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 SportsRadioNY.com. 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.