Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Broadcast Booth - April 13th update.......

Over the years I have probably been more tolerant of things that shouldn't be on the air than most people. Players and coaches get upset and microphones pick up their share of profane or otherwise ugly exchanges. But those things are real.

The NBA has had the big Pacers vs. Pistons fight scene a few years back and this season the unfortunate instance involving Gilbert Arenas to contribute to their very understandable pledge to do everything possible not to have any violence. On Sunday night (April 11), there was something actually planned and I simply can't believe it was put on the air.

Fox Sports Arizona was doing its pre-game show leading into its telecast of the Suns vs. Houston. Studio analyst Tom Chambers was doing a segment to present is "Tommy Awards" based on his choices for NBA award winners based on the regular season. Nothing wrong with that.

However, I'm not sure how the method used to present these "awards" was chosen. FSN had a group of kick boxers on hand to "present". What they did was each time a choice of Chambers was announced was to show one of the kickboxers run up toward someone holding up photos of the two finalists, and then kickbox away the photo of the player or coach not chosen.

For example, for the Tommy Award for "Coach of the Year", a kickboxer was shown literally kicking in a photo of Bucks coach Scott Skiles to indicate that the choice was Thunder coach Scott Brooks.

The MVP Award went to Lebron James when another kickboxer kicked down a photo of Kobe Bryant. In other words, one of the biggest stars in the NBA was profiled on live television by a kickboxer kicking down a photo while the crowd cheers.

Over the years, some cartoons have been pulled from being shown on TV because they are considered violent. But kickboxing photos of star players and team personnel is OK? How is this acceptable but an expression of profanity during a professional competition is not?

Golf coverage usually isn't that big of a deal, but The Masters was due in full to the return of Tiger Woods to the PGA Tour. CBS-TV generated its highest ratings in nine years for its third round coverage of the Masters, while ESPN made cable ratings history for its coverage of the first two rounds, showing an increase of nearly 30% over last year.

At least for the past weekend Tiger Woods was a sports story rather than being tabloid material. Sports fans were curious to see how Tiger would respond after being away from the tour for weeks. Now we'll see the ratings dip over the next couple of weeks if Tiger indeed does not participate. That is unfortunate for the game of golf and its other star players. I'll admit that, not being a golfer, I also made an effort to watch some of the weekend coverage, and it was only because of Tiger's comeback.

Comcast owns a portion of Versus but is expanding its NHL Playoffs coverage among its CSN Networks via the web sites. The regional sports networks will provide streaming of video from practices, and more importantly additional pre and post-game reports. CSNChicago.com will provide additional coverage for the Blackhawks, CSNNE.com for the Boston Bruins, CSNBayArea.com for the Sharks, CSNPhilly.com for the Flyers, and CSNWashington.com for Capitals coverage.

In theory this is a good plan, yet there should be room on these TV networks for expanded coverage. Unless these channels have another live sports event to show, they really should include their expanded coverage on the air before and after the playoff telecasts. Sending fans to the web site still takes them away from watching their current programming and increases the risks they will watch or listen to an outside source instead of remaining a captive audience.

The idea should be for the web site to send viewers or listeners to the station or channel they represent, not the other way around.

Meanwhile, the annual banquet for the Montana State football team probably hasn't attracted the attention it did this past Friday night (April 9). The special guest speaker was a Montana native - by the name of Brent Musburger. The 70-year old voice of ABC Sports also talked baseball with KFBB Radio's Jason Nitschke.

It can be interesting when major sports meet in some form. Good move by Bill Meth on his New York (Westchester) WVOX Metro Golf Show this past Saturday. Among his scheduled guests was an excellent golfer. None other than Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte. Great timing on the weekend of the Masters and the first weekend of baseball's regular season.

SEATTLE: The Groz will indeed have a new full-time radio home, less than one week after leaving KJR. It won't begin until August, due to a non-compete clause, but Dave Grosby will join KIRO 710 for the 3 to 6 PM spot where he will co-host with Kevin Calabro.

This will be in addition to his calling Seattle University games, and is expected to eventually be added to the station's coverage of the Mariners and Seahawks. The local show "Brock and Salk" with Brock Huard and Mike Salk continues from 11 AM to 3 PM. These shows, along with a promising season for the Mariners could tighten the ratings battle as KIRO tries to catch up to and pass KJR.

CLEVELAND/AKRON: WARF Fox Sports 1350 Akron decided to carry Fox's replay of the Stephen A. Smith morning show during the midday period this past Thursday (April 8). With good reason. Jim Rome was off, and filling in for him was Tony Rizzo and Aaron Goldhammer, who otherwise host the "Really Big Show" on Cleveland's WKNR 850.

ORLANDO: The good news for Rays fans is that all regular season games are now airing on Orlando radio. However, as seems to be the case more often these days, it will take two radio stations to handle the entire package. Most of the games will air on WORL 660. However, Saturday and any Sunday night games will air on WBZW 1520. Sorry, but fans aren't likely to find a Rays broadcast on a Saturday night by checking all the way over at 1520 AM.

Minor as it seems, it is another instance of radio needing to maintain its audience but making it confusing for listeners of a consistent program.

Meanwhile, Bright House (cable) Networks have announced a plan to air Spanish broadcasts of TV feeds of select Marlins and Rays games in the Orlando market and Rays games in the Tampa area.

ANN ARBOR: WTKA Sports 1050 is going all out later this week for the Michigan spring football game. On Thursday (April 15), morning show hosts Sam Webb and Ira Weintraub will broadcast live from Schembechler Hall during the 3 to 6 afternoon show and talk Michigan football. The station's coverage of Saturday's spring game and festivities begins at 11:00 AM.

BUFFALO: As the Sabres begin their playoff quest coming off a division title, the TV ratings dropped almost 20% for the regular season. It will be interesting to see how that does or doesn't change for playoff telecasts.

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