Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Broadcast Booth - April 28 update

Those outside of the media often joke that "Anybody can host a sports show". Come to think of it, not all of them are joking. During all my years of sportscasting and teaching, I always found media outlets with an abundance of applicants for sports positions.

Imagine my shock when I saw a Baltimore outlet actually advertising for a sports host:

(This was a sports host position open as of press time.)

One would think that a major league city (which I consider any city with at least one pro sports team to be) would go along with reviewing tons of applicants. The station should know what sound it wants. Maybe even what person or persons it wants. I know of people in the industry who were hired as a result of being monitored over the air on another station or network and approached. I have had that happen to me a couple of times. With many markets now having 2 or more sports stations, I would like to think that management knows how it wants the station to sound and have an idea of personnel that would make a good fit.

Not only are game broadcasts and telecasts for most pro sports rising big time, but even a "non-game" scored well. The NFL Draft TV ratings soared for its first time as a 3 day event, even with both ESPN and NFL Network televising separately. The ratings could have been even better were it not for prior trades. The Chicago market is a huge NFL ratings market when it comes to the Bears. Due to trades, the Bears did not have a first or second round pick this year. If they had their mid-first round pick, the audience from the Chicago area would have kicked the overall ratings up even more. Again, this was not even a game. No betting lines, and the fantasy leagues were not impacted.

From a media standpoint, this was a nice innovation compared with the previous all day Saturday with hours of continued coverage. This plan makes it better for the fans to follow the draft.

This plan will undoubtedly be retained for next year because of the response of the fans. Yet, from a football point of view, I'd like to see one aspect addressed. Is it fair for the first 3 or 4 teams picking in Round 2 to have all day to debate and research their picks? Not compared with the 5 minutes max they have had over the years gone by.

Normally the Sports Emmy Awards are not what I call "stop the presses" news. This year it is different. MLB Network won 4 of them, and this as they are still in only their 2nd year of existence. If there was a category for "Most Incredible Innovations in Sports Programming" they would have won that as well.

Great to see the recognition for the outstanding work they have done and continue to do. MLB Tonight, understandably, received 3 of their awards, while Studio 42 host Bob Costas won the "Outstanding Sports Personality - Studio Host" Award. Added congrats to Bob, since that is his personal 20th Emmy.

It took rain to stop a strange ESPN programming streak. Had Monday night's (April 26) Dodgers at Mets telecast not been rained out, it would have been the 4th consecutive National League telecast via the ESPN Networks. If this were September and that's where the only races were, I could understand. We need more balance among the national games.

Speaking of network scheduling, no matter what Fox Network thinks, good for NBC to finally schedule a Sunday Night Football telecast that will go against a World Series game. The reason the NFL went to 17 weeks for 16 game seasons was because of television, yet the NFL has been conceeding to MLB for the past few years.

But the most interesting part of this story will come up in October. NBC is scheduled to show Pittsburgh vs. New Orleans for this Week 7 telecast. If the recent suspension of Ben Roethlisberger is upheld for the entire 6 games, that night would likely be his return to action. A sure ratings grabber. Since the NFL is all about TV ratings and is now bucking a World Series telecast, I wonder how likely the NFL would be to reduce the suspension and not have him return in prime time against the World Series.

Radio ratings for MLB broadcasts continue on the upswing. Three more markets added to the People Meters all showed noteworth local radio audience increases during the new season's first 2 weeks. It's even more interesting when you realize that Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Kansas City each have teams which are not likely to be contenders this season. The Reds' opening day radio broadcast averaged better than a 51 share among men 25-54 on April 5th.

ESPN and the Big Ten Network are already lining up Big Ten football telecasts for next season, and already there is an Ohio State flavor. The Buckeyes season opener on Thursday Sept. 2 vs. Marshall will be shown on BTN. ESPN has scheduled their first ever meeting against Miami for Sept. 11th. ESPN or ABC will show conference games on Oct. 16 at Wisconsin and Oct. 30 at Minnesota.

ABC or ESPN will also have Michigan State vs. Notre Dame on Sept. 18th in prime time, Iowa vs. Penn State on Oct. 2, and Michigan at Penn State on October 30th.

As streaming of games becomes more popular, Network1 Sports continues to add high school and small college games around the country. Maybe some more "sleepers" will be discovered for the pro drafts this way. You can see a list of the day's scheduled steams at:

MILWAUKEE: We all wish Bob Uecker a speedy recovery from his pending heart surgery and hope he beats the "10 to 12 weeks" estimate for his return to the Brewers broadcast booth, where he began 40 seasons ago.

Davey Nelson will move over from the TV booth to provide color on WTMJ Radio, with Cory Provus handling extensive play-by-play. The guess from here is that Wayne Laravee will take over during the interim, which would likely end around the time the Packers' training camp begins. Laravee, voice of the Packers and Big Ten football, would be an ideal fit because of his schedule. Laravee did Chicago Cubs TV play-by-play in the 90's.

LOS ANGELES: Sports radio continues its growth as the latest monthly ratings reflect. KSPN 710 and KLAC 570 combined for a 1.2 share increase in men 25-54, with KSPN showing the larger increase.

Joe McDonnell, formerly of the McDonnell Douglas Show and other sports hosting gigs, is now doing the morning sports updates on KNX NewsRadio 1070.

DETROIT: Still another example of the growth of sports radio. WXYT The Ticket again increased its overall audience share in the latest monthly ratings, surging to the #1 position in the 25-54 age group. While the Red Wings continue in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the Tigers expect to contend, this also took place while the Pistons were finishing another disappointing season.

MIAMI: In addition to the Dolphins Radio Network changing for the coming season, now a multi-year deal for Spanish broadcasts has een announced. WQBA-AM will carry all pre-season and regular season games, complete with a 2-hour pre-game show and a 1-hour wrapup. Plans are underway for a 2-hour weekday show focused on the team.

BOSTON: NESN's Heidi Watney has returned to the network after missing about 2 weeks due to a concussion.

Word is that Boston College may be among the schools having one play-by-play voice for both football and basketball. Football voice Jon Meterparel could be replacing Ted Sarandis on basketball broadcasts starting in the fall.

DALLAS: While many of us consider the concerns about what athletes and media members post on Twitter to be of little significance, The Ticket 1310 had cause to make it grounds for a termination. Former MLB player Mike Bacsik, who was both a host and producer for the station, was let go following a racist tweet resulting from a Mavericks vs. Spurs NBA Playoff game. Adding to the mix was the reported admission by Bacsik that he was "drunk at a bar". This instance was much different from others who merely express a harmless opinion, agreed with or not.

WASHINGTON D.C.: While the NHL Capitals being taken to a 7th game by Montreal in the opening round of the playoffs was surprising, so was Comcast SportsNet reporting record ratings for its coverage. The Game 6 telecast from Monday (April 26) was the highest rated post-season game in the Network's history. (Game 7 numbers were not available at press time.)

TAMPA: 1010 AM has a new local show from Noon to 3 to replace "The Grind". Former Buccaneers QB Shaun King, who also played high school football in St. Pete, has been hired as co-host along with Toby David. The show is being called the "King David Show". Got to wonder if it will get a "royal" welcome in the ratings.

SYRACUSE: The AAA Syracuse Chiefs baseball team continues to celebrate 50 years of local ownership, and this Friday (April 30) they plan to celebrate with one of their prior broadcast legends on hand. Sean McDonough will join Jason Benetti on the WHEN 620 broadcast. McDonough called Chiefs games in 1982, 1983, and 1984.

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