Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Broadcast Booth - July 28 update.....

All 1500 ESPN in the Twin Cities did was air a fascinating interview and generate some newsworthy quotes. Frankly, it's about time the sports "reporting" media made some news instead of spending endless hours touting rumors about trades and signings that fail to come to pass and acting as if they are "news" stories.

Timberwolves team President David Kahn went on the air last week and said that forward Michael Beasley "smoked too much marijuana", prompting a $50,000 fine against Kahn by the NBA.

The actual comment was, "He's a very young and immature kid who smoked too much marijuana and has told me that he's not smoking anymore, and I told him that I would trust him as long as that was the case."

Whether it was right or wrong for Kahn to make that comment is not the point. I can understand the NBA being concerned. However, the sports "reporting" media should be concerned about a $50,000 fine resulting from that comment.

Had Mr. Kahn's comment come during or within an NBA environment, such as a team or league press conference, I would understand this fine completely. However, Kahn's choice and willingness to go on a local sports talk show is and was not an NBA environment.

If Michael Beasley and/or his representatives felt the comment was not appropriate or not true, it should be their decision to pursue legal action. Such an action could include the radio station which broadcast the comment if the legal team so determines. As of this writing, I am not aware of any such action or even a complaint from Beasley, to whom the comments were associated with.

However, the NBA, by declaring this fine against a team representative for "outside" comments, is doing some harm to the very media which supports it, along with us fans.

Too many of the sports radio stations emphasize the local callers giving their often uninformed opinions about the teams and players way too much as it is. Many sports fans listen to get information about the teams and players and to learn more.

I'm afraid that as word of this fine gets out, that more of the players, owners, and team management members will start to think twice before going on a live radio or TV interview. Now that he has been fined $50,000, do you think Mr. Kahn will EVER do another live media interview he doesn't have to?

Guess what. As players and team officials stop doing live interviews, the result will be these sports stations having no choice but to put boring and clueless fans on the air instead of the participants.

Certainly I can understand the NBA wanting to reprimand a team executive, especially an owner, for the comment. It should have been done in private, or with only a public apology and no consequences. Instead, the NBA could well be cutting off one of its best forms of publicity around the nation.

Yet, that is not all that should have been done. Stations such as 1500 ESPN and others like it should be expressing their anger over this fine. This will make it more of a challenge to bring the fans live interviews, since players and team execs will have to be fearful of making a comment, outside of a team or league setting, that could take money out of their pocket.

Now the NBA has $50,000 extra, and the millions of listeners to sports radio station have "Joe from the south side to talk about whether Michael Beasley should be traded". That is not the fault of Mr. Kahn. While the fans will really be the ones to suffer the consequences.

This all comes on top of the increased insanity of sports stations featuring the callers instead of information and interviews. Now this trend continues to spread in baseball as well. It has been bad enough that WSCR The Score has been doing what they call "interactive" Chicago White Sox broadcasts during the past couple of spring trainings. The station actually stops doing play-by-play in the middle of some exhibition broadcasts to instead let the game announcers take calls from the fans. As if listeners would rather hear some fan talking about who should make the team instead of how the specific players are performing at that very moment?

Last week WEEI Boston suddenly restructured their Red Sox pre-game programming to enable John Ryder to take more calls from fans. The Terry Francona Show and a player interview segment continue to air, but now are treated like a throw-in. Station officials are bent on continuing this "at least" through this season. Pardon me, but I thought the other 20 hours out of the day were already more than enough to hear the same fans calling in with the same complaints about "last night's game". Now fans have to wait to hear what the team's manager has to say? Worse yet, there are rumblings that WEEI might also subject Celtics fans to this when their broadcasts start up again in October.

If we must be subjected to fan comment overload, at least KTRB, the flagship station of the Oakland A's, had a better idea. Because of its syndicated and brokered time programming commitments, the A's games often create havoc on the program lineup. Last Wednesday (7/21), the A's victory over the Red Sox ran a bit late. As a result, Chris Townsend was on the air with the post-game show and took phone calls from fans for a longer than usual period. As in 4 hours. The game ended around 3:30 PM, and Townsend's post-game show was on the air all the way until 7:30 PM. Since that was a later extension of the post-game programming, I have no problem with that. It pre-empted other station programming, but, significantly, not any of the player or manager interviews that provide fans with information they care to hear.

Meanwhile, Fox Sports Radio will begin syndication of an Indianapolis based sports show each Saturday, beginning this week. The "Zakk and Jack Show" features host Zakk Tyler (former WLUP Chicago music host and later managing editor of an Indianapolis based sports web site) and former NFL QB Jack Trudeau will air on Fox stations including WNDE Indianapolis.

While it lacks the thunder of the recent ACC and Big 12 Conference TV announcements, Conference USA has extended its partnership with CBS College Sports Network. Although this channel only appears primarily on extended cable and satellite packages around the country, this deal includes football and basketball through 2016.

CHICAGO: Corey McPherrin becomes the latest TV sports anchor to jump over the news side. As of next week, he will co-host WFLD TV's expanded morning news show, "Good Day Chicago" along with Anna Davlantes. McPherrin has done sports at WFLD and before that WBBM-TV for many years. Jill Carlson will take over as lead sportscaster on the station's weeknight newscasts.

MILWAUKEE: It's as though baseball season returned for Brewers fans with the return to the booth last Friday (7/23) of Bob Uecker following a successful recovery from heart surgery. It may not be a coincidence that the always strong ratings for flagship station WTMJ 620 took a drop during the evening daypart during his abscence.

On the TV side, Fox Sports Wisconsin is cooperating with the Brewers with a special telecast of the Brewers vs. Arizona game on August 10. The entire game telecast will not have commercials, instead focusing on a live charity auction to benefit the Brewers Community Foundation. Some amazing bid packages are planned, including a pitching clinic with Trevor Hoffman and pitching coach Rick Peterson. (As an aside, I'd have to think a "Father of the Year" Award might as well be included in that package.)

DENVER: The sports radio competition is now a mile high as of this week. KCKK 1510 Mile High Sports Radio started its revised lineup this week. This includes Eric Goodman and columnist Mark Kiszla in morning drive, Rico & Romano late mornings, and Mark McIntosh and Jimmy Doogan from 3 to 6 PM.

KCUV The Ticket has moved from 102.3 to 87.7 FM as of this week but has not made any noticeable schedule changes. Vic Lombardi and Gary Miller continue in morning drive, and the afternoon show adds a third co-host and is now with Shapiro, Goins, and JoJo. The Ticket will air one of the national NFL games packages this season.

KKFN 104.3 The Fan had already announced the addition of former Broncos lineman Mark Schlereth to its afternoon drive show starting next week (Aug. 2).

KPEN 1600 continues with the same lineup, including Irv and Joe in the afternoon.

WASHINGTON D.C.: The start of NFL training camps is especially important to Redskins fans, and one of the big "transactions" for them comes in the form of Redskins beat reporter Chris Russell. ESPN 980 has hired Russell away from rival 106.7 The Fan as of this week.

Russell will be a regular on the afternoon Sports Reporters Show with Steve Czaban and Andy Pollin. His expanded role includes co-hosting the halftime show on the game radio broadcasts during the season. In addition, he will be the sideline reporter for the local pre-season telecasts.

The Fan is expected to name its own Redskins beat reporter any minute now, but had not as of press time.

HOUSTON: KTRK Channel 13 will be making good use of its additional digital channel for NASCAR fans on August 21st. The Sprint Cup race telecast moves to Channel 13.2 due to its telecast of the Texans vs. New Orleans pre-season game.

KTBU Channel 55 will again carry SEC a group of selected SEC football games this fall, with the broadcast crew of Dave Neal and Andre Ware.

SEATTLE: Bob Rondeau will have a new analyst for his radio broadcasts of University of Washington football this season, as he begins his 31st season of calling the games. Former UW and NFL QB Damon Huard joins the crew, replacing Chuck Nelson in the role that Nelson held for 17 seasons. KJR 950 continues its 11-hour game day radio coverage, with game coverage to be streamed on

KANSAS CITY: Speaking of NFL camps opening, WHB 810 Sports Radio made Tuesday (July 27) a full day of Chiefs coverage going live from training camp for most of the day. Play-by-play voice Mitch Hothus co-hosted in morning drive and provided interviews throughout the day.

SALT LAKE: ESPN 700 host Bill Riley has been named to return to handling play-by-play of University of Utah football and basketball for the coming seasons after a 3-year abscence from the booth. He replaces Mike Lageschulte, who will continue to work for the school's Athletic Department. Riley will also handle both head coach radio shows each week in season.

TOLEDO: Former University of Toledo head coach Tom Amstutz will join the school's radio crew and be the analyst this season for play-by-play voice Mark Beier, starting with the Sept. 3 game vs. Arizona. If only we knew where to find him. The official Press Release issued by the school with this announcement failed to include mention of a radio station airing the games, nor whether or not the broadcasts will stream. Ooops.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Broadcast Booth - July 21st update.......

Nashville's 104.5 The Zone was on top of the story last week when Vanderbilt football coach Bobby Johnson unexpectedly announced his immediate retirement just a few weeks before the start of the coming season. Or were they?

As on-air hosts George Plaster and Willy Daunic were taking phone calls from shocked Vandy fans, the now Interim Head Coach Robbie Caldwell called their show and expressed his surprise of the announcement, stating on the air that he didn't know either until that very morning.

On one hand, The Zone got a significant reaction to a major local story on its airwaves. This also gives huge crediblity to the station that a key person in the story chose to phone the station. I have to believe that people listening at the time and/or learning of that call-in had their credibility in The Zone increase because of that. I wouldn't think the coach would have then called in to other stations or media to keep reacting.

However, it's the story that Caldwell "called in to the show" that has me stopped in my tracks. I have to question why, when such a prominent local story was breaking, didn't the station contact Caldwell first? (I will point out that I was not listening to The Zone that day and that I have accounts of what aired.) From what I was told, the bulk of the show was taking calls from concerned Vanderbilt fans with their reaction. Fans reacting? What about the other coaches? The players on the team? School officials?

Some "real" sports news breaks, and all the station does is take calls from fans until a key figure in the announcement calls in?

What irks me about this is how much of today's sports "news" is rumors and speculation. Local stations will routinely have a national analyst such as Ken Rosenthal or Buster Olney on the phone to comment about rumors involving the local team and who "might" be traded or moved. That is not news. It is speculation until or unless it happens. On that day in Nashville, a big sports news story actually happened. This time, the station emphasizes calls from fans?

Along those same lines, I made it a point to hear "scoreboard updates" on several all-sports stations around the country last week on the Monday and Wednesday surrounding the All-Star break. When there are no pro games on the docket. It bothered me how many of them talked about what the local or regional team(s) had done coming into the All-Star break. Not what is coming up after. It was the 'easy' story instead of digging for news. What a waste of time to rehash the same stories they gave the days before.

Here's hoping that sometime soon sports radio will return to the reporters telling us actual "news" and getting reaction from those making it, and it will be the fans doing the speculation if and when time permits.

Speaking of the All-Star Game, the 9% ratings drop for Fox-TV from last year's game is magnified when you consider that the Los Angeles area ratings for the telecast (the game was played in Anaheim) were less than half of what they were for the host markets over the previous five years. That should be a cause for concern. In addition to the growing ratings for live sports on TV over the past 2 years, both the Angels and Dodgers remain in contention for division titles.

Over in England, BBC Radio 5 carried the Cardinals vs. Dodgers game broadcast this past Sunday, adding BBC commentary.

LOS ANGELES: Sorry to learn of the passing of Chuck Madden at the age of 61 due to Leukemia. Madden had 2 stints with KNX, as well as having worked at KABC, the former KMPC, and Fox Sports Radio.

ATLANTA: WCNN 680 The Fan continues its busy play-by-play schedule into the coming winter sports season. This will be its 6th season of airing the NHL Thrashers games, with Dan Kamal returning for his 11th season of play-by-play. (Kamal has been calling the games since the franchise moved to Atlanta.) However, while The Fan will carry additional NBA Hawks programming, including some pre and post-game, the Hawks broadcasts move to sister station 99X, marking the first time the Hawks will be heard on FM. Steve Holman continues on play-by-play. My contention is that FM signals do not have the regional reach that most AM signals do and long-time fans are not used to searching the FM dial for local sports broadcasts.

ST. LOUIS: Speaking of broadcast traditions coming to an end, it appears this will be the final season of Cardinals baseball telecasts on over-the-air TV. Reports are that Fox Sports Midwest will carry all 150+ games not covered by a national network. This screws the people who cannot afford cable or satellite and only have digital TV reception out of games. Plus, some cable and satellite providers won't cough up more money to FSN Midwest for so-called "additional" telecasts. As a result, if the Cardinals radio does not return to KMOX for next season and stays on the lesser-signal of 590 AM, there will be a higher number of fans who can't get EITHER the radio or TV of some of the games.

HOUSTON: Further proof that Texas was a strong area for interest in the World Cup even after the USA was knocked out. KFNC 97.5 showed a ratings increase during the World Cup period when it broadcast the games, to the point of leading the 4 Houston sports stations in men 25-54 during the midday and afternoon time slots. KESN Dallas also moved up in audience during the World Cup period.

Mike Meltser, who has worked on ESPN Radio and Sirius/XM, has joined KILT to provide afternoon sports updates and will likely host a local weekend shift. KILT has also added a weekend hosting spot for Brien Straw on top of his fill-in assignments.

PITTSBURGH: KDKA-FM SportsRadio 93.7 will carry Pitt Panthers football and basketball games starting for the coming seasons. Bill Hillgrove will continue in the play-by-play roles, with Bill Fralic doing football analysis and Dick Groat on basketball. KDKA-FM began as SportsRadio earlier this year and this addition strengthens its foothold on local sports programming. Pitt games had aired on WWSW-FM and WBGG-AM.

NEW YORK: YES Network scored excellent ratings for its Yankees Old Timers Day telecast and surrounding coverage this past Saturday. Likely boosted by the deaths of George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard, it was the most watched Old Timers Day telecast YES Network has done. Then, on Sunday (July 18), YES' telecast of the Yankees vs. Rays game wound up as its highest rated day game telecast of the season.

WGBB 1240 Long Island and The Sports Radio NY blog now either stream or have podcasts of their various local team oriented sports shows at Former Jets QB Ken O'Brien and Islanders voice Jiggs McDonald are among the participants.

DENVER: As of this week, Denver joins Houston as a major league market now having four all-sports radio stations. KCUV 102.3 switches this week from classic rock to sports, including a morning show with Vic Lombardi and Channel 4's Gary Miller. The duo was heard on KEPN 1600 until a few weeks ago when they were replaced by syndicated sports shows. KCUV appears to be going after KEPN, which now has only Joe Williams and Irv Brown as "local" talent and mostly syndicated shows.

CINCINNATI: WORT 1160 afternoon host Andy Furman has added a regular stint on Fox Sports Saturday airing nationally on Fox Sports Radio. After a couple of successful fill-in stints, Furman now teams with Sean Farnham on the Noon to 4 PM ET show. Ironically, the show airs in Cincinnati on a different station, as WSAI-AM 1360 carries the Fox program.

LOUISVILLE: Dave Jennings is changing shows on WKRD Sports Radio 790, as he moves to afternoons. Jennings will now co-host The Afternoon Underdogs show from 3:00 until 5:30 with Tony Vanetti starting next Monday (July 26). As a result, a new co-host is needed for the late morning Joe B. and Denny Show featuring Joe B. Hall and Denny Crum.

DULUTH: Come August 3rd, Bruce Ciskie will be even busier, and on a regular basis. Already the play-by-play voice of Minnesota Duluth hockey, Ciskie will become Sports Director of an 8 radio station operation. The Superior MN native will contribute to the KQDS-FM morning show, and then host a one-hour sports talk show at Noon on weekdays on KQDS-AM.

WINSTON-SALEM: ESPN Radio and local programming will cover the area on 3 frequencies starting within the month. WSML 1200, WMFR 1230, and WCOG 1320, will each have some programming which will differ from the other two stations.

BOWLING GREEN KY: High school sports are a priority in certain areas, and this is obviously one of them. Not many cities publicize multi-year broadcast agreements for high school football and basketball, but this one does. WWKU 1450 has a new 3-year deal to carry Bowling Green HS football and basketball, including boys and girls hoops doubleheaders both home and away. The local ESPN station looks for more local sports emphasis, especially since it does not carry Western Kentucky University play-by-play.

But the high school coverage doesn't stop there. WKCT 930 will continue to air play-by-play of Greenwood High School games.

Meanwhile, WBGN 1340, which aired the Bowling Green HS games in past seasons, has announced plans to air both a football and basketball "Game of the Week" rotating among the 5 high schools in Warren County.

AKRON: WARF 1350 has extended its deal to air University of Akron Zips football through 2013.

JOPLIN MO: KXDG-FM Big Dog 97.9 will air Missouri Southern State University football and basketball games starting this coming season.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Broadcast Booth - July 14th update

How about this? Opposing radio stations actually hustling to compete for listeners. This month. It's about time. Miami sports radio stations are gearing up for the upcoming NFL season whether the Dolphins are in contention or not.

We are waiting to learn what impact there may be as 790 The Ticket begins its extensive Dolphins coverage with play-by-play and an afternoon drive show dedicated to Dolphins and NFL coverage. Now rival Sports Talk WQAM 560 is bringing definitive football talk to the early afternoon. WQAM has reportedly signed Michael Irvin to host the local Noon to 3 PM slot beginning on July 26th and prior to the pre-season openers.

Many NFL fans may not realize that Irvin played high school football in South Florida and was a Miami U. Hurricane prior to his success with the NFL Dallas Cowboys. Thus the local ties in place.

Irvin's show appears to be an ideal fit. In addition to the local tie-in to draw Dolphins fans, his national scope figures to appeal to the large number of 'transplants' who follow other NFL teams but now reside in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area during at least some of the year.

Yet, what appeals to me the most about this is that WQAM is making the effort to compete against The Ticket for the NFL and Dolphins fans. This type of move is all too rare in local radio these days. In the markets with more than one sports stations, it seems like all these stations do is promote ratings victories over the other other station instead of breaking stories.

There is too much reporting what other media is reporting and spending hours and hours speculating about rumored trades and signings. Worse yet, I continue to hear "scoreboard updates" on sports stations which sometimes do not include scores in progress or finals of out of town games.

The Dolphins may not contend this season, but their fans will be among the best informed courtesy of the local sports stations.

Meanwhile, I'll admit that I am surprised by the two most watched sports programs over the past week. It goes to show how much the public has taken to live sports programming.

Even the LeBron James announcement finished among the 3 highest watched cable TV programs for the entire year, as fans not in those cities that had a chance to sign him watched as well. Those ratings speak for themselves.

I'll admit I was also surprised to see the large audience for ABC-TV and the World Cup final game this past Sunday (July 11). I was among the majority who had anticipated a large drop in audience after the USA was eliminated. After all of the "I suppose the over-under is 1 1/2 on these games" jokes about the lack of scoring that would seem to keep many casual observers from watching, the audience was there with a world championship on the line.

Getting back to the success of the LeBron James decision show. I must say that I was among the few who were fine with ESPN having the exclusive to the actual announcement. Maybe an hour looked to be overblown, but the audience response seems to say otherwise. ESPN has been and is a sports news organization, as well as a major partner in showcasing the NBA.

My personal hunch is that the LeBron decision show will prove to be the start of a new concept. I could see one of the NBA's television partners (ESPN, TNT, NBA-TV, etc.) hosting a one-hour showcase on July 8th (or whatever the first signing night will be) to let at least one major free agent announce where he will go. Granted, there won't be a LeBron James every year, but maybe there doesn't have to be. The audience for LeBron's decision from all over the USA tells me that people are going to watch even without direct local team impact. You read this here first.

Congrats to Chris Berman of ESPN on being awarded the Pete Rozelle Radio-Televison Award for "longtime exceptional contributions to radio and TV in pro football". Berman will go...........all............the...........way to Canton OH (the Pro Football Hall of Fame) to receive the award on August 6th. Believe it or not, Berman is about to begin his 25th season of hosting ESPN's Sunday NFL programming.

ESPN also continued its dominance in media news by announcing a new 12-year agreement for ACC telecasts, which takes effect for the 2011-12 seasons. This pact includes Raycom Sports handling regional distribution of Conference games not selected for ESPN or ABC.

While separate from the ACC contract, the College GameDay show will add another hour each Saturday morning. Starting September 4th, ESPNU will begin the show from 9 to 10 AM ET prior to its regular 2-hour airing on ESPN to set the scene for the day's and night's games. In addition, the entire 3-hours will also air on ESPN Radio.

During the games, Chris Fowler will host College Football Live on ESPN while John Saunders continues as ABC's pre-game, half-time, and postgame studio anchor.

NEW YORK: Add WFAN 660 to the list of sports stations holding contests for on-air positions. The Fan is holding auditions at 4 regional malls along with some locations of a sponsor of the promotion, while planning a live "finals" judging on August 27th. This is not new, even to WFAN, which found Joe Benigno (its current midday host) by a similar method back in 1995. Last week we reported on the sports station in Atlanta holding a contest to find a new program host.

In the Yankees' TV booth, John Flaherty, the former catcher, became more than an analyst when he happened to be working the telecast on Sunday (July 11). He displayed his catching skills when he caught a foul ball (on the fly) in the broadcast booth.

Speaking of timing, how about Fran Healy's "Game 365" series showing a series of interviews in tribute to George Steinbrenner this past Sunday on most of the Fox Sports regional TV networks? This scheduled installment in the series happened to air 2 days before Steinbrenner's passing.

NASHVILLE: Fox Sports Tennessee and SportsSouth have signed a new 4-year deal to televise the NHL Predators which takes effect for the coming season and increases the number of telecasts. 60 regular season games will be shown during the coming season, with the number increasing to 70 games during the 4th season. One benefit for Fox Sports, despite the increased rights fees, is getting SportsSouth added to Comcast's channel lineup in Nashville.

DENVER: Mark Schlereth, the former Broncos lineman, is set to join "D-Mac" and former Broncos teammate Alfred Williams on 104.3 The Fan for the 4 to 7 PM show starting August 2nd. The 3-time Super Bowl champ (2 with Denver) has done some part-time analyst work in the Denver market since 2004, and is expected to continue part-time on ESPN.

AUSTIN: The Horn 104.9 is losing its morning sports host, at least until November. For once, it is actually not due to cutbacks. Dan Neil claims he was "forced off the air" because he is currently running for the Texas House of Representatives in the November election. Neil claims that his opponent, Donna Howard, has forced him off the air because the station did not wish to give her (Howard) the daily air (equal) time she requested at no charge. Neil is a former University of Texas lineman and played for the NFL Denver Broncos. The lost income is expected to cost him about $3,000 per month. No word yet on a replacement.

NAPLES FL: Sports talk is coming off of the sister stations 1200 AM (Lee and Charlotte Counties) and 1460 AM (Collier County) at the end of July. Both stations will convert to an all-news format supporting the WINK-TV news department as of August 2nd. The stations will have sports news updates twice per hour when the revised format takes effect.

FARGO: Nice move by WDAY 970 to get NHL Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher as a live guest and taking phone calls on Wednesday (July 14) during its midday "Sports Talk" show. The team recently signed local (Fargo area) standout Matt Cullen. It is rare for an NHL GM (or major representative of an NHL team) to appear on an out-of-market station.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Broadcast Booth - July 8th update

Publicity and news have practically merged over the past month when it comes to radio and TV sportscasts. If this NBA free agent "scramble" were to have happened during the years that I was a Sports Director, it would have meant an occasional mention at best during the period from the Lakers winning the championship until last Thursday (July 1st).

Sure, LeBron James was going to decide which team to play for during at least the upcoming season. Wade, Bosch, and others were also possibilities to change teams. Because of the NBA time frame for the negotiation period, nothing (I repeat, NOTHING) could have happened officially regarding the contract status for those and other NBA players during those 2+ weeks.

Sorry, but every "reporter", sportscaster, writer, blogger, etc., has been flooding us with his/her opinion and speculation about who could sign where. That's fine, if done as a feature piece, column, blog, or some form of commentary. However, this total speculation has taken up valuable sportscast time for weeks.

The NBA could have spent millions (although they didn't need to) and not received this much publicity to sports fans. The majority of sportscasts seemingly worked to create a big event that wasn't going to happen until this week regardless of how much air time it got.

My problem with this is that virtually none of it was really news. Worse yet, I heard instances of sports radio stations using their "update" time to bring us more speculation and then not take the time to give all of the out of town baseball scores. As a result, I continue to spend more time checking scoreboards online after years and years and years of relying on radio or TV to bring me scores and actual game information.

If only they had waited until there was an actual news story, such as a free agent signing, I would have cared. By the time they are actually signing and making "news", my patience has run out. I need a break from the NBA, even though the NBA had nothing to do with this. If only sports reporters would report sports news.

St. LOUIS: The Fan 590 and Team 1380 will become sisters, as the owners of KFNS are in the process of purchasing KSLG. It's too early to tell if or how this will impact the respective on-air lineups. However, if KFNS loses the Cardinals broadcasts back to KMOX for next season, as speculated, it might not make much difference.

Cardinals fans in central Illinois are happier, as Comcast has finalized an agreement to continue to carry the full schedule of Cardinals telecasts this season from Fox Sports West. Since the cable service began carrying every game it could, those fans will get 130 telecasts this season, about 20 more than they previously received. Then again, it makes no sense that 20 more telecasts on the same network should even be a negotiation point.

PITTSBURGH: WBGG 970 is adding West Virginia University football and basketball beginning with the coming seasons.

BALTIMORE / D.C.: WJZ-FM 105.7 Then Fan began the "Norris and Davis Show" from 5 to 9 AM this week (started Tuesday 6th). Steve Davis has previously been with WBAL Radio and Channel 45 TV as an anchor.

University of Maryland football and basketball moves to ESPN 980 for the coming season. The Terps broadcasts will have priority over all play-by-play except for Redskins football, which would create few if any conflicts. This completes an indirect "trade" of college football and basketball broadcasts between ESPN 980 and The Fan 106.7, which will carry VA Tech broadcasts starting this season. Last season, these schools were on the other of these stations. I would think that Maryland broadcasts will attract the most interest among the two schools in the D.C. market. Unless there is a "school to be named later", I think 980 will get the better of this swap.

ATLANTA: Still another sports radio station is holding a contest to find a "20-something" to get some airtime, experienced or not. Applicants are to be aged 21 to 29, and can apply, through July 15, at The selected applicant will host the station's planned "Young Guns Show". I'm all for the American dream, but I'm even more in favor of someone with reasonable broadcast experience "winning" the position.

HOUSTON: Sports Radio 1560 is looking to make the NFL Texans a path to increased ratings as they battle with 3 other sports stations in town. For this entire month of July, the weekday morning, midday, and afternoon shows will all talk Texans during the last hour. Thus, John & Lance from 9 to 10 AM, Nuno & Hoffy from 2 to 3 PM, and Sean & John from 6 to 7 PM will focus on the Texans and the NFL, as we approach and begin training camp this month.

INDIANAPOLIS: The Butler did it. Butler University's run to the NCAA Championship Game in April has brought them to local radio prominence starting with the coming season. WFNI 1070 The Fan will carry the broadcasts, moving the games from a 5,000 watt station (WXNT 1430) to the 50,000 watt station.

While this is quite a coup for Butler, but for WFNI it amounts to replacing Pacers broadcasts (which moved to sister 93.1 FM for the coming season) with the Butler games. There are three times the number of Pacers broadcasts and much more regional interest in the NBA.

CINCINNATI: With two November games on cable, the Bengals have awarded the local telecast simulcast rights to WKRC-TV Channel 12, instead of WLWT-TV Channel 5. The simulcasts look to be important games. WKRC-TV will carry the ESPN feed on Nov. 8th against division rival Pittsburgh, and the NFL Network feed on Thanksgiving night when the Bengals face the N.Y. Jets for the first time since last season's playoffs.

This move makes a lot of sense for Channel 12. The CBS affiliate carries some of the Sunday home games, most of the road games, and the Bengals' pre-season games not shown on national networks. Brad Johansen, who will again handle the team's radio play-by-play, is also Sports Director of WKRC-TV.

COLUMBUS: Nice move by STO Sports Time Ohio cable network on Independence Day. The network carried the Columbus Clippers minor league game telecast, which it sometimes does. In this instance, the Clippers were taking on the Toledo Mudhens in Toledo. The result was a AAA game between affiliates of the Indians and Tigers, and happened to feature a matchup of pitchers who had each pitched in the American League earlier in the season.

STO carried the Toledo feed, showing the game live on Sunday night (July 4th) with a full midday replay on Monday the 5th. Play-by-play voice Jason Griffin did an excellent job by acknowledging the affiliations and that fans of both MLB teams would be watching, and providing plenty of information about both teams.

It was great to see a regional cable network show a game that would be of interest to a percentage of fans instead of the poker, paid programming, and 'garbage' programming that fills way too much time.

ASBURY PARK: Monmouth University football will continue for another 3 seasons on the Shore Sports Network of Shore Sports 1310 and WOBM 1160. The games will also be streamed live on

PANAMA CITY: WDIZ 590 has become ESPN Sports, dumping an adult standards format last week. The station starts with everything ESPN with the lone exception, as of now, being planned local high school football broadcasts. Yes, this station retains the W-DIZ call letters, which used to be for an Orlando FM, and continues as a station not a part of the Disney Radio Network.

SATELLITE RADIO: The idea is great, even if the execution isn't. Sirius/XM has launched a new sports channel dedicated to fantasy sports 24 hours a day. This is the sort of niche programming that provides satellite subscribers with niche programming which isn't (yet) found on the AM or FM dial. Even if it doesn't attract a large audience, there figures to be certain advertisers who would love to reach an audience of fantasy sports participants.

However, Sirius subscribers do not automatically receive this channel, unless they buy the "Best of XM" package. So instead of having a good idea to promote and attract every listener it can to, this supposedly "merged" company expects thousands of sports fan to suddenly pay extra just to hear it. No wonder "Fantasy" is in the title of this channel.

SCHEDULES: A fun idea by the great MLB Network to air the 1965 All-Star Game this Sunday night (July 11th) at 8:00 ET. There are at least 16 Hall Of Fame members in this game. MLB Network claims this will be the first time this telecast will air since it took place exactly 45 years earlier.

The game telecasts continue this week, including a Thursday (July 8) doubleheader. The Angels at White Sox at 2:00 PM with Cinci at Philadelphia at 7 PM.

On Friday, MLB Network will show Atlanta at the Mets, and its Saturday night game is Cinci at Philadelphia.