Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Clearance Channel strikes again

Sorry to start off with a sports and media loss, but sorry to learn of the passing of Glen Gondrezick from complications after a September heart transplant at the age of 53. Gondrezick spent 17 years as commentator on UNLV basketball broadcasts following a 6 year NBA career. He had even returned to the microphone this past season after the transplant to join play-by-play voice Jon Sandler. Glen played at UNLV under coach Jery Tarkanian during Tark's first season at UNLV back in 1973-74. He will be missed.

While this past weekend's NFL Draft telecast is not a ratings leader, it does attract a loyal audience over the course of 2 days of coverage. But perhaps the most interesting statistic isn't about the career of a high draft pick. It is the finding that the market that had the highest single market rating for ESPN's coverage during the first five hours on Saturday does not have an NFL team. What it does have is a local university which regularly sends its top players to pro football and obviously adds to its following.

The top local market for the NFL Draft coverage was Columbus OH. The next 4 cities on the list were all NFL cities, as New Orleans, Cleveland, Indianapolis, and Milwaukee round out the top 5 cities.

DALLAS - The long anticipated announcement about Cowboys radio has been made, and it turns out the Cowboys will return to the FM dial, as 105.3 FM The Fan will carry the pre-season, regular season, and any post-season broadcasts starting with the coming season. The Ticket 1310 AM had carried the games for the past 3 seasons but stopped after the originally 5 year rights deal was shortened to 3. The Ticket had won the bidding away from KLUV 98.7 FM which had the previous deal, and remains a sister CBS station to The Fan. This will reportedly be a revenue share, and this time the actual length of the contract has not been disclosed.

We look for long time voices Brad Sham and Babe Laufenberg to continue to anchor the broadcasts, but word is that The Fan will hire the announcers, whereas Sham and Laufenberg have worked for the team itself in recent years. It should be a formality.

The timing is ideal for The Fan, based on the March ratings and how it shows the current state of sports radio in the Metroplex. The key demographic of Men 25-54 showed The Ticket with almost double the daily audience of ESPN 103.3, and more than a 4 ratings point lead over The Fan. Long timer Norm Hitzges continues as a sports talk ratings leader for The Ticket. Got to believe that The Fan is counting down the days until the first Cowboys broadcast.

PHILADELPHIA - After a nearly 4 year rivalry, ESPN 950 and its Mike Massanelli afternoon show has overtaken rival WIP 610 with former partner Howard Eskin in the Men 25-54 demographic for the recently announced March ratings. Actually, Massanelli's increase happened in just one year. Overall WIP continues to whip ESPN 950 but 950 is showing signs of growth over the past couple of months.

MINNEAPOLIS - The minor league baseball St. Paul Saints are considered as being in the biggest market of any minor league team in the country, but now boast major league coverage. Not only are all 96 regular season games broadcast on 1330 AM with Sean Aronson(while some minor league teams do not cover all of the road games), but Saints games will all be televised in some form. The team will have 8 of its Saturday games shown on KSTC-TV 46 (which also shows Timberwolves and Wild games), with Ron Johnson and Dana Kiecker on the call. But the coverage won't stop there. The non-Saturday away games will be seen on the "Saints Cable Network" which consists of local access channels on various systems in the Twin Cities area. In addition, Saints home games can be viewed (free) on

DENVER - There is hope for fans in nearby Boulder and Parker who have had problems receiving Mile High Sports from KCKK 1510 AM which has carried most Nuggets and Avalanche broadcasts. The station has received FCC approval to increase its night signal from 5,000 to 25,000 watts. The increase will be gradual, with the signal expected to be at 19,000 watts within the month.

HOUSTON - As you probably know by now, Clearance Channel was at it again earlier this week with cutbacks on still more local personalities across the country. Houston sports radio felt the pain as Brad Davies and Craig Roberts are now gone from morning drive on KBME 790. Typical of the Clearance Channel hodge-podge left in its wake is the revised KBME weekday schedule. They now carry Dan Patrick's syndicated show live (which at least is better than those stations which delay it for several hours and air it after previewed games on the show have been played) from 8 to 11 AM. Surviving hosts Ted DeLuca and John Lopez now regularly work a split shift all week, airing from 6 to 8 AM and then coming back from 11 AM to 3 PM.

KTRK-TV Channel 13 laid off Sports Executive Producer Robert Leake.

CINCINNATI - More from Clearance Channel. Sports blogger C. Trent Rosecrans and 3 producers are gone. On the air, WCKY morning host Alan Cutler is gone. At least Cutler still has a position to keep him busy, as he continues in his Sports Director role for nearby WLEX-TV in Lexington.

The adding of still more syndicated programming on WCKY means that only Lance McAlister will be the only local host, handling 3 to 6 PM some weekdays. Of course, with Clearance Channel involved, Lance will share duties among 2 stations, instead hosting the 6 to 9 PM sports talk show on WLW on nights when the Reds do not play. When that happens, Mo Egger will handle the afternoon spot on WCKY. More sports adjustments will be made, as Cutler is also reportedly out as Bengals Radio Network host after 8 seasons. Scott Sloan remains on WLW, but will now handle the "Extra Innings" Reds post-game call-in show.

At this rate, I suppose if a Reds game gets rained out after the scheduled start time, Clearance Channel will probably air a voice tracked sports talk show from another market talking about an American League team for 3 hours.

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