Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sports Media Update - February 18th..............

While too many sportscasts focus on sports news other than the games themselves being played, now we have an overlooked story about basketball games which may not be able to be broadcast in the interest of selling tickets.

The nomination for the "Say what?" Award of the month goes to the promoters of a pair of Kentucky regional high school basketball tournaments coming up in March. That state's 9th and 10th Region Tournaments will be played at the Bank of Kentucky Center. Yet, arena officials have announced that unless specific games are sold out at least one week prior to being played, there can be no live broadcasts of the games. Not even radio or internet.

The only "exception" would be if a school located more than 30 miles away from the arena is playing. But there is a catch. No teams from the Northern Kentucky Athletic Conference are located more than 30 miles from the 9,400-seat arena.

Let's get this straight. An arena sponsored by a local bank for the benefit of added publicity doesn't want one of its biggest events on radio, TV, or even on the internet. I have made a few inquiries and thus far haven't found out about any local radio stations which are even talking about this, let alone trying to broadcast the games.

As I have commented several times in the past, a high school tournament is the type of event that "should" be on HD Radio and might help to make HD Radio viable after all. News and sports stations could use the secondary and perhaps thirdary channels to broadcast and then replay important high school games.

It gives the people who can't get to the games, such as grandparents and shift workers, the chance to hear a loved one and/or the local school in action. The family of the kid who has the big game or makes the winning shot would want to listen to and record the replay as a keepsake.

Local advertisers would know the small but targeted audience they are reaching.

But the radio stations would rather put on "album b-sides of the 80's" or some format that doesn't cost anything and the people forget about. And now, to top it off, we have a local bank behind preventing local high school tournament games from being broadcast. But where is the Cincinnati media on this one?

To this point, as far as I know, only the Kentucky Enquirer (part of the Cincinnati Enquirer) newspaper and web site have picked up on this story.

KR Sports has handled broadcasting the 9th Region tourney over the years. This new restriction probably means that Kevin Rengering and Randy Wilson will miss doing these broadcasts for first time since 1984.

The arena and promoters "defend" this by saying that a specific tournament game which sells out at least one week in advance could then be broadcast. But this isn't like the NFL where a local TV station buys remaining tickets to be able to have the local telecast and generate the ad revenue. This could be thousands of tickets for each of several games. Since the teams in the games generally aren't known more than a week ahead of time (and don't think that is a coincidence either), a TV or radio station buying tickets early could then be shutting out fans of one or both participating schools.

Meanwhile, elsewhere around Kentucky, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association enables a participating high school to select or allow a broadcast outlet for its games, at a cost of $350 for the radio rights.

If the Bank and the arena are that worried about not selling enough tickets, then don't host the games. But if they insist on bringing greed into high school sports, this is a different story. One that merits additional and immediate attention.

But I'm afraid that with the state of radio management being where it is today, this will go untouched. If I were in a position to do something about this, I would ask a competing bank or S & L to purchase all remaining tickets, give them the value of that purchase in air time, and have that competing bank sponsor the broadcasts after giving away the tickets at their branches nearest the participating schools.

The sponsoring bank generates walk-in traffic from the schools and positive publicity. The radio station has provided a unique opportunity for the bank to deliver its message. The community would be properly served with coverage of its local high school tournament.

And that radio station would perform a positive local innovation. If not, what kind of precedent could this set?

LOS ANGELES - As we suspected last week, the Angels have followed the Texas Rangers into the idea of splitting their radio coverage, as if fans will remember that different stations carry the weekend games than during the week. KFWB 980 will be airing 110 of the Angels regular season games starting in April. KLAA 830 (owned by Angels owner Arte Moreno) will only carry the weekend games.

However inconsistent, this marks a return of baseball to KFWB which was the Dodgers flagship station from 2003 through 2007. The broadcast team stays the same, with Rory Markas and Steve Physioc on play-by-play and Rex Hudler on color, as well as Terry Smith.

As a result, Angels and Rangers fans now have to find out where to listen to the games instead of having one station all the time. This, after trying to find out if that night's game is on over-the-air TV, regional cable (or an overflow channel when conflicts with other teams), ESPN, or Fox-TV. These teams could have a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday series with 3 TV channels and 2 radio stations involved. This helps the fans how?

MILWAUKEE - Cory Provus has left the Chicago Cubs radio booth to become the #2 broadcaster of the division rival Milwaukee Brewers starting immediately. Provus will handle radio play-by-play of the middle 3 innings and pre and post-game shows, with ageless Bob Uecker handling most of the play-by-play.

No replacement named yet for WGN Radio and the Cubs broadcast booth yet, which is only for handling one inning each game to relieve Pat Hughes. Provus is another Syracuse University graduate, coming from the school which has produced Bob Costas, Marv Albert, and Dick Stockton, among others.

CHICAGO - Congrats to Kip Lewis, the son of former New York Jets defensive back and NFL assistant coach Sherman Lewis, has been hired by Comcast SportsNet Chicago. His reporter and anchor duties will begin on March 2nd. Lewis was a sports anchor for WRTV-TV Indianapolis, and is best known for a weekend sports stint at WPIX-TV New York in 2004 and '05.

DENVER - The Rockies TV coverage stands to have improved pre and post-game programming. Fox Sports Rocky Mountain no longer has local studios, and as a result the surrounding game coverage will originate at the site of the game. In a perfect world, this should mean better access to interviews and game specific information. Drew Goodman and George Frazier remain as the play-by-play team.

Nearby Ft. Collins Colorado has 870 KJMP Radio joining the regional network by picking up the Nuggets and Avalanche broadcasts starting in the fall. Flagship KCKK 1510 from Denver takes over, with KTNI 101.5 handling one of the conflicting games. KJMP carries ESPN programming the majority of the time, but word is they are targeting local sports talk prior to the start of the upcoming football season.

Denver's "The Fan" 104.3 FM, which loses the Nuggets and Avalanche, will continue along carrying ESPN Radio's national games. They are adding Colorado College hockey. Realistically, that is not a threat to compete against the Avalanche games. Sister station KEPN 1600 cointinues with Irv Brown and Joe Williams talking sports during the afternoon.

Mile High Sports Radio 1510 is losing morning co-host Tyler Maun to his dream of baseball play-by-play. Maun is leaving the Denver market and relocating to Myrtle Beach to handle the Class A South Carolina Pelicans broadcasts. That will make a nice resume for Maun to have play-by-play experience along with the Denver market, considering that he is at the tender age of 23.

COLUMBUS GA - Out with the local, in with more syndicated programming. Even smaller markets making the cutbacks. Mike Vee and Rachel Baribeau are out from WEAM 1580 as their 4 - 7 PM sports show has been canceled after 2 1/2 years due to budget cutbacks.

The replacement is a syndicated show from Alabama. So much for U. of Georgia fans wanting to hear about their team on a regular basis. The station has added Atlanta Hawks basketball along with the ESPN NBA package. Vee will continue as the voice of the Columbus Cottonmouths road games. This while the Columbus market now has - get this - a mighty one hour of local sports talk each day. And that is on a different station. WSHE 1270 airs B. R. Johnson from Noon to 1 PM on weekdays.

No comments: