In the midst of it all, WYTS 1230 in Columbus changes from talk to sports radio earlier this week. Normally not a top story for the week, and frankly it still isn't. But in the age of technology and the need for radio to embrace what surrounds it, this format change results in still another example of a blown opportunity for a radio station.
I learned of the format change and thought I would check out the station's web site. My expectation was to see a new station logo, the new programming lineup, sports scores and headlines, and probably bios and information about the voices which will be a part of this format. Maybe they were ready with the link to be able to listen live, and I could give it a sample from a few hundred miles away. Instead, all I saw was the station info combined with the Fox Sports Logo. Nothing more.
There wasn't even a "Contact Us" or links to anything else local or national. Nothing. No runs, no hits, and a group of errors. (Still nothing has changed in Day 2, as of this writing.) If WYTS had time to arrange a new affiliation and format change, one would think they would have the time, and the knowledge, to make their web site a part of this.
Sorry, but I'm not going back to their one page web site day after day to see if they have changed or improved it. There are plenty of other sites for sports headlines, and plenty of other sports talk shows to listen to, whether on my radio dial, on my satellite radio receiver, or streaming from most markets. This doesn't exactly have the excitement building to hear the programming, if their own web site can't tell me a thing about it, other than it might be Fox Radio Sports.
SAN FRANCISCO: KTRB 860 AM has brought back "Sports Byline USA" with Ron Barr and "Sports Overnight America" as it gets ready to host the Oakland A's broadcasts starting in just a few weeks from spring training. This is a homecoming, as Barr strated "Sports Byline" years ago while on KSFO.
NEW YORK - Cutbacks hit the TV side, as WCBS-TV 2 right now has one on air sportscaster. Sam Ryan is the lone survivor, as Sports Director and lead anchor Ducis Rodgers has been let go, along with morning anchor John Discepolo. Rodgers had been with Channel 2 for more than 5 years, working his way up from the morning sports anchor spot.
Meanwhile, Sal Marchiano unretired for a few days, filling in on WABC Radio doing sports updates in the morning filling in for Warner Wolf.
BALTIMORE & D.C.: Steve Davis is the latest Baltimore sports radio casualty, having been let go by WBAL Radio, which is reportedly paying him for the remaining months on his contract. Baltimore Sun writer Peter Schmuck will "fill in" among others. Davis has been a fixture in Baltimore for 15 years, having been a TV 45 sports anchor going back to 1994.
Across the market in D.C. comes word that MASN has decided to spice up the Nationals baseball telecasts by adding Rob Dibble as analyst. Fans know from Dibble's interesting commentary with ESPN, Fox, and XM, that he is not one to sugar coat. Doing the Nationals games this season will put that to the ultimate test. Dibble replaces Don Sutton, who reportedly will be named to his second stint with the Atlanta Braves broadcast crew any minute now. Sutton has already broadcast the Braves for 18 seasons, and would join Jim Powell in replacing (or trying to) the late Skip Caray and the retired Pete Van Wieren.
MILWAUKEE: It's nice to see one radio personnel decision that didn't drag on for weeks and weeks. Sports WSSP 1250 has already started Tom Parker in the role of Program Director, replacing Ryan Maguire. Parker was most recently in the Milwaukee market last year with leader WTMJ. Maguire was promoted to the P.D. spot on KSCP in Kansas City within the past month.
HOUSTON - Rice University basketball coach Ben Braun is now doing a weekly show on KFNC 97.5 through the current season, airing Mondays at 7 PM.
Houston Astros games will be broadcast in Spanish this season after all. KLAT 1010 AM now has a one-year agreement to continue, having handled the Spanish broadcasts since 2001. Francisco Romero returns for his second season.
On the TV side, Fox Sports Houston now plans to re-air their Astros telecasts (which is plenty since they could have 146 games this season) at 1:00 AM. In addition, they plan a one-hour condensed rebroadcast the following day at Noon.
ORLANDO - Sports fans seem to be getting their wish, at least in this market. After a one year abscence to try a Spanish format, WQTM 740 now plans to return to sports talk. The move comes a few days after the weaker signaled WHOO 1080 added some local programming to its lineup.
No date or local talent has been announced yet, but Dan Sileo, plus Mike Tuck & Shot Doctor are among those reportedly under consideration. This leads to the possibility of Shot Doctor going head to head against longtime partner Jerry O'Neill hosting afternoons on WHOO.
SEATTLE - While the market waits for KIRO to begin its Mariners coverage, KJR-AM is looking to expand its reach. KKHO in Tacoma has just added KJR morning host Mitch Levy, and afternoon's Dave Grosby and Mike Gasineau from 3 - 7 PM (Gastineau goes solo from 5 - 7.) The station is also adding Fox Sports programming overnights and weekends.
St. LOUIS - Just how much competition will the market's new FM sports station have to conquer? The recent ratings, from prior to the first of the year, show KFNS AM-FM and KSLG combining for just over 3% of the 25-54 males audience. That is down 6% from the same period a year earlier.
RALEIGH-DURHAM - It looks like the BCS has taken over the radio ratings. Everybody is number one in sports. The Fan 99.9 FM claims it is the top rated station from the most recent ratings, beating out sister stations 850 The Buzz and 620 The Bull.
At the same time, Buzz and Bull management issued a release that those stations combined to be the number one source for sports radio.
Then again, none of those entities topped a rating of 1.5. Maybe they should all work together to draw fan and advertiser interest in sports radio.
The Super Bowl and all the hype always signal the last couple of weeks before the start of baseball spring training. I'm not sure if it is a media thing or not, but for some reason several American League teams still have yet to announce starting times for the majority of their home games. This is unusually late for this, since schedules need to be printed and single game tickets need to be printed.
ESPN has announced the lineup for its first 2 months of Sunday Night Baseball telecasts. Peter Gammons will stay in the studio now, and Steve Phillips will be on site with Jon Miller and Joe Morgan for the coming season. Looks like they are planning on saving the New York and Boston teams until later in the season, other than the seemingly mandatory ESPN Red Sox-Yankees on April 26th. For the early season, Chicago teams will be shown on 4 of the 9 telecasts.
Here is what ESPN has announced thus far:
April 5 - Atlanta at Philadelphia (ESPN2)
April 12 - Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee
April 19 - St. Louis at Chicago Cubs
April 26 - New York Yankees at Boston
May 3 - Chicago White Sox at Texas
May 10 - Tampa Bay at Boston
May 17 - New York Mets at San Francisco
May 24 - Milwaukee at Minnesota
May 31 - Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs