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.

Friday, September 26, 2008

What is wrong with the MLB Wild Card system....

To those of you who make such a big hairy deal about baseball’s Wild Card format, I’d like to remind you that the 2008 season has become still another season where it isn’t necessary. The integrity that only MLB had over the other “big 3” (NFL, NBA, NHL) of team sports by requiring its teams to win and finish first in order to advance to the post-season need not be sacrificed.

There it was, Thursday September 25, the start of the last 4 days of the 2008 regular season (barring Monday make-up games). There it was that of MLB’s six division races, only TWO had been officially clinched. Time to take the “HALF FULL” approach. That means that after more than 155 games for every team, four of the six races still had not been decided. That is plenty of excitement. Instead, the media makes the “race” for which teams finish second as important if not more important than who will finish first. That is not right. You should have to win in order to win.

Look at the National League situation. The Brewers had every opportunity until they were swept by the Cubs fair and square. It would be another post-season insult if they get a “second chance” and make the playoffs. Let alone that it would mean the Cubs would not be properly rewarded for having the best record in the National League. How is that in the “best interests of the game” that rulings are supposedly made based on? Or, if the Brewers fall out, it would then destroy one of the best races ever. If both the Mets and Phillies get in, then it would destroy a highly dramatic last day or two of the season and make it almost meaningless.

Look at the American League. The Red Sox had 6 games against Tampa in September and couldn’t get it done. Defending champs or not, why do they deserve the SAME opportunity as the Rays? Suppose the White Sox and Twins were both ahead of Boston in the Wild Card “race”. The nation would have been seriously deprived of the drama of Minnesota’s sweep of the White Sox with everything on the line.

I could document the races that were taken away from us in the years we have been stuck with this Wild Card stuff, but until something is done to correct this, we will have to suffer with the consequences of destroyed races for division titles that might have been.

But that isn’t the only problem. The current format carries an impact into the future. Under the old format (which I am trying to get back), the Brewers would have been eliminated a week ago. They could have been looking at their young players and giving some lesser used pitchers a shot. Many a “next year” has been shaped for a team that got a tremendous September breakthrough from a player they just recalled or who didn’t play much at all during the season to that point. Instead, the Brewers are using their “same” players who couldn’t beat the Cubs, and could suffer in terms of analysis of their personnel for the coming season because of it.

So, you ask, how would I change the situation? I have one thought for “if we have to” have a Wild Card, and another total solution to get rid of it forever.

If we must have it, and I’ll never say we must, then it should be done by burying the Wild Card team’s chances a lot more than now. First thing I would do is not allow the Wild Card teams ANY home games in the post-season. This increases the challenge for them to step up. Imagine having to win an entire series in Minnesota, Tampa, or Wrigley Field this year. But I would give a team credit for winning every road game in order to advance. I just don’t see it happening. In addition, this system brings extra reward to the team which finishes with the best record in the League. They wouldn’t have to travel for at least one week, and their fans would be rewarded with more chances to see them.

The better solution, in my opinion, is to eliminate this Wild Card stuff all together. I see two possibilities for post-season play if only this would happen.

One is to give the team with the best record a week off to rest and reset their pitching, and let the 2 other division winners play at best of 5 series. But with all of the TV dollars out there, I am realistic enough to know this won’t happen.

Therefore, there is only one solution that makes sense. And makes money. Expand the American League by two more teams. Even though I am not big on expansion either, this would allow for both leagues to create four divisions with four teams each. From there, you got it. Seed the FOUR first place teams based on record 1 through 4 and you have the same amount of post-season games as we currently do. With one major difference. It would be ALL first place teams who truly deserve to be there. They won it fair and square. First place should still mean everything.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sports Media Update - September 25th

Unfortunately, we start off with a sad note. Former New York Giants radio analyst Dick Lynch passed away at age 72 on Wednesday following treatment for Leukemia. Lynch was a star at cornerback for the Giants during the early 60's and also played for the Washington Redskins prior. He began radio commentary for the Giants 40 seasons ago. He will be missed, but at least he goes 'up there' with his Giants as defending champs.

Meanwhile, TBS is gearing up for its post-season baseball coverage which begins next week. Their executives have to be the happiest TV people on earth, considering the possibility (at press time) of having 2 Los Angeles and 2 Chicago teams featured in the first round, along with the New York Mets and Boston. For that matter, we'd have to include Tampa Bay in the mix. Even if attendance at Rays home games is embarassing, Rays' TV ratings have increased as much as 95% during the course of the now concluding regular season.

TBS is expected to unveil their plans for additional on-site reporters on Thursday (Sept. 25th) along with expanded pre-game and online coverage with live blogging from baseball experts. The network will show all four first round series followed by the ALCS.

The arrival of October also means the start of TV scheduling for college basketball. ESPN is going to pull an all-nighter for the students (and many an alum!) who want it all when the regular season tips off. The network has planned to follow its Monday Night Football NFL telecast on Nov. 17th (technically Nov. 18 at 12:05 AM) with none other than Memphis hosting U-Mass in their season opener, as shown live.

But it doesn't stop there. At 2 AM ET they will televise the midnight PT start of St. Mary's hosting Fresno State, with Hawaii hosting Idaho State at 4 AM ET. Yes, these will all be live. Tuesday Nov. 18th will then feature live games starting again at 10 AM ET and leading into the Kentucky vs. North Carolina telecast in prime time at 9 PM. Seriously.

The college football primary telecasts have been selected for Saturday Oct. 4th. CBS has selected Kentucky-Alabama as its SEC national telecast. ESPN will show the Auburn vs. Vanderbilt game later that same day, with Nebraska vs. Missouri as its prime-time choice. The Florida-Arkansas game early that afternoon will be shown on Raycom.

NEW YORK - I'm glad to see that the closing ceremonies at Yankee Stadium and the game itself were well received and drew solid ratings in the NYC area. ESPN did a tremendous job with the event, making it special even for those who are not Yankees fans. They captured it as a special moment for all of baseball, which it was. Thanks!

LOS ANGELES - Best wishes to radio sports veteran Joe McDonnell, now with 570 KLAC. Big Joe is recovering nicely from a dislocated shoulder. Speaking of radio veterans, Rich Marotta celebrates 17 years with KFI 640. Both have been a part of the L.A. radio and media scene for more than 20 years. I first met Marotta when he was Sports Director of then oldies KRLA and worked with the legendary Bill King on L.A. Raiders football broadcasts.

ATHENS - Let's make this a positive. Congratulations to 86 year old Georgia play-by-play legend Larry Munson. He decided to retire earlier this week and will not call the Georgia-Alabama game this Saturday after all. Munson had been calling the home games for the past couple years after 40+ years of tremendous service. Scott Howard, who had been calling the road games, will now handle all play-by-play, with former Georgia QB Eric Zeier on commentary. Howard also takes over the Monday night coaches show on the University of Georgia radio network. Definitely the end of an era, and my only disappointment is that this story did not receive more play in the media.

St. LOUIS - WMVN will be "movin" from music to all-sports as of the first of the year. The station is expected to switch to holiday music in November and begin ESPN sports programming on its 100,000 watt signal on or after New Year's Day.

AKRON - Tony Bruno's upcoming syndicated show will be carried live at 10 PM on WARF SportsRadio 1350. Normally not a big deal. But it is deja vu for Bruno in a big way. This station has already carried Bruno's show when he was ESPN Radio, then when he with on Fox Sports Radio, and most recently brought him back again via Sporting News Radio. He will start on WARF on October 6th. The station also carries Dan Patrick live middays via the same syndicator.

MILWAUKEE - Brett Favre TV might not last as long as thought in the Milwaukee market. Thus far all 3 Jets games have been shown in Milwaukee, including this past Monday (Sept. 22) night vs. San Diego. The Monday night telecast showed a 42% drop from the average ratings from the first 2 Sunday telecasts, even though the Monday game was unopposed by other football. In fact, the previous Monday's Philadelpha-Dallas game had a higher rating in Milwaukee.

We'll have to wait for the next chance, as the Jets will not be shown in Milwaukee for the first time this season this coming Sunday (Sept. 28). This is due to Fox having their telecast, but it conflicts with the Packers vs. Tampa game.

PHILLY - Time flies when you are having fun. Would you believe it? WIP Sports Radio celebrates its 20th anniversary. Congrats!

ALBANY - WFOX 980 will be making a change in their 3 to 6 PM show starting October 6th, as they replace Fox Sports' Chris Myers afternoon show. No problem there. Until you learn that it is to replace it with Dan Patrick's syndicated show. Obviously, still no local programming in afternoon drive. To make matters worse, Patrick's show will be on a 6 hour tape delay. And they start this during the MLB Division Series, airing at a time when there could be one or two weekday afternoon games the first three days of that very week. Games that Patrick would be previewing. Sure wish I had a client station in the Albany market going after men 18-54 in afternoon drive.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sports Media Update - September 19th

Every baseball fan either loves or dislikes the Yankees. Yet, either way, there will be a touch of sadness this Sunday when the final game is played at the "real" Yankee Stadium.

One good thing about it is how much ESPN is stepping up to the plate with extensive national coverage, above and beyond televising the game itself on Sunday Night Baseball. ESPN promises more than 7 hours of content, including specials such as ESPN2 televising the extended pre-game ceremonies live at 7 PM ET on Sunday, one hour before the game telecast on ESPN.

Then, Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra are among the special guests in the broadcast booth. (I will try and restrain from going ballistic over ESPN announcing that Billy Crystal will also be among the guests, since in all honesty Crystal had nothing to do with true Yankees or baseball history.) ESPNews will televise the post-game ceremonies as well. Great move.

Meanwhile, TBS announced its broadcaster roster for its Division Series and ALCS coverage. The play-by-play voices will be Chip Caray (who has handled the TBS American League East - oooops, I mean Sunday Baseball telecasts all season), Dick Stockton, Red Sox play-by-play man Don Orsillo and Brewers announcer Brian Anderson. Analysts will include Ron Darling and Buck Martinez who have shared the Sunday duties this season, along with Tony Gwynn and Joe Simpson. Harold Reynolds will also participate in the TBS telecasts, along with Cal Ripken and Dennis Eckersley. Current Tigers outfielder Curtis Granderson has also been hired as a studio contributor.

Again this season, in the event of a game running over into the start of the next game, the playoff game which is starting will start on TNT and switch over to TBS when its then current game is completed.

As much as I oppose pay-per-view of sports events, especially college games, I'm sure I'll be complaining about it for years to come if Nebraska fans continue their collective pace. The University of Nebraska Athletic Department reports an estimated 50,000 pay-per-view buys just for the Huskers' opener against Western Michigan. At $29.95 a pop. The Department makes approximately $300,000 from that telecast alone. The school could literally generate more revenue when they do pay-per-view than when one of the networks picks up their games, which is more likely as the season progresses.

Personally, I am not against these games being televised. As a consumer paying an exhorbitant amount to a cable company each month for channels I don't want, I think I should be provided with these games at little or no additional cost.

While Nebraska fans are forking up the big bucks, Missouri fans caught a financial break last Saturday (Sept. 13). They didn't have to pay their $29.95 to watch the Missouri vs. Nevada game after all. FSN Midwest added this game to their regular schedule while maintaining the scheduled 11:35 AM kickoff. Wish there was a better reason, as it was due to Hurricane Ike and the originally scheduled Baylor vs. Washington State game having been moved up.

The week before, an unknown number of fans reportedly got a blank screen until late first quarter after paying Charter Communications their $29.95 to watch the Missouri vs. Southeast Missouri State telecast. The game was all but decided by the time they got the feed. Gee, thanks.

CHICAGO - Congrats to Steve Stone, who will move from the White Sox radio booth this season over to the TV booth starting next spring on a multi-year contract. At least Stone has already been quoted as saying he will not get involved with the annoying "Put it on the board - yes" homerun call of Ken Harrelson, which Darrin Jackson has been doing.

Despite the White Sox having their best season since 2005, White Sox TV ratings have been down again this year. One needs only to listen to one to figure out why. It will be interesting to see if people with put up with Harrelson to hear the excellent analysis by Stone.

OKLAHOMA CITY - Congrats to former Chicagoan and Northwestern University grad Brian Davis on being named as the TV play-by-play voice of the NBA Oklahoma City Thunder. Davis was FSN Northwest studio host of Seattle SuperSonics telecasts last season, and will be joined by analyst Grant Long. The relocated franchise plans to televise every regular season game it can (all except national TV or blackout restrictions). That is provided the Thunder completes negotiation for its TV arrangements. Still no local station yet, although the word is that FSN Southwest will handle the cable telecasts.

KYAL 97.1 FM and its 100,000 watt signal will air the games on radio. As of now radio voice Matt Pinto, who came with the team from Seattle, is slated to call the games solo. Could be another instance where a team's telecasts have several people on the air while radio has one person, even though the audience can see what is happening on the TV but gets only one viewpoint over the radio. Go figure.

WASHINGTON D.C. - Speaking of NBA play-by-play, the new Baltimore-Washington Fox Sports 1370 AM has officially acquired the play-by-play of the Wizards.

INDIANAPOLIS - WFNI 1070 "The Fan" will soon be able to offer its listeners an insight into Indiana Hoosiers basketball that no other station can offer. And expand their local programming middays. Dan Dakich, who served as the interim coach of the Hoosiers replacing Kelvin Sampson last season and was not rehired, begins as host of the 10 AM to 1 PM slot on October 6th. Dakich had a successful trial run on the station with Pacers voice Mark Boyle and then agreed to become the midday host. The station will drop ESPN's Colin Cowherd.

TRENTON - Sports Talk WBUD 1260 is out at home. The station was sold to Domestic Church Media Foundation, which began an all religious format this week (on Sept. 15th).

ALBANY - WMRZ 98.1 FM now has a weekly show focused on athletics at Albany State University. The "ASU Coaches' Corner" is hoted by Fred Suttles. This is a nice idea. So what's wrong with this picture? The time. This show airs on Thursdays. At 12:50 PM. I must have missed the data showing that students, fans, and alumni are available to listen once a week during lunch hour.

BOISE - Boise State basketball broadcasts have added Abe Jackson as analyst starting for the coming season. The games will air in Boise on KIDO, as well as on 580kido.com.
Meanwhile, 30+ year sportscaster Tony Bruno offers up a new syndicated late night sports show starting on Sept. 29th. The show is scheduled to air from 10 PM to 1 AM ET and will originate from a west coast location as offered via Content Factory. This could work well if the sports station that air tape delayed programming late night pick up Bruno to have fresh and live discussion and recaps of the night's games.

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 ESPN360.com 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 www.1340WBGN.com, and is expected to carry all 140 games.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sports Media Report - Sept. 3 Update

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:

Week 1
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

Week 2
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

Week 3
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

Week 4
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.