Monday, November 23, 2009

Sports Media Report - Nov. 23rd update.........

I suppose it's just another of those "how times have changed" stories that shouldn't bother me. But when one media "reports" on another media while trying to promote itself, I notice a definite lack of news value.

It seems that the Chicago Bears' Head Coach Lovie Smith, General Manager Jerry Angelo, and QB Jay Cutler each reportedly turned down requests last week to be interviewed by Bob Costas for the NBC-TV pregame show prior to its Sunday Night Football telecast from Chicago.

When I first heard that, I had 2 immediate reactions. First, I thought about the seemingly hundreds of on-air hosts and commentators that NBC presents to us within the 4 1/2 hours each Sunday night during the NFL season, and figured they would hardly struggle for opinion and comments about the game. Next, I thought about how some athletes have regularly shunned media interviews over the years while the 3 people in this story have done their fair share.

Yet, the Chicago Sun-Times, in "reporting" this story, had its own angle. It seems that NBC-TV decided to interview a couple of Sun-Times writers for the pre-game show instead of the key player, head coach, or General Manager. Therefore, the "story" in the Sun-Times and on its web site was really a column disguised as a promotional piece for the newspaper.

It came across as a double negative. I can't believe that NBC-TV with all of its resources actually preferred putting a couple of newspaper writers on its pregame show over and above interviews with other Bears players. If other Bears players wouldn't talk, then present more interviews from the Philadelphia Eagles (the opponent) and from their endless line of commentators. It's OK to casually mention that key personnel of the Bears chose not to appear, and move on with the telecast.

I thought that I could learn what the writers have to say during the week leading up to the game. Anyone around the country can read them on Were they saving something important for NBC that they weren't putting in their own columns or reports for the newspaper? I hardly think so. But I also fault NBC for relying on other "media" which in effect competes with them by also reporting on the game they were televising. NBC has enough on-air personnel to easily fill up the 90 minutes leading into the kickoff. If they couldn't get the team personnel they wanted, they did not have to go after other media.

After learning of this, even though I planned to watch this game, I waited and tuned in about 5 minutes before kickoff.

Meanwhile, CBS-TV is already enjoying the ratings success for the entire NFL season, noting that nearly 90% of available advertising during the coming February 7 Super Bowl has been sold. Even in this challenging economy, the network reports that sales are well ahead of the pace when it last televised the Super Bowl in 2007.

MLB Network continues to bring on the classic baseball telecasts during this stretch of time following the World Series and leading into the Winter Meetings in early December.

For Thanksgiving weekend, the network will air a series of All-Star Game telecasts. This will include the 1971 game with the monster homerun in Detroit by Reggie Jackson, even though their cameras missed where the ball actually hit. Eight of the games are scheduled to air for the first time on MLB Network. These are the 1982, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2000 games.

In addition to 3 NFL telecasts on Thursday (Thanksgiving), the NBA national packages bring us plenty of hoops this week. In addition to ESPN airing Wednesday and Friday NBA games and the usual Thursday doubleheader on TNT (holidays not withstanding), NBA-TV adds to the mix this week.

On Tuesday (11/24) it will be Oklahoma City at Utah at 9:00 ET, on Saturday (11/28) it will be Charlotte at Washington at 7:00 ET, and on Sunday (11/19) it will be Boston at Miami at 6:00 ET.

Speaking of NBA telecasts, who would have thought that if Clippers' voice Ralph Lawler were to miss his first game in 25 years, it would have been due to a suspension? Lawler and analyst Michael Smith were suspended from last Friday's (Nov. 20) telecast on Fox Sports Prime Ticket as a result of comments on last Wednesday's (11/18) telecast vs. Memphis. Reportedly due to ONE viewer's complaint about their comments about Grizzlies center Hamed Haddadi being from Iran.

CHICAGO: Congrats to WMAQ-TV Channel 5 sports reporter Peggy Kusinski on winning a Midwest Emmy Award for her reporting work.

NEW YORK: Even with the rise in TV sports ratings this year, it takes teams worth watching to further the cause. Word is that the Knicks' horrible start has already resulted in a 28% TV ratings reduction on MSG Network over the same period last season. When the Knicks didn't exactly set the NBA on fire either. However, they are not at the bottom of this ratings drop. The New Jersey Nets, still winless at press time, have already seen a 41% drop on YES telecasts compared with the same period last year.

SAN FRANCISCO: It has been a struggle over the years for the Oakland A's to find a radio station they can stay with and that would stick with them. There have been a couple of seasons when they A's have bought time on limited power stations. Yet, that seems to have changed. KTRB 860 and the team have agreed on a 10-year extension to carry the A's, including up to 20 spring training broadcasts.

The A's broadcast team also returns for at least 2010. Ray Fosse returns for his 25th season in the booth, now handling color commentary and pre-game programming. Ken Korach returns for his 15th season in the booth, while Vince Cotroneo begins his 5th season.

CINCINNATI: University of Kentucky basketball fans on the Northern Kentucky side will like Insight Cable presenting a "free preview" of CBS College Sports channel this week. Just in time for Kentucky's games in the Cancun (Mexico) Challenge basketball tourney games on Tuesday and Wednesday. So nice that some subscribers won't have to pay to see those games instead of having to fly down to Mexico.

NASHVILLE: WGFX 104.5 The Zone has brought back ESPN Radio, even if for overnight and some weekend hours only. However, there is positive in this. The sports station wants to limit ESPN programming due to being "live and local" for much of its day. ESPN Radio was not available locally in Nashville since July when another FM station known as The Fan dropped sports programming.

Happy Turkey!!

Here is the college football regional and national schedule for the coming week, with times Eastern:

Tuesday, Nov. 24
7:00: Ball St. at Western Michigan, ESPN2

Thursday, Nov. 26
4:00: Tuskegee at Alabama St., ESPNU
8:00: Texas at Texas A&M, ESPN

Friday, Nov. 27
11:00: Rutgers at Louisville, ESPN2
11:00: Temple at Ohio U., ESPNU
12:00: Illinois at Cincinnati, ABC
2:30: Alabama at Auburn, CBS
3:30: Nebraska at Colorado, ABC
7:00: Pittsburgh at West Virginia, ESPN2
10:15: Nevada at Boise St., ESPN2

Saturday, Nov. 28
12:00: Clemson at South Carolina, ESPN
12:00: North Carolina at N.C. State, ESPN2
12:00: South Carolina St. at Appalachian St., ESPNU
3:30: Virginia Tech at Virginia, ABC
3:30: Florida St. at Florida, CBS
3:30: Miami (Fla.) at South Florida, ESPN
3:30: Boston College at Maryland, ESPNU
7:00: Arkansas at LSU, ESPN
7:00: Tennessee at Kentucky, ESPNU
8:00: Notre Dame at Stanford, ABC
8:00: Georgia at Georgia Tech, ESPN2
10:30: Navy at Hawaii, ESPNU

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sports Media Report - Nov. 16th update.......

It is rare to have a new use of technology slip under the radar, but the Milwaukee Bucks have managed to do that. The team has launched what it calls the "TV Companion" on its web site.

The concept is that fans can access game notes, real time statistics, and even a shot chart during the Bucks games, along with half-time and post-game video highlights. As a sports fan and an information freak, I would think this is a very good idea. That's what the team wants to hear.

But is this a good move? Hardly. It could actually prove extremely costly.

Suppose I use this feature on the team web site while I have a Bucks game on TV. Using "TV Companion" distracts from my watching the telecasts. I won't need to pay attention to the statistics on the screen as well as the other graphics because I'll be able to access information I want on my computer monitor.

Much of the hours of preparation and research done by the TV crew goes down the drain if the fans watching and listening can read it for themselves. This feature devalues the telecasts, with the exceptions being a great play or the last 30 seconds of a close game when us fans would prefer to see the drama unfold.

Yet, this is nothing when compared to the economic impact that I see. As the fans of the team are "distracted" by TV Companion, they will be looking at statistics and/or replays during commercial breaks. Businesses which spend thousands of dollars to reach this audience will have less of a reach. How does this get them to renew?

Fox Sports pays the team millions to televise these games, at least under the current contract. If they stop attracting significant advertising dollars, their bid goes down, and then it is less revenue for the team. And so on.

In addition, I have to believe the Bucks' radio broadcasts could also suffer for the same reasons. If fans can "see" the real time information and highlights on computer, this could significantly reduce in home radio listening to the game broadcasts. And reduce the advertising impact, sending the same chain reaction come the next rights fee negotiations.

However, I am going to take this one step further. I also think this feature will have a negative impact on attendance. Even though increasing attendance is the idea behind implementing this feature.

My theory on why the NFL is enjoying such incredible ratings success this season is not solely based on the economy and people not going out as much. I contend that the reason for the ratings increase is more due to technology. Football telecasts, especially for the NFL, continue to make strong improvements.

We now see the line of scrimmage, the "line" for the first down, and more and more the down and yards-to-go by looking at the field on our TV screens. The TV screens that are often HDTV and upwards of 50 inches. The other scores are regularly flashed on the screen, making the days of the "10 Minute Ticker" seem like a joke. Plus, we now have cameras moving right above the field and several angles of plays with any controversey.

It's not always the economy keeping people home or wherever they like to watch these games. The TV sets, the information, and the technology used that have made telecasts an incredible package of information and technology.

Neither of which we get when we attend a game. More and more fans compare having these state-of-the-art telecasts on advanced TV's a lot better than paying $25 to park for 3 hours to wait in line for overpriced food and sit in a stadium with one view and without all of the information their friends are getting at the same time watching on TV. That is what the NFL has created.

Likewise, this TV Companion feature the Bucks have introduced. People paying these inflated ticket prices, paying to park, buying food and drink, and sitting 150 feet from center court now don't even have anywhere near the information available that fans at home and online now can get. A night out at the game for 2 people is likely to be $100 and up. Now without the information that fans not leaving the living room are getting.

Generally speaking, I understand why teams are embracing the new technology. But if they continue to put it ahead of the fan experience, the TV and radio rights money won't be there, nor will be fans in the stands. In any economy.

Meanwhile, it seemed to be unusually big news that Jon Gruden has signed on to remain with ESPN for Monday Night Football and now additional assignements. The reviews have been positive for Gruden's first season in the booth, and it is understandable why from hearing his work thus far this season. This extension is getting a lot of media coverage. Gruden will also be a part of ESPN's Super Bowl and NFL Draft week coverage.

CINCINNATI: Speaking of NFL ratings for telecasts, the Cincinnati Bengals' hard fought win over Pittsburgh on Sunday was no secret locally. Cinci's Channel 12 showed 66% audience share for the telecast from Pittsburgh for the entire game, including a 48.5 rating and 74% audience share during the fourth quarter. This was the highest rated Bengals telecast since the November 2005 game vs. Indianapolis, which also had a 66% share with a higher rating.

PHILADELPHIA: Congrats to former WCAU-TV sportscaster Al Meltzer, who will be one of eight to be inducted this Friday (Nov. 20) into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Hall of Fame at a fund-raising banquet.

SAN DIEGO: Pleased to report that Tuesday (Nov. 17) is the scheduled return date of John Kentera to XX Sports Radio. This will be his first shift since suffering a heart attach in early October.

AUSTIN: has named Mike Capps "Broadcaster of the Year" for his play-by-play of the Round Rock Express minor league games. Capps just completed his 3rd season on the call. If the name sounds familiar around the country, it is because this is the same Mike Capps who was an Emmy Award winning correspondent for CNN for five years. In addition, Capps was Sports Director at WFAA-TV in Dallas back in the 80's.

CHATTANOOGA: The women's basketball team Chattanooga is getting a lot of respect this season. If not in the polls, certainly in the media. This is hard to confirm, but this looks to be the largest market in the country to have every women's game aired on a local radio station (not a student station). The Zone 105.1, the local ESPN Radio affiliate, will air the majority of all 29 games this season. A few games will be moved to another station when there is a conflict with the men's games.

And while college hoops return in full swing this week, including the 24-hour marathon on ESPN, we look ahead to the national and regional college football schedule for later this week, with all times Eastern:

Wednesday, Nov. 18
6:00: Buffalo at Miami (Ohio), ESPNU
8:00: Central Michigan at Ball St., ESPN2

Thursday, Nov. 19
6:30: Tennessee St. at Eastern Illinois, ESPNU
7:30: Colorado at Oklahoma St., ESPN

Friday, Nov. 20
5:30: Akron at Bowling Green, ESPNU
9:30: Boise St. at Utah St., ESPN2

Saturday, Nov. 21
12:00: Ohio St. at Michigan, ABC
12:00: Minnesota at Iowa, ESPN
12:00: North Carolina at Boston College, ESPN2
12:00: Duke at Miami (Fla.), ESPNU
12:00: Harvard at Yale, Versus
2:30: Connecticut at Notre Dame, NBC-TV
2:30: Bethune-Cookman vs. Florida A&M, ESPN Classic
3:30: Penn St. at Michigan St., ABC
3:30: Purdue at Indiana, BTN
3:30: LSU at Mississippi, CBS
3:30: Virginia at Clemson, ESPN
3:30: N.C. State at Virginia Tech, ESPNU
4:00: San Diego St. at Utah, Versus
7:00: Vanderbilt at Tennessee, ESPNU
7:45: Kansas St. at Nebraska, ESPN
7:45: Kentucky at Georgia, ESPN2
8:00: Kansas at Texas or Oregon at Arizona, ABC
9:30: California at Stanford, Versus

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rod Van Hook

Sorry to learn of the death of long long time Los Angeles radio sportscaster Rod Van Hook, reportedly from pancreatic cancer.

Rod helped establish KFWB as a "scoreboard update" leader in the 80's, before the internet and regional sports TV networks dominated how us sports fans got our information.

Being on the west coast means that sports events on the east coast start at 4:00 local time on weekday afternoons. Rod always knew to begin his sportscasts on KFWB every half hour with a scoreboard update, even in afternoon drive. And he was innovative enough to give the out of town scores in pretty much the same order throughout the afternoon and evening. This way, when you were following a particular out of town game, you knew you were going to the latest score, and when it was going to come.

Both he and his reporting style will be missed.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sports Media Update - Novemer 10th

The college hoops season is almost upon us, and so is the season of schools jumping through hoops to receive additional media coverage. Next Tuesday (Nov. 17th) is the day when ESPN goes with a 24 hour marathon of college games. This time, all live. We're talking games starting at 11:00 PM local time out west to fill the overnight hours back east. And we're talking east coast games actually starting at 6:00 and 8:00 in the morning on weekdays.

Yet, the schools are receptive to moving the start time in order to appear on ESPN, even to the point of having free breakfasts at 4 AM and a variety of contests and promotions for students and fans who attend the games.

From a radio standpoint, I think next Tuesday will be an interesting way to test the credibility of sports departments. For example, St. Peter's and Monmouth play at 6 AM local time on Tuesday. I don't think even the student radio stations will broadcast this game, but it will be on ESPN. Of course, many fans of these teams have to go to work or school before 8 AM and wouldn't be able to watch the game to its conclusion.

Same with the Drexel vs. Niagara game which starts at 8 AM Eastern and local time. On stations with local teams playing in these games, I'll be curious to know how many (or few) will actually know to report the final score during morning drive. I would hope that the sports station will have fun with being able to deliver a local final score during their morning show.

But my fear is that some newscasters obviously not used to watching for a sports result in the morning will talk about the game as if it is coming up even though it is already over. If you are in any of the "local" markets for any of those teams, or for that matter in a local market where a game such as these are being played in the morning, tune in to your favorite radio station's news or sportscasts. This is an interesting test of their credibility. They should be on top of these games. If not, and especially if they announce the game is still to be played after it is already over, keep that in mind the next time there is a breaking news story and you want fast information on it.

Meanwhile, the regional telecast of Saturday's (Nov. 7) college football game in which Villanova upset Richmond 21-20 took on a flavor all its own after a potential game-winning field goal was missed by the Richmond field goal. While play-by-play voice Bob Picozzi and analyst Scott Brunner were letting the crowd react to the big miss, another voice was heard just as clear as the broadcasters themselves. One report said that some people initially thought it was one of the game broadcasters. I saw and heard the tape on this and believe that someone clearly had an open microphone and was waiting for the opportunity. But what this male voice said, right over the air, was "What a bum! Come on, end this f---ing game". A few seconds later, the same person said "Go home already!".

This was not heard from a crowd microphone. It was as clear as if one of the announcers was talking. It will be interesting to see if Comcast SportsNet is fined or what happens over this. A lot depends on whare that microphone was placed at the time this happened and who might have had access to it.

Reminds me of the incident in either the late 70's or the early 80's when during an ABC telecast of Monday Night Football with Frank Gifford and Howard Cosell from Dallas, a guy came on with a microphone from somewhere and as clear as if Gifford were talking, said "Howard, the whole state of Texas hates your guts!". I don't know that the offender was ever caught.

MLB Network continues to unveil fresh programming even as the off-season begins in full fury now that the World Series has ended. Bob Costas will be doing more interviews on the Studio 42 show, including one with Bud Selig that debuts on Tuesday Nov. 10. The one I'm most anxious to see is the November 17th edition on which legendary Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell is scheduled to be the guest.

Sunday Night Football wins again. Not only did NBC again win the Sunday night ratings battle, but this past Sunday (Nov. 8) finishes as the 2nd highest rated telecast of this season, according to the early Monday numbers. The highest rated? You guessed it. Week 2 when the Cowboys opened the regular season in their new stadium against the Giants. If NBC had its way, it would stand for Nothing But Cowboys every Sunday.

But there is more to the story from this past Sunday night. What baffles me is that 5 of the top 8 metered markets impacting these ratings do NOT have NFL teams. Among the highest rated markets were San Antonio, Austin, Alburquerque, Las Vegas, and Richmond. Certainly, Vegas is understandable since betting is legal and a ton of people are visiting there who live in NFL cities. But Albuquerque and Richmond having high ratings for that game?

CHICAGO: Speaking of high ratings, sports radio has moved up the scales according to the recently released October ratings. WSCR "The Score" and WMVP ESPN are not only in a close battle for audience, but each shows increases across the board. So this is not a case of one station gaining at the other's expense.

WMVP ESPN 1000 charted #1 in 25-54 males overall, while 670 The Score finished tied for #3 in the same category. Men seem to be coming over from other news/talk stations in the market. Newsradio WBBM 780 finished 8th in this demographic, while WLS-AM Talk Radio finished 13th and WGN Radio at #15.

The Score's local morning show with 2 local sports writers passed Mike & Mike on WMVP this time around, making for an interesting race between the two.

Also in Chicago, Loyola University basketball will air on WNTD 950 AM this season, as well as west suburban WAUR 930 and the student station. John Fitzgerald returns for his 3rd season of play-by-play along with former assistant coach John Tracy as analyst.

TAMPA: WDAE has reinstaed morning host Dan Sileo as of this past Friday (Nov. 6) following his suspension after falsely reporting the Buccaneers were for sale. WDAE happens to be the flagship station for the team's broadcasts. Sileo had been off since October 29th.

BOSTON: The recent ratings released already show that Boston area fans can indeed support multiple sports stations. The Sports Hub WBZ-FM increased its overall audience size by more than 33% over the previous month, moving from 17th on up to 12th overall in the market. In men 25-54, the station rose from 12th place in the previous book all the way to 3rd place this time. Amazing when you consider the station made its debut in August. Of this year.

Yet, the established sports station WEEI finished 5th overall in the market, including both morning and afternoon drive within the top 3.

The Boston and Chicago results were part of the trend across the country for sports radio during the late September to mid-October ratings period. I'm sure the baseball post-season and the high ratings of the NFL telecasts played a part, but there is major progress for sports radio stations.

In Detroit, WXYT finished #1 in several categories. KTCT San Francisco and KTCK "The Ticket" in Dallas both set ratings records since the PPM system took over in those markets. Obviously, the Phillies heading toward their 2nd straight World Series had a positive impact on WIP and its rising ratings.

These sports stations are doing as well or even better than ever before. It might not be only because of the baseball post-season and the NFL off to a good start in the TV ratings. My hunch is that more people want the escape from hearing about the economy, politics, and the bad news that seems to dominate the headlines.

BOSTON: More TV sports cutbacks, as Butch Stearns is out as sports anchor from Fox 25. Word is he is not going to be replaced. This leaves Ryan Asselta as the only remaining sportscaster. I have said for months that local TV stations cutting back on sports coverage is a mistake. A lot of male viewers in prime demographics will be driven to regional or national sportscasts, such as SportsCenter, which usually air opposite the late local newscasts. Now, with the surge in ratings for sports radio stations, especially in Boston, the timing of this announcement seems odd. Fewer reasons to watch the local TV news, and more benefits for sports radio and TV outlets.

HOUSTON: The market competition for the sports radio audience continues, although KILT 610 has taken the lead among the four sports stations in morning drive. The brand new morning team of John Lopez and Marc Vandermmer on KILT showed a ratings rise of more than one-half point, slightly more than the drop in audience at KGOW 1560.

St. LOUIS: WXOS, making great strides in its first year on the air, has just shaken up its midday schedule as the station broke up the Pat Parris and Bryan Burwell team. This comes even though WXOS was leading its competitors in the midday period. Whether a replacement is named or not, the station plans to take the show from 9 AM until 11 (instead of the current Noon), and expand Bernie Miklasz another hour from 11 AM to 2 PM. Parris is expected to continue on Fox Sports TV.

SAN DIEGO: After nearly 20 years, sorry to see Jim Stone being "laid off" from KNSD-TV sports. Stone is already off the late news and will be completely off the air by the end of this month after reporting on the Chargers games.

OKLAHOMA CITY: It's only their second season in town, but the NBA Thunder got off to a great start in the ratings book. Last weeks' telecast against the Lakers on Fox Sports Network was more than a full ratings point higher than last season's most watched telecast on the Network. The cable network coverage has expanded for this season into Wichita and Topkea Kansas among other areas.

CORPUS CHRISTI: KSIX 1230 began its weekly show about Texas A & M-Corpus Christi this past Monday (Nov. 9) from Noon to 1:00. Again this season, the show will take place on location. Steven King hosted this past Monday from a local restaurant.

EUSTIS FL.: WKIQ 1240 radio has returned to the airwaves and now is dedicated to local sports. Former ESPN 1080 Orlando sportscaster O.K. Walters has leased the air time, ending about 4 months of silence. Walters hosts local sports from 8 to 9 AM and then from 4 to 6 PM. The station will carry regional and national play-by-play, but Walters' plans also include letting students call local high school games. The only negative to this idea is the signal. The station remains at only 800 watts, with an estimated coverage area of about 25 miles in Lake County.

ESPNU begins its college hoops coverage this week. Here is the schedule with all times ET:

Wed, Nov 11
7 p.m. Robert Morris at No. 25 Syracuse (Syracuse) Dan McLaughlin & Tim Welsh
9 p.m. North Carolina Central at No. 4 North Carolina (Chapel Hill) Rob Stone & Jay Williams ESPNU
11 p.m. Detroit at No. 12 California (Berkeley) Carter Blackburn & Mark Gottfried ESPNU

Fri, Nov 13
6:30 p.m. Morehead State at No. 5 Kentucky Dan McLaughlin, Jimmy Dykes & Andy Katz ESPNU

Sun, Nov 15
2 p.m. CBE Classic: UC Irvine at No. 3 Texas (Austin) Dave Armstrong & Reid Gettys ESPNU
4 p.m. CBE Classic: Fairleigh Dickinson at Wichita State (Wichita) Dan McLaughlin & Mac McCausland ESPNU
6 p.m. CBE Classic: Texas-San Antonio at Iowa (Iowa City) Jim Barbar & Mike Kelley ESPNU

Mon, Nov 16
7 p.m. NIT Season Tip-Off – Regional Semifinal: Coastal Carolina at No. 8 Duke (Durham) Mike Gleason & Jimmy Dykes ESPNU
9 p.m. Regional Semifinal: Colgate at No. 14 Connecticut (Storrs) Justin Kutcher & Bob Wenzel ESPNU
11 p.m. Regional Semifinal: Texas State at Arizona State (Tempe) Steve Physioc & Miles Simo ESPNU

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sports Media Update - November 3rd

Sorry, but I thought radio stations were supposed to report and comment on sports news and not manufacture it. Within just the past week we have had two more examples of this that somehow became national news.

Last week leading into the Brett Favre and the Vikings playing in Green Bay, Appleton WI radio station WAFL 105.7 created a "funeral" for Favre and gave it heavy airplay via the Rick & Lamb Morning Show. Complete with a mannequin of Favre and a hearse driven to a club for a "visitation" to "bring closure" to Favre's days as a member of the Packers. Part of what brought this story national was ESPN picking up on it.

In Tampa, WDAE has suspended "Sports Animal" host Dan Sileo after the Buccaneers complained about Sileo's on-air comments that the team was for sale, which the team says it is not. This resulted in the station issuing a retraction and suspending Sileo indefinitely (as of this writing) from his show.

In my opinion, the Favre "event" was not worthy of attention from a sports news organization. It was a radio station gimmick. It had nothing to do with Favre, the Vikings, or the Packers. It wasn't even any sort of protest or indication of sentiment from a large group of fans. It was a radio station gimmick - in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Sileo being suspended is not the main part of the Tampa Bucs story either. The story should be that team officials deny the team is for sale, and THEN give some details that the denial was issued because of speculation by a local radio station. Yet, sports fans around the country have now heard of Dan Sileo. Years from now people will forget that they heard of him because he did not check his facts before reporting a story.

I'm afraid that these are two more signs that sports "reporting" doesn't mean what it used to - and what it should. There are already too many rumors and possibilities reported within the context of sports news. Having radio stations create "stories" on top of this only makes it worth for us sports fans who thrive on "real" sports news.

On another note, with positive potential, maybe radio stations and networks are seeing my point from months ago about how sports could lead the way for HD Radio, if it isn't too late.

After the debut last month of a Pittsburgh Penguins "channel" on HD Radio in Pittsburgh and the talk of similar from other teams including the Dallas Cowboys, CBS Radio has announced an innovation.

As of this week, WFAN "The Fan" from New York City, generally considered to be the nation's leading local sports station, is now available on HD channels in Florida markets Orlando, Tampa, and West Palm Beach. Based on the large number of "transplants" from the NYC area in these markets, this looks like a winner. Plus, this starting while the Yankees are in the World Series would be a nice draw among sports fans in Central Florida.

In the Hartford CT area, many fans can pick up WFAN 66 out of NYC, but there are a good number of Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins fans in the Hartford area. In response to that, WTIC-FM is starting Boston's Sports Hub WBZ-FM this week on one of its HD Channels. Great moves by CBS.

These are excellent examples of programming that can serve a niche radio audience. Just what HD Radio needs if it is ever to succeed. However, there are still a large percentage of potential listeners who don't understand what this is all about, and/or who refuse to spend $100+ for an HD Radio in this economy. My suggestion remains that if the radio stations want to get their HD channels off the ground and make them sources of revenue, they should be giving out HD Radios, or at the very least make them available at significant discounts through sponsors. These stations don't get it. A sports fan with $100 to spend on "radio listening" is going to pay for Sirius XM for 6 months and get game broadcasts and channels devoted to each pro sport instead of an HD Radio. But if they get the option of getting an HD Radio with specialized local and/or favorite team sports programming for, say, $20, then HD Radio has a chance.

The TV ratings for pro sports continue to skyrocket this fall. Brett Favre and the Vikings at Green Bay on Sunday wound up as the 2nd most watched regular season NFL telecast for Fox in 15 1/2 seasons of showing the games. The World Series telecasts, also on Fox, were up 46% over last year and the highest viewership since 2004 and the miracle Red Sox. This year's Game 3 was up 57% over the numbers from last year - and keep in mind both seasons had the Phillies representing the National League.

On the NBA side, the season opening doubleheader on TNT last week wound up as the most watched NBA doubleheader of the zeros. Actually, it was the most watched since 1996, and the Celtics win at Cleveland showed a 40% increase compared with the audience for last season's opener.

CBS is probably ready for the college basketball season, now just a month away. Especially with Kentucky vs. North Carolina on December 5th for its first telecast.

MLB Network continues to bring welcome innovations to baseball fans, even after the season is over. This coming Saturday, Nov. 7, at 8 PM ET, MLB Network will televise the Arizona Fall League "Rising Stars" Game including top prospects from several Major League teams. Daron Sutton and Tony Clark will call the game. This gives hardcore fans the chance to see prospects in acdtion from the Angels, Red Sox, Phillies, Cardinals, Braves, White Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, Mets, and others.

Then, on Saturday Nov. 21 at 2:30 PM ET, Victor Rojas will handle play-by-play of the League's championship game from Scottsdale.

Also this Saturday (Nov. 7), Hofstra University will hold a dinner and ceremony for the first inductees into the Hofstra Radio Hall of Fame in celebration of 50 years of radio broadcasting at the school.

Among the inductees are Ed Ingles, nationally known in addition to his 24 years as Sports Director of WCBS Radio, as well as Todd Ant, who has worked in the NYC market for more than 25 years with WCBS and 1010 WINS. Ant is currently with ABC Sports Radio Network. Congrats to both.

While injuries have taken their toll on many players, it's rate that it happens to a broadcaster. Unfortunately, just as it cut short his playing career, the back problems that plagued Bill Walton last season with ESPN and ABC have forced Walton to retire from the microphone after 7 years with the networks. Walton worked extremely hard over the years to become a better broadcaster, and it showed.

In Atlanta, WGCL-TV has formed a "partnership" for its sports reporting, rather than cutting back on sports like some other TV stations around the country. WQXI 79 The Zone sports radio will now provide on air content for the CBS TV affiliate, including the SEC Wrap-Up Show and some surrounding NFL coverage.

AUSTIN: Sports radio comes to the FM dial, and it will include a lot of local programming. 104.9 "The Horn" will be talking a lot of Texas Longhorn sports (It took me a while to figure that name out, too!), including Erin Hogan's morning show. The station actually moves over from 1530 AM which will remain ESPN Radio. Although 1530 will simulcast the local programming in the early going, the word is that 1530 will carry ESPN Radio national programming and give the Austin market both local and national sports coverage. Locals welcome the move because of the improved signal on the FM side compared with 1530. I welcome it because it gives sports fans the local or national sports option.

NEW YORK: WOR 710 will continue as the flagship station for Rutgers University football and basketball. The relationship, which began in 1992 with football, has just been extended between the University and the station through the 2013-14 season.

BATON ROUGE: Ricky Blanton has been named as analyst for the LSU Sports Radio Network's home basketball broadcasts starting this season. He will join Jim Hawthorne and Kevin Ford starting on November 13th. Blanton was voted onto the school's "All-Century Team" announced earlier this year.

The college football regional and national schedule for the coming week, with times Eastern:

Thursday, Nov. 5
7:30: Virginia Tech at East Carolina, ESPN

Friday, Nov. 6
8:00: Boise St. at Louisiana Tech, ESPN2

Saturday, Nov. 7
12:00: Purdue at Michigan, BTN
12:00: Illinois at Minnesota, BTN (atl.)
12:00: Western Michigan at Michigan St., BTN (alt.)
12:00: Wisconsin at Indiana, BTN (alt.)
12:00: Northwestern at Iowa, ESPN
12:00: Syracuse at Pittsburgh, ESPNU
12:30: Kansas at Kansas St., Versus
3:30: Ohio St. at Penn St., ABC
3:30: LSU at Alabama, CBS
3:30: Army at Air Force, CBS College
3:30: Wake Forest at Georgia Tech, ESPN2
3:30: Duke at North Carolina, ESPNU
4:00: Texas Christian at San Diego St., Versus
7:00: Memphis at Tennessee, ESPNU
7:15: Vanderbilt at Florida, ESPN2
7:45: Florida St. at Clemson, ESPN
8:00: Connecticut at Cincinnati, ABC (tentative, to be finalized Wednesday)
10:30: Fresno St. at Idaho, ESPNU

Sunday, Nov. 8
8:15: Nevada at San Jose St., ESPN