Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sports Media Report - Jan. 20th update

In recent years, this has been the week to start reducing time spent listening to and watching sports talk shows in order to limit hearing about the Super Bowl over and over and over again.

Not so this time around. It is getting to the point where even the sports stations are not reporting what is truly sports "news" when it comes to the Super Bowl. The sports outlets are making it a media event instead of a football game. I can understand if music stations and local TV newscasts take that angle, but it's getting out of hand.

All of a sudden sports stations, sports TV talk shows, and sports related web sites are bringing us "news stories" about how many commercials are sold, what singers will be performing, and which advertisers are spending big bucks for the game.

Am I the only one who resents seeing the "stadium name" story showing up in "Sports Headlines" all afternoon?

As a sports fan, I don't care how many millions CBS is getting for the commercials. I don't care who will be advertising. I don't care what stadium the game is being played in.

I never thought it would get to the point where I might actually welcome hearing from the row after row of sports anchors sitting at media headquarters for a week interviewing the same people over and over again. At least they focus on the game itself.

A player injury won't be as important as this week's name for the stadium hosting the game. If this doesn't stop, they might as well have a CBS "Festival of Commercials" and let two good NFL teams play a sudden death series of downs at halftime. What's next? Please remember this is about a football game. At least on the sports stations and outlets.

I'll admit that I rarely report or comment on NASCAR, but this is strange enough to catch my attention. The NASCAR web site now features an interview with a racing team owner who complains about certain commentators on the national TV coverage:

He is certainly entitled to his opinion. Yet, it is the opinion of others, namely the "name brand" commentators that are a big part of the reason so many people are watching the telecasts in the first place. Somebody needs to tell him that times have changed. The "don't say anything bad about anybody" approach died in the 70's when Howard Cosell went prime time to "tell it like it is". He should be glad there is so much interest in the telecasts. If it works, don't fix it.

MIAMI: Ed Freeman and Jeff Fox have a new contract for the 1 to 3 PM spot on WAXY The Ticket 790. Yet, the station won't quite be all sports, as it has picked up a syndicated non-sports show to air from 1 to 4 AM.

TAMPA: WFLA 970 has hired Allyson Turner to be part of its morning show team starting next Monday (Jan. 25), working along with Jack Harris and Tedd Webb. While at Miami's WQAM, among her responsibilities was producing Hank Goldberg's show. She replaces Sharon Taylor, who was let go several weeks ago after nearly 10 years with the station.

PITTSBURGH: The Fan comes to Pittsburgh in the form of the city's first FM sports station which debuts on February 15th. Unless another FM station were to suddenly forge ahead, KDKA-FM 93.7 will become The Fan on the President's Day holiday. Until then, "B94" will continue to play the hits and cross promote the CBS owned Star 100.7 FM which figures to inherit its music audience.

CINCINNATI: The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Andy Furman, who hosted SportsTalk on WLW for more than 18 years, could return to the local airwaves as quickly as the first week in February. WQRT-AM, which airs syndicated non-sports programming, is reportedly looking at opening up the 5 to 7 PM weekday spot for its first local show.

BALTIMORE: Fox Sports 1370 AM is taking a chance on Baltimore fans being interested in the NHL Washington Capitals, especially in areas where the originating signal from D.C. does not come in. This past weekend, WVIE began with the first of nine Capitals broadcasts they will carry this season. Nothing further has been announced beyond the regular season.

DALLAS: For all of the accolades, and deservedly so, that Brad Sham has gained over the years for his calls of Cowboys football and other sports, his baseball counterpart is also making history. Rangers voice Eric Nadel has again been named "Texas Sportscaster of the Year". Eric certainly knows the drill by now. This marks the fifth time he was won the Award. Keep in mind this is a statewide award, not just for the Metroplex.

BANGOR: The Patriots, Red Sox, and Celtics may be "the" teams throughout Maine, but following them in the Bangor area just took on a new challenge. WAEI 97.1 and WABI 910 decided to pull the plug on carrying WEEI Boston sports programming, citing a contract dispute after 16 months of the arrangement.

Neither side is talking much, but it would appear that WEEI is not pleased with the decision. This is based on WEEI issuing a statement to "remind" Bangor area residents of the WEEI online stream.

WAEI and WABI immediately switched over to Fox Sports programming, which they had only been carrying overnight. Sounds like everybody loses on this one.

TAMPA: Despite the Buccaneers disappointing season, Sports Radio 1010 has brought back its weekly hour focused on the Bucs. Each Wednesday from 5 to 6 PM J. P. Peterson and Scott Reynolds host, with the show scheduled to air each week throughout the entire off season. That's plenty of time to do nothing but look ahead.

Meanwhile, sorry that we have two deaths to reflect on this week. Art Rust, who hosted sports talk on WABC Radio New York in the 80's, passed away last week. A lot of fans consider Rust's show to have laid the foundation for WFAN before the 80's were over.

From Hazard, KY comes word that Ernest Sparkman died at the age of 84 this past Friday (Jan. 15). Sparkman, who played college hoops at the University of Kentucky long ago, broadcast Kentucky Sweet 16 High School Basketball tournament games for 40 years. WSGS-FM, of which Sparkman was one of the owners for a long time, is the only station to broadcast every tournament game for the past 61 years.

NBC-TV has announced its Jan. 31st NHL Game of the Week. Detroit will be at Pittsburgh in an obvious choice since this is a Stanley Cup Finals rematch. The Penguins will also be feature this Sunday (1/24) with their game from Philadelphia. What is nice is how NBC is maintaining the 12:30 PM ET start for its Sunday telecasts. I contend that a consistent starting time is far more important than some of the networks realize. For example, ABC's Sunday NBA package, which hasn't started yet, tends to vary the start times when not doing a doubleheader.

NEWPORT NEWS VA: The "757 Club" with Johnny "D" DeCandido and Bartley Barefoot on WXTG 102.1 and 1490 AM has been moved to a later time, now airing weekdays from 5 to 7 PM. The Chris Myers Show from Fox Sports has moved into the 3 to 5 PM spot.

GREEN VALLEY WV: WAMN 1050 has changed ownership and has ended its affiliation with ESPN as of this week and now is a music station. WKEZ 1240, which will continue to carry Fox Sports, becomes the area's only full-time sports station.

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