Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sports Media Report - Sept. 30 update

If TBS wants to better brand their baseball coverage in year 2 of their post-season package, they have overlooked one aspect of their coverage. With playoff pairings not determined until the last minute, the first concern of many baseball fans on the Monday morning before the post-season starts is the schedule of the games. Fans want to know what days and times for whichever Division Series games they are most interested in.

Yet, through Monday and into Tuesday afternoon, there doesn't seem to be any schedule on the TBS site. Not even an easy-to-find link to the info about their coverage. While it is true they have a "MLB page" with news and features, they don't have their schedule of telecasts. I had to go elsewhere to get it. Not everybody has the patience I do. As of now not one pitch has been thrown in any of the Division Series, and I see absolutely no reason to return to the TBS.com web site.

Let that be a note to sports radio stations. Have the scheduling information available on your web site as soon as possible. It's a reason to keep fans coming back.

For those still struggling with the TBS schedule, they will have all of the Division Series games. Chip Caray and Buck Martinez handle the Red Sox vs. Angels; Dick Stockton, Ron Darling, and Tony Gwynn will call the Dodgers vs. Cubs; Milwaukee vs. Philadelphia get the Brewers' announcer Brian Anderson along with Joe Simpson plus John Smoltz; while the Tampa series will be called by Don Orsillo and Harold Reynolds. Orsillo is one of the Red Sox TV voices during the season. Go figure. Philadelphia gets the Brewers' announcer while the Red Sox announcer does a different series.

NEW YORK: This off-season will be interesting for the Mets. Not only because of their failure to make the playoffs at the last minute again. Because this past Sunday's finale may have been the team's final broadcast on 66 WFAN. No new deal has been announced. Could be the station and the team calling each other's bluff. WFAN awaits the results of Mike without the Mad Dog during the fall ratings. The Mets would either face a lesser signal (such as ESPN 1050 and its reduced signal at night) or being on a station without a sports identity to support the broadcasts.

If that is the case, my thinking is the Mets could be the ones that lose this gamble. They should not overlook that the Yankees broadcasts are now carried on WCBS 880, which is a sister station to WFAN. CBS Radio in Chicago switched its Chicago Bears NFL broadcasts a few years back to WBBM 780 AM. If the Yankees radio contract with WCBS includes the option for another station upon approval, this could be a move to replace the Mets with the Yankees on WFAN. Stay tuned.

SAN FRANCISCO - A well deserved honor this Wednesday (Oct. 1) for Don Klein, the sports voice of KCBS for nearly 30 years. The 84 year young Klein is among those being inducted into the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame. NFL fans remember Klein's radio call of "The Catch" by Dwight Clark during his six seasons of 49ers play-by-play. Don also called Stanford football for 25 seasons.

Also honored will be Bob Fouts, also a former voice of the 49ers. If only his last name is familiar, you will be interested to know that he is the father of Hall of Fame QB Dan Fouts.

The third of the major honorees is being inducted years too late. Russ Hodges, who passed away more than 30 years ago, will be honored for his play-by-play of the San Francisco Giants from 1958 through 1970. Long time baseball fans know of Hodges, if not by name. The 1951 playoff call "The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!" was Hodges while calling the N.Y. Giants. Another honoree is Roy Storey, who pioneered hockey broadcasts in the Bay Area calling Charlie Finley's NHL Oakland Seals once upon a time.

SAN DIEGO - While the Padres are likely to make some on the field changes for 2009, the team has already announced their radio broadcast team will remain as is. Ageless Jerry Coleman will again be joined by Ted Leitner for the 30th year, with Leitner signing a two year deal with a club option for a third. Andy Masur will remain on board for his third season with the crew.

OKLAHOMA CITY - The new NBA Thunder have a TV deal in place just as training camp opens. Fox Sports Net Oklahoma has been formed and will air 65 Thunder games this season to begin a multi-year contract. The Network also plans live pre and post-game shows along with a weekly magazine style program. However, nothing yet about an over-the-air TV deal, although only a few games would be available for this season.

From a marketing point of view, this is a high risk. The Thunder appear to be banking (literally) on how quickly their season tickets sold out and the high demand for single game tickets, figuring they don't need the additional marketing that over-the-air TV brings. If the team disappoints and the novelty wears off after a couple of seasons, the team will not have done all it could to develop an additional fan base.

In the past, much of Oklahoma was getting Dallas Mavericks local telecasts. Those will continue to be available in Oklahoma beyond a 75 mile radius of Oklahoma City when there are no Thunder telecasts.

SALT LAKE - Speaking of future NBA marketing concerns, the Utah Jazz will only show 14 regular season telecasts on over-the-air TV (plus any regional or national games carried on ABC-TV). What makes this so odd is that KJZZ Channel 14 is also owned by Larry Miller, and this same TV station showed, count 'em, 40 games last season. FSN Utah has increased to 60 telecasts for the coming season.

RALEIGH - WDNC 620 The Bull adds Bomani Jones weekdays from 10 AM to 1 PM after being a part-time host for two years. Jones is known primarily for his writing skills, such as for ESPN.com and the Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel. This will be a test to see if he can adapt to live radio.

CHEYENNE - He will forever be the "Voice of the Wyoming Cowboys" even after his passing last Saturday (Sept. 27). Larry Birleffi called Wyoming games for more than 50 years, including football and basketball. He was seen nationally on several occasions years ago on segments for ABC-TV Wide World of Sports. Locally, he was part owner of KFBC Radio Cheyenne and wrote a column for the Wyoming Tribune for 37 of those years. His passing comes months after his 90th birthday.

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