Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sports Media Report - Feb. 24th update.....

Radio continues to be the electronic media which delivers the most "sports news" of any. Many TV stations around the country have reduced their local sports presence, some to the point of no longer having a designated sportscast even on their late night newscasts. While there are a ton of sports related web sites, the majority of web sites are not sports related.

Obviously, sports radio stations are dominated with sports content. But with radio, news stations generally have scheduled sportscasts and most have at least one reporter dedicated to sports news and information.

Music and general talk stations will usually give local sports headlines at some point during their broadcast day. While it is true that a portion of the audience of a music or general talk station may not be sports fans, my long time contention is that their handling of sports information is an important credibility test for such a station.

When I was teaching a college course in Sports Broadcasting a few years ago, I would purposely challenge certain students who I could tell were not as well versed about sports as they wanted to appear.

Nothing like giving a student a story to read about then active NHL goalie Patrick Roy. During his playing career, anyone who followed the NHL to any degree knew that his name was not pronounced like Roy Rogers. First, I would remind the students that if they are not certain about a player's name to either ask someone who would know, re-write the story to not include the name, or skip airing the story all together. Then I would include a story about that goalie in the mix.

It never failed that I would catch at least one student who figured a 3 letter name would have an obvious pronounciation and didn't check it. It was a great lesson for them.

Yet, too often I still hear newscasters making what are obvious errors to a sports fan, even if much of the listening audience doesn't catch on. Just the other day, I heard another local newscaster in Chicago mispronounce a local player's name and she went on as if nothing was wrong.

I'm here to tell you that I will no longer turn to that station for information. I don't always know if she is correctly giving the names of people in the news either. Sports may not be a priority with most stations, but accuracy should be.

In this era where the sports media often reports what other media is reporting instead of confirming or denying a story using their own resources, it is discouraging to hear major market stations risking their future credibility because a reporter doesn't verify a simple fact or pronounciation.

Especially when so many experienced sports reporters and play-by-play voices are out of work.

Meanwhile, the so-called story about the suspensions of Tony Kornheiser from his WTEM Washington D.C. and ESPN PTI co-hosting gigs seem oddly proportioned from where I sit. So he didn't like an outfit that Hannah Storm was wearing. Hardly worth all of the air time and ink this story has received. Yet, as part of his job over the years, he has questioned the performance abilities of numerous players, coaches, and managers, just as the majority of sportscasters and sportswriters do. In those instances, he is taking someone's job performance to task. No one questions that. Can you please tell me how questioning someone's personal appearance is a more serious offense than questioning someone's ability to do the job they are paid to do?

Speaking of questioning a job, there have yet to be any consequences (as of press time) for Kevin Keitzman, afternoon host at Kansas City's WHB Sports Radio 810. He is among those opposed to the work of Brent Musburger and Bobby Knight on ESPN's primary Big 12 basketball telecasts this season. To the point of starting the web site with a petition to get the broadcast team off of the Conference's games.

The web page includes some of the "memorable" quotes from the pair taken from game telecasts this season. The last I heard, nearly 8,000 people had visited and "signed" the petition.

Normally, I would comment about how poorly Knight treated the media during his coaching years and how this sounds sleazy enough to be something Knight would have done during that time.

Instead, I will raise the question as to how a broadcast professional is clearly attempting to take away work from other broadcasters and is still on the air, while Tony Kornheiser is suspended from both radio and TV shows because of comments about someone's appearance.

On a happier note, spring is in and on the air, as pre-season baseball gets underway next week, meaning that baseball season is not far.

Kudos to KCSP 610 Kansas City for getting Royals fans in the spirit as early as this week. "Afternoon Saloon" host Chris Hamblin is broadcasting live back to K.C. from the Royals' camp in Surprise AZ. Next week, 9 to 11 AM host Nick Wright will be live from Surprise, with morning host Bob Fescoe on the air from AZ during the March 8 to 12 week. The station also has begun expanded coverage for these 5 weeks from 10 AM to Noon each Saturday.

Texas Rangers fans will have even more to keep track of during spring training than the new faces on the roster. Although 14 of the Rangers exhibition games will be broadcast on radio, it seems that 5 weekday games will air on The Fan 105.3, but the 9 weekend broadcasts will air on KRLD 1080. Eric Nadel and Dave Barnett return for another season of the play-by-play, for those with the patience to find them.

In Chicago, WSCR The Score 670 is once again making several of their White Sox exhibition broadcasts what they call "interactive". Sorry, but I call them a waste of time. I can't believe they are bringing this back for a 3rd year. They present the first 3 or 4 innings of the game as usual, and then let broadcasters Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson field phone calls from listeners while the rest of the game is going on, giving only occasional updates about what is happening on the field in front of them.

They'll never convince me that hearing "Steve from the south side talking about who should bat cleanup" is more informative than how a rookie pitcher trying to make the team is throwing at the same time. It's not like they don't have other times of the day to talk about the White Sox.

If they instead had players, coaches, and team officials come on for extended interviews I could understand this move. But either broadcast the game action, or don't bother at all.

Once the regular season begins in April, the Bay Area will finally have its fair share of TV games. After years of being the one part of the country with the least TV coverage in the big leagues, the progress has been amazing over the past 5 years. Even if you need to have cable or satellite TV which carries the right network.

Comcast SportsNet Bay Area will show 136 Giants games this season, along with ex-players Rich Aurilia and F.P. Santangelo handling the surrounding programming. Comcast SportsNet California will air 145 A's games, and has added former standout player Carney Lansford to its surrounding crew. The pre-game crew is planning to be live at the Coliseum for "Tailgate Tuesdays" leading in to the home games. It wasn't that long ago when you couldn't see even 100 games total between the 2 teams over the course of a season, including cable coverage.

Our comments last week about how good it is to have college baseball getting more broadcast time have brought in more activity.

Texas A & M now has some of its weekend games airing on The Zone 1150, and now provides free audio for every A & M game not broadcast via A solid marketing idea, as that could keep fans and supporters on the school's web site for hours.

The LSU Sports Radio Network, including WDGL 98.1 Baton Rouge, is airing selected baseball games this season. They already aired their entire opening 3 game series this past weekend (Feb. 19-21) vs. Centenary.

CINCINNATI / Northern Kentucky: Some progress for fans interested in the Kentucky Ninth Region high school basketball tournament next week (March 1 - 7), especially after last year's ridiculous broadcast restrictions when high school games did not sell enough tickets. Arena officials are still not allowing any telecasts (as of press time), but are permitting radio and online broadcasts. The tournament concludes with the boys and girls championship games doubleheader on Sunday March 7.

NASHVILLE: WGFX 104.5 is aggressive about taking over as the Titans' flagship station from sister station WKDF. 104.5 already plans extensive NFL draft coverage in April, will host the (head coach) Jeff Fisher Show, and might expand the pre and post-game programming.

To make room for its Titans coverage, the station has dropped its Vanderbilt play-by-play. WRQQ 97.1 starts a new 3-year deal for the upcoming football season to include football and basketball broadcasts. Play-by-play voice Joe Fisher will join WRQQ and host a daily Commodore update.

RIVERSIDE: KVFG has become "ESPN High Desert Sports Radio" as of last week (Feb. 16th), including carrying "Game Night" on those evenings when it is not carrying either the Lakers or Angels broadcasts. The station debuted on a Tuesday to coincide with the Lakers vs. Warriors broadcast it carried on its opening night.

REDDING: KKXS 96.1 is bringing San Francisco Giants broadcasts back to the Northern California community for the first time in 3 seasons. In addition, ESPN Radio's package of games will begin airing next week (as of March 1).

PARKSLEY MD: Local and regional sports talk comes to WVES 99.3 one night per week beginning March 3. "All Star Sports with Ken and Steve" moves to the country music station and will begin at 6 PM each Wednesday night.

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