Friday, June 7, 2019

Toronto In Finals Throws Loops Into Hoops

While the current NBA Finals are shaping up as possibly one of the most interesting series in recent years, the question remains (as of press time, following Game 3) whether or not viewership will increase as the series plays out.

It is not surprising that Game 2 set a record for the most viewed NBA game ever throughout Canada, with the likelihood that more viewing records will be set if there were to be a possible championship clincher for the Raptors. On the U.S. side, Game 3 in prime time produced the lowest ratings for a Game 3 (Finals) telecast since 2013.

Even with the Warriors becoming a nationally recognized brand over the past few years, there is the possibility that many casual fans are "ho hum" about the continuing appearance of the Warriors in the Finals.

However, it could be that ABC could be a victim of the NBA television partners rarely showing the Raptors all season in comparison to the number of games they featured the other contending teams. Since Toronto is not a local market for the U.S. networks, TNT and ESPN went with fewer appearances than normal for a team at or near the top of the Eastern Conference all season.

As a result, we have fewer fans familiar with the talent of the Raptors, while more fans expect the Warriors to win against any opponent. The translation, so far, is in lower ratings for ABC. Even the possibility of sports history of having the NBA champion being a Canada team while a U.S. team wins the Stanley Cup has yet to make a difference in the ratings.

Another reason could be the ratings declines from the regular season for several of the NBA's important markets. It's no surprise that without LeBron James and a contending team that the Cleveland Cavaliers ratings for the season fell by 58%. The NY Knicks' TV ratings fell by 38%, the seemingly always contending San Antonio Spurs ratings fell by roughly 28%, while the Chicago Bulls local ratings dropped by 24%.


Still no word (as of press time) as to what is next from John Hayes, who surprisingly left the Paul Finebaum Show on ESPN Radio and the SEC Network this past week. All indications are that the decision came from Hayes and not from either network. Hayes has been a part-time host on 730 The Game in Charlotte, leading to speculation that he is closing in on a more prominent solo hosting role in Charlotte or elsewhere.





NEW YORK: Great to see Ron Darling back on Mets TV on SNY following his recent treatment for thyroid cancer. It had not been certain that Darling would be able to return for the remainder of this season.

WFAN will have a new overnight host this fall following the announced retirement of Tony Paige. Paige announced that he will wrap up his 2nd stint at WFAN following his Sept. 14th show, ending this run which began in 2003. His retirement comes during the week of his 66th birthday. WFAN also has confirmed that Giants QB Eli Manning will not return for his weekly segment on Mike Francesa's afternoon show this season. This comes along with speculation that Manning's days as the Giants' starting QB may be coming to end.

The short term plans for YES Network are uncertain now that the sale to Disney is expected to close. Reports have YES talking with partners (such as Sinclair Broadcast Group and Amazon, which reportedly lost out in the bidding for the Fox Sports Regional Networks) about acquiring at least a controlling interest in their network. Recent reports also have YES looking to begin a regional or national radio network, possibly involving SiriusXM.

HOUSTON: Paul Gallant is no longer the third man on the morning team at KILT 610, and is no longer with the station after an eight year run. Gallant had moved to share the morning show last year after hosting his own show at night on the station for nearly seven years.

TULSA: The Sports Animal has made a couple of changes to its daytime lineup. R.J. Young has taken over as host from 9 AM to 11 AM, while Erik Gee has joined The Pat Jones Show, which airs from 11 AM to 2 PM. Jones, the former OSU football coach, had been hosting the show solo for the past few weeks. Prior to joining The Sports Animal, Gee spent four years at KRXO 107.7 Oklahoma City.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Paying Fans Being Sent Up Stream

Like always, this is perhaps the greatest week of viewing and listening for fans of multiple sports with so many choices and so little time. NBCSN was blessed with a pair of Game 7 thrillers in its Stanley Cup coverage, including the double overtime Carolina vs. Washington battle.

Thursday (4/25) featured the extensive NFL Draft coverage, with ABC-TV providing a mostly separate feed from the more "serious" ESPN coverage while NFL Network did its version. Early ratings, available at press time, showed the ABC-TV version with slightly improved ratings over Fox Network's coverage of last year's first round in prime time.

Over at TNT, they had the coincidence of NBA legend Kevin McHale on as the analyst for its Game 6 telecast of the Denver vs. San Antonio first round series, during which the news came that McHale's former teammate and NBA legend John Havlicek has passed away at the age of 79. McHale's heartfelt reaction, understandably, took precedence over much of the 3rd quarter of the telecast.

Kudos to MLB Network for switching its scheduled telecast of Friday (4/26) from the originally scheduled Brewers vs. Mets game to the Oakland at Toronto game which marked the debut of Vlad Guerrero Jr. in a Blue Jays uniform.


However, fans are getting more caught up in the growing controversy regarding the availability of the league owned/operated networks. The potential disaster for fans began last week with the announcement that AT&T is dropping NFL Network from DirecTV Now and U-Verse. The silver lining for fans is that we still have more than three months before the regular season begins.

The NFL is fighting back with AT&T by pulling Sunday Ticket from DirecTV Now, although they have not pulled it from DirecTV. However, the NFL is reportedly trying to make its Sunday Ticket available via more sources than "only" DirecTV. Multiple reports claim the NFL is negotiating with Amazon and Disney (ESPN+) to also be able to offer Sunday Ticket.

This is turning into a high stakes game between the NFL and the networks, although the fans will be the ones to get screwed with even higher costs across the board. The hunch from here is that DirecTV Now and U-Verse will get NFL Network back in return for the NFL being able to take away the DirecTV exclusivity on Sunday ticket. It's the NFL putting the squeeze on by costing AT&T subscribers either way. Fans will leave AT&T to get NFL Network elsewhere, or fans will leave DirecTV if they can get a better deal which includes Sunday Ticket.

There is no precedence for this situation because the NFL is the only one of the four major pro leagues that has had an exclusive with one provider for its extended coverage.

However, MLB is involved in the process of the upcoming sale of the Fox Sports Regional networks, continuing to pursue a part ownership interest in them even though it only involves some of the its teams.

Fox Business reports that Sinclair Broadcasting appears to be the bidding leader for the group of regional networks, while the N Y Post reported that Amazon is proposing a partnership with Sinclair. At the same time, MLB is supposedly in discussions to obtain a minority partnership with Sinclair with regard to the potential purchase and ownership.

The Fox RSN's, which include YES Network (NYC), currently air a total of 44 pro sports teams from MLB, NBA, and the NHL. The winning bidder for this deal also receives streaming rights, which is the reason why Amazon is keeping tabs.

What all this really means is that it shows how the NFL and MLB are working in different ways to keep raising our monthly bills. By involving streaming rights, it becomes a factor in terms of also including the cord cutters by increasing streaming fees.


BOSTON: The Nielsen radio ratings for March into early April show the widest margin between the sports radio rivals WBZ-FM and WEEI-FM in several years. WBZ-FM Sports Hub held steady for a third place finish in total audience. WEEI-FM dropped one-half of a ratings point, falling out of the top 10 (#11 overall), and now with only half of the total audience of WBZ-FM.

Typically, WEEI-FM jumps back up during the summer as flagship station of the Red Sox. However, the team's slow start could be a factor for the current ratings period.


SAN DIEGO: More than two weeks later, still no return of XPRS The Mighty 1090 to the airwaves after its sudden shut down reportedly due to non-payment of station lease fees. The sports station had been in place since 2003 and served as the Padres flagship for 12 seasons through 2016.

Still too soon to tell what will become of its local broadcast rights. The station had been airing both San Diego State football and basketball as well as University of San Diego football and basketball (as its live schedule allowed). In addition, the Mighty 1090 was the San Diego station for the Los Angeles Rams, banking on local fans disowning the Chargers when they relocated in L.A.

Some of the on-air hosts, still under contract to the station, continue to air their shows via the station's web site and app.


Finally, CBS Sports Network continues to show its need for programming and is picking up local feeds of up to 40 WNBA games this summer. These telecasts will be scheduled for times which do not conflict with the ESPN/ABC package of games (which they originate) or NBA-TV's package, from which they (also) air the various local telecasts.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Will MLB Out Fox The Others?

One sports media story which bears watching over the next couple of weeks is the fate of the 21 Fox regional sports networks, which will be purchased by a new buyer between April 15th and June 18th.
The RSN's are owned for the short term by Disney, which is required to unload the Fox Sports group due to its ownership of ESPN. (June 18 marks 90 days after the closing on the deal in which Disney purchased 21st Century Fox.)

What makes this so interesting is that Fox Business News reports that Major League Baseball is among the entities bidding on the group.

While it is understandable that MLB would like to generate additional income from monthly subscriptions and advertising revenue from the networks which televise many of its teams, this possibility raises ethical questions. MLB would want for the teams it televises to be competitive to attract ratings and advertisers, but not have these rights for all of the teams.

MLB owns MLB Network, along with MLB-TV. As of now, no pro sports leagues own any regional networks which feature one or more local teams.

The process for this sale includes sealed bids which are binding. The sale price for the group is expected to be between $10 billion and $20 billion. Obviously, there is a lot at stake. Fox Business reported that other bidders include Liberty Media (which owns Sirius/XM, which has MLB radio broadcast rights) and Sinclair Broadcasting, which owns TV stations across the country.

Among the RSN's in the group are Fox Sports South, Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports Wisconsin, and Fox Sports Midwest.It is not certain whether entities such as Amazon and Yahoo will submit bids, which need to be done by an April 15th deadline.


Research conducted by Nielsen between August 2018 and January of 2019 shows that ESPN Radio attracted more than 22 million listeners to its live play-by-play events during that time period. The number of listeners account for 9.2% of the population.

What makes this impressive is that their broadcasts are not exclusive in local team markets and were "duplicate" broadcasts. In most cases, such as the college football championship broadcasts, fans prefer the call of the school's broadcaster. Same for all of the MLB post-season games, where the ESPN feed was competing against the regular team broadcasts in local markets as well as their network of regional stations. This time period included the MLB post-season, some NFL regular season games, NBA regular season broadcasts, and select college football regular season games along with the college football playoffs.

There are some analysts pointing to the number of cord-cutters dumping their cable and satellite providers that may be returning to radio broadcasts to keep in touch with the games. How ironic, given the monthly fee ESPN forces upon most subscribers whether they are sports fans or not.


OKLAHOMA CITY: Congratulations to AL Eschbach on being inducted into the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame this week. Eschbach goes back to being named Sports Director of KTOK back in 1976. In the mid-80's he joined WWLS-AM prior to the station becoming a sports station. All these years later he is still on the air, now on WWLS-FM where he joins Jim Traber, Dean Blevins, and Berry Tramel during afternoon drive.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

3 NHL Games - 2 Days

Kenny Albert is best known around the country for calling a variety of sports for a number of national networks as needed, but this weekend (Feb. 23/24) he gets the experience of calling three complete NHL games within a 27 hour period, as will his partner Joe Micheletti.

In his 23rd season as radio (and sometimes TV) voice of the New York Rangers, Albert calls the Saturday afternoon Rangers vs. Devils game on WEPN 98.7, with Dave Maloney as his analyst. Micheletti joins another long time local NHL voice, Sam Rosen, in the TV booth.

Once this game is over, Albert and Micheletti head south to Philadelphia, where the pair will handle
the Westwood One national radio broadcast of the Flyers vs. Penguins outdoor game. Not sure how many stations the pair will be heard on, between the infrequent national radio of NHL games and sports stations having NBA and plenty of college broadcasts to choose from, but Albert will call the game regardless.

Following the game in Philly, the two then head south again, this time to Washington D.C. The
Rangers meet the Capitals in an early (12:30 PM ET) Sunday and the pair will call the game for both MSG Network and WEPN Radio. That will make four teams and three full games in three cities within a 27 hour period.

Impressive.


Frankly, it's understandable that ratings dipped again for the NBA All-Star game on TNT last weekend. When it was East vs. West fans could identify with players and teams if they chose to endure the score every chance game. But with the "Let's choose sides" lowering this to a playground pick-up game for millionaires, the ratings dipped even compared to last year, when the telecast went head to head with the Olympics.

Adding to the concern should be that on Wednesday (2/20), the North Carolina vs. Duke college telecast on ESPN finished as the highest regular season telecast on ESPN since 2008, which happened to be the same two teams.

Why does this add to the concern? Because this college telecast also finished with higher ratings than TNT's and ESPN's regular season NBA telecasts thus far, with the exception of Christmas Day, when the NBA airs unopposed.

RATINGS:

The January into early February Nielsen radio ratings were released showing some interesting things in key markets.

In Boston, as expected, WBZ-FM Sports Hub, the flagship station of the Patriots, showed a gain of 1.6 (larger than the ratings of some of the other stations) and finished #2 overall in the market.

WEEI-FM stayed at #6, but it expected to rise back upon the start of the Red Sox season, for which it is the flagship station.

New York's WFAN edged up to #9 overall, while WEPN 98.7 continues its climb despite finishing #20 overall. The afternoon drive battle between Mike Francesa on WFAN and Michael Kay on WEPN has heated up even more, with the two being very close in terms of total audience. It's difficult to say who has the most total audience. While Francesa wins the radio battle, Kay has an equal or greater reach because of most of his show being simulcast on YES Network.

Detroit's WXYT-FM 97.1 The Ticket showed a ratings increase, but so did other stations. Despite a .6 overall ratings increase, the station slipped from #5 to #8 overall. Disappointing seasons from the Pistons and Red Wings aren't helping.

It's a much different story in Minneapolis without the Vikings going deep in the playoffs. KXFN 100.3 The Fan dropped for the third consecutive ratings period and from #6 to #8 overall. KSTP ESPN 1500, however, still has less than one-sixth of the total audience of The Fan.

The major "transplant" markets continue to have poor ratings for their sports outlets.

In L.A., KSPN ESPN 710 showed a decent gain of .5, which only brought it to #25 in the market. KLAC 570, despite airing the Chargers in the playoffs during this rating period and also showing an audience gain, came it at #33 overall. San Diego's KFWN 97.3 The Fan, and KLSD Fox Sports 1360 both showed slight gains. As a result, the stations finished #24 and #26 overall in the market.

Miami's sports stations, WQAM 560 and WAXY 790 The Ticket, both failed to show an increase, coming in at #25 and #26 in the market.

In Houston, it got to the point where the Houston Dynamo has completely dropped its English language broadcasts, tired of getting bumped from KILT 610 and KIKK 650. The team prefers to stream the audio from its KUBE-TV game telecasts on its web site instead.


The hype for the NFL Draft begins in full force and stronger than ever during the coming week with the NFL Combine, which is no longer a private event for scouts. NFL Network plans to air press conferences starting on Wednesday (2/27), while showing every on-field drill from March 1st all the way through March 4th.

ABC gets into the act with a planned airing of QB and wide receiver drills next Saturday March 2nd at 1 PM ET.

As baseball exhibition games return, ESPN has signed former Phillies standout Ryan Howard as an analyst, most likely in the studio to start.


BALTIMORE: Odd timing to wait until days before the exhibition games start, but Joe Angel officially announced his retirement from the Orioles broadcast team after a combined 19 seasons, as well as 42 seasons of big league play-by-play. Angel is also remembered for having been the initial radio voice of the Marlins and calling their 1997 World Series games. He also called games for the Yankees, Twins, and both Bay Area teams.


MILWAUKEE: Although it's too soon to tell how the five station "race" for all sports will pan out, WTMJ is taking full advantage of having its sister FM, WKTI, as all sports. WKTI is airing several Brewers exhibition games exclusively instead of WTMJ, which takes over for the regular season.


SOUTH CAROLINA: Phil Kornblut's statewide show, which recently went off the statewide network, will be back on a 20 station network starting this coming week (2/25) from 6 to 8 PM.

However, as of press time, there is no outlet for Charleston. WWIK 98.9 reports that they would begin airing the show, but not until the fall due to its commitment to airing Atlanta Braves baseball most nights.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Baseball Opener Still An Overnight Sensation?

As the influence of sports media continues to impact the offseason of the major sports at higher levels than ever. With these two weeks being the only time of the year when both NFL and MLB are "off", we have prime examples.

Earlier this week, stories were "leaked" about the 2019 NFL regular season schedule, which does not get released until mid-April. Reports tell us that the Patriots may not be in the Thursday kickoff and that the Bears might play in Detroit for the 2nd consecutive Thanksgiving. While rumors about scheduled games months away are worthless in real life, they do keep NFL fans engaged and looking ahead to the coming season.

On the other hand, MLB, as spring training starts, has a ton of publicity about which free agents have not signed and how it impacts training camp and teams trying to make plans. However, MLB has a scheduling issue, and much sooner than the NFL, and doesn't seem to be doing anything about it.
Again this year, the regular season opens with a pair of games overseas, this year March 20 and 21 between Oakland and Seattle. It is understandable that the games be played at least a week before other teams start the regular season to allow for travel adjustments. As a result, the MLB season opener and 2nd game for these teams will take place on a Wednesday and Thursday.

This season, ESPN has both of those games and will air them live. However, the starting time for both games is still shown as 5:30 AM ET. Morning drive baseball. Think again. The A's and Mariners are west coast teams. For the home town fans, these games both start at 2:30 AM local time. Middle of the night baseball during the week is what is available for their fans to celebrate the start of the season.

Chances are these games, especially the second one, will not finish among ESPN's highest rated telecasts of the season. Not only will most fans not be able to reasonably enjoy these games, but it won't make them happy either.

The NFL schedules its London (and other international games) within its regular times in the U.S. This allows them to better promote these telecasts and draw new fans from around the world in the process. They wouldn't dare put live games on that start before 6 AM in any of our time zones.
Even the advance schedule rumors confirm that.


BOSTON: The Red Sox radio booth will have quite the play-by-play rotation this season. Only in the past few days has Joe Castiglione, who has been a part of Red Sox radio since 1983, signed to return for what will be his 37 season. In case Castiglione did not return, WEEI, the flagship station, had been ready with a rotation. It means that Castiglione will have a lot of company throughout the season.

Calling games at various times will be Sean McDonough, Josh Lewin (formerly with the Mets), and TV voice Dave O'Brien. WEEI personalities Lou Merloni and Dale Arnold will call some games, as will NESN studio host Tom Caron and ESPN's Chris Berman. Now, one other name has been added to this roster. Mario Impemba, who was dismissed from the Tigers TV job during the final month of last season due to a reported altercation with Rod Allen (also dismissed), will join the Red Sox radio booth this season.


CHICAGO: The Cubs officially announced their new TV network in partnership with Sinclair Broadcasting to start for the 2020 season, and the concern begins among baseball fans as to how it will play out. Early reports claim that the cost will be in the range of $6 per month, with the Cubs being the only major Chicago team participating and no "offseason" live content in the fold.
It remains to be seen (pun intended) if the situation will go the way of Los Angeles or New York City in terms of how many systems carry the channel and how fans will react to the charge.


NEW YORK: Glad to see that Islanders broadcaster Chris King made a successful return to the radio booth last Saturday (2/9) for the game against Colorado. King missed the Thursday broadcast against New Jersey due to being hospitalized with tightness in his chest. This was only the second broadcast he has missed in 25 years, and the first in nine seasons (death of his father).

He also had a very interesting replacement on short notice. The guest announcing team which called the Islanders-Devils broadcast was WFAN's Gregg GIannoti and Boomer Esiason.


DENVER: Congratulations to Raj Sharan, named as Program Director of KKFN-FM 104.3 The Fan and KEPN ESPN 1600. Sharan was the play-by-play voice for University of Denver basketball until 2017. He replaces Armen Williams in the role, who left for KILT Houston.


COLUMBUS: WTVN 610 has hired both Matt McCoy and Lori Schmidt as sports anchors, with both coming over after 105.7 The Zone dropped its sports format in favor of classic rock earlier this year.


WICHITA: Don Hall, the P.A. voice of Wichita Shockers basketball since 1983, as well as for other sports events in the area, will be inducted into the Wichita Sports Hall of Fame this spring.


ALTOONA PA: WVAM 1430 dropped ESPN Radio last week without warning in the middle of a weekday to go to a music format. The station still pans to air Pittsburgh Pirates games and Penn State football.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Listeners Need To Get Their A's In Gear

As if there aren't enough challenges for sports fans in Oakland, such as losing the Raiders again, A's fans are close to another blast from the past because, as of press time, there is no local radio deal in place. The A's opening exhibition game is two weeks away. Long time fans go back more than 30 years to the time that KALX, a station with a signal so poor that fans at the stadium couldn't always hear I, was the only station which would air the games.

The A's and their fans were not happy with the overall coverage of the team when their games aired on 95.7 KGMZ The Game for the previous eight seasons, ending their agreement at the conclusion of the A's 2018 season.

The broadcast team of Ken Korach and Vince Cotroneo as returning. The club has announced that pre and post-game voice Chris Townsend has been promoted to Senior Broadcast Producer with expanded duties.

However, there is no station arrangement in place. The team is reportedly arranging for free streaming of the game broadcasts via one or more commonly available apps.

Not that the team needs any more pressure to announce a deal with at least one "real" local station, but the A's will be the first to open the 2019 regular season. They face the Mariners at the Tokyo Dome on March 20th, eight days sooner than the scheduled openers for all remaining clubs.


Over at KGMZ-FM The Game, the morning show's Lorenzo Neal, who has been with the station for nearly five years, has signed a contract extension. The former Raider (along with several other teams) remains a key part of the morning drive "Joe, Lo, & Dibs" show. The station continues to finally build up respectable ratings, helped by now being the flagship station of the Warriors.


DENVER: The city lost one of its sports pioneers with the passing of Irv Brown last weekend at the age of 83. Brown spent parts of four decades on the air with sports talk, many with partner Joe Williams. On the national level, Brown was also a part of history. He was part of the broadcast team in 1979 when ESPN televised the college football game between Colorado and Oregon. That was the very first college football telecast ever on ESPN.

Around the country, Brown is remembered for having been a basketball official and for coaching baseball. Fans were and are amazed to find out that he was an official during four of the NCAA Final Four appearances by the Johnny Wooden led UCLA Bruins during the late 60's and 70's. He went on to coach the Colorado University baseball team, which has been discontinued since 1980. His comment that "I made Colorado baseball what it is today" may stand as our most fond memory of him.


NEW ORLEANS: Sorry to also learn of the passing of Chuck Edwards, the voice of New Orleans sports. Edwards had been PA announcer for both the Saints and Pelicans. He was only 49. He had been a key part of the morning show on WXYK Gulfport.


CHICAGO: The hot potato known as the University of Illinois football and basketball broadcasts has now been caught by WLS 890, which has a new 5 year deal starting with the coming football season. After dumping White Sox and Bulls broadcasts in 2017, the station had been without live play-by-play. The games move over from WSCR 670, which picked up Bulls broadcasts which added even more schedule conflicts.

The Bulls are having another awful season, but WLS-TV Channel 7 added to the misery last weekend (2/2). On its early evening sportscast, Dionne Miller, who has been at the station for more than four years, reported that the Bulls were set to take on New Orleans. The problem was that New Orleans was the next opponent. The Bulls were playing in Charlotte 40 minutes later. No correction was made on that newscast, nor on the station's late news, when Miller had them correctly playing Charlotte during the highlight segment.


SOUTH JERSEY: Former Philadelphia 97.5 The Fanatic hosts Harry Mayes and Eytan Shander will begin hosting from Noon to 2 PM on weekdays on WENJ 97.3 ESPN in Millville. The pair is doing a daily podcast for the station until they begin on April 1st. The station will continue to carry Mike Gill from 2 to 6 PM, which leaves open the possibility of Mayes and Shander being able to expand to more afternoon hours.


CHARLOTTE: WBCN 1660 and 94.7 is now carrying Fox Sports Radio. As of now, there are no plans to originate any local programming. For those wondering, WBCN is re-assigned call letters and has no affiliation with the former Boston rock station which made those call letters famous.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Over 100 Untold Stories

While NFL fans hope for a quality game and a solid telecast of the Super Bowl, others hope that the two weeks of hype starts taking a more solid direction moving forward. The making news when there is no news to justify "covering" the Super Bowl seems even more uneventful, probably due to all of the social media and podcasts adding to the broadcast and print media mix.

The rosters of the participating teams, along with the coaching staffs and front offices, total more than 150 people, each with their own story to tell. However, it seems like all we see are the starting quarterbacks answering the same questions they faced all season. Worse yet, this year seems to have set a record for media people interviewing media people.

Interviewing one of the beat writers or reporters of a participating team has merit, but radio and TV stations and newspapers didn't need to send reporters to Atlanta (or host city) to do that. Not when there are more than 150 stories to tell associated with the participating teams.


INDIANAPOLIS: Jeff Rickard adds co-hosting middays on WFNI The Fan 1070 and 107.5. The "Jeff & Big Joe Show" now airs from 10 AM to Noon on weekdays with former Colt Joe Staysniak remaining in the co-host role. Rickard replaces Michael Grady, who had been co-hosting from New York after joining the YES Network as sideline reporter for the Brooklyn Nets in 2017. Grady had been with the station for eight years.


ST. LOUIS: The disappointing season by the Blues has caused KMOX to drop the broadcasts it has done for the majority of the team's existence. The remainder of this season will complete this 12 season run. Beginning with the 2019-20 season, the Blues will air on WXOS ESPN 101.1. The station just extended its affiliation with ESPN Radio while marking its 10th anniversary as an affiliate.


RICHMOND: As we reported last week, WJFK-FM Washington D.C. is looking to syndicate its successful "Sports Junkies" morning show around the region. This week it was announced that WRNL-AM 910 The Fan has added "Sports Junkies" as its morning show. The Richmond market always shows very well with NFL TV ratings, especially for Redskins and division games. Having a strong Redskins presence in the morning should help during NFL season. However, since the coming season is now months away, it remains to be seen whether or not this move will impact the audience in the short term.


ORLANDO: WYGM 96.9 The Game will debut a new afternoon drive program on February 11th. "In The Zone with Brandon Kravitz & The Shot Doctor" will debut. THe 'Shot Doctor' is Austin Pistulka, who is also the Executive Producer.


COLUMBIA SC: Phil Kornblut and "SportsTalk" continues from 6 to 8 PM on 100.7 and 1470 The Point even though the S.C. (South Carolina) Radio Network was discontinued last week. Kornblut's show has been part of the state's sports radio scene for the past 35 years, airing on as many as 30 other stations around the state. The Point's web site will continue to stream SportsTalk. Kornblut will also continue his recruiting column for the Post & Courier.