Thursday, January 10, 2019

Wizards Telecasts Betting On More Numbers

Two sports telecast trends are coming together as one starting later this week (1/11), with NBC Sports Washington leading the way. Having a duplicate telecast on a separate channel is not new, as evidenced by ESPN showing its college football championship telecast last Monday on several of its channels.

Perhaps a better example is when ESPN did a separate Statcast version of its National League Wild Card telecast this past October, showing a ton of statistics and having a separate broadcast crew talking up the statistical angles.

What NBC Sports Washington is doing on Friday, and on seven other Wizards telecasts over the remainder of the season, is providing a duplicate telecast with an emphasis on betting and fantasy sports. Although it will show the same basic telecast and have the same announcing crew, its NBC Sports Washington Plus telecast of the Wizards game against Milwaukee will show additional data.
Information such as odds and point spreads, along with fantasy sports updates will appear in layers toward the bottom of the screen. According to Sports Business Journal, the look will be similar to what CNBC does with its daily stock market coverage.

The plan is for these telecasts to also offer contests and sweepstakes, allowing "fans" to guess things such as the number of points scored in a given quarter by both teams and individual players.
From a ratings standpoint, this concept could be the even bigger winner. When a telecast with this feed is a blowout, this is the sort of thing that could keep fans watching longer than they normally would to find out how their "guesses" turned out. The plan is for this alternate telecast to also include the same commercials as the "regular" version. Thus, the potential for 4th quarter advertisers to have more impact over the course of several games.

It will be interesting to see how quickly other NBC Sports regional networks adopt this idea over the next few months. It is possible that parents of younger children may complain about this possibly encouraging gambling. What is even more interesting is that, so far, the NBA is going along with this idea, even though it is very early on. That's a far cry from the days nearly 50 years ago when the NFL publicly did not like Jimmy The Greek on CBS talking about the teams against the point spreads on NFL Today.

Looking back at long term TV ratings from 2018 we see that The Golf Channel showed perhaps the most impressive increase. It was not from a tournament or special programming. The network show an approximately 7% increase in overall audience, which puts it ahead of "average day" viewers of MLB Network for the entire year.

On the other side, NASCAR ratings slumped for the year, as did MLB telecasts on FS1. Although the FS1 viewership grew for the year (which in a way wasn't much of a challenge), a lot of fans still don't know to find their hidden telecasts. Another problem with FS1 and its MLB coverage was inconsistent start times for its Saturday coverage and being locked in to the majority of its telecasts by the start of the season. Starting telecasts anywhere between 1 PM and 10 PM ET on Saturdays, and having no pattern for occasional weeknight telecasts is no way to develop audience habits. Their MLB Whiparound show, even with little to no more competition with ESPN reducing "Baseball Tonight" seemed to have that name because they "whip around" its starting time each night as well.

Speaking of MLB Network, their tendency to keep coming up with innovation and improvements throughout the year seem to have gone the way of the complete game. This network should be able to access an expansive inventory of video from MLB as well as from each team. Instead, all we get for most of three months are the same 20 stale baseball movies and the Ken Burns series they have been airing for most of their 10 years of existence.

Here is an idea, which is actually their own, but needs to be expanded. Just like their "30 Teams In 30 Days" approach during spring training, they could be spending one day out of each off-season month emphasizing one team. Show one of their classic games, a player profile, past season highlights film, and add some discussion about them from their analysts. Give fans of each team a reason to keep track of which day their favorite team will be highlighted. Save the movies for overnight or up against Sunday Night Baseball, and not twice every week.

NBC lucked out with its NFL Wild Card telecast last week (1/6) between the Eagles and Bears. The thrilling end resulted in the best ratings for an NBC Wild Card telecast in 25 years, and its highest rated "non Super Bowl" telecast since regaining NFL telecasts in 2006. The audience ratings for the game were more than double what the network had for its prime time Golden Globes Awards telecast which followed.

Yet, the NFL has another audience statistic to be more proud of. The Green Bay Packers were long gone before the playoffs, but their rivalry against the Bears was very much in evidence. It seems that Milwaukee's ratings for this telecast were higher than those for Dallas, although both markets had the same audience share. What makes this significant is that this game had zero impact on the Packers, while Dallas fans watched because it directly impacted who the Cowboys are playing this coming weekend.

ESPN killed in the ratings with its Colts vs. Texans telecast, being the most watched show of the evening.

Meanwhile, ESPN showed its highest overnight ratings since last January with its college football championship telecast on Monday (1/7). 

However, the most entertaining media story from that game came from Birmingham's WJOX 94.5, which aired the radio broadcast. During its local post game show, following the Alabama blowout loss, the station mistakenly aired a commercial for U. of Alabama championship souvenirs being available at a local sporting goods store.

Friday, January 4, 2019

NFL PreGame Shows Out Foxed

As we get ready for a big weekend of football over a variety of networks, it's interesting to note viewer trends of the surrounding studio shows from the just concluded 2018 NFL season.

Even with all of the coverage of the NFL throughout the week, it is noteworthy that viewership was up overall for the pre-game shows offered by the televising networks compared with the 2017 regular season. Coincidentally, both The NFL Today on CBS and ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown showed viewership increases of roughly 4% for the season. 

NBC's Football Night In America, which has most of its first hour going against the doubleheader game(s) of Fox and/or CBS each week, gained roughly 200,000 viewers from the prior season. The only decrease, curiously, was Fox NFL Kickoff, which showed a decline of approximately 1%.

It remains to be seen whether Fox will make any changes from its long in place lineup of hosts, or if they will stand pat and consider this season a fluke. Whether they do or don't, there is plenty of reason for concern on their part.

2018 was the first season that Fox had the benefit of Thursday Night Football for much of the season, providing them with the first chance to promote their Sunday pregame show most weeks. Although the NY Giants got off to a poor start, which likely had an effect with fewer views from the nation's largest market, the next two largest markets, Los Angeles and Chicago, had teams which aired mostly on Fox that were in first place for the majority of the season. The Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles also had the majority of their telecasts on Fox.

Even though Fox did not lose very many viewers from the previous season, the point is that the other networks combined to increase viewership well beyond the audience numbers which Fox's show lost. Fox needs to find one or more reasons why they are the only pregame show which did not increase its viewership. 

This Monday night is ESPN's turn to shine with its coverage of the college national championship game between Alabama and Clemson. They are arranging it so that even the casual fan will find a reason to tune in. Unlike when Fox moves important baseball games to FS1, this Monday's game will be easy to find. As of press time, it is scheduled to air on 17 separate places if you count streaming feeds on ESPN3!

The feed will include ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPN Classic, Goal Line, and even the SEC Network. Feeds will range from the participant team announcers to multi-camera views to enhanced statistics such as real time drive charts. Camera angles will include from first down markers, the orange pylons, and sky cams.

It's possible that NBC Sports Radio has come up with a way to draw some attention. The new year brought "The Daily Line" to the network each weekday from 3 to 7 PM ET, with the focus being on betting lines and fantasy sports information.

Still in works but not finalized at press time is that portions of the show will be simulcast, or possibly edited highlights, each day on the NBC Sports Regional Networks. The length of the planned TV version is not known, nor is it certain whether each regional network would air the same length show.

It remains to be seen whether or not "The Daily Line" would replace the afternoon highlights version of The Dan Patrick Show, or would air in different time slots.

The feeling here is that this show has a lot of potential. At least in the early stage, it will be the only show with betting and fantasy as a center point, and provide factual information and discussion about upcoming games. Some fans prefer to learn information instead of hearing the same discussion about the local teams over and over again.

HOUSTON: It's a new challenge for the new Program Director brought in for KILT 610 and KIKK 650 as the sports stations struggle to build a larger audience. Armen Williams takes over, coming in from Denver's KKFN 104.3 The Fan.

SAN FRANCISCO: It's official that long time 49ers radio voice Ted Robinson is cutting back on his schedule and will be handling Community Affairs for the team instead of calling the games.

Stepping in will be none other than Greg Papa, who comes across the Bay after having called the Oakland Raiders games until after the 2017 season. 

BALTIMORE: With WBAL Newsradio 1090 adding 101.5 FM as a simulcast, it means that the Ravens games now air on three signals within the Baltimore area. The game broadcasts also air on Rock 97.9, with those expected to continue even with WBAL's FM simulcast. 

LOS ANGELES: The Dodgers have extended the contract of radio (and occasional TV) voice Charlie Steiner through the next three seasons. The 69 year old Steiner will celebrate his 50th year as a broadcaster during the upcoming 2019 season.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Milwaukee Brewing Up A Ton of Sports

While the Packers struggle and face missing the NFL playoffs and the Brewers look to build on their success during this off-season, the most interesting sports battle in Milwaukee has suddenly become for radio listeners.

The market recently saw the change of 94.5 WKTI as it dropped its country music format and became 94.5 ESPN upon new ownership. The significance of the change is enhanced by being the sister station to WTMJ 620 which has been the long time flagship for both the Brewers and Packers broadcasts. This enables 94.5 to enhance the local team coverage, along with acting as the host of one of those teams when they conflict during August and September (and possibly October).

But there is now more to the story, as iHeart suddenly changed WRNW 97.3 to "The Game". To make things more interesting, "The Game" starts out with local programming it brought over from WOKY 920, even though WOKY hardly made a dent in the local sports scene. WRNW brings over Drew Olson and Kevin Brandt for its 6 to 10 AM spot, Dan Needles and Dan Davis for 10 AM to Noon, and Dario Melendez and Bob Brainerd from Noon to 2 PM. The Game airs Mike Heller, a regionally syndicated show from 2 to 6 PM. The station is also the Milwaukee station for University of Wisconsin basketball and football.

WOKY 920 remains all sports, but will not simulcast with The Game. It returns to syndicated shows such as Dan Patrick and Colin Cowherd. Factor in the existing 105.7 The Fan and sister WSSP 1250, along with WKTI sister WAUK 540 sports, and we now have an incredible five full-time sports stations serving the Milwaukee market.

It doesn't stop there. Being just 75 miles from Chicago, the two major sports outlets, WSCR The Score 670 and WMVP ESPN 1000 with heavy local programming, are easily received in the Milwaukee area. WSCR has occasionally appeared in the Milwaukee ratings books.

When you consider that WTMJ 620 originates some sports programming in support of its Packers and Brewers play-by-play, and is expected to continue that long time tradition, you have a lot of competition for the sports fans. The big question now is whether it will be survival of the fittest or waiting for the next "hot" radio format and see which of these stations bites first and second.

The October Nielsen radio ratings showed another incredible battle among the popular Boston sports stations. WBZ-FM Sports Hub and WEEI-FM combined for a nearly 1.5 overall ratings increase and finished second and third in the market. This is not likely to hold for the November book, as the October run of the Red Sox to the World Series championship while the Patriots battle to return to the Super Bowl each took center stage. WBZ-FM increased by .8 of a rating point with its Patriots broadcasts and finished #1 during afternoon drive. WEEI-FM, the Red Sox flagship, understandably finished #1 at night. However, if WEEI-FM did not overtake Sports Hub during the Red Sox run, this could set the stage for WBZ-FM to maintain the lead, even as both stations continue to attract large audiences.

In New York, the programming revisions at WFAN-FM seem to have caught up with them, and not in a positive way. The Fan dropped .7 of a ratings point, although it finished at a very respectable #8 in the market. Keep in mind this was during the Yankees run in the post-season. WEPN-FM ESPN only gained .1 overall (#20 in the market), but made news with its afternoon drive ratings.

WEPN-FM with The MIchael Kay Show almost caught Mike Francesa on WFAN-FM, which included a tie between the two for the 25 to 54 male group. While Francesa's show airs on 660 AM and 101.9 FM, providing superior signal coverage to WEPN, Kay is also the regular season TV voice of the Yankees and this rating period was at the height of their post-season run. In addition, Francesa's show is also simulcast on YES Network as its play-by-play schedule permits.

The Fan's competitive strength continues to now be mornings, where Boomer & Gio finished 1.5 rating points ahead of Golic & Wingo on WEPN-FM.

In Minneapolis, KXFN-FM The Fan finished an impressive #2 overall, including #1 for weekends, which surrounds its Vikings coverage. In Chicago, the lack of an extended post-season run from the Cubs and another horrible start by the Bulls sent WSCR 670 The Score all the way down to #18 in the market with a 1.4 rating point drop. Yet, WMVP ESPN 1000 held steady with its ratings, which are now roughly half of WSCR's.

IOWA CITY: Although Iowa Hawkeyes play-by-play voice Gary Dolphin is undergoing a two-game broadcasting suspension, at least his remarks that caused it were on the air and not via social media. Dolphin, who acknowledge his mistake, was heard over the air during game breaks commenting about team needs and the performance of one player in particular. Dolphin thought his microphone was off. WHO 1040 Des Moines let its fans discuss the suspension at length. His suspension runs through Monday (12/3).

ATLANTA: The Braves are realigning their radio and TV broadcaster alignment starting with the 2019 season. The impressive analyst work of former Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur and the request of Joe Simpson to cut back prompted the change. Francoeur is now expected to work roughy 100 telecasts, with Simpson handling about 30 during his 28th season in the booth. Simpson will move over to the radio booth for up to 100 other games.

Tom Glavine will work more games on the TV side, while Chip Caray continues on play-by-play. Ben Ingram and Don Sutton will also rotate on the Braves announcing team, primarily on the radio side.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Big Ratings Week For ESPN

As the Boston sports radio battle continues between WEEI-FM and WBZ-FM Sports Hub, the morning drive battle between the two just got a lot more interesting. WEEI-FM's Kirk & Callahan morning show is now officially without Kirk Minihane. Mike Mutansky has been named as official co-host of the show along with Gerry Callahan.

Minihane and the station parted ways over what Minihane called "a philosophical difference" with the station, announcing the change on WGBH-TV earlier this week. Kirk had missed time from the show earlier this year due to "mental health issues", although he revealed during the TV interview that he was given limitations about being critical of the Red Sox and the Globe (newspaper).

The big news in New York radio is the Mets making another move to a new flagship station. After only a couple of seasons on WOR 710 (from WFAN prior to that), the Mets move to WCBS-AM 880. The team will have a new second play-by-play voice, as Josh Lewin is leaving the Mets' booth to head back to San Diego.

Lewin will be a part of the Padres broadcasts starting in the spring, although early word is that he will primarily handle the pre-game and post-game shows. Since Lewin continues as radio voice of UCLA football, the move significantly reduces his travel schedule during the last two months of the baseball season. He had worked on the Mets broadcasts for the past five seasons.

As of press time, the Mets have not announced a replacement yet. Howie Rose will return to the Mets broadcast, having agreed to a new deal with terms not disclosed.

The amazing Monday Night Football game (11/19) between the Rams and Chiefs brought ESPN its biggest MNF audience in nearly two years. In Los Angeles, the telecast, on both ESPN and KABC-TV Channel 7, was the highest rated NFL telecast locally since 2016. One interesting ratings stat is that ESPN had a higher rating than Channel 7, which aired the same ESPN telecast.

In Kansas City, KMBC-TV had more than double the rating than ESPN, with the duplicate telecast combining for an amazing 52.8 local rating.

This week figures to be a ratings bonanza for ESPN. On Wednesday (11/21), its NBA coverage includes the LeBron James return to Cleveland, now as member of the Lakers. Along with anticipated national interest, ESPN gets an added boost because it will be the exclusive telecast into the Cleveland market as well. As you would expect, the #1 team of Mike Breen and Mark Jackson will call the game.

Next will be a weekend filled with NCAA basketball and football for the ESPN networks.

In Philadelphia, NBC Sports Philadelphia scored with its Sixers coverage following the team's acquisition of Jimmy Butler. Last week (11/14), the Sixers telecast against Orlando with Butler's Sixers debut was the number one cable show overall in the market. More importantly, it was the network's (including previous incarnations) highest rated Sixers regular season game since 2001.

It's a long way off, especially with the recent snowstorm on the east coast, but ESPN has announced its opening MLB schedule for late March and early April. It's March 28th opening day triple header choices will surprise a grand total of absolutely no one. As if we need to report this, the Yankees, Dodgers, and Red Sox games will open their season.

One first on their schedule is, along the line of their NFL coverage, having a doubleheader to kick off Sunday Night Baseball. They will show the Chicago Cubs at Texas at 4 PM ET on Sunda March 31, followed by the Braves at Phillies at 7 PM ET. The network also has planned for four live games on Monday April 1st.

Happy Turkey to all!

Monday, October 1, 2018

Rare Monday Tripleheader Highlights The Week

Quite the day on Monday (10/1) for ESPN, with three major live telecasts. ESPN had the unprecedented two tiebreaker National League games all afternoon, leading into its already scheduled K.C. vs. Denver Monday Night Football telecast.

ESPN was coming off a successful Saturday, with their telecast of the Ohio State vs. Penn State thriller becoming the highest college football overnight rating thus far in the season.

The MLB post-season lines up on multiple networks this week, with Fox once again burying their post-season telecasts on Fox Sports 1. They probably still will find other reasons to justify lower ratings instead of the realization that many casual baseball fans don't know FS1 and can't find the games.

On TBS, Don Orsillo will have an extended role for the post-season, replacing Ernie Johnson. Johnson, who expects to be ready for his studio duties on NBA telecasts starting later this month, is unable to do play-by-play for MLB due to a medical diagnosis which results in his being advised by doctors not to fly.

The September radio ratings are out already for the top markets (as of press time).  The big surprise is New York's WFAN-FM dropping by .8 of a ratings point overall. Although still a respectable #9 in the market, the Yankees going to the post-season combined with shaky starts for both the Giants and Jets usually makes for a ton of interesting discussion. WEPN-FM ESPN did not benefit from WFAN's loss, holding steady with a 1.4 Nielsen rating for the third consecutive month.

In Chicago, WSCR The Score 670 did the opposite of WFAN-FM, rising by .8 to #6 overall in the market. The station was obviously helped by the Cubs (flagship station) heading toward the post-season (during the ratings period) and the impressive start by the Bears. WMVP ESPN gained .2 but finished #25 overall in the market.

Even with the Dodgers in the division race and the majority of the market unable to watch their local telecasts, KLAC 570 again failed to make the market's top 25, holding steady from the month before. Houston's KBME-AM rose by .4 to the strongest overall audience showing by a Houston sports station in years, yet still did not finish in the top 20 for the market.

Philadelphia's WIP-FM held steady and finished #6 in that market's ratings, while San Francisco's KNBR 680 felt the impact of the disappointing seasons from both the Giants and 49ers. KNBR dropped .8 overall, while failing to make the top 10 in the market. The always strong and competitive Boston ratings were not yet available at press time.

The NHL season starts on Wednesday (10/3) and NBCSN is ready with a doubleheader to kick it off. The Bruins vs. the Capitals is the opener followed by Anaheim vs. San Jose.

PHILADELPHIA: WPEN-FM 97.5 The Fanatic (which now has roughly one-third of the total audience of WIP-FM) has announced its new morning and midday lineup, with Anthony Gargano moving out of morning and into the midday show.

The "Farzetta and Tra Show" comes to mornings, with Marc Farzetta and (former Eagle) William 'Tra' Thomas. Gargano moves to the 10 AM to 2 PM spot, where he is now paired with Jason Myrtetus, who remains in place.

CHICAGO: As the NBA begins its pre-season, Bulls TV voice Neil Funk decided to reduce his travel schedule starting this season, which will be his 47th year as a broadcaster. Funk will call all home games and roughly half of the road telecasts, reducing his schedule by 20 games for the coming season. He has been calling Bulls games since the 1991-92 season including radio and TV. Word is that the Bulls will not name a replacement for all 20 telecasts for this season.

It was quite the Saturday (9/29) for WGN Radio, faced with conflicts for its local play-by-play. The three local teams it is flagship station for were all playing within the same time period, while the station does not have a sister station on either AM or FM.

WGN 720 aired the Northwestern vs. Michigan football game at 4 PM local time, joining its White Sox vs. Minnesota broadcast following the football post-game show. The White Sox broadcast (6:10 PM game start) was farmed out to WYLL 1160 AM in its entirety, including pre and post-game programming.

Later, the Blackhawks pre-season game, which started at 7:00 PM, was farmed out to WLS 890 for the entire broadcast. The station did air the Northwestern and Blackhawks games via its web site, with MLB restrictions preventing them from also streaming the White Sox broadcast.

NBC Sports Chicago lost a legend with the retirement of Director Jim Angio after 40 years of directing White Sox and Bulls telecasts. The network also canceled its studio highlights shows, again, after two years since their not well received format changes.

Siera Santos, who had been with NBC Sports Chicago as a reporter for the past three years, has joined WFLD-TV as a sports anchor and reporter.

NEW YORK: As if this wasn't a tough enough season for the Mets, the TV ratings statistics for the market (for SNY) show that the loss of the Mets audience for the just concluded season was roughly twice the amount of viewers that the Yankees gained for their telecasts of their 100 win season on YES Network.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Fighting Like Tigers In The Booth

The Detroit Tigers aren't fighting for anything except a distant third place finish this season, but their TV broadcasters are. The rumored tension appeared to have become a fact on Wednesday (9/5) when Mario Impemba and Rod Allen reportedly had an altercation which took both of them off the night's telecast of the Tigers vs. White Sox game in Chicago.

Viewers that tuned in to find Matt Shepard and Kirk Gibson on the telecast, who had to be brought in to Chicago to do so earlier in the day. The altercation reported occurred following the Tuesday night telecast. Representatives for both had no comment, nor did would Fox Sports Detroit (as of press time).

It was not clear whether or not the pair would or will return to Tigers telecasts for the weekend, while this column was completed prior to their Friday night telecast. Some joked that the pair did their job well, by giving Tigers fans a reason to tune in during a busy football weekend.

The poor season by the Tigers, and the uncertainty about the Lions, have also caused WXYT-FM The Ticket to drop a full ratings point in the just released August radio ratings. This is roughly a 20% overall audience reduction.

The start of the NFL regular season brings good news for those who like to watch via their phones. The NFL has just allowed for fans to be able to view "in market" games via the NFL or Yahoo sports apps on smart phones, regardless of carrier. Last season, the NFL had its streaming deal only with Verizon. The best part is that this applies whether or not you have a cable or satellite subscription.

Speaking of the August radio ratings, there were only a few interesting notes from the major markets this time around. In New York, WFAN-FM came in at #5 overall, and with more than triple the total audience of WPEN-FM.

Philadelphia's WIP-FM had a big jump, coming in at #6 in the market. This is not surprising given the start of the Eagles season while the Phillies unexpectedly contend for the post-season.

In Boston, WEEI-FM jumped up .9 of a ratings point since July and came in #6 overall, with its largest lead over #9 WBZ-FM Sports Hub in quite some time. St. Louis' WXOS-FM showed a strong gain, moving up a full ratings point since June and finishing #12 in the market, in what is believed to be its highest rating ever as a sports station.

This Saturday (9/8) will be another busy one for ESPN's Jason Benetti. He will call the Northwestern vs. Duke football game on ESPNU at 12 Noon ET, and then call the White Sox vs. Angels game from Chicago at 7 PM ET on NBC Sports Chicago.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Which Way The Fan Blows

It turns out that part of the deal which brought Mike Francesa back to WFAN 101.9 in May was the ability for Francesa to start a new mobile app. This app allows him to post fresh content at his discretion. This is sure to be an additional revenue stream for both Francesa and the station, which combine to attract top notch advertisers.

Although WFAN considers this to be another income source, it could eventually factor in to their radio audience. If Francesa begins posting a lot of fresh content on the app, instead of doing so on his afternoon show, it would mean that many fans would not be as compelled to listen to his show on the radio, which would impact the ratings. It looks as though WFAN needed to include this in order to get Francesa back on the air in order to deliver stronger ratings than his replacements.

The concern here is that apps and podcasts, along with sports stations putting up entire shows on their web sites, give local sports fans in their market more reasons to not listen to the station's live broadcast. You would think they would have learned a valuable lesson from many of the struggling newspapers, who treated the internet as a separate vehicle and allowed online and electronic media outlets to pass them up.

Radio needs to be attracting listeners and trying to bring them back, whether sports or other formats, and promoting distractions such as apps, podcasts, and web site videos, serve to take potential listeners away and get them used to going elsewhere.

CBS-TV has announced its announcer pairings and assignments for its NFL coverage. Coach Bruce Arians joins Greg Gumbel and Trent Green this season, starting with the exhibition game on Friday (8/24) between Detroit and Tampa Bay. This crew has been assigned to call the Week 1 matchup of Pittsburgh and Cleveland, Oakland at Denver in Week 2, Oakland at Miami in Week 3, and Cincinnati at Atlanta in Week 4.

The network will have another three man crew with Kevin Harlan being joined each week by Rich Gannon and Steve Tasker. This crew calls Buffalo vs. Baltimore in Week 1 and Miami at NY Jets in Week 2. The first two CBS-TV doubleheaders will be in Weeks 2 and 4. Week 4's doubleheader games include the flexed New Orleans vs. NY Giants with Jim Nantz and Tony Romo on the call.

WASHINGTON DC: The reality of being sold and changes which follow hit WTEM The Team 980 this month, a couple of months after new ownership took over. It became official that Chris Cooley and Kevin Sheehan and the morning show, which was pulled on August 1st, is now officially over. Scott Jackson and Doc Walker are also gone from the daily lineup.

The revised schedule, which may or may not stick, has Al Galdi doing mornings, Fred Smoot from 10 AM to 1 PM, Brian Mitchell and Scott Linn from 1 PM to 4 PM, with Steve Czaban doing 4 PM to 7 PM. Both Cooley and Walker remain on the Redskins broadcasts, which continue to air on WTEM as well as on WMAL Baltimore.

BOSTON: The coming of legalized sports betting and the competitive nature of sports radio are showing up on WBZ-FM Sports Hub. As of this week, the Sports Hub runs "VSIN Action Updates" at 12:15 and 6:15 PM on weekdays. VSIN is the group that Brent Musberger runs. This show is also heard on KNBR San Francisco and WSCR Chicago among others.

MINNEAPOLIS: KSTP ESPN 1500 appears to be either reducing or dropping its daytime sports programming after September 7th. The station has announced that the Mackey & Judd morning sports show is ending, as will be long time hosts Joe Soucheray and Patrick Reusse. Phil Mackey and Judd Zulgad will reportedly continue to work at the station, which has not announced (as of press time) what the revised daytime format will be.

GREENEVILLE NC: Patrick Johnson returns to Greeneville and will host afternoons on WRHD-FM 94.3 The Game, along with studio hosting for the station's play-by-play of Eastern Carolina University football. Johnson replaces Josh Graham who left to join Winston-Salem's WSJS.

QUAD CITIES: Jay Foster, Eric Sergesketter, and Troy Gutknecht have gone from a podcast to becoming the new host of "Don't Hassle Us, We're Local" on ESPN Radio 93.5 on weekdays. The trio becomes the first local sports show heard on the station. Truly local, since all three are longtime residents of the area.