Monday, September 8, 2008

Sports Media Report - Sept. 8 update

Great to see that Vin Scully has agreed to return to his Dodgers broadcast duties for the 2009 season, since that will mark an even 60 years as the lead voice of the Dodgers franchise. He will continue to handle the home games and road games no further east than Colorado. After all these years, Scully continues to work alone when he broadcasts.

While going solo has been unique for a number of years, I can't help but think of how we may never have that again. It goes to show how the number of announcers used on a telecast and some radio broadcast packages is getting out of hand. On NBC-TV's Sunday Night Football opener between Chicago and Indianapolis, it seemed like there were three teams with 53 person rosters: the Bears, the Colts, and NBC-TV's studio staff.

Telecasts of games were successful all these years with as few as two announcers to handle everything (including pre and post game) at the games. Now, the networks feel the need to have at least 5 people in studio (NFL, TNT on NBA, others), with football having some telecasts with three in the announcing booth. While this is too much in one direction, radio still has a few instances of too little. Chicago is one example. Even in a top 3 media market, White Sox radio voice Ed Farmer calls each entire game, while Cubs voice Pat Hughes calls at least 8 innings of every game. This is even funnier when you realize that we can SEE the action on TV with tons of announcers but not when listening on radio.

KANSAS CITY: Speaking of long-time broadcasters, this past weekend marked the 40th anniversary of former Chiefs QB Len Dawson along with Larry Moore beginning on KMBC-TV. Let's put this in perspective for football fans. When Dawson began his broadcasting career in Kansas City, the Chiefs were starting their 2nd season in the NFL after coming over from the American Football League. Joe Namath had not guaranteed a Super Bowl win at that point in time.

On that note, congrats to Seattle Seahawks radio voice Steve Raible, who just began his 25th season calling the Seahawks games. He is joined again this season by Warren Moon as analyst on KIRO 710.

SAN DIEGO: As we suspected for weeks, after more than 20 years Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton is now completely out of the San Diego radio market, at least for the moment. It was termed "by mutual agreement" that Hamilton is gone from XTRA Sports 1360 as of last week. Like him or not, Hamilton is a pioneer of hard core sports radio talk, especially on a regional and national level, even when his shows were local. Word is that he is on the lookout for either a college or NFL play-by-play gig.

HOUSTON: Still no announcement about the location of Astros radio broadcasts for next year and beyond, even after the exclusive negotiating period has past for KTRH to retain the games.

CINCINNATI: Bengals fans finally have one station where they can always find the games now that WEBN 102.7 FM has taken over the broadcasts on the FM side from sister station WOFX-FM. On the AM side, WCKY 1530 also airs the games through September. After the Reds baseball season comes to a quiet conclusion, powerhouse WLW 700 will again carry the remainder of the Bengals broadcasts.

ST. LOUIS: Controversial sports host Kevin Slaten returns to the local airwaves on Monday October 6, starting during the midday on KSLG 1380 AM. Slaten was dismissed by KFNS 590 in April after the controversy surrounding Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan reportedly not knowing he was being interviewed live on the air. Oct. 6th is also the date that Slaten's non-compete clause expires.

MILWAUKEE: After several mentions of the Milwaukee sports radio market and heating up and 540 Sports doing a separate Brewers post-game show after night games are over, and the Brewers into a lengthy sellout streak, comes this bit of ratings news. This past Thursday (Sept. 4), the Brewers game telecast against the San Diego Padres drew less than 20% of the audience that watched the NFL season opener between the Giants and Redskins. Not only an out of market game, but not even a divisional game for Packers fans.

That has me interested to see how the next few Packers telecasts do against Brewers games in September.

ELSEWHERE: While it is nowhere near SEC dollars, the Western Athletic Conference now as a 7 year deal with ESPN including and ESPN Mobile TV. The network properties now hold the rights to all conference controlled games from this season through the 2016-17 seasons.

New Haven CT's ESPN 1300 AM now carries its own version of the "Bobby and the Bird" show each Sunday from 9 AM until 11 AM. The two are well known from Connecticut's WICC 600 AM where they continue their 7 PM to 9 PM Sunday night top rated sports show.

Bowling Green OH's WBGN 1340 has announced a 2 year deal to broadcast the city's Class A baseball team starting in April, including, and is expected to carry all 140 games.

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