Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sports Media Report - Feb. 4th update

Obviously, it's not possible to ignore the Super Bowl in a Sports Media Update. Yet, I'm close to doing so. Unless you are a fan of one of the teams actually participating, the hour after hour of trying to make a story out of a routine practice becomes too much.

Yet, I will say that I am disappointed at one aspect that seems to be overlooked. Personally, the anticipation comes from this being what I call a "legitimate" Super Bowl matchup. The "wild card" teams are gone, and I love the fact that it is a pair of actual first place teams doing battle. Better yet, it is the teams with the 2 best records in their respective conferences. I don't recall if or when that has happened before. And that's my point.

I always thought the emphasis on sports - at any level - is about winning and working toward the ultimate success. It makes me very pleased to see the two teams that did the best for the regular season have this opportunity. Whichever team wins will have truly earned it. They didn't get there because of a stunning upset, a late season "comeback", or because of a fluke play or key injury from a favored opponent. This really is a "Super" Bowl, whether the game is close or not. This regular season actually meant something.

Meanwhile, this is the root of my disappointment with the NCAA and the very likely upcoming expansion of the basketball tourney to (gulp) 96 teams. I'm 100% sure it will happen because it means millions more in TV money and exposure for the NCAA and its teams.

But it also means further destroying college basketball. Why even have a regular season? Getting into the NCAA Tournament will become even less "special" when .500 teams in most conferences will get in. And without a formula other than opinions based on schedules and point spreads. But for one more day filled with games and thousands of additional hours of media coverage generating millions of dollars, regular season be damned. They'll make it March Sadness, and the media will eat it up.

Meanwhile, I think I found my ultimate example of my recently expressed concerns about how much the media "reports" news from competing sources instead of either confirming or breaking their own stories.

Last week, former NBA player Paul Shirley was dismissed from ESPN due to some sorry comments about not wanting to donate to the Haiti relief efforts. Whether a blogger (the comments were reportedly on his blog for ESPN) should be dismissed for expressing an opinion, no matter how unpopular, when no facts were in error, is for another day.

How did I find out this "news"? I first saw it on the "Chicago Breaking News" web site, which is a combination from the Chicago Tribune and WGN Radio and WGN-TV. A major newspaper, highly rated AM station, and a nationally known TV station, each with independent sports departments.

I don't understand why a media combo with its own sports departments would even publish a story about personnel at a competitor. As a sports fan, I have a choice of going to ESPN or (for example) WGN-TV's web site for breaking sports news. So if WGN tells me this, and I want more information, why wouldn't I click away and go right to ESPN?

Believe it or not, it doesn't stop there. You see, the "Chicago Breaking News" story on behalf of WGN and the Tribune did credit the source of the story in the first sentence. It read " reports: Former Bulls forward Paul Shirley........".

Let's get this straight. The Tribune, WGN Radio, and WGN-TV, each with sports departments, allowed a story taken from to appear on their web site as "Breaking News". While the story was about a dismissal at another prime source of breaking news. In Chicago, CBS Radio's WBBM News Radio has overtaken WGN Radio in the ratings within the past couple of years. CBS Radio's WSCR Sports Radio is in a battle with ESPN's WMVP 1000, while WGN Radio airs "Sports Central" on weeknights it doesn't carry a Blackhawks hockey or Cubs baseball broadcast. Yet, "Chicago Breaking News" was giving direct promotion of its 2 biggest competitors.

Now I fit in with the times. I just reported which other media WGN reported on.

Sorry, but I come from the old school where you would be severely scolded if you so much as mentioned a competitor on the air without a darn good reason.

Speaking of ESPN, ESPN Radio and Yahoo have unveiled a new stream player allowing fans to listen to ESPN Radio stations from (presently) 19 markets including its Chicago outlet WMVP 1000. From a fan's point of view, this is a really fun idea. After a big trade or signing, or a big sports story from a particular city, it can be fun to hear the local fans take.

From a radio standpoint, with the new reliance on PPM's to measure the "radio" audience, fans streaming out of town ESPN broadcasts online won't show up as "radio" listeners in the same way. This could be sports radio's equivalent of the music stations that sell the songs they play for download, giving listeners one more reason NOT to listen. While they scratch their heads wondering where the audience went to.

Congrats to Jon Miller on winning the Ford C. Frick Award and his upcoming induction into the Broadcast wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame. It is very well deserved. As he gets ready for his 21st consecutive season calling the Sunday Night Baseball games for ESPN, you stop to realize that Miller might have the longest continuous run of calling national telecasts on the same network in modern MLB history. Yet, I also wonder if Jon will deliver his Hall of Fame speech imitating Vin Scully.

It was nice to see so many rememberances of Tom Brookshier, who passed away last week at the age of 78. His performance as both a player and broadcaster will not be forgotten. In another sense, he had an indirect impact on TV football telecasts. After he was let go by CBS following an off-color comment on the air in 1983, it set the stage of John Madden to join Pat Summerall and take even the boring Summerall with him to the top of the TV broadcast teams.

CHICAGO: How much will fans want to hear from an interim head coach? WSCR 670 The Score is looking for an answer to that question. DePaul University, again a distant last in Big East basketball this season, recently named Tracy Webster as Interim Head Coach for the remainder of this season. Yet, WSCR will have Webster in its studios each Monday night for the next few weeks (through the season) to talk DePaul basketball with host Laurence Holmes.

As much as I think coaches shows should be more prominent on sports radio, I'm not so sure that this show will set the ratings world on fire.

PITTSBURGH: WBGG Fox Sports 970 has gone local in the morning as of this week, naming Greg Linelli to host from 6 - 9 AM Monday through Friday.

Down the dial, ESPN 1250 has again dismissed Eddy Crow as one of the co-hosts of "The Drive". As of now, Scott Paulsen and Mike Logan remain on the show.

Both stations are preparing to battle against the new KDKA-FM "The Fan", which promises at least twice the number of local sports programming hours on weekdays than 1250 ESPN now offers.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs might be an influence as to how quickly the Pittsburgh market will support 3 sports stations. If the Penguins make another deep run into the Playoffs, it would probably make a difference for at least the month of May. If not, the Pirates are not likely to hold enough interest until fall when college football, the Steelers, and then the Penguins return and bring plenty to talk about locally.

HOUSTON: KFNC 97.5 has ended Calvin Murphy's afternoon show, but Murphy remains with the station for what is termed "special assignments". Fred Faour and Matt Dean now host from 1 to 4 PM while Carl Dukes will host solo from 4 until 5. No changes in the morning, where KFNC remains in 3rd place from 6 to 10 AM among the 4 Houston area sports stations with KBME 790 showing a nice increase. KILT is the overall sports radio ratings leader through December.

KANSAS CITY: Chiefs football returns to KCFX-FM for the 21st season in the fall. However, WHB 810 has inked a deal for additional and official Chiefs programming starting for next season.

WHB will carry a 2nd hour of post-game programming, the Todd Haley Show, and a show with the starting QB, along with extensive interviews. The station is already planning to broadcast live from the Chiefs' training camp in August.

TULSA: KTBZ 1430 will once again carry the AA (baseball) Tulsa Drillers for the upcoming season, with Dennis Higgins back for his 2nd season as play-by-play voice. However, the station gives priority to Jim Rome's show on weekday afternoons, and will bump conflicting games to KAKC 1300.

WAUSAU WI: Fans who have complained about lack of signal from WXCO 1230 and its ESPN Radio finally got their wish. As of last week (Jan. 25), the sports station moved to 100.5 FM, expanding its coverage by as much as 50 miles. Word is that 1230 will continue to broadcast local high schoo games, but will likely change to a different format for the rest of its broadcast day.

Since I get a lot of requests for telecast schedules, here is the lineup for Fox-TV's MLB Game of the Week for the coming season, with the Fox NASCAR schedule below:

MLB on FOX REGULAR SEASON BROADCAST SCHEDULE (Schedule Subject to Change; All times 4:00 PM ET unless noted)

April 10 (*3:00 PM ET)New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays, St. Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers, Seattle Mariners at Texas Rangers

April 17 New York Mets at St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago White Sox at Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers

April 24 New York Yankees at Anaheim Angels, Seattle Mariners at Chicago White Sox

May 1 (*3:00 PM ET)New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers at Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros at Atlanta Braves

May 8 (*3:00 PM ET)New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies

May 15 Philadelphia Phillies at Milwaukee Brewers, Seattle Mariners at Tampa Bay Rays, Houston Astros at San Francisco Giants

May 22 (*7:00 PM ET) New York Yankees at New York Mets, Boston Red Sox at Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs at Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers at Los Angeles Dodgers

May 29 St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers at Minnesota Twins, Seattle Mariners at Anaheim Angels

June 5 Florida Marlins at New York Mets, Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals, Anaheim Angels at Seattle Mariners

June 12 Philadelphia Phillies at Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox at Chicago Cubs

June 19 Los Angeles Dodgers at Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins at Philadelphia Phillies

June 26 (*7:00 PM ET) New York Yankees at Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox at San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs at Chicago White Sox

July 3 Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays at Minnesota Twins, Florida Marlins at Atlanta Braves

July 10 Chicago Cubs at Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves at New York Mets, Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigers

July 17 Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals

July 24 New York Mets at Los Angeles Dodgers, Colorado Rockies at Philadelphia Phillies, Minnesota Twins at Baltimore Orioles

July 31 Detroit Tigers at Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners at Minnesota Twins

August 7 Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants at Atlanta Braves

August 14 Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres at San Francisco Giants, Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays

August 21 Atlanta Braves at Chicago Cubs, Anaheim Angels at Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers at Baltimore Orioles

August 28 Philadelphia Phillies at San Diego Padres, Minnesota Twins at Seattle Mariners, Florida Marlins at Atlanta Braves

September 4 New York Mets at Chicago Cubs, Anaheim Angels at Oakland A’s, Texas Rangers at Minnesota Twins

September 11 Philadelphia Phillies at New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals at Atlanta Braves, Seattle Mariners at Anaheim Angels

September 18 Atlanta Braves at New York Mets, Detroit Tigers at Chicago White Sox, Colorado Rockies at Los Angeles Dodgers

Upcoming NASCAR on FOX 2010 Schedule

Sat. Feb. 6 - Daytona Int’l Speedway, Daytona 500 Qualifying, 1:00 PM
Sat. Feb. 6 - Daytona Int’l Speedway, Budweiser Shootout, 8:00 PM

Sun. Feb. 14 - Daytona Int’l Speedway, Daytona 500, 12:00 PM

Sun. Feb. 21 - California Speedway, NASCAR Racing from Fontana, 2:00 PM

Sun. Feb. 28 - Las Vegas Motor Speedway, NASCAR Racing from Las Vegas, 2:00 PM

Sun. March 7 - Atlanta Motor Speedway, NASCAR Racing from Atlanta, 12:00 PM

Sun. March 21 - Bristol Motor Speedway, NASCAR Racing from Bristol, 12:00 PM

Sun. March 28 - Martinsville Speedway, NASCAR Racing from Martinsville, 12:00 PM

Sat. April 10 - Phoenix Int’l Speedway, NASCAR Racing from Phoenix, 7:00 PM

Sun. April 18 - Texas Motor Speedway, NASCAR Racing from Fort Worth, 2:00 PM

Sun. April 25 - Talladega Superspeedway, NASCAR Racing from Talladega, 12:00 PM

Sat. May 1 - Richmond Int’l Raceway, NASCAR Racing from Richmond, 7:00 PM

Sat. May 8 - Darlington Raceway, NASCAR Racing from Darlington, 7:00 PM

Sun. May 16 - Dover Int’l Speedway, NASCAR Racing from Dover, 12:00 PM

Sun. May 30 - Lowe’s Motor Speedway, NASCAR Racing from Charlotte, 5:00 PM

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