The next few days could go a long way toward addressing the perception among millions of sports fans around the country about the "New York media bias" they perceive regarding sports reporting thanks to the NFL matchups to determine the Super Bowl participants.
Even though Philadelphia is a major media market, the perception is that this year's NFC Championship is not "the same old teams". Actually, that's a fact rather than a perception. The N.Y. Giants, Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears, and Green Bay Packers (the biggest TV and radio draws in the NFC) are all at home watching. Philadelphia and the Arizona Cardinals will battle it out on Sunday for the right to play in the Super Bowl two weeks later.
Just how will this week play in the New York media, especially with the Giants having been eliminated to the surprise of many? Will WFAN and WEPN devote talk time specifically to the Eagles vs. Cardinals? Or will they continue to let listeners sound off about the disappointment the Giants and Jets brought instead?
From a national perspective, the possibility exists of an all-Pennsylvania Super Bowl for the first time ever, if the Eagles and Steelers both win on Sunday. In addition, the possibility exists for Philadelphia to be a surprise winner of both the baseball and football championships, and overtaking Boston as the current "city of champions".
On the AFC side, the Steelers are a known commodity, based on their recent success as well as their strong years during the 70's and into the 80's recalled by the older fans. They are a much easier "sell" than the Baltimore Ravens who are not well known to the casual fan.
There is the theory that it doesn't matter which teams play in the Super Bowl because it will generate the large audience anyway. But I believe that NBC would prefer an all Pennsylvania matchup for the big game. Again, the Steelers have the big game reputation, and Philadelphia is a large market with the possibility of the city being a 2 sports champion.
If it winds up being Baltimore vs. Arizona in the Super Bowl, we might just have the ultimate test of whether or not people care which teams are in.
HOUSTON - As of this week, Fox Sports Houston is now separated from Fox Sports Southwest. This will result in more local content for more than 4,000,000 households stretching into Louisiana. FSH already carries the vast majority of Astros and Rockets telecasts. In fact, only 12 games are targeted to air on KTXH-TV this coming season. The "Houston Sports Beat" show is expanding from once to twice weekly. Speculation is that FSH was expanded with an eye toward preventing one or both teams (Rockets, Astros) from starting their own TV network. In Chicago, Fox Sports Chicago has been defunct for two years when the White Sox, Cubs, Bulls, and Blackhawks joint ventured with Comcast Cable to form Comcast SportsNet which handles the majority of telecasts for all four teams there.
On the radio side, the recent monthly radio ratings show the Houston markets four sports radio stations combined (that is combined!) for a 2.7 market share overall. Ooops.
DALLAS - The Cowboys are done for the season, but not in the media. There is still a couple more weeks remaining in the negotiation period for the Cowboys radio broadcasts for next season. Word is that 105.3 The Fan is trying to secure the broadcasts from 1310 The Ticket.
On the TV side, the new Cowboys Stadium will be hosting more prominent events beginning this summer. ESPN has a new five-year deal to televise a Labor Day weekend "season opening" game which will be played there as a neutral site. This coming September the game will pit Oklahoma against Brigham Young. You read that right. Oklahoma's season opener will be played in Texas. How about them Cowboys? But I can top that. In addition the Cotton Bowl football game will also take place at the new stadium. It moves from The Cotton Bowl (also the name of the stadium which hosted the game all these years).
Congrats to Dave Barnett. The University of North Texas graduate who has been with ESPN for 13 years, has joined the Texas Rangers radio team. He replaces Victor Rojas who left to join the new MLB-TV cable network. Barnett will move over to TV when TV voice Josh Lewin is away handling assignments for Fox-TV. Barnett will continue doing college football and hoops for ESPN. He is no stranger to the Metroplex, having handled Mavericks play-by-play on TV for most of the 80's. He also spent seven seasons doing San Antonio Spurs telecasts.
SAN FRANCISCO - The search for a new radio voice of the 49ers is over. Long time sportscaster Ted Robinson will call the play-by-play on radio starting next season. Robinson has done play-by-play for several teams and drawn some network assignments for NBC-TV over the past 30 years.
BOSTON - Talk about the end of an era in Boston sports! 70 year old Gil Santos is retiring at the end of January after 38 years as WBZ Radio morning sports anchor. But Gil is not retiring completely. There is the matter of his play-by-play role for the Patriots games, and that will continue.
Santos will be back for his 31st season (combined) of calling the Patriots next season on WBCN (sister station to WBZ) and doesn't plan to stop there. He began calling the Pats in 1966, stopped after the 1979 season, and returned to stay in 1991. Long time analyst Gino Capelletti is also expected to continue in that role.
SEATTLE - Kevin Calabro is back in the news this week. The former voice of the NBA Supersonics remained in Seattle when the team moved to Oklahoma City. Starting April 1st, Kevn will host a daily 3 hour show on KIRO 710 under its upcoming sports format. KIRO will compete against KJR in the sports talk segment, but KIRO having both the Mariners and Seahawks figures to make it more than an upstart, especially with Calabro on board.
Calabro has been handling Pac-10 football and hoops for FSN Northwest this season along with soccer telecasts locally.
College hoops fans, and especially U. of Washington fans, are not happy about FSN's decision to not show this Thursday's (Jan. 15) UW game against Oregon. The Network is going with Oregon State vs. Washington State followed by UCLA vs. Arizona for this week's doubleheader. Fox Sports holds exclusive rights, but there is no room to move it, as Comcast SportsNet already has the Portland Trailblazers NBA game on its schedule. After Thursday, only two of the UW games are not yet scheduled to be televised into Seattle.
BALTIMORE: Give a radio station owner a chance to cut costs and he will take a mile, to coin a phrase. Or, he will take afternoon drive instead. Just as sports talker Rob Long announced he is leaving WNST 1570 for mornings at Fox 1370, WNST owner Nestor Aparicio filled the gap right away. Nestor is in rotation for the next two weeks as host of the afternoon drive show. And as of February 1st, he plans to handle the show full time. So much for the expression "Don't quit your day job!".
CLEVELAND - Speaking of afternoon drive sports hosts, WKNR 850 has hired 2-time Emmy winner Michael Reghi to host its 3 - 6 PM show. Reghi has a long local history, including 12 seasons as analyst on Cavaliers TV which ended in 2006. He "replaces" "Munch" Bishop, who has been promoted to Sports Director of WKNR, 1540 "KNR2" and their web sites.
Bishop will continue to host the pregame shows for the Browns and Ohio State football broadcasts among other assignments.
CHATTANOOGA: The "Max'd Out" sports show is coming to Chattanooga. Literally. Max Howell is relocating from Jackson MS and will originate his show from 1 to 4 each afternoon from the ESPN 1370 studios as of this week. The 68-year old Howell used to host "Southern Sports Tonight" from Atlanta. "Max'd Out" will also air in 20 other markets throughout Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, and Mississippi and will emphasize SEC sports.
MADISON: WTSO 1070 has added The Jim Rome Show to its midday lineup.