As a sports fan who has been fortunate enough to be in the business for more than 30 years, I have come to realize how much the broadcast or telecast is a part of my sports enjoyment and memories.
Two things brought it to my attention within the past couple of weeks. The first is when a radio personality asked me what I thought would be my favorite radio aircheck of all-time. (I wrote about it for my RadioRecordings.com column since it was a top 40 aircheck.) The other is when I saw about NYC's WFAN doing their Labor Day weekend replays of last season's Giants playoff broadcasts vs. both the Cowboys and Packers leading into their Super Bowl victory.
Some radio stations have replayed key games of teams they carry play-by-play for. Before ESPN Classic jumped the shark and started including poker, low rank boxing, and tiddly winks (whatever) instead of NFL, NBA, and MLB telecasts from the past, they were on to a great concept.
It got me thinking about how much certain sports happenings have memories tied to the announcer(s). I can give you certain quotes and you can tell me the event and who said it. That's how much the broadcasts mean.
"There's a new homerun champion of all-time, and it's Henry Aaron!"
"Do you believe in miracles? Yes!"
"The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!"
"I don't believe what I just saw!"
That is all I need to say. We often remember the moment in sports by how we first heard or saw it via TV or radio.
What is your favorite sports broadcast moment? Not a game or a play, but broadcast moment? E-mail me with it.
Meanwhile, I must give credit to New York Jets fan and season ticket holder Howard Freeman. Maybe not for spending $30,000 on a PSL (personal seat license) for the "right" to purchase Jets season tickets. Rather, for looking into selling his own personal 'naming rights' for his seats, before being told by the Jets themselves that he couldn't do it.
Besides generating well over $30,000 worth of publicity (Freeman is a sports marketer) by getting his story picked up by Associated Press, Freeman helped to show how outrageous this 'naming rights' sponsorship concept is getting.
What does this have to do with a radio/TV sports column? I think there is a tie-in here. The Jets refuse to have Freeman put a sponsor logo on "his" season seats as another way to promote them, since the money would not go to the Jets. While I can understand the team's point on that, I have to pose a question to radio and TV stations, especially those which carry play-by-play.
Why do sports broadcasts have to mention the stadium naming rights? If the Jets' response to Freeman has merit, then shouldn't radio and TV stations say "from downtown Detroit" instead of Ford Field? From "Comiskey Park" in Chicago instead of U.S. Cellular Field? From "Joe Robbie Stadium" near Miami? The list goes on. The Jets refused a paying customer because they sell the advertising for the stadium. Fair enough. In that case, since radio and TV stations and networks sell the advertising for the broadcasts, they should refuse to acknowledge the naming rights!
Time for the NFL season and plenty of broadcasts and telecasts starting this week. Former Steelers, Jets, and Chargers QB Mark Malone has just been added to Westwood One Radio's roster of NFL analysts for its radio broadcasts. Here is the Westwood One Radio September schedule of NFL games it will carry:
09/04/08 - Washington Redskins @ N.Y. Giants, 6:30 PM ET09/07/08 - Kansas City Chiefs @ New England Patriots, 12:30 PM ET09/07/08 - Dallas Cowboys @ Cleveland Browns, 3:45 PM ET09/07/08 - Chicago Bears @ Indianapolis Colts, 7:30 PM ET09/08/08 - Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers, 6:30 PM ET09/08/08 - Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders, 9:30 PM ET
09/14/08 - New Orleans Saints @ Washington Redskins, 12:30 PM ET09/14/08 - San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos, 3:45 PM ET09/14/08 - Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns, 7:30 PM ET09/15/08 - Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys, 8:00 PM ET
09/21/08 - Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans, 12:30 PM ET09/21/08 - Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolis Colts, 3:45 PM ET09/21/08 - Dallas Cowboys @ Green Bay Packers, 7:30 PM ET09/22/08 - N.Y. Jets @ San Diego Chargers, 8:00 PM ET
09/28/08 - San Francisco 49ers @ New Orleans Saints. 12:30 PM ET09/28/08 - Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys, 3:45 PM ET09/28/08 - Philadelphia Eagles @ Chicago Bears, 7:30 PM ET09/29/08 - Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:00 PM ET
BALTIMORE: The new Ravens season combined with the start of college football make the timing better for a new all-sports station in Baltimore. Starting next Monday (Sept. 8), 50,000 watt 1370 WVIE will "vie" for the sports audience, becoming one of the few big scale sports stations affiliated with Fox Sports Radio. Former WBAL host Jerry Coleman (not the San Diego Padres' voice) has been brought in as Sports Director. The station replaces news/talk WLG, and will have Coleman anchoring its 3 to 6 PM afternoon drive, following the Jim Rome show. However, WVIE has no local play-by-play. Its 1370 dial position may be helped by its proximity to ESPN 1300.
Coincidentally, WNST radio has hired former Ravens coach Brian Billick, also an analyst for FOX-TV, to host a Wednesday night local talk show. However, Billick's show will start out airing only on the first Wednesday of each month. Frankly, this does not seem a worthwhile hire. Fans are not likely to tune into WNST every Wednesday "just in case" Billick's show is on, especially when he will be on FOX-TV every week. WNST will either have to use additional promotional dollars (or trade time) to promote the weeks that Billick is on, or take a hit by paying him and not promoting is occasional appearances.
MILWAUKEE - WSSP 1250 AM is doing some rearranging of its local daytime lineup starting next week. Afternoons from 2 to 6 PM will feature "The Big Show" with the new lineup of Gary Ellerson, Steve 'Sparky' Fifer, and Josh Vernier. Mike Clemens is no longer with the station.
Sports 540 AM continues to go all out with its local lineup. The station has also been bolstered by the Brewers' excellent season to date. Even though it does not carry the play-by-play, its one hour post-game show roughly following Brewers night games is picking up steam.
Afternoon host Steve "Homer" True begins his Friday Football picks this Friday (Sept. 5th) at 3:50 PM local time. "Slim Jim" joins Homer again this year, starting this season with a 73-48 career mark.
ORLANDO - We are still a few weeks away from NBA camps opening, but Orlando Magic fans are still facing being shut out of 35 Magic telecasts for the upcoming season. Bright House Cable and FSN Florida have not moved on the issue of the Magic package being placed on basic cable or on a tier that would cost subscribers who want the games an additional $1.99 per month. No other NBA team is part of any additional cost package. Now the Orlando Sentinel reports that the team is frustrated about this. But not frustrated enough to buy the air time so that 850,000+ subscribers can see almost half of their games at no extra cost.
DENVER: 1510 AM Mile High Sports Radio still has yet to announce its plan for conflicting broadcasts it carries. Already looking at several overlaps with its Nuggest and Avalanche broadcasts, along with University of Denver basketball coming later, Saturdays now feature Mountain West football.
Yet, there was an announcement from Mile High Sports Radio yesterday. They are adding Air Force Academy football and basketball for this season and next, plus a weekly coaches show.
As challenging as this may become for fans partial to one of those teams, I love this. Live programming with local interest is so much better than caller after caller complaining about the Rockies' pitching.
KANSAS CITY: While the Royals sink into last place in the American League Central, they appear to be having some impact on KCSP 610 AM during its first season of its Royals contract. Roger Twibell's morning show tripled its share of men 25-54 from the winter to the spring ratings period, closing the gap on market sports leader WHB.
Speaking of the Royals, condolances to play-by-play voice Denny Matthews, wrapping up his 40th season with the team, on the passing of his mother last Friday (Aug. 29).
ROCHESTER - WROC 950 has dumped Air America talk in favor of ESPN Sports as of Wednesday (Sept. 3). This makes a better fit for the Sabres broadcasts it begins to carry next month, along with some Bills talk shows (although WROC does not carry the Bills broadcasts).
For starters, WROC will carry Buffalo's WGR "Schopp & The Bulldog" afternoon drive show until or unless it adds any truly local programming. The station will also carry ESPN Radio play-by-play broadcasts.