Gresch from the 3 to 6 PM spot. This appears to have been strictly a ratings based decision, since D'Ambrosio will continue calling University of Connecticut play-by-play as usual. Gresh is reportedly heading over to WPRO Providence to host nights. WTIC begins a general talk show with Todd Feinburg on Monday (4/24).

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Let's See How Many Watch Stanley Cup Playoffs

As the NHL Playoffs begin, with the sixth season in a row of every post-season game being nationally televised, we have significant comings and goings in the announce booth.

It is great news that Dave Strader will be back in the TV booth this week to call the first two games of the Washington vs. Toronto series for the NBC Network group. Strader, in his 32nd season of calling NHL games at the local (Dallas Stars) and national level, has missed most of this regular season undergoing cancer treatments.

At the same time, it is an official farewell to another NHL broadcasting legend with Bob Miller's last play-by-play telecast for the L.A. Kings this past weekend, wrapping up his amazing 44-years in that role. On Sunday (4/9), Miller was short and to the point on his final sign-off after the Anaheim Ducks defeated the Kings in overtime.

It was actually analyst Jim Fox, who has been with the Kings for the past 27 seasons, who spent more time and was clearly more emotional than Miller on the air when it came time to finish their telecast. Miller was very brief in his post-game on-air comments and remained very composed given all of his years in the booth.

The Stanley Cup playoffs are critical for NBC and perhaps for the NHL when it comes to future rights. There is no overlooking the fact that the regular season NHL ratings for NBC came in as the lowest since the early 90's, while NBCSN's ratings were the lowest since the 2011-12 season. Their hope has to be that the N.Y. Rangers, Boston, and Chicago teams all advance further into the post-season and bring their strong local market ratings with them.

Speaking of teams which draw ratings, the NFL is wasting no time in getting the Dallas Cowboys on national TV ASAP. The Hall of Fame Game, which begins the exhibition game season, will air on NBC on August 3rd with Dallas vs. Arizona.

Here are the other national TV exhibition games, with all times Eastern:

Hall of Fame Game (Canton, Ohio)
Dallas Cowboys vs. Arizona Cardinals (NBC, 8 p.m.), Thursday, Aug. 3
Preseason Week 2 (August 17-21)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Jacksonville Jaguars (ESPN, 8 p.m.), Thursday, Aug. 17
New York Giants at Cleveland Browns (ESPN, 8 p.m.) Monday, Aug. 21
Preseason Week 3 (August 24-27)
Kansas City Chiefs at Seattle Seahawks (CBS, 8 p.m.) Friday, Aug. 25
Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams (CBS, 8 p.m.) Saturday, Aug. 26
Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans (FOX, 1 p.m.) Sunday, Aug. 27
Cincinnati Bengals at Washington Redskins (FOX, 4:30 p.m.) Sunday, Aug. 27
San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings (NBC, 8 p.m.) Sunday, Aug. 27

Over at MLB, the effort continues to bring streaming telecasts of live games to other countries overseas. New multi-year deals have just been signed to provide live regular and post-season telecasts in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and India. DAZN is the OTT service provider for all except India, which will receive 20 games per week (with one game per three hour window) by way of VEQTA.

WASHINGTON D.C.: Looks as though the first round of the NBA Playoffs will be the last time that Phil Chenier will be the analyst on CSN's Wizards telecasts after 33 seasons in the role. It appears that Chenier wants to cut back on travel, as the early word is that he will serve as studio analyst during Wizards telecasts starting for next season.

PHILADELPHIA: 97.5 The Fanatic appears to have some behind the scenes happenings which are significantly impacting the station's morning show this week. Anthony Gargano has been off the air all week, coming just after reports that co-host Maureen Williams and producer Jamie Lynch were already dismissed by the station. No word, yet, regarding Gargano, who was said to be upset about the dismissal of Williams.

Eytan Shander, Geoff Mosher, and Joe Tordy have been filling in all week. Would have to think that Angelo Cataldi over at WIP 94.1 will do his best to deliver monster shows early next week to keep people from checking over at 97.5 to see whether or not Gargano actually returns. Since The Fanatic was part of a big sale of stations last year, it is possible this is the first of the cost cutting moves coming from new ownership.

CLEVELAND: Sorry to learn of the passing of long time local sports radio host Kendall Lewis. He was known as the "Big Sports Kahuna" during his seven year run at WKNR 850.

Meanwhile, the excitement about the Indians is already evident this early in the 2017 season. The team's first week of regular season telecasts on Sports Time Ohio produced ratings which were up roughly 90% over last year and nearly four ratings points higher than the average ratings for all of the 2016 season.

DALLAS: Rangers fans already need a scorecard to keep track of TV announcers, and now there is more. Tom Grieve has added 35 games, likely road telecasts, as studio analyst in addition to his games as the booth analyst during Rangers telecasts. Grieve will be in the booth this weekend for the home games vs. Oakland, while C.J. Nitkowski rejoins play-by-play voice Dave Raymond again on Monday when the Rangers start their road trip in Anaheim.

LEXINGTON: It will be the end of an era for local sports fans this coming September when WKYT-TV sportscaster Rob Bromley begins his retirement. Bromley just announced that after 40 years with the station that he will call it a career.

Bromley is one of the nicest guys you would ever meet, in any profession, and has been on the scene a long time. In fact, those of you that recall the 1978 U. of Kentucky NCAA Championship team coached by Joe B. Hall and featuring Jack Givens and Rick Robey might recall that Bromley was already on the scene covering that team. At the time, he was backup sportscaster to Denny Trease, before Trease went on to Kansas City to do Royals TV.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Announcers Coming And Going

Now that the MLB season is underway and the NCAA Tournament is over, it's on to some announcing comings and goings around the country.

FS1 quietly begins its coverage of MLB with a seemingly secret prime time national game on Wednesday (4/5) when it airs the N.Y. Yankees at Tampa game. The telecast will mark the debut of the Network's newest game analyst when A.J. Pierzynski joins Kenny Albert in the booth. This figures to be a good hire for Fox Sports. The problem is if it wasn't for the announcement of hiring Pierzynski as analyst, even the most hardy of baseball fans would not have known that FS1 is doing a prime time game this week.

ESPN leads the way this week with announcements about announcers. The Network has determined its course regarding its in season NFL studio programming, determining that it will take three people to replace Chris Berman.

Monday Night Football will now have Suzy Kolber as solo host of "Monday Night Countdown" along with half-time and post-game. Kolber had been co-host, along with Berman, for each of the past two seasons.

Sunday NFL Countdown, the extended Sunday pre-game show, will now be hosted by Sam Ponder, who comes over from extensive college football coverage for ESPN. Berman had hosted the show since the 1986 season.

And, since Chris Berman is no longer hosting the NFL Draft (coming April 27 - 29), the new host has been announced as Trey Wingo, who will host all three days of live coverage. Wingo will also continue as host of "NFL Live" which airs throughout the entire year.

On the NBA side, ESPN has made it official that Michelle Beadle will be the studio host for the ESPN/ABC coverage for the post-season. Good to know that the Network finally sees the need for a legitimate broadcaster to host the studio segments instead of former players trying to host a train wreck, like what happened a couple of seasons ago.

At CBS, Tony Gonzalez will no longer serve as an NFL studio analyst after three seasons in that role.

No replacement as of press time, with rumors flying that the supposedly just retired QB Tony Romo will considered as a replacement.

CBS Sports Network will simulcast the CBS Sports Radio afternoon show "Tiki & Tierney"from 3 PM to 6 PM ET. The show, co-hosted by Tiki Barber and Brandon Tierney, moves from its previous 9 AM to Noon ET time slot, with Damon Amendolara moving from nights to the 9 AM to Noon slot on the radio side. Bill Reiter comes in to host the 6 PM to 10 PM ET spot starting on April 17th.

SAN FRANCISCO / OAKLAND: CSN Bay Area, now known as NBC Sports Bay Area, has added a new studio analyst for both its Giants and A's telecasts effective immediately.
Former Giants standout Matt Williams begins his pre-game and post-game role on Monday (April 10) for the Giants home opener. With huge interest in the Giants again this year, the Network is expanding both studio shows to up to one hour for most of the telecasts.

The A's telecasts will have Jose Canseco added to the mix as a studio analyst for both the pre-game and post-game shows.

LOS ANGELES: Opening Day of baseball season was significant because of it being the first regular season game without Vin Scully as the lead broadcaster in the Los Angeles history of the franchise.

Of course, roughly 70% of the market still cannot get the Dodgers telecasts. Adding to the struggles of the fans is the fact that the ESPN national telecast of the Dodgers opener vs. the Padres was also blacked out in the L.A. area.

CHICAGO: CSN Chicago has added Scott Podsednik to its White Sox studio coverage effective opening day, where he will also have long-time analyst Bill Melton also in studio for most of the telecasts. Hard to believe that they need two analysts for what figure to be low rated telecasts again this season.

On their radio side, a bizarre move by White Sox flagship station WLS this past Saturday (4/1), which was not an April Fool's joke. The White Sox played their final pre-season game at 1:00 that afternoon, which WLS did not broadcast. The game was televised on CSN Chicago. Yet, WLS aired its "White Sox Weekly" two hour program from Noon until 2 PM.

As a result, the final hour of their show for White Sox fans aired up against a live game on TV at the same time.

St. LOUIS: KFNS 590 has brought in longtime local sportscaster John Hadley, who had been off the air since January 2016, to be its Sports Director. Hadley, as of now, will not have a regular air shift, instead filling in as needed.

SAN DIEGO: An evening host change takes place at XEPRS Mighty 1090. Chris Cantore started on Monday (4/3) as 6 PM to 9 PM host, replacing Kevin Acee. The station was rated only 23rd overall in the market in the most recent ratings, despite a 50,000 watt signal booming in from across the Mexican border.

Ft. MYERS: WWCN 99.3 ESPN has added Craig Shemon as host of its local afternoon drive show. Shemon is expected to continue with play-by-play assignments for Fox Sports and Big Ten Network.

BEND OR: The local simulcast of Fox Sports Radio is over, as now only 94.9 carries it, as sister station 940 AM has gone off the air. 94.9 will continue to also carry Oregon State University football and basketball, as well as 49ers football.