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)

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