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.

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