Monday, December 22, 2008

Sports Media Report - December 22 update

The Pittsburgh Pirates have named their new play-by-play voice to replace the retired Lanny Fratare starting this coming season. Chosen over 200+ candidates is 42 year old Tim Neverett, most recently in the Denver area hosting studio coverage and doing fill-in for Rockies TV. He also hosted sports talk on Denver's 1510 and 560 AM, along with Mountain West Conference play-by-play.

Neverett began his baseball broadcasting career at age 19 when he called games for the Nashua N.H. class AA farm club of the Pirates. Our congrats to Tim, who was considered to have been runner-up to Brian Anderson two years ago for the Milwaukee Brewers TV position.

While we are days away from the official debut of MLB-TV on most cable systems across the country, the channel is already on the air and showing recent World Series films plus a few extras on rotation until Jan. 1st. A personal friend alerted me to it, and I know of 4 different cities which now have MLB-TV already showing, so be sure to check if you have digital cable.

MLB-TV makes its debut next week, on New Year's Day at 6 PM ET, and reportedly plans to show Don Larsen's perfect game from the 1956 World Series in what is believed to be the first re-airing of the telecast. Looks more interesting to me than the bowl games that evening.

On the football side, Sports Business Journal reports that the NFL is revisiting its radio rights package after this season. Or, as we might be saying very soon, packages. The League is looking at additional possibilities beyond Westwood One, based on stock price and recent financial issues with parent CBS Radio. I think this translates to getting ESPN in on the bidding, since a Monday Night Football radio package would give both TV and radio to ESPN. I'm sure the NFL wants some of those millions that ESPN just spent on the BCS, and here is a way they can get it, along with millions more from other networks and sources. Look for at least one announcement around Super Bowl time. The NFL's deal with Siriux XM continues through the 2010 season.

NEW YORK - After 40+ years of reporting sports on TV and radio around New York and nationally, Sal Marchiano has retired. His final sportcast came last Thursday (Dec. 18) on WPIX-TV instead of Friday as previously thought, after 14 years on channel 11. Many across the country may remember Sal from a stint on ESPN.

Going back even further, Marchiano used to fill in on "Howard Cosell Speaking of Sports" back when the ABC Radio Network was only the ABC Radio Network.

As for WPIX-TV, Lolita Lopez is handling the weeknight sportscasts, but is considered an interim replacement.

CHICAGO - Sports radio 670 WSCR The Score is trumpeting carrying the entire NCAA Tournament this March. As much as I like to see sports stations carry play-by-play instead of fans merely giving their opinions on the games, this announcement is much ado over very litte.

Local college teams, such as DePaul, Loyola, University of Illinois Chicago, and Northwestern, are not expected to be a factor if they even make the tournament. Then, the station acts like it has to move its White Sox exhibition game schedule around to make room. Give me a break. Even with the increased ratings its White Sox coverage delievered last summer and fall and coming off a Central Division championship, the station again plans to broadcast just five (count 'em, 5) entire exhibition games.

WSCR claims a nine game exhibition schedule, but four of them are what they call "interactive" broadcasts. The station did this during March of this year. What it really amounts to is a talk show including the White Sox broadcasters who are at the exhibition game, and occasional updates about what is going on in the game itself. As if they couldn't have talk shows with the broadcasters at night or at other times. Do they really think we would rather hear who the fans think should be the starting White Sox center fielder, or hear how that day's center fielder is doing at the plate?

SAN FRANCISCO - While many NFL cities await this coming Sunday's final day of the regular season and the playoff implications, 49ers fans will hear the final call of long-time voice Joe Starkey on KNBR 680 against the Redskins.

This move is not a retirement; rather a schedule reduction for Starkey after more than 20 years of calling two football games most weekends. Joe will continue as the voice of Cal football.

Cal football was there long ago for Starkey. Most of you know the "The band is on the field!!" call of the legendary 1982 college game. That was Starkey doing what he has done since 1975 for the Golden Bears. In a way, this will be the toughest 49ers "loss" of the season.

St. LOUIS - It seems like our weekly update on the new WMVN, which finally starts next week after months of planning and hiring. Sure enough, Bob Ramsey will join 101.1 FM on Jan. 2nd, it's first day as a sports outlet. He will team with Randy Karraker for afternoon drive. Ramsey is already being heard on that frequency as St. Louis University basketball already moved over last month. The St. Louis Post Dispatch speculates that D'Marco Farr (the former Rams player) might be a participant on that program to some extent.

OKLAHOMA CITY - They may have gained an NBA team, but they are about to lose their second sports station. Jox 930 AM is airing ESPN Radio programming, but this is a temporary move until a new format is unveiled. The station no longer shows up in the ratings and has let go of its local talent. The biggest contributors to its demise were the death of afternoon co-host Jack Mildren and losing out on the bidding for the NBA Thunder to rival (until now) WWLS.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sports Media Report - December 16th Update

Several moves on the play-by-play scene over the past few days. While the upcoming MLB-TV Network gets ready for its Jan. 1st debut, its newest studio host is Victor Rojas, who has now officially been named to the post. Rojas had been considered a possible candidate for the open San Diego Padres job.

In Chicago, after nearly two months of waiting, Darrin Jackson has decided to accept the White Sox radio gig as the #2 voice behind Ed Farmer. Jackson comes over from the TV booth after trying to catch on with one of the national networks since the announcement was made that Steve Stone is moving from the White Sox radio booth over to the TV side.

In Los Angeles, Spero Dedes and Mychal Thompson will continue handling Lakers radio, but will be changing flagship stations after this season. Starting next season, the Lakers will be heard on KSPN 710 beginning a multi-year agreement. This ends a 30+ year association between the Lakers and 570 KLAC. If KLAC wants to continue to carry the NBA, they figure to have a shot a Clippers broadcasts. KSPN is, in effect, dumping the Clippers to take the Lakers, which nobody except Clippers management will question.

This past Sunday (Dec. 14) was a busy one for Spero Dedes. After hosting NFL Gameday Morning" on the NFL Network for 3 hours (keeping in mind the show airs starting at 6 AM Los Angeles time), Dedes was on the air at 6:00 PM to call the Lakers vs. Timberwolves game from the Staples Center.

On the Dodgers side, it seems there is a rare TV opening for a play-by-play voice for about 40 of the Dodgers road telecasts when Vin Scully does not travel with the team. This translates to road telecasts east of Colorado.

The team has been moving Charlie Steiner over from the radio booth for the past 3 seasons and had Jerry Reuss fill in on the radio side with Rick Monday. This change means that Steiner and Monday will call every game on radio only and it appears that Reuss is out. TV analyst Steve Lyons is under contract for the 2009 season, as is the 81 year old Scully.

Scully will be inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame this coming April.

In Columbus, WBNS 1460 The Fan has expanded its surrounding coverage of the NHL Blue Jackets. "The Coach's Show with Ken Hitchcock" airs each Wednesday from 3:00 to 4:00 PM, and "Breakfast With The Blue Jackets" airs at 10:00 AM each Sunday with the team's broadcasters.

On the TV side, a tremendous weekend just concluded for football viewing. Hours before NBC-TV set a Sunday Night Football viewing record, CBS scored its third highest ratings of the season with a 15.3 overnight from its Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore thriller during Sunday's late game. This was despite Fox-TV having the Vikings - Cardinals game on against it in several markets including Chicago. However, the early blowout by Minnesota probably contributed to the CBS-TV audience.

The week before (Dec. 7th) was the highest rated NFL (afternoon) telecast so far this season when Fox-TV drew a 17 rating for its doubleheader game telecast of Dallas at Pittsburgh.
The Big Ten Network continues to do what it can to attract viewers it hopes will ante up some bucks to continue with the BTN for the 2009-10 football and basketball seasons. The network airs, for now, on expanded basic on many cable systems, with the plan to move it to an extra cost tier before next fall. While many believe this will not come to fruition, the network is continuing its appeal to sports fans.

BTN is unleashing what it terms "new" classic Big 10 basketball telecasts from years gone by as a showcase to the caliber of talent the Conference has produced over the years.

Let's be real about this. If ESPN Classic were actually doing what it set out to do and did for its first couple of years, this BTN announcement wouldn't even have made the sports pages. Maybe this will start spreading the news to ESPN that its "Classic" Network is seriously under its potential. Now, while Classic continues to feed us poker and game replays from within the past 10 years, it looks like conference and pro league networks see the value of showing "true" classic telecasts.

Here is the Press Release from the Big Ten:

+ + + + + +

Network Airing 16 New Basketball Classics on ‘Greatest Games’

Series features five Big Ten national championships

CHICAGO – Where can fans watch Big Ten legends such as Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Glenn Robinson, Deron Williams and Keith Smart square off against basketball greats like Larry Bird, James Worthy, Tayshaun Prince, Jacque Vaughn and Chris Paul? Only on the Big Ten Network this winter on the popular series The Big Ten’s Greatest Games.

In all, 16 new classics will debut during the course of the basketball season.

The Greatest Games schedule features five Big Ten national championships, including Indiana’s title games in 1981 and 1987, Michigan’s championship game in 1989 and Michigan State’s titles in 1979 and 2000. Additional games from the NCAA Elite Eight and Sweet 16 will air throughout the winter, as will memorable regular season classics.

“When fans get together and reminisce about their teams’ great moments, these are the games they talk about,” Big Ten Network President Mark Silverman said.

Many episodes of The Big Ten’s Greatest Games will include insight and memories from legendary players and coaches along with reporters who were on hand to cover the event.
Northwestern’s 2005 overtime victory against Iowa premiered on Dec. 1 and the Illinois’ 2004 ACC-Big Ten Challenge win against Wake Forest debuted on Dec. 8. Both games will re-air several times during the course of the season.

The upcoming schedule includes:

December 16, 8pm ET – 4/3/2000 – NCAA Championship Game – #5 Michigan State 89, #11 Florida 76

Three Michigan State seniors Morris Peterson (21 points), A.J. Granger (19) and Mateen Cleaves (18) led the Spartans to a national championship in Indianapolis. Cleaves overcame a second-half knee injury. Udonis Haslem scored 27 points for Florida in a losing effort.

December 23, 8pm ET – 3/30/1981 – NCAA Championship Game – #14 Indiana 63, #12 North Carolina 50
Philadelphia’s Spectrum was the scene of an Indiana national championship for the second time in five years. The Tar Heels led for nearly the entire first half, but Ray Tolbert and Landon Turner shut down future NBA stars James Worthy and Sam Perkins in the second half. Isiah Thomas, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, scored a game-high 23 points to go with five assists and four steals.

December 30, 6pm ET – 1/20/2001 – Minnesota 78, Indiana 74 (OT)
Minnesota trailed 68-55 with 3:18 to play in regulation before going on a 14-1 run to tie the game and force overtime. Dusty Rychart scored 21 points, including two free throws with three seconds remaining in the extra period, to lead Minnesota past Indiana, 78-74. Kirk Haston had 17 points and 11 rebounds for Indiana.

January 6, 7pm ET – 3/24/1994 – NCAA Sweet 16 – #6 Purdue 83, #11 Kansas 78
Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson (44 points) and Cuonzo Martin (29) combined to score 73 of Purdue’s 83 points to slip past Jacque Vaughn, Greg Ostertag and Kansas, 83-78. The victory sent head coach Gene Keady and the Boilermakers into the Elite Eight for the first time in 14 years.
January 13, 7pm ET – 3/26/2005 – NCAA Elite Eight – #1 Illinois 90, #8 Arizona 89 (OT)

Top-ranked Illinois engineered one of the most amazing comebacks in NCAA Tournament history, rallying from 15 down with four minutes to go. Deron Williams’ three-pointer tied the game at 80 with 39 seconds left. Then, the Illini made two defensive stops in the closing seconds of regulation and on the final possession of the game to reserve their place in the Final Four.

January 20, 7pm ET – 4/3/1989 – NCAA Championship Game – #8 Michigan 80, #11 Seton Hall 79 (OT)
These two teams produced one of the wildest and most exciting championship games ever, the first national championship game in 26 years to require overtime. Rumeal Robinson made two free throws with three seconds left to cap Michigan’s improbable run to the title under new head coach Steve Fisher. Glen Rice scored 31 points for Michigan and Robinson contributed 21.

January 27, 9pm ET – 2/23/1993 – Ohio State 81, #1 Indiana 77 (OT)
Ohio State rallied from a 13-point second-half deficit to upset top-ranked Indiana, 81-77, in overtime in Columbus. Jamie Skelton’s three-pointer with 40 seconds left in overtime broke a 77-77 tie. The Hoosiers missed an opportunity to win it in regulation at the free throw line. Greg Graham led Indiana with 21 points and Derek Anderson had 20 for the Buckeyes.

February 3, 8pm ET – 2/7/2004 – Iowa 84, Indiana 82 (2 OT)
All five Iowa starters scored in double figures, led by Greg Brunner’s 23, in this double-overtime thriller. Indiana forced the first overtime period by intentionally missing a free throw with one second remaining and getting a tap-in from Patrick Ewing, Jr. However, Jeff Horner’s off-balance lay-up with two seconds left in the second overtime gave the Hawkeyes the win in Bloomington.

February 10, 7pm ET – 3/30/1987 – NCAA Championship Game – #4 Indiana 74, #10 Syracuse 73
Keith Smart’s jumper in the final seconds lifted Indiana to a national championship, 74-73, against a star-studded Syracuse team that featured Derrick Coleman, Rony Seikaly and Sherman Douglas. Steve Alford led Indiana with 23 points, and Smart’s 16-footer became one of the most famous shots in college basketball history.

February 17, 8pm ET – 11/29/2000 – #23 Wisconsin 78, #13 Maryland 75 (OT)
Kirk Penney scored five of his 18 points in overtime to help Wisconsin to a win against Maryland in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Charlie Willis chipped in 15 points in the game, which was played at Milwaukee’s Bradley Center. The Terrapins’ lineup featured the backcourt of Juan Dixon and Steve Blake.

February 24, 8pm ET – 3/20/1987 – NCAA Sweet 16 – #6 Iowa 93, #17 Oklahoma 91 (OT)
In a match-up between two of college basketball’s fastest-paced teams, head coach Dr. Tom Davis, B.J. Armstrong, Roy Marble and the Hawkeyes faced coach Billy Tubbs, Stacey King and the Oklahoma Sooners. Kevin Gamble of Iowa swished a three-pointer with one second remaining in overtime, leaving Oklahoma without a chance to inbound the ball and earning the Hawkeyes a place in the 1987 Elite Eight.

March 3, 7pm ET – 3/27/2005 – NCAA Eight Elite – #5 Michigan State 94, #2 Kentucky 88 (2 OT)
Tom Izzo’s Michigan State team defeated Tubby Smith’s Kentucky Wildcats in double-overtime in one of the most memorable NCAA Tournament games in history. The second-seeded Wildcats rallied from an eight-point deficit in the final 5:25 of regulation, capped by Patrick Sparks’ buzzer-beating three-pointer that bounced on the rim four times before dropping. The teams needed two overtimes to determine a winner. Michigan State’s Alan Anderson made four free throws in the final 15 seconds to send the Spartans to the Final Four.

March 10, 8pm ET – 3/20/1999 – NCAA Elite Eight – #11 Ohio State 77, #10 St. John’s 74
Scoonie Penn scored 22 points to go with eight rebounds and eight assists to help the Buckeyes get past Ron Artest and St. John’s. The victory propelled Ohio State to the Final Four. Michael Redd scored 20 points for OSU.

March 24, 8pm ET – 3/26/1979 – NCAA Championship Game – #4 Michigan State 75, #1 Indiana State 64
Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird, two of the greatest players of all-time, squared off for the first time, triggering one of the great individual rivalries in basketball history. In the end, Magic’s Michigan State team was too much for Bird and previously undefeated Indiana State, which lost 75-64. Magic scored 24 points with seven rebounds. Bird tallied 19 points to go with 13 rebounds and five steals. Michigan State’s Greg Kelser added 19 points, eight rebounds and nine assists.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sports Media Report - December 9 update

Congrats to former All-Star shortstop and long time baseball TV analyst Tony Kubek on being honored with the Baseball Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award. Kubek, now 73, will be honored in Cooperstown at the July 26, 2009 ceremony.

Kubek helped to pioneer the role of a national TV analyst for many years on NBC-TV's Game of the Week. Although today's baseball analysts often get critical and more personal during a broadcast, Kubek helped to define the role.

It probably seems like science fiction to younger fans who can't comprehend the era when baseball fans would get one "out of town" game per week. That was NBC-TV each Saturday afternoon throughout the season. The home or local team couldn't be shown. The network would do a "back-up game" most weeks which would feed into the markets (or sometimes one market when a Canadian team was featured) of the two teams participating in the "main" game.

There were no "live looks", multiple nights of games on cable. and for that matter many local teams would only televise half of their games or less. Kubek helped provide the window to the "outside world" of baseball for millions. He got to work with the likes of Curt Gowdy, Bob Costas, and Jim Simpson, as well as Joe Garagiola. Those were also the days of (gulp) one color commentator for the entire telecast. There were no studio hosts, sideline reporters, or third men in the booth for the vast majority of Kubek's run.

The early to mid-80's brought additional baseball coverage to cable, such as USA Network's Thursday Night Baseball, but the color commentators at the national level generally maintained the Kubek influence of explaining the plays and the game and not being overly critical.

In addition to his NBC-TV work, Kubek also did color for the Yankees and Blue Jays. In fact, he becomes the first broadcaster to win this honor who called games for a Canadian team. Fittingly, Kubek was a part of NBC-TV's final "Game of the Week" telecast in September of 1989. That was the end of an era. The 1990 season opened with ESPN beginning its relationship with MLB including multiple telecasts each week (with doubleheaders on many Wednesday nights) and the debut of "Baseball Tonight".

To me, the best news is that Kubek lived to experience this announcement.

The only downer about this is that a few others who are also qualified didn't make it. At least not yet. Lanny Frattare, who just retired after a 30+ year run as the voice of the Pirates is among them, along with long time Red Sox voice Ken Coleman. Dave Van Horne, who could just as easily have been the first broadcaster honored who called a Canadian team (long time Expos voice) also did not get in this time, nor did the late Joe Nuxhall for his years as part of "Marty and Joe on Reds Radio" in Cincinnati.

Meanwhile, NBC-TV did make an announcement within hours of Kubek's award, although very much coincidental. Sunday Night Football is exercising its right to flex scheduling and has changed its December 21 telecast. Gone from NBC is the San Diego vs. Tampa Bay game, and (understandably) now on their schedule is the game between the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers in what is very possibly a playoff preview. CBS-TV will now have the Chargers game at Tampa at 1:00 ET on the afternoon of the 21st.

DALLAS - The Metroplex now, as of this past Monday (Dec. 8) has three sports stations. 105.3 FM became "The Fan" at 3:00 PM in a surprise move. The station hopes that the buzz surrounding the Cowboys' playoff chances and the upcoming BCS bowl games will result in a good start. Almost all of the programming on the talk station before it is gone, except that Chris Jagger and his morning crew are staying in place. It is also expected that "The Fan" will change call letters from the current KLLI.

Personally, I see one possible obstacle. KESN ESPN Radio for Dallas is at 103.3 FM, while The Fan is at 105.3. While the PPM is there to measure the audience, the PPM does not help listeners tune to the frequency they desire. A listener could be scanning the dial and hear sports on 103.3 and not make it over to 105.3, or perhaps mistake an advertisement for the ESPN Radio which is more established and has the better known brand. Here's hoping that they go by something like "105 The Fan" and keep the ".3" out of the equation.

St. LOUIS - It seems like every week brings another announcement about the upcoming new sports station, now known as Movin' WMVN. The station has just announced that Derrick Goold will bring his "The Hot Corner" baseball beat show over from KMOX on Sunday mornings to "Movin'" starting in February. Goold, also the Cardinals' beat writer for the Post-Dispatch, will host 8:00 to 10:00 AM each Sunday.

Across town, KFNS just happens to be revising its lineup starting December 15th, 2 weeks before WMVN starts. Frank Cusumano will start his show an hour earlier at 9 AM, with Jeff Gordon and Jeff Vernetti moving up to Noon to 2 PM. The station plans a rotating hour at 2:00 including veteran personalities such as Howard Balzer and Jay Randolph Sr.

SAN DIEGO - XX Sports 1090 has gone into cost-cutting mode this month. Bill Werndl and Joe Tutino are both on the outs from their respective shows where they each served as co-hosts. For now, John Kentera continues in the early afternoon spot, and Darren Smith stays at 3 - 7 PM. No word yet as to whether or not each will be given another co-host or continue solo or with guest hosts.

No word yet about a new Padres TV voice, replacing Matt Vasgersian who moves on to host on the upcoming MLB-TV Network. Among those reportedly interviewed are Dave Sims of the Mariners and Victor Rojas of the Rangers.

CHICAGO - The MLB-TV Network also will likely have an impact on baseball broadcast coverage in Chicago. Word is that at least one of the two among Dan Plesac and Darrin Jackson will also be hired as a studio analyst by the new network. If Plesac is chosen, there will be a studio analyst opening for Chicago Cubs telecasts on Comcast SportsNet. If Jackson is chosen, there will be an opening in the White Sox radio booth. Jackson is expected to learn of his "fate" by the end of this week.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Steve Dahl signs off Chicago's JACK-FM

It's the radio version of the chicken or the egg. Rumors were abundant all week that Steve Dahl would be fired any minute from Chicago's JACK-FM as CBS Radio continues its cost slashing.On Friday morning (Dec. 5th), Dahl told the remaining listeners that we was signing off and ending his show.

It's the old "You can't fire me - I quit!" story, unless there is more than meets the ear. Dahl's contract is/was supposed to run well into 2011. I suppose it is possible that both Dahl and CBS have agreed to make it appear as a resignation to avoid further embarassment.

So what does this have to do with sports? Not much, except that Dahl is known among baseball fans over the age of 40 for his role in "Disco Demolition Night" at Comiskey Park in Chicago when his blowing up of disco records started a riot between games of a doubleheader. The result was the White Sox having to forfeit the 2nd game against the Detroit Tigers, the most recent forfeit (and this was July 1979) in MLB.

Since then Dahl has become a White Sox season ticket holder and tried to make up with White Sox fans by making his presence at the games known and talking up the team. Many baseball fans who were upset about Dahl's laughing about that incident on the air are probably laughing about Dahl today.

CBS has suffered with JACK-FM in Chicago, although a recent tweak toward more 80's music has stimulated a few more listeners into November. Yet, Dahl's ratings got to the point of being worse than some of the music hours. Let alone that Dahl was the only live voice on the station.I'm betting that there will be no replacement named, and the station will go right back to their music format in the morning. Dahl was moved over to JACK-FM due to a format change at the former WCKG Radio on which he did afternoons for a few years as his ratings bounced up and down.

CBS Radio had dumped its Oldies format on 104.3 FM to become JACK-FM, which has yet to catch on in Chicago. Meanwhile, WLS-FM and its oldies format, consisting of former 104.3 personalities, has now entered the top 6 overall in the November monthly Chicago ratings, taking that format to near its highest level in recent memory.

Meanwhile, CBS Radio in Chicago has already rid itself of the $1,000,000+ contracts of morning hosts Mike North (formerly WSCR-AM) and Eddie and Jobo from B-96 FM. Next comes Dahl. Ooops, this is supposedly a resignation.During his "sign-off" speech on the air, those few who were listening heard him complain about how the PPM audience measurement is hurting those stations which don't play music because the PPM's account for "background listening".

I suppose Dahl was too busy inventing his excuse to notice that WBBM-AM is a top rated station in Chicago, and they have been all news for 40 years. Hardly a background choice, especially in today's economy.Come to think of it, this story today is probably the most people who have heard about Steve Dahl in a number of years.

Speaking of Chicago and the White Sox, broadcaster Darrin Jackson is under consideration for an analyst role with the new MLB Network, and expects to hear within the next week. If and has he gets that role, the White Sox would then need a #2 radio voice to work with Ed Farmer. This would be 3 partners in 3 seasons for Farmer if it happens. Stay tuned..........

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sports Media Report - December 2 update

The Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame will be inducting its 2008 class on December 16th in New York. The second set of inductions includes Vin Scully and Curt Gowdy from the play-by-play side, along with executives of paramount importance to televised sports as we know them today. Chet Forte, Don Ohlmeyer, and Ted Nathanson are also going to be inducted.

While it is easy to wonder why those names were not among the very first group inducted last year, keep in mind that last year's charter group included Jim McKay and Howard Cosell from the on-air side. Others in that group included Harry Coyle, Ed Sabol (NFL Films), and former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle.

The NFL will continue playing one regular season game in London next year. Although the 2009 NFL schedule is still in formation, a rare matchup between the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers has been scheduled for Sunday Oct. 25, 2009 at Wembley Stadium in London. The start time will again be in coordination with U.S. television schedules. CBS-TV will have this telecast at 1:00 PM ET. Next year will be the third consecutive year of a regular season game in London, with all being AFC vs. NFC matchups.

HOUSTON - The latest round of radio ratings show a victory of sorts for Mike & Mike and their syndicated ESPN Radio morning show. KFNC 97.5 came in at the top of the 25-54 men demographic. That is news enough on its own when a syndicated show tops a major market in such an important demographic. What makes the story more interesting is this happening after KFNC picked up Mike & Mike from KMBE 790 which dropped it to carry a local show.

I think this signifies still another changing trend about radio and television. It appears that listeners and viewers are making choices based on quality ahead of location. In the instance of Mike & Mike doing better than any other Houston radio sports show in the morning, it shows me that people are not making a "local vs. national" distinction. They want the best show they can find, wherever it comes from. It wasn't always that way. Stations airing syndicated shows were looked down upon and rarely made a dent.

On the TV side, look at how the combined audiences of ESPN, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC have taken away from local news and sportscasts around the country. Same theory. Radio especially needs to increase their local impact. The Mike & Mike success is the result of a good show, but also the result of the positive branding that ESPN has developed. I have to believe this audience consists of a lot of men unable to watch, or to continue watching, ESPN in the morning who then follow on the radio. Some of this could be the lack of success among the Astros and Texans this year, leaving sports fans to crave more national coverage. Yet, in some cities, local sports talk does even better when one or more of the teams is not winning, as the fans have more reason to pick their favorite team apart.

It will be interesting to see how the other sports stations in Houston react with their morning shows over the next few weeks.

CONNECTICUT: Even though it begins with only telecasts of various high school games, congrats to CTSN-TV, the Connecticut Sports Network. The state's first 24 hour sports station made its official launch (Tuesday Dec. 2) from its Hartford studios. For now, CTSN is showing replays of playoff and title games in football, soccer, volleyball, and a couple of others. Plans are in the works to add some live telecasts of local college hoops, and eventually to add coaches talk shows and the like.

CHARLOTTE - Once again sports fans need a scorecard, but in this case it is to follow their local radio stations instead of the athletes. Mornings on 99.9 The Fan began carrying ESPN Radio programming this week (Monday Dec. 1). The Bull AM 620 has now officially dropped Mike & Mike and added Don Imus. (That's easy to remember - associating Imus with "Bull".) 850 AM The Buzz now airs Dan Patrick's radio show live from 10 AM to Noon. 99.9 FM goes local for one whole hour middays, as "Sports Lunch with Mike Maniscalco" is heard from Noon to 1:00 PM.

BATON ROUGE: This past Monday (Dec. 1) was the season debut of LSU Basketball Coach Trent Johnson's weekly radio show at 7:00 PM. The show airs live from a Baton Rouge restaurant on 100.7 FM The Tiger (how appropriate!) and on the LSU Sports Radio Network. However, to the best of my knowledge the show is not streamed live. The show is hosted by Jim Hawthorne and will air throughout the basketball season.

BILLINGS: The nation's newest sports station made its surprise debut on Monday morning (Dec. 1). 105.1 FM dropped music and picked up ESPN Radio.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sports Media Report - November 25th Update

As we prepare for a busy Thanksgiving weekend of sports, just a moment to wish everyone a wonderful holiday weekend. While we complain a lot about how certain things are going in sports these days, fans have a lot to be thankful for in terms of the shear number of sports events available to us from Wednesday night right through Sunday night.

We have an abundance of pro and college football telecasts, along with NBA and college hoops, and more hockey than usual, all over the radio and TV. Much of it overlapping, and some at unconventional times.

For example, fans of the Chicago pro sports teams will have the NHL Blackhawks playing late afternoon games on Friday and Saturday. Other than an occasional Saturday and Sunday afternoon back-to-back, I don't recall an NHL team playing day games on both a Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, coincidence has the NBA Bulls playing at Philadelphia at 4:00 PM Chicago time, with the NFL Bears to follow as the Sunday Night NBC game. This is far from the only example, but with earlier games on the NBA and NHL docket plus college tournaments with multiple games, it will be hard to not find something live being shown or broadcast over the next few days. Again, something to be thankful for.

CINCINNATI - A change in the morning on WCKY 1530 as Richard Skinner is out. He is being replaced by Tim Lewis, once known as Big Dog from the former BOB-AM, who moves over from sister station WLW's overnight show. Lewis is now on from 5:30 to 9:00 on weekday mornings.

St. LOUIS - As expected, Pat Parris, known for hosting Cardinals and Blues pre and post-game programming on Fox Sports Midwest, will begin on the new KMVN 101.1 FM on New Year's. He will team with Bryan Burwell on the midday show.

SACRAMENTO: F. P. Santangelo will be back for his fifth season of handling the Giants pre and post-game shows on Comcast SportsNet for 2009, but will not be back on his morning radio gig. The former Giants and A's player has been let go by KHTK 1140 from their morning show in what is believed to be a cost cutting measure by the station. Santangelo was often responsible for getting big name guests on the local show, including Kings co-owner Joe Maloof earlier this month.

TAMPA - WHTO 1470 is no longer sports radio. The station has already flipped to holiday music. However, word is that the station will return with a new format by the first of the year.

MILWAUKEE - The moves by the local CBS-TV affiliate to carry as many of Brett Favre and the N.Y. Jets games as possible this season is becoming a popular one after all. This past Sunday when the Jets ended Tennessee's unbeaten season, the WDJT-TV telecast was the Milwaukee market's most watched sports event of the past weekend. (Granted, the "weekend" does not include the Packers telecast on Monday Night Football.) The N.Y. - Tennessee telecast more than doubled the ratings of the Chicago vs. St. Louis telecast on WITI-TV, even though Chicago entered the game tied for first with the Packers, while Favre and the Jets play in the other Conference.

LOUISVILLE - Change in and on the air at WQKC 93.9. The sports format is being shifted to WAVG 1450 AM within the month and be known as "The Ticket 1450". The station is also expected to increase its ESPN Radio programming roster and decrease use of local personalities. This switch could end the Scott Padgett and Dave Ragone morning drive show, which was also simulcast on WBKI-TV. The 93.9 frequency will begin airing a music oriented format.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sports Media Report - November 19th update

The Houston Astros, like the N.Y. Mets, are standing pat as far as their flagship radio outlet is concerned. KTRH 740 will indeed remain as the Astros station for 2009. The night time signal strength of KTRH is believed to have been an important factor in negotiations. Exact length and terms have yet to be announced. Thus, the two largest National League teams with radio rights up for 2009 have now both stayed with the same station, as the Mets already announced continuing and adding coverage through WFAN.

On the TV side, the Colorado Rockies have just announced a (get this) 12 year contract extension with FSN Rocky Mountain which runs through the 2020 season. This contract reflects the national trend of fewer games on over-the-air TV and many more on cable. To the point that KTVD-TV will no longer carry any Rockies games, effective immediately. FSN Rocky Mountain will carry approximately 150 games each season, which covers everything except for Fox and any exclusive ESPN (or other cable network) telecasts.

To put this in perspective, when FSN Rocky Mountain first televised any Rockies games in 1997, they showed a grand total of seven games. Ironically, this announcement comes on the heels of a reported 5.5% decline in Rockies ratings from the recently completed season. The expert level of coverage will continue, as FSN plans to continue with extended pre and post-game programming and the post-game manager's press conference. Some cable systems in Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Nebraska, and Kansas, are also expected to receive the telecasts.

Needless to say, comments abound from the big announcement that ESPN will handle the BCS telecasts from January 2011 through January of 2014 and the impact on the championship system and the game itself. Or is it a "game" anymore?

I feel like saying the 'business' of college football in every sentence. This new agreement continues the current system which supposedly determines a national champion each season but really continues the same arguments that have gone on for years. Only at a much higher cost.

Normally, I don't step away from the field and make this a business column either. But I have a different take on this ESPN BCS announcement and its true impact on the 'business' of college football.

Hundreds of millions of dollars supposedly go to the universities and colleges. Yet, tuition plus room and board continue to rise. Advertisers will be charged more money to help pay the freight, which usually means an increase in the cost of products and services which spend the big promotional dollars. The price of game tickets, even at the college level, continues to rise to the point of pricing out more people than ever before who are not current students. Yet, the players who lead their school to a conference, bowl game, or a national championship, are not paid any of this cash.

And all of this while universities and conferences are forming their own TV and marketing deals for direct profit. It may be more interesting than the games themselves to see how this shakes out within the next few months. Will the upcoming BCS Series sell all of its TV time? Word is that there are still national spots available during the upcoming Super Bowl.

Oh, and before we get to college championship time, the TV competition heats up in early December.

The Dec. 6th rivalry game between Arizona and Arizona State has been moved to a 6:00 PM start time. Of course, it has been moved for television. Believe it or not, not just for one telecast. ESPN will carry the game, but it will also be shown, via separate feed and announcers, in Arizona on Fox Sports Arizona. FSA can show the game based on its Pac 12 contract; however the non-exclusive portion of the contract allows ESPN to step in.

Thanksgiving weekend college football telecasts have also been announced. CBS will have LSU at Arkansas, with Don Criqui and Dan Fouts on the call, for Friday Nov. 28th at 2:30 ET. On Sat. Nov. 29th CBS shows Georgia vs. Georgia TEch followed by Alabama hosting Auburn.

On the NFL side, CBS has moved the N.Y. Jets game vs. Denver to a 4:00 ET start on Nov. 30th. Given that the Jets and Giants were both tentatively scheduled for 1:00 ET that day, it was inevitable that one of those games would go later. Fox keeps the Giants vs. Washington game for its early primary regional telecast.

Following up on a comment from last week, we did receive clarification about FOX-TV's decision to send Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to handle the Cowboys vs. 49ers telecast this coming Sunday (Nov. 23). Turns out it is a matter of logistics, as the Fox "#1 crew" needs to be in Dallas for the Thanksgiving game just 4 days later. Thus, Kenny Albert calling the Giants vs. Cardinals doubleheader game will be seen in more than 75% of the nation.

Getting back to baseball, Dennis Eckersley will continue as studio analyst for Red Sox telecasts on NESN under a new contract. Eck is also expected to continue in studio for TBS for next season.

No word yet from Chicago as to whether or not Darin Jackson will shift over to the White Sox radio booth or leave to pursue other opportunities. A decision had been expected within 2 weeks of the end of the World Series.

Meanwhile, word from Los Angeles is that veteran sportscaster Rory Markas continues a positive recovery from blood clot surgery on his brain. Steve Physioc continues to fill in for Rory on USC basketball broadcasts, except for a few schedule conflicts. USC football voice Pete Arbogast was originally selected to fill in for Physioc filling in for Markas.

Now the L.A. Daily News reports that sources claim Arbogast complained to USC's Athletic Director about that decision. Athletic Director Mike Garrett took action in response. Pac-10 Conference basketball play-by-play man Isaac Lowendron, who has also called games on KLAC 570, will handle the assignments originally targeted for Arbogast. Ooops.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sports Media Report - November 12th update

The Business Week story about the University of Texas planning to launch its own TV sports network is making me worry about long term impact, and the idea hasn't even started yet.

To me, this shapes up as still another instance where sports elements, the ones that got so many of us hooked as sports fans early in life, are spreading to more places off the field than on it. We enjoy the competition, but I thought it was supposed to remain on the field and adapted to our daily living in some form.

The story is that U. of Texas officials are working with IMG Worldwide to negotiate time on the cable systems within Texas and perhaps some bordering regions to place "The Longhorn Sports Network".

Let the competition begin. After 3 years of reading and writing about the struggles of The NFL Network and the Big Ten Network and their "negotiation" with cable providers, now a major University is looking to enter the fray. One more source to "compete" for channels on the various cable systems.

Sorry, but the U. of Texas is not exactly the only school in the state. As it currently works with cable systems, the cost of added channels gets passed along to us consumers (I don't live in Texas, but am making a point on behalf of many who do.). If I am a fan of Baylor, Rice, Texas Tech, Texas A & M, El Paso, or several others, why should I have to pay extra and have some of my money go toward the U. of Texas when I didn't ask to see their "extra" games? What if my cable system still hasn't put The NFL Network on - but I can get the U. of Texas games?

Personally, my solution to all of this (the sports and cable networks trying to force their way on to cable systems and make consumers who don't even want their channel help pay for it) is to have these networks pay the cable systems for the time and NOT charge us consumers at all. If they can get the advertising support and break even or turn a profit, that's great. If not, then lose money to get the games out there or pull the plug on the project.

In this instance, it also bothers me that a University is next in line to force consumers to ultimately pay the freight so they can have additional games on television. And don't think this will only be a Texas matter. IMG also handles the rights to the U. of Michigan games, among other schools.

At this rate, we'll be reading about Business majors being "recruited" every spring by major schools to help bring in revenue from around the state each respective school is located in - instead of which high school linebackers are being courted by the big schools.

Meanwhile, the cable network we most welcome, MLB-TV, continues preparations for its Jan. 1st debut. Former pitcher Al Leiter, who has worked for the Yankees on YES for the past 3 years, and with Fox and ESPN prior, has been signed as a studio analyst, joining Harold Reynolds in a similar role.

The network plans to begin it's "Hot Stove" show at 7:00 PM ET in January leading up to its incredible and comprehensive studio and live coverage starting with the regular season. It's too bad that MLB-TV isn't receiving the publicity it deserves, based on the extensive coverage they promise, but I can understand how and why other sports media feel threatened and will attempt to minimize this.

The Phillies regular season opener against Atlanta has been moved to Sunday night April 5 and will be the Sunday Night Baseball opener on ESPN 2. Here's hoping that a tradition is born of having the defending World Series champs host the regular season opener each year. No word yet as to the status of the remaining 2 games of that series, now scheduled for April 8 and 9, but that could change. I find it hard to believe the teams would play one game followed by TWO open dates.

I'm not sure how many Marlins fans want to remember this past season, but Fox Sports Florida is planning to show 8 of the Marlins games from the 2008 season in a Wednesday afternoon series starting Nov. 26th at Noon ET. Then again, what else is there to show at Noon on a Wednesday during the winter?

Ratings are up a bit for NHL telecasts through the season's first month. Even Versus shows a 5% increase as it is possible fans are starting to discover that channel actually exists and carries the NHL. Hockey Night in Canada ratings on TSN are up 12%, and 21 of the 30 NHL teams are similar or higher in the ratings game than last season. The Chicago Blackhawks, televising all home games for the first time in franchise history, are among the teams with the most significant increase.

Election night ratings had its share of winners and losers. In San Jose, the Nov. 4th Sharks vs. Minnesota telecast matched the team's highest ratings of the young season. In Dallas, the Mavericks telecast on election night drew roughly half the audience for a 2nd week telecast when compared with recent years.

Back to football, the Dallas Cowboys probably wish they could do as well on the field this season as they do with the TV decision makers. Fox has scheduled Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, their #1 NFL crew, to handle the Cowboys vs. San Francisco on Nov. 23rd. If this were still the 80's or the 90's, this would be matter of fact. But possibly two last place teams having the top crew?
Wonder who Fox will schedule for the Giants vs. Arizona and Philly at Baltimore games that same day.

Back to college sports, ESPN has chosen the Mississippi State at Alabama game for this Saturday (Nov. 15), moving the kickoff time to 6:45 PM. In this time of the year where football and basketball shall meet, it means that State's season opening basketball game has been moved to 2:00 PM.

SEATTLE - Look for a big announcement on Thursday (Nov. 13) from KIRO 710 AM. Word is that the station will not only welcome the Mariners back this coming spring, but will go ahead begin an all sports format on April 1st. The KIRO news/talk format, currently simulcast on FM, would remain as is on the FM side. This arrangement would be similar to what WIBC Indianapolis started several months ago, moving news/talk to 93.1 FM and making 1070 AM into WFNI "The Fan" with sports talk.

LOS ANGELES - So far so good for sportscaster Rory Markas who has reportedly returned hom following surgery last week to remove a blood clot. It is not yet known how soon Markas will be able to return to his play-by-play for USC. This coming Saturday (Nov. 15), KSPN 710 will have Steve Physioc (who teams with Markas on select Angels broadcasts) handle the USC vs. UC Irvine basketball broadcast at 12:30 PM prior to Pete Arbogast handling the USC vs. Stanford football broadcast at 4:00 PM. The 2 will share the duties, based on availability, until Markas returns.

RALEIGH: This idea will create a "Buzz" whether it works or not. Sports 850 "The Buzz" is recruiting listeners to give on-air pre and post-game "reports" surrounding Carolina Hurricanes broadcasts, to the point of giving insights about matchups. If some of the fans wind up being right more than the professional reporters, the "Buzz" will be loud and clear.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sports Media Update - November 5th update

Maybe, just maybe, it is possible that pro sports teams realize the economics that face the true fans when it comes to supporting their favorite team. While some teams continue to increase ticket prices and push PSL's on fans that are struggling with real life, others have begun to see the need for a marketing push. But who would have thought the NHL Toronto Maple Leafs would be among them?

Yes, the Maple Leafs have used the TAXI 2 agency to produce 30 and 60 second spots to air all during November in the Toronto area using a "Spirit Is Everything" slogan. A franchise once so dominant in the marketplace that experts questioned the possibilities of baseball's Blue Jays and the NBA's Raptors even making it in Toronto due to having to compete for the entertainment dollar against the Leafs.

The spots use the concept of having fans tell the story of his or her most memorable goal by the Leafs. But it seems to me that having to promote the Maple Leafs to fans in Toronto is like, well, having to promote the Leafs to the fans in Toronto.

Baseball fans across the U.S will be flat out amazed at the upcoming MLB-TV Network which debuts on basic cable on January 1st. While it is already expected to be the largest debut for a cable network in terms of available homes upon inception, the Network appears well on its way to hitting a home run for the fans.

MLB-TV has announced its first studio host hire. Matt Vasgersian is leaving his position as TV voice of the San Diego Padres and FOX-TV Saturday baseball to become a primary studio host. The Network now is already planning to be on the air live every night during the season from 6:00 ET until at least after the final out of the night is made in MLB. This could be 7 to 8 hours per night during the week. The coverage will include live cut-ins and heavy studio analysis, along the lines of ESPN's Baseball Tonight, all evening every night.

The Padres have begun their search for a new TV voice, which will continue to be separate from the radio team which remains in tact.

On the college football side, the Big Ten Network is taking its football coverage up to the next level this week (Nov. 8) and a week from Saturday (Nov. 15th). BTN will be televising two games simultaneously, using an overflow channel on the majority of the cable systems which carry it.

This Saturday (Nov. 8), they will televise Wisconsin at Indiana and Purdue at Michigan State, both starting at Noon ET. On the 15th, the games will be Indiana at Penn State and Purdue at Iowa, also at Noon ET. Fans should be able to find the overflow channel at

Is he the coach or a member of the media? In a way, NFL Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak was both at the same time earlier this week. He used his own radio show to break a story, rather than do so under questioning from the regular covering media. Kubiak questioned the legality of three specific plays from the Sunday game vs. Minnesota during which is QB Matt Schaub was hit by Vikings defenders, asking the NFL to review the plays at the NFL office for possible infractions.

That is perfectly fine, and it is understandable that Kubiak wants to defend his QB. He is far from the first coach ever to question such actions. Yet, he first brought this up on his weekly segment on Sports Radio 610.

To me, this raises a media ethics question. Kubiak, as far as I know, is paid for his appearances on "his" radio segment, whether by advertisers or the station itself. Does this mean he deliberately withheld this information so unveil it on the radio show, or was it because no one else asked him until his co-host on the show did?

On the other hand, how do reporters for other radio and TV stations handle this story? Do they really have to "credit" his radio segment for the story? Doing so would lend publicity to another station. Do they simply quote him as if his comment is in the public domain? Or do they leave the story alone, and allow a competing station to break and maintain an exclusive on a story?

I could probably justify any one of those possibilities to some extent, and it would not be an easy decision. If it were up to me, I would have gone with the story and not credited "his" show or the radio station.

NEW YORK - YES TV Network has extended the contract of Yankees TV voice Michael Kay with a multi-year extension. Kay has been with YES all the way, going back to 2002.

CHICAGO - Expect at least a partial announcement about White Sox radio within the next 10 days. Darin Jackson, out as a TV voice with Steve Stone moving over from the radio booth starting next season, is expected to announce his decision by the end of next week as to whether or not he will make the move over to radio for an analyst role. I think that Jackson will consider this a step back and decline, provided he knows of other work. If he declines, White Sox exec Brooks Boyer was quoted on the White Sox web site as saying that the team will seek another play-by-play voice to handle at least two innings. Under the present structure, Ed Farmer has been handling play-by-play for every inning, and that takes its toll over the course of a season.

The NHL Blackhawks, now a month into having every home game on local TV for the first time ever, have produced a 150% in their TV ratings over the season's first month. Comcast SportsNet, handling the majority of the home and road telecasts (with WGN-TV handling about one-third of the games locally), also reports solid ratings increases in their pre and post-game programming.

BALTIMORE - As of this week, Sports Radio WHFS 105.7 is now streamed at and brings a local lineup including Ed Norris, Mark Viviano, Bruce Cunningham, Scott Garceau and Anita Marks, among others. The station also carries play-by-play of the U. of Maryland Terrapins and the Baltimore Orioles. ESPN 1300 AM now carries more of the national programming and play-by-play than ever before.

St. LOUIS - The University of St. Louis Billikens are "movin" their basketball broadcasts to WMVN 101.1 FM starting next week to kick off a new three year deal. The first six weeks of games will air before the station changes to all sports on Jan. 1. Bob Ramsey returns for his 22nd season of play-by-play even though Ramsey continues to work on soon-to-be rival KFNS 590.

The station has also hired Post Dispatch columnist Bryan Burwell, perhaps to co-host the midday spot. Market vet Randy Karraker will co-host afternoons. The station is also expected to bid prominently for Rams football in the future.

MIAMI - The improvement in the Dolphins this season continues to mean improvements in the ratings. Last week we pointed out the impact on the latest radio ratings. Now comes word that Dolphins telecast ratings are already up 10% over last year overall, and up more than 17% in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale TV market. Only the Jets with Brett Favre and the improved Atlanta Falcons have shown bigger increases.

MINNEAPOLIS - University of Minnesota basketball broadcasts will have a new analyst for the upcoming season on WCCO 830. Call it an "off-season" job if you will, as Don Zierden, coach of the WNBA Lynx (who recently finished their season) will help call the Gophers broadcasts along with play-by-play voice Mike Grimm.

CINCINNATI - WLW 700 began its weekly "Hot Stove League" off-season baseball show this past Tuesday (Nov. 4th). The show will now air on the 50,000 watt powerhouse from 6 to 7 PM ET, and with early darkness will reach as many as 38 states. This is a new time, designed to eliminate all but a couple of conflicts with U. of Cincinnati and Xavier basketball broadcasts. "The Homer" 1530 AM will carry the baseball show when there are hoops conflicts.

Meanwhile, fans watching the FSN Friday telecasts of high school football will now have Dave Lapham sending it over to Dave Lapham. Dave Jr. continues as sideline reporter and pre-game show host for the telecasts, while Dave Sr. added a role in the booth to go along with his Bengals analyst duties, his WLW Bengals radio show work, and assignments for both Channel 5 and Channel 12 sports. It is a chance to work with his son. This gives Cinci a leg up on father and son broadcast teams, as the same market has Marty and son Thom Brennaman calling the Reds games.

MILWAUKEE - Congrats to the Bucks TV team of Jim Paschke, Jon McGlocklin, and Craig Coshun on winning a regional Emmy Award for "Outstanding Achievement for Sports Program - Live Sports Event/Game - Unedited".

Meanwhile, even though Brett Favre still matters in Milwaukee since every possible Jets telecast is carried in Milwaukee, the Packers definitely rule the ratings. This past Sunday (Nov. 2), the Packers vs. Tennessee telecast on WITI-TV had a 35.7 rating, more than 10 times the 3.0 rating which the Jets at Buffalo telecast got on WDJT-TV. Upon further review, ANY game getting a 3.0 rating in Milwaukee dead against a meaningful Packers game is actually quite an accomplishment.

OKLAHOMA CITY - While the city celebrated the debut of the NBA Thunder last week, the sports radio scene doesn't reflect well. After the Sports Animal WWLS, sports talkers WKY "Jox" 930 and KOKC 1520 had dismal showings in the latest radio ratings. Jox 930, after 16 months in the sports format, failed to show up in the overall ratings.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sports Media Report - Oct. 30th update

A championship level gesture by the Phillies broadcast crew on Wednesday night. Harry Kalas would not normally describe the ninth inning of a Phillies game, but this was certainly not a "normal" game. Back in 1980 when the Phillies won their only previous World Series title, the local broadcasts were not allowed even on radio. This week it was pre-determined that Kalas would step in for the 9th inning of a potential Phillies clincher, and that's exactly what happened.
And thanks to FOX-TV for including the replay of Harry's call before they signed off of their post-game coverage.

It's hard to believe that some might be watching this coming Sunday's (Nov. 2) Colts vs. Patriots game on NBC-TV to see a brand new commercial rather than the matchup. But it could happen. MasterCard will debut its newest spot featuring Colts QB Peyton Manning. After securing rooms at hotels in what could be termed "rival" cities, hotel employees say things to Manning such as "Don't choke on it" when a fruit basket is delivered. Manning appears unphased. Hopefully the game itself will be the talk of the town on Monday, even if the hype is nowhere near what led into what I call "last year's game of the century" matchup.

The new NBA season is underway with a nice jump shot of its own. TNT has already reported a 14% increase in households over last year's opening night doubleheader.

Back on the NFL side, Westwood One has added two more voices to its upcoming radio coverage. Packers' voice Wayne Larrivee will fill in on a couple of Monday Night Football broadcasts, while Hub Arkush has been added as sideline reporter for the upcoming Thursday night series of games. Arkush serves as NFL analyst for Chicago's WSCR The Score after a prior stint on Chicago Bears broadcasts (where he once partnered with Larrivee).

CHICAGO - No word yet from Darin Jackson, who is expected to announce within the next week whether or not he will accept a move from the White Sox TV booth to the radio side. The delay could be (or could have been) Jackson waiting to be certain that Bob Brenly did not get the Milwaukee Brewers manager position. I have to believe Jackson would have applied for that position and tried to jump across town. Jackson, now that he is separated from Ken "Horrible-son" Harrelson (as many White Sox fans refer to him), actually could contribute a lot to a telecast as he showed a few years back on assignments from FOX-TV. Mercifully, a White Sox official has commented that if Jackson does not move to radio that the team will seek another voice to handle at least two innings of play-by-play. Hopefully no more of one voice covering all nine innings, such as Ed Farmer did throughout the past season with Steve Stone as his analyst.

PHILLY: Congrats to Howard Eskin of WIP 610 for winning the March of Dimes Achievement Award In Radio Lifetime Award. He will be honored next week (Nov. 6th) at the Philadelphia Hilton, as will be Phillies voice Chris Wheeler.

SEATTLE - Three cheers for Tyrone Willingham this past Monday night. Not because he was told he will be let go as Head Coach hours earlier, but because he showed up and did his weekly radio show. Not only that, but the show is broadcast live from a restaurant with supporters in the audience. Although for this show Willingham did not take questions from fans as he has previously, you have to give him a ton of credit for honoring his commitment under those circumstances.

St. LOUIS - WMVN 101.1 has added another sports update anchor to its upcoming all-sports lineup to begin at the start of 2009. It's a familiar voice in the market, as Chris Gardner will make the switch from soon-to-be rival KFNS.

PHOENIX - Diamondback's TV voice Daron Sutton is expanding his presence in the market, having been added as play-by-play voice for University of Arizona basketball on Fox Sports Arizona starting next month. FSN is only scheduled to carry six games for this season, allowing Sutton to continue handling Wisconsin-Milwaukee basketball telecasts in Milwaukee. Sutton has also handled some SEC hoops in past seasons.

MIAMI - The local sports talk ratings wars remain close through the recently released summer book. WAXY 790 finished 8th overall cmpared with WQAM at 12th. Yet, WQAM with Joe Rose finished ahead of 790's Sid Rosenberg in the morning during the hours the two are head-to-head. Some wonder whether 790 carrying the Marlins broadcasts had a positive or negative impact based on the Marlins' disappointing season, while WQAM's Dolphins show from 7:00 to 8:00 PM showed a significant increase.

SAN FRANCISCO - If you plan on watching Warriors telecasts on Comcast SportsNet you'll need to wait until game time. The team and the Network continue their feud, and once again the fans lose out. As of now, no pre or post-game shows are scheduled. Usually, the cable telecasts are the ones that feature the expanded coverage, such as with Comcasts coverage of the Bulls in Chicago and Celtics in Boston. Those regional networks include half hour pregame shows and follow games with extended post-game coverage including coaches press conferences.

KANSAS CITY - As of this week, there are now two fewer voices on KCSP 610 AM than just two weeks ago. Marty Wall, who had been co-hosting afternoons with Neal Jones, has been let go. This comes less than a week after Rhonda Moss was also a "cutback" victim. Jones continues to host afternoons, but no future plans for the show, in terms of solo or co-host, have been disclosed.

LOWELL - UMass fans now have a weekly 90 minute sports radio show each Thursday night from 6:30 to 8:00. "River Hawk Radio" is co-hosted by hockey voice Bob Ellis and UMass Athletic Media Relations Director Chris O'Donnell on WCAP 980. Those beyond the signal range can also hear the show as it streams on

RALEIGH - 99.9 FM The Fan will be adding "Mike & Mike" and Colin Cowherd's morning shows starting the first week in January. While the station claims that the local programming will remain, The Fan also plans to increase play-by-play coverage with ESPN's NBA and MLB radio broadcasts.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A legitimate World Series..........

OK, the 2008 World Series won't go down as the most exciting one ever played. Yet, I personally will remember and appreciate it because of how legitimate it is and how both teams got there fair and square. Not always the case in sports these days.

In all sports, the post-season has too many teams. I always have and always will believe that a team should have to "win to win". This business where a second or third place team can go on to win the championship demeans the regular seasons.

Having said that, it brings to mind the beauty of this year. Both teams in the World Series won their respective Eastern Division. Even though both had to beat the "Wild Card" team which, in my opinion, had no business being in the post-season, the Phillies and Rays each defeated one other Division winner. That is as fair as it gets.

In addition, we are fortunate because the abomination known as "interleague play" during June did not allow the opportunity for the Phillies and Rays to have already played each other. That adds still more legitimacy to this year's World Series.

Not only did both teams take equal steps to get to the Series, but there is no regular season matchup to go by, and that is as it should be.

Before you start questioning me on this, look back at recent years.

The 2007 Series included the Colorado Rockies, who technically did not win their Division. In fact, their finishing 1/2 game back deprived us fans of at least 1 "win or go home" game to finish up the regular season. (And we saw the added excitement in 2008 with the White Sox literally playing 4 American League teams out of 4 consecutive games to win the A.L. Central and then get into the ALDS vs. Tampa Bay.)

In 2006, it was Detroit which finished in second place. While some fans complain about the Cardinals winning only 83 games that season, they should have been complaining because the Cardinals won it all by beating a team that folded down the stretch and failed to win its division.

In 2005, Houston did not win its division, and it showed as they were swept by the White Sox, who led wire-to-wire that season.

And on it goes.

Please. If we are not going to remember this 2008 World Series for in-game excitement, let's remember it for being legitimate. That's a winner in my book.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sports Media Update - October 22

This past Sunday night (Oct. 19) was a history making night for sports broadcasting, especially from a Tampa perspective. To the best of my knowledge (even after some precautionary research), it was the first time that two sports events from the Tampa area were up against each other on national TV. While the Rays were playing their clinching Game 7 of the ALCS against Boston in St. Pete on TBS, across the bay NBC-TV was showing the Buccaneers football game against Seattle.

Having two local teams on national TV happens in places such as NYC, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit, among others from time to time. But not before in the Tampa area. NBC-TV probably wishes it didn't happen. Their Sunday Night Football telecast finished among the lowest rated ever for a prime time telecast, while TBS set cable viewing records on the baseball side.

NEW YORK - As expected, WFAN 660 will continue as the flagship station of Mets broadcasts. It is curious that financial terms were not disclosed, leaving us to guess that this will be some sort of revenue share for the team and the station.

As part of this new deal, which brings WFAN's Mets coverage into its 23rd season, WFAN will produce additional Mets related programming including daily highlights (in season), and also have these programs available via along with the HD3 channel at 92.3 FM. The HD channel is a wonderful addition, and something I have been pushing for from sports stations for months. Extensive coverage of one team and its games is the type of niche programming which could actually make HD Radio worthwhile.

Further down the dial, congrats to Yankees TV voice Michael Kay on his three year contract extension continuing his afternoon show on WEPN 1050. Kay has handled afternoons since 2005 and has been with WEPN since 2001.

ATLANTA - It feels like the Atlanta Braves have moved to Atlanta and become the Braves. The days of Ted Turner, most games on TBS, Fulton County Stadium, and the same broadcasters year after year are now officially long gone.

Pete Van Wieren has retired after 33 seasons of Braves play-by-play on both TV and radio. Although his laid back style was not a hit with younger fans used to the pumped up style of many of today's announcers, he was consistent and accurate. With the possible exception of Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett with the Dodgers, I can't recall a pair of announcers with one team longer than Van Wieren and Skip Caray, whose passing earlier this year also signals this overhaul of the Braves we used to know.

Like with Skip Caray, Van Wieren also reported for CNN and handled football play-by-play, including the days of TBS covering Big Ten games, along with Falcons pre-season games.

Now we go into the 2009 season following the retirements of two 30+ year play-by-play voices with the same team, as this announcement follows the retirement announcement of Lanny Frattare from the Pirates radio booth made just a couple of weeks ago.

Meanwhile, on the incoming side, Fox SportSouth has hired former Hawk Mike Glenn as its pre and post-game analyst staring next week for the network's scheduled 75 Hawks telecasts. Dominique Wilkins moves from the post-game show role into his new role as game analyst.

SAN FRANCISCO - Think of it as scheduled sportscasts on FM. With classic hits KFRC 106.9 FM again going into oblivion and all-news KCBS-AM being simulcast on 106.9 (as of this week), it means that the KCBS sports updates and sports related programming will also be heard on the FM dial.

Comcast SportsNet Bay Area has hired Scott Reiss away from ESPN after eight years. Reiss is already being utilized on the pre and post-game shows of the Warriors and the Sharks.

DALLAS - The latest radio ratings battle of sports stations again goes to The Ticket, which finished second in men aged 25-54 for the summer, more than 40% ahead of ESPN 103.3. Although 103.3 FM had its best summer ratings to date, it finished in 20th place in overall listeners, compared with a 12th place overall finish for The Ticket.

The Metroplex seems to have a definite lack of interest in post-season baseball this month. Through the first five games of the ALCS, reports show that Dallas-Ft. Worth finished dead last in major market ratings. Portland, Charlotte, Nashville, Salt Lake City, and Albuquerque were among the markets with better ratings. And none of those markets has a Major League team.

The National League series on Fox for the Dallas area did not rank in the top 50 national markets either. Ouch.

PHOENIX - While Dallas hasn't been watching post-season baseball, Phoenix, which does have a National League team, will be challenged to hear the ESPN Radio broadcasts of the World Series. KTAR 620 has commitments during the first three games, including their weekly Cardinals show instead of Game 1. A Suns pre-season broadcast pre-empts Game 2, and the Arizona State - Oregon football game will air on Saturday instead of Game 3. As a result, those games, along with possible games 6 and 7 broadcasts will air on KDUS 1060 AM. A Suns pre-season game?

SEATTLE - While I don't know how the October baseball ratings have fared for the Seattle market, I did see the impact of the Mariners losing 100 games this past season. The team's TV ratings on FSN dropped approximately 48% for the yeaer. Let's see what a change of radio stations does for next season's ratings.

PITTSBURGH - Mark Madden is now into his second week back on the air at WXDX 105.9 in the 3 - 6 PM slot. This marks his return since being taken off 1250 ESPN this past May. This show, however, is not completely sports, as pop culture and music have been added to the mix. From what little I have heard and what I have been told, I should say "mixed up" instead. The show does run later on the nights WXDX has a Penguins broadcast starting at or prior to 7:30.

INDIANAPOLIS - WFNI 1070, the former WIBC-AM, tied for 17th place overall in the market's summer ratings period. It is easy to comment that those are nowhere near the old WIBC numbers. Then we realize that the station just went through its first summer, and it is too early to tell. This fall ratings period will be a better indication of WFNI's future, as we have Colts and Indiana University football underway and Pacers season starting next week. Rival WNDE finished 19th overall, and WXLW 950 didn't register.

SAN DIEGO - Dennis Green, the former Vikings and Cardinals NFL coach and Stanford plus Northwestern University coach who handles color for select Westwood One football broadcasts, has a new gig. One he should be proud of. Green now teaches Sports Business Management in San Diego State University's MBA Program, focused on sports management.

LAFAYETTE - If you want to watch Purdue hosting Minnesota in the Big Ten game on October 25th, you need to find it on ESPN Classic instead of the Big Ten Network.

HELENA - Sporting News Radio has suffered over the past year. Now comes word that it has been dropped by KCAP Radio. And not for a format change or even to go with local programming after 3:00 PM and on weekends. KCAP has switched the same time slots over to Fox Radio Sports.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sports Media Report - Oct. 13th update

How times have changed with TV sports coverage. I never thought the time would come when one TV network would acknowledge another sport being shown at the same time on another network.

It happened on Sunday night (Oct. 12) during the Phillies-Dodgers Game 3 telecast of the NLCS. Just as the Sunday Night Football game on rival NBC-TV reached halftime, Fox's Joe Buck did an immediate recap of the baseball game to that point, introducing it by saying "For those of you who have been watching the football game............".

Granted, Fox-TV also has the NFL and was a couple of hours removed from its Sunday doubleheader to most of the country, but a "two-sport" acknowledgement is a huge rarity.

I'm not sure how much audience research will be available or released about how Fox and NBC did during that quarter hour.

Once upon a time, it was a "no-no" to so much as acknowledge another network on the air, let alone a blatant reference to a telecast competing for much of the same audience.

I had no idea that was coming and was stunned. Doing that recap pretty much told viewers who were over at NBC-TV that they didn't need to tune over to check on the NLCS score any earlier.

After all, it has been years and years of networks not addressing an event on a competing network. I highly doubt this was anything that Joe Buck did on his own. Fox had a graphic ready to go to show the recap of key plays and events in the baseball game. Plus, Buck had to be made aware by someone that indeed the NFL game had reached the halftime mark exactly when it did.

Fox had spent its NFL doubleheader promoting the baseball telecast for the night. Obviously, they were out to lure the football fans. Hours later, while the baseball game they were carrying was already somewhat one-sided, they reminded millions of people that another network had an NFL game in progress.

Buck did not give the score of the NFL game. He only "welcomed" those viewers at half time. Say what? Since the baseball game was not close, I would bet that a percentage of viewers tuned over to NBC to see if the NFL game was closer. Maybe Fox overlooked that the San Diego Chargers were playing in the NFL game, while their NLCS game featured the Los Angeles Dodgers. Many fans in Orange County, for example, were then reminded of a choice between two "local" teams.

That could have been a costly announcement in terms of viewers by Fox. They should have known how to handle this. As I see it, here is what they should have done. The game recap still could have started exactly when it did, to coincide with the start of half-time of the competing football telecast.

All Joe Buck should have said was "If you are just now joining us........" and gone on with the recap. By doing so, the large number of football fans tuned to Fox would not have been reminded about another option to watch.

As it is, Fox is required to promote the American League Championship Series telecasts on TBS during its telecasts. In this case, it is required and reciprocal with TBS. But the result is that during this one baseball game, Fox was promoting specific telecasts on TWO other TV networks.

That is a long way from the "check your local listings" approach the networks and stations used to take regarding their competition.

Meanwhile, yet another sportscasting veteran has left us. Gil Stratton passed away last week at the age of 86 in his Los Angeles home located minutes from Universal Studios. A fixture on KNX Radio and KNXT-TV in Los Angeles since the mid-50's, Stratton won the "Golden Mike Award" from the Southern California Broadcasters Association seven different times.

NBA fans who enjoy all of the national TV the league has to offer but do not or no longer enjoy the omnipresent Bill Walton are closer to having it their way for the upcoming season. While Walton has not officially been "replaced", Magic Johnson has been signed to be an NBA studio analyst for ESPN and ABC starting with the upcoming season. Magic leaves TNT after seven seasons in a similar role on their Thursday night and numerous playoff telecasts. This is the exact role which Walton has held for the past few seasons.

Coach Jeff Van Gundy has also signed on with ESPN and ABC to continue as a game analyst for this season and beyond. His new five year deal keeps him on the #1 team with Mike Breen and Mark Jackson.

NEW YORK - Kenny Smith will not return to MSG and Knicks TV this season. Since Gus Johnson continues on the radio side, word is that Gus may have an expanded role to include some MSG coverage now that Smith is gone.

The new NBA season also marks the changing of the guard, as a pair of long long time legends will be reduced or eliminated from the TV booth. In Boston, Bob Cousy was not asked back by Comcast SportsNet at all for this season following his reduced workload last season. In Chicago, Johnny "Red" Kerr, a part of the Bulls franchise since he was their first head coach during their expansion year of 1966-67, will only appear on pre and post-game plus halftime of home games shown on Comcast SportsNet. Both of these legends are nearing 80 years old. Cousy had been a part of Celtics TV for the past 34 seasons.

St. LOUIS - Best wishes to Kelly Chase, radio analyst on the Blues' hockey broadcasts, who is undergoing examination for a lesion on his brain. The 40 year-old Chase was hopeful of continuing on the air until further determinations are made. The St. Louis Post Dispatch also quoted play-by-play voice Chris Kerber as saying he did not notice any difference with Chase during their recent broadcasts going back into the pre-season.

With college hoops about one month away, St. Louis University still has not announced a radio deal for its games. If nothing happens after their season starts, we have to wonder if "Movin' FM" would pick up the broadcasts for after its Jan. 1st debut as the market's latest all-sports station.

KANSAS CITY - While the Royals have become the latest team to announce a ticket price hike for next season, it looks as though the broadcast teams will remain in place for 2009. Bob Davis is expected to be signed to continue in the radio booth along with Denny Matthews and Steve Stewart. Davis made the successful move to radio for this past season when switched with Ryan Lefebvre was moved to TV when FSN began handling the Royals telecasts.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sports Media Update - October 8th

TBS did a much better job on their Division Series baseball coverage than its ratings reflect. I found the analysis from Harold Reynolds during the Tampa-Chicago series to be excellent, and am glad to see that Harold will be a part of the upcoming MLB-TV Network to debut the first of the year.

Expectations were high at TBS, especially with both Chicago and Los Angeles teams involved at the time, along with the huge markets Boston and Philadelphia bring to the table.

Some theories blame the late starting time for the games from Los Angeles, while others blame the V.P. debates on the prime viewing Thursday night. While some of that might be true, I find another reason for the reported 20.2% decline in TBS' first round coverage when compared with last year.

The "tradition" of TBS isn't there. TBS blew it again all season this year by not having a consistent start time for all of their Sunday telecasts. True, they do not have the ability to move the starting time of the game they feature, and that hurts. But those fans that even knew TBS had a game on Sunday could tune in at the exact same time each week and not always see a game in progress. Instead they see a movie or comedy with no idea that sports is coming up. I think this carried over the post-season. I'm here to tell you that people tuned into the ESPN and their regional cable channel (such as Fox or Comcast) and when they didn't see baseball, they didn't realize the games were on TBS. When TBS lost the Braves and the Hawks telecasts, they lost their image as a place to go for live sports.

I received several inquiries from friends asking where they could find the games. I'll be curious to see how much Fox dominates TBS in the upcoming League Championship Series ratings. So you don't have to ask, the telecast schedule is among those shown below.

While baseball's teams won't be announcing any personnel matters until after the World Series, some broadcast booths are already in the news. The end of an era in Pittsburgh, again. Not the following that Bob Prince had years ago, but after 33 seasons, Lanny Frattare has decided to retire. His tenure was longer than that of Prince. He reportedly considered reducing to home games only but surprised the Pirates with his decision, coming after more than 5,000 broadcasts. Frattare had been the number one radio voice since Milo Hamilton left Pittsburgh, and that was following the 1979 season.

The late Joe Nuxhall is again on the ballot for the Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award for baseball broadcasting excellence. The old left hander received the most fan votes last year, which was immediately following his death, and now joins Lanny Frattare, Tom Cheek (Expos + Blue Jays) and former Reds and Red Sox voice Ken Coleman among others on the list. Nux is certain to get support from Marty Brennaman, his former broadcast partner, who is among those doing the voting.

While the Baltimore Orioles need to improve on the field, their broadcast team remains solid with the announcement that Gary Thorne returns for TV play-by-play on MASN, while Joe Angel continues on radio. Fans around the country know of Thorne for his excellence on hockey telecasts, along with a few years calling baseball for ESPN.

Speaking of MLB-TV, and many baseball fans still don't realize what a plus this will be, the N Y Times reports that the one game each week they will pick up is no longer limited to Saturday nights, as first reported. Just as the network now is looking at 6 hours each night of studio coverage, they might show some games on Thursday nights instead of Saturdays during certain weeks.

On the college hoops scene, ESPN has signed a new and expanded five year agreement to cover Big West Conference basketball, with a minimum of 12 national telecasts to be scheduled. These include the Thanksgiving tournament in Anaheim next month which will have at least three of the games shown on ESPN.

NEW YORK - While we wait to find out how Mike performs in the ratings without the Mad Dog, we see that WFAN's morning show with Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton is leading in the 25 to 54 age group in the latest reports.

On the New Jersey side, glad to see Jody McDonald returning to the 9 AM to 1 PM shift on ESPN 950. Jody returns after undergoing quadruple bypass surgery just six weeks ago. He will now be joined by Harry Mayes as co-host, moving up from having co-hosted the 7 to 11 PM shift with Dan Schwartzman. The station isn't saying whether or not this is a permanent thing or to ensure continuity in the event of health concerns about McDonald, but I think it is the latter.

HOUSTON - While the Rockets radio broadcasts will soon begin featuring Craig Ackerman as the new radio voice, his previous role as studio host for the broadcasts has been given to Adam Wexler. The Rockets are one of very few NBA teams with a Spanish broadcast, with Adrian Chavarria returning to call the games on KEYH 850 this season.

St. LOUIS - The "Movin'" WMVN 101.1 FM which moves to sports talk at the first of the year, has announced its afternoon drive host. Randy Karraker will bring more than 20 years in the market to this position, having talked sports at KMOX back in 1987. The station is also expected to bring in a co-host to work along with Randy. He will continue with high school sports play-by-play on Charter Cable in addition.

TEXAS - The local Baylor football fans will not be able to see their Oct. 18th game against Oklahoma State, as the game will not be televised on either a local or network basis. Those fans outside of the immediate area will be able to follow the game, as the school announced that this game will air on Sirius Satellite and on John Morris, J.J. Joe, and Ricky Thompson, will have the call.

Texas Christian University has announced a wonderful innovation. The school's KTCU 88.7 FM has added a high school football game of the week to air between 7 and 10 PM each Friday, with students producing the on-air content. Everybody wins, from the high schools having games featured on radio to the fans that get to hear them to the students getting the learning experience of a lifetime. I taught sportscasting at Columbia College Chicago for 7 semesters and can tell you first hand how wonderful the experience is for a student to get play-by-play training on the job. TCU alum Trey Fallon is among those who have already made this career move. Fallon produces pre and post-game shows for Cowboys and Mavericks broadcasts on 103.3 ESPN Radio.

KANSAS CITY - Congrats to Chiefs' voice Mitch Holthus, now in his 15th season as the voice of the Chiefs. He will be inducted on Sunday into the Kansas Assn. of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

MILWAUKEE - Now that the Brewers are done for the season, the Sunday TV and radio competition goes completely back to football. In Milwaukee, that seems to now mean the Packers and Brett Favre's Jets games.

This past Sunday (Oct. 5), the Packers telecast whipped the Brewers being eliminated by the Phillies on Milwaukee TV by better than a 2-to-1 margin. And for this, WTMJ Radio chose the Brewers broadcast ahead of the Packers. This after the Saturday Game 3 Brewers telecast finished as the ratings leader in Milwaukee, easily whipping the Ohio State football game.
Back to Favre this coming Sunday (Oct. 12), as WDJT-TV carries the Jets vs. Cincinnati, and has also scheduled the Jets vs. Kansas City on Oct. 26th.

HAMPTON - John Castleberry is out as afternoon host on The Game 1490 and also on Virginia Beach's 102.1 FM as of last Friday Oct. 3rd. He was able to finish his final show after breaking the news early in what turned out to be his final show, which included his putting callers on the air to voice their displeasure. Co-host Nick Halda was also released.

SANDUSKY - We can say that management of WLEC Sports 1450 was literally in a Fogg about morning drive. Almost two weeks ago, they let Sports Director Mark Fogg go in a cost-cutting move. After 33 years with the station. As of next Monday (Oct. 13), the morning show returns, with Fogg hired back as host. No word as to whether or not the "re-hiring" is for the same money. Ouch. The Bob Dylan line "20 years of schooling and they put you on the day shift" seems to come into play here.

For those who like to have these, and I'm one of those people myself, here are the schedules for the MLB Championship Series, national telecasts for the NBA regular season which starts in 3 weeks (other than NBA-TV) through the month of November, and the Atlantic 10 Conference national college hoops schedule:

National League Championship Series (All Games on Fox)Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Philadelphia PhilliesGame 1/LA at Philadelphia - Thursday, October 9, 8:22 p.m.
Game 2/LA at Philadelphia - Friday, October 10, 4:35 p.m.
Game 3/Philadelphia at LA - Sunday, October 12, 8:22 p.m.
Game 4/Philadelphia at LA - Monday, October 13, 8:22 p.m.
Game 5/Philadelphia at LA - Wednesday, October, 15, 8:22 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 6/LA at Philadelphia - Friday, October 17, 8:22 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 7/LA at Philadelphia - Saturday, October, 18, 8:22 p.m. (if necessary)

MLB on Fox Studio - Jeanne Zelasko/Kevin Kennedy/Eric KarrosFox - Joe Buck/Tim McCarver/Ken RosenthalESPN Radio - Dan Shulman/Dave Campbell

American League Championship Series (All Games on TBS)Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay
RaysGame 1/Red Sox at Tampa Bay - Friday, October 10, 8:37 p.m.
Game 2/Red Sox at Tampa Bay - Saturday, October 11, 8:07 p.m.
Game 3/Tampa Bay at Red Sox - Monday, October 13, 4:37 p.m.
Game 4/Tampa Bay at Red Sox - Tuesday, October 14, 8:07 p.m.
Game 5/Tampa Bay at Red Sox - Thursday, October 16, 8;07 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 6/Red Sox at Tampa Bay - Saturday, October 18, 4:37 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 7/Red Sox at Tampa Bay - Sunday, October 18, 8:07 p.m. (if necessary)
MLB on Deck - Ernie Johnson, Jr., Dennis Eckersley, Harold Reynolds, Cal Ripken, Jr.TBS - Chip Caray/Buck Martinez/Ron Darling/Craig SagerESPN Radio - Jon Miller/Joe Morgan

NBA regular season national telecasts - not including NBA-TV, through November:
TUESDAY, OCT. 28 8:00: Cleveland at Boston TNT10:30: Portland at L.A. Lakers TNT
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 29 8:00: Phoenix at San Antonio ESN10:30: L.A. Lakers at L.A. Clippers ESN
THURSDAY, OCT. 30 8:00: Houston at Dallas TNT10:30: New Orleans at Phoenix TNT
FRIDAY, OCT. 31 8:00: Chicago at Boston ESN10:30: San Antonio at Portland ESN
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 5 8:00: Chicago at Cleveland ESN10:30: Denver at Golden State ESN
THURSDAY, NOV. 6 8:00: Philadelphia at Orlando TNT10:30: Houston at Portland TNT
FRIDAY, NOV. 7 8:00: Miami at San Antonio ESN10:30: Dallas at Denver ESN
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 12 8:00: Utah at Washington ESN10:30: Houston at Phoenix ESN
THURSDAY, NOV. 13 7:00: Denver at Cleveland TNT9:30: Dallas at Chicago TNT
FRIDAY, NOV. 14 8:00: Denver at Boston ESN10:30: Detroit at L.A. Lakers ESN
SATURDAY, NOV. 15 8:30: Indiana at Chicago WGN
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 19 8:00: Dallas at Houston ESN10:30: Chicago at Portland ESN
THURSDAY, NOV. 20 8:00: Detroit at Boston TNT10:30: L.A. Lakers at Phoenix TNT
FRIDAY, NOV. 21 7:00: Houston at Washington ESN9:30: New Orleans at Oklahoma City ESN
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 26 7:30: Orlando at Philadelphia ESN10:00:

THURSDAY, NOV. 27 8:00: Orlando at Washington TNT10:30: New Orleans at Denver TNT
FRIDAY, NOV. 28 8:00: Miami at Phoenix ESN10:30: Dallas at L.A. Lakers ESN

Atlantic 10 Conference Men's Hoops:
ESPN Tue. - Nov. 18 - Massachusetts at Memphis (12:00)

Tue. - Nov. 18 - Richmond at Syracuse (6:00)
Tue. - Nov. 25 - Saint Joseph's vs. Indiana/Notre Dame* (TBA)
Wed. - Nov. 26 - Saint Joseph's at Maui Invitational# (TBA)
Fri. - Nov. 28 - Duquesne at Duke (3:00)
Sat. - Dec. 13 - Tennessee at Temple (12:00) Sat. - Dec. 13 - Massachusetts at Kansas (2:00)
*May be aired on ESPNU depending on outcome of previous game #May be aired on ESPN2 or ESPNU depending on outcome of previous game

Thu. - Feb. 5 - Temple at Xavier (7:00)
Thu. - Feb. 12 - Temple at Saint Joseph's (7:00)
Thu. - Feb. 19 - Xavier at Charlotte (7:00)
Thu. - Feb. 26 - Xavier at Saint Joseph's (7:00)
Thu. - Mar. 5 - Dayton at Xavier (9:00)
Network designation to be determined at a later date

Fri. - Nov. 21 - Xavier vs. Fairfield/Virginia Tech* (TBA)
Sun. - Nov. 23 - Xavier at Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic* (TBA)
Mon. - Nov. 24 - Saint Joseph's vs. Texas (3:00)
Fri. - Nov. 28 - Charlotte vs. Baylor/ Providence* (TBA)
Sun. - Nov. 30 - Charlotte at Anaheim Classic* (TBA)
Thu. - Dec. 11 - Saint Joseph's at Villanova (8:00)
Sat. - Dec. 13 - Xavier at Cincinnati (8:00)
Sat. - Dec. 20 - Temple at Kansas (2:30)
Sat. - Jan. 17 - Temple at Massachusetts (7:00) Sat. -
Jan. 24 - Xavier at Louisiana State (8:00)
Wed. - Feb. 11 - Xavier at Dayton (7:00) Sat. -
Mar. 14 - Atlantic 10 Championship Final (6:00)
*May be aired on ESPNU depending on outcome of previous game

ESPNU Sun. - Nov. 16 - Rhode Island at Duke (4:30) Thu. - Nov. 20 - Xavier vs. Missouri (1:00) Fri. - Nov. 21 - Xavier vs. Fairfield/Virginia Tech* (TBA) Thu. - Nov. 27 - Charlotte vs. Arizona State (9:00) Sat. - Dec. 13 - Virginia Commonwealth at Richmond (2:00) Sun. - Dec. 14 - Villanova at La Salle (7:00) Fri. - Dec. 19 - Wake Forest at Richmond (7:00) Tue. - Dec. 23 - Butler at Xavier (7:00) Sat. - Jan. 24 - Charlotte at Temple (6:00) Mon. - Dec. 29 - Temple at Villanova (7:00) Sat. - Jan. 31 - Massachusetts at Xavier (12:00)
*May be aired on depending on outcome of previous game

CBS Sat. - Dec. 20 - Xavier vs. Duke (2:00)

CBS College Sports Network Wed. - Dec. 3 - Auburn at Xavier (8:00) Sat. - Dec. 6 - Boston College at Massachusetts (8:30) Sat. - Jan. 3 - Vanderbilt at Massachusetts (5:00) Thu. - Jan. 8 - Saint Louis at Xavier (8:00) Thu. - Jan. 15 - Xavier at Rhode Island (8:00) Sun. - Jan. 18 - Charlotte at Saint Joseph's (4:00) Thu. - Jan. 22 - Saint Louis at Temple (8:00) Thu. - Jan. 29 - Saint Louis at Dayton (8:00) Sun. - Feb. 8 - Saint Joseph's at Massachusetts (3:00) Wed. - Feb. 18 - Saint Joseph's at Saint Louis (10:00) Thu. - Mar. 5 - Saint Joseph's at Temple (7:00)