Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sports Media Report - August 11th update

As disappointing as it has been to see many local TV stations around the country reduce and in some cases eliminate sports coverage within scheduled newscasts, a Kansas City station has taken a positive step for local sports fans there.

KCTV Channel 5 is partnering with WHB Sports Radio 810 to use the radio talent to bolster its local sports coverage, using some of the radio station's talent. This is a far cry from TV stations in other markets which have sometimes used "non sports" reporters who unintentionally embarass the station by not knowing names or terminology.

The fit becomes immediate, since KCTV is the CBS-TV affiliate and carries the majority of Chiefs games, including the non-network pre-season games. I'm sure the more avid sports fans in the market will come to appreciate this move, especially when compared with the alternative.

MLB Network continues to impress with their additions and improvements that seem to be coming our way each week. This coming Monday (8/17) brings the network its second live telecast of a minor league game. Even though it is a Monday afternoon game, the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Gwinnett Braves AAA teams will battle live on MLB Network at 2:00 PM ET. This marks the 2nd minor league telecast that MLB Network carries this season. Hopefully the start of many.

LOS ANGELES: Even as KFWB 980 recycles syndicated talk shows in place of midday and evening newscasts toward its "News Talk" identity starting after Labor Day, there is a good chance the station will add more local play-by-play. The station continues to broadcast Angels games during the week, mostly late afternoon and at night. It is hard to believe that Kings hockey broadcasts during the winter months would generate sufficient numbers.

From the sports fans' point of view, KFWB being moved away from the competition it had with sister station KNX over the years is not good. Or maybe it is just too tough for us old-timers to accept.

Sportscasts were one of the ways that "all news" KFWB and KNX have diffentiated themselves over the years. After 4:00 PM, KFWB would, barring a major trade or sport story, lead with scores from around the country every half hour. KNX would lead with headlines and spend more time on the local teams. Thus, if you wanted scores and updates, KFWB was the place. When you wanted sports headlines and more local teams flavor, KNX was the choice.

The change to syndicated talk on KFWB on nights without Angels baseball and whichever team may be added takes away the chance for fans to be kept up to date on games they are following around the country. But in reality, this is a reflection of how the phone technology, online sports sites, and the on-screen scroll of sports TV networks have taken over as a means to deliver instant scores. This has become another way that AM and FM Radio now fight a losing battle. But starting next month, there won't be enough reasons to give KFWB 22 minutes. (A reflection from their years and years of saying "Give us 22 minutes and we'll give you the world".)

ATHENS + ATLANTA: While coverage of SEC teams rises significantly with the increased Conference TV packages for this season, University of Georgia fans will now be getting nine hours of game day coverage on the Georgia Football Network.

Kevin Butler, the former UG kicking standout who became an all-pro kicker for the Chicago Bears, and former All-SEC QB David Greene have each been added to the Bulldogs radio team starting next month. Butler will be a part of pre and post-game coverage for home games, while Greene will travel with the team. They'll both have plenty of air time. With pre and post-game programming, the Georgia Football Network will provide 9 hours of coverage on game days. Jeff Dantzler will again host the surrounding coverage.

Scott Howard continues with play-by-play and Eric Zeier as game analyst. In Atlanta, WSB 750 will air the coverage.

WASHINGTON D.C.: Wall to wall Redskins coverage season arrives this week in the nation's capital timed for their first pre-season game on Thursday (8/13). ESPN 980 debuts the "Joe Theismann Show" from 8 to 10 AM on Friday morning.

Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic will be showing the non-network pre-season games this month as it kicks off a multi-year deal. CSN will also air pre and post-game extended coverage. This is in addition to the "Redskins Nation Show" on non-game days, along with having a one-on-one interview with coach Jim Zorn each afternoon following game days or nights.

NEW JERSEY: Rutgers University Athletic Director Tim Pernetti announced his new selection for radio analyst for the school's football broadcasts this season to team with Chris Carlin. He chose Rutgers alum Ray Lucas. The reason? Pernetti was the football analyst for the past 8 seasons prior to being named Athletic Director. That makes for a classic radio story. How many radio commentators literally get to choose their own replacement?

DALLAS: The Cowboys' new stadium will also feature a new voice on the Public Address system. Since it is the Cowboys, it won't be just any voice. Texas Radio Hall of Famer Jody Dean will become only the third P A voice in team history. He has previously served as Associate Producer of the Cowboys Radio Network, and currently hosts mornings on KLUV 98.7.

SAN FRANCISCO: Congrats to long time Giants play-by-play voice Hank Greenwald on being selected for the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame.

DENVER: Another cutback on the TV sports side. Marcia Neville won three local Emmy Awards along with a couple of national honors during her 27 years on Denver television, with much of her work focusing on high school sports. Granted, high school and very local non-pro or college sports is not always in high demand for TV news. Yet, rather than re-assign her FOX 31 did not renew her contract. Her stint included more than 20 years with the local CBS-TV affiliate.

PITTSBURGH: We put this story after the last story for a reason. A sports fan by the name of Michael Grau "won" a 1-year contract with ESPN 1250 to talk sports. This announcement comes just days after WSCR "The Score" in Chicago chose its "fan winner" of an on-air gig.

One has to think that these "winners" will not paid at the same level of a 27 year TV veteran. But, hey, it's only the audience that will notice the difference.

MIAMI: WQAM has lost evening host Damon Amendolara who departs for Boston. There, he will begin on the new FM sports station which indirectly replaces WBCN.

But in Miami, listeners await word for his replacement. It will not be Brian The Best London, who was just dropped as a weekend host and University of Miami football sideline reporter.

BELLEVUE: Washington State University has accepted an 8-year extension of coverage from Fox Sports Northwest going through the 2016-17 season. FSN Northwest has the rights to all available local events (such as games not already taken by sports networks), and will produce a weekly half hour show specific to WSU.

RALEIGH-DURHAM: If you can't beat 'em, buy 'em. We call it "buzz kill". Capitol Broadcasting Company is awaiting FCC approval on deals to purchase WDNC 620 "The Bull" and WRBZ 850 "The Buzz". The Bull and The Buzz will likely no longer carry sports formats. It's not for lack of interest, especially with college hoops being less than 2 months from starting in this ACC haven.

It is because Capitol owns 99.9 FM "The Fan", which has been the competing sports station. It appears that at least some of the shows and personalities on Bull and Buzz will be moved to The Fan.

MOBILE: Footballs will fill the air this fall. As in the radio airwaves in the Mobile market. It won't be hard to find a game to listen to on the weekends.

The U. of Georgia broadcasts, plus the expanded pre and post-game, will air on WGSY 100.1 (having moved from WRCG). Auburn games will air on WVRK 102.9, while Troy games air on WDAK 540. University of Alabama football continues on WEAM 1580. WHAL 1460 adds Georgia Tech football, including 2 1/2 hours of additional surrounding coverage. If that isn't enough, Georgia Southern games will also air when possible on WRCG.

Come Sunday, WDAK will continue to carry Atlanta Falcons games, WHAL will air a national Sunday NFL doubleheader, and WEAM will air the Sunday and Monday Night NFL broadcasts.
If you are thinking hoops in Mobile, Georgia basketball will air on WHAL while Auburn is already slated for WSHE 1270.

COLUMBIA S.C.: WCOS 1400 has added another local show as of this week. Eric Guimaraes is joined by former U. of South Carolina basketball player Carey Rich on "The Locker Room" from 10 AM to 1 PM. USC play-by-play voice Mike Morgan joins J. C. Shurburtt and Corey Miller for the revised 3 to 6 PM drive time show.

GREAT FALLS: KUUS Sports Dog 102.9 FM has gone silent. Not because of lack of interest in sports programming, however. The station, along with a pair of music FM stations, went dark for economic reasons. The group operating the stations under a management agreement also could not get local financing to buy and keep these stations alive.

GRAND FORKS: University of North Dakota football will air on 96.1 The Fox to start a 3-year contract. Sister station The Fan 1440 will air the one hour coaches show each Wednesday evening. The games will include a 12 station network stretching from Minnesota to Montana.

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