Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Broadcast Booth - September 1 update

Always a catch, and not of the on-the-field variety. MLB Advanced Media has announced a partnership with YouTube to provide free streaming of MLB games within 36 hours of completion along with on-demand feeds of what it terms "every game" from the current season, along with 2009. But before you say "It's about time!", there is that 'catch'.

It looks like you have to be in Japan to have this feature. While fans here in the U.S. still have to pay for it. Isn't it time we ask why?

Shouldn't it be the other way around? To me, fans in Japan should incur a small charge for this service since they have little to no way of viewing MLB games throughout the season. And it should be FREE here in the U.S.

This wouldn't bother me if it weren't for the fact that I, along with millions of other baseball fans, are paying for cable/satellite each month at inflated costs partially because of the sports networks which use our money to pay MLB for the rights to carry the games. Yet, we are subject to blackouts. If only we were refunded for days on which a network we "subscribe" to is blacked out for 3 or more hours.

Now, fans in Japan, thousands of miles away, will be able to watch these games for free?

While techies begin searching for the site that will allow this, here is the actual story:


Of course, baseball is not the only sport where fans are subjected to having little to no choice about receiving telecasts.

Still another example in the Denver area and parts of Colorado for this coming Saturday (9/4). The Colorado vs. Colorado State football game kicks off the season in a highly anticipated matchup. And guess what? Local fans of either team have to have DirecTV OR an expanded digital (more expensive) package from Comcast Cable in order to see this game. It will not be shown on a "basic" cable service or over-the-air. Fans around the state don't care about ESPN/ABC covering a ton of other games. For all they collectively contribute each month to cable and (other) satellite provders, they have no choice in the matter.

The technicality here is that Colorado State is considered the home team for the Denver game, thus giving the rights to The MTN.

Thus, for what is estimated to be half of the local TV market, they either have to pony up in a hurry for one telecast or won't be able to watch the game at home.

For those paying the piper, James Bates and Todd Christenson will have the call.

Otherwise, it will be like the old days when you relied on radio to listen to the game. Both KOA 850 and KLZ 560 will have the broadcast. Mark Johnson and Larry Zimmer will have the Colorado call on KOA while Brian Roth makes his State play-by-play debut (replacing Jerry Schemmel who joined the Rockies' baseball booth for this season) with Kevin McGlue on KLZ. At least the radio stations aren't limiting the broadcasts to HD Radio stations and forcing listeners to purchase HD radios in order to hear the game. Sound far fetched? That's what the cable and satellite companies are doing to us.

As the sports radio competition heats up with the new Dolphins season and a new flagship station, WQAM took the steps to protect its morning drive. Big Dog Joe Rose has reportedly signed a 2-year extension to continue on its morning show.

SAN FRANCISCO: The Bay Area's radio "Big Dog" Gary Radnich of KNBR 680 was very well replaced while on vacation last week. F.P. Santangelo (yes, the former pitcher) filled in for Radnich on the 9 AM to Noon show and handled the shift extremely well. It turned out to be great timing since this was also the week that the Giants' pitching collapsed.

DALLAS: As The Ticket 1310 gets ready for NHL season and its Stars coverage, the station has assigned Matt McClearin to host the pre-game and post-game coverage along with intermissions for the coming season. McClearin will continue to co-host "The Scrubs" from Noon to 2 PM each Saturday.

PHILADELPHIA: Comcast SportsNet has added Lisa Hillary to add to its extensive Flyers coverage for the coming season with John Boruk moving over to the anchor desk. Hillary has plenty of NHL coverage experience, having served with Comcast SportsNet in D.C. on Capitals coverage and on Canada's TSN in the past.

MINNEAPOLIS: Kudos to the NHL's Wild. They are actually making it easy for fans this season. Fans with basic cable or satellite should be able to see all 82 regular season games. Fox Sports North has 50 telecasts scheudled, KSTC-TV has 24 games, and the other 8 are scheduled for national telecasts on Versus.

BALTIMORE: Comcast SportsNet has named Julie Donaldson as an anchor and reporter for its SportsNite shows following a 3-month freelance tryout. Donaldson has anchor experience with SNY New York as well as WHDH-TV Boston. The network has named Jill Sorenson as the beat reporter for the Capitals.

CINCINNATI: Fox Sports Ohio has added the Sept. 16th home game against Arizona to its schedule after losing the Sept. 25th telecast vs. San Diego to Fox Sports as either a regional or national telecast. This means that all but one of the Reds games for the remainder of the season will be televised locally. Their big series against the Cardinals this weekend includes Fox Sports showing the Saturday game at 4:10 ET. The only Reds game not scheduled to be televised is the Sept. 9th afternoon game against Colorado.

TAMPA: No word (as of press time) regarding a new afternoon drive host for ESPN 1040 to start next Tuesday (9/7). The station is running ESPN national programming this week after Marc Benarzyk left the station in a reported "mutual decision".

LOS ANGELES: Congrats to Lawrence Tanter, the long time Public Address voice of the Lakers on being named Program Director of public station K-Jazz KKJZ 88.1. Tanter had been doing weekends at KTWV The Wave.

SCRANTON: Plenty of high school football, including The Game 1340 beginning its play-by-play of 18 games this season including every Friday night. WQMY-TV 53 is also televising a series of games. Yet, the local coverage doesn't stop there. Four of the area schools will have audio of their games online, while the NorthEastPAFootball.com site will carry some of the games along with live scoreboard updates on Friday nights.

SCHEDULE: While college football fans prepare for the season opening feast of televised games, MLB Network again steps up to the plate to provide some key playoff race telecasts this week:

Thursday, Sept. 2 (7 p.m.) N.Y. Mets at Atlanta
Friday, Sept. 3 (8 p.m.) Cincinnati at St. Louis
Saturday, Sept. 4 (7 p.m.) Chicago White Sox at Boston

Have a great and safe Labor Day weekend!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Broadcast Booth - August 27th update

There I was on Thursday morning checking one of the web sites I go to in order to check the sports news "headlines". Once again, that's not entirely what I saw. As it seems I point out here every week, it's time that Sports Directors and editors make sure that "news" really is news.

One supposed headline story was about where Manny Ramirez could wind up. Sorry, but that is speculation, and NOT news. At the moment (as of this writing) Manny is being Manny with the Dodgers. This should not be a news story until or unless he goes elsewhere. I found myself offended that this is a sports "news" headline.

Another supposed "headline" was about the Orange Bowl signing a new sponsor. A headline??? Please, give me a break. Someone should have been called to the boss' office to explain this. No matter what, college football fans will continue to call it the "Orange Bowl". We don't care who the sponsor is. Nor is it "sports news" that it changed. This has zero impact on which teams will participate, on the players themselves, the betting line, ticket prices, and all the rest. Business news? Maybe, since it is a large corporate advertising and marketing commitment. Sports news? Absolutely not, especially for a supposed "headline".

WASHINGTON D.C.: We could say that Rob Dibble is still throwing curveballs even though he hasn't pitched in years. Dibble did not work the final 2 games of the Nationals' series against the Chicago Cubs on MASN after reporting asking for some time off. (On one hand, if you can get out of watching that matchup, I suppose I can understand.) Ray Knight stepped in to work along with Bob Carpenter for the games.

The missed games did come on the heels of Dibble being critical of Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg for going on the DL and not pitching through the injuries that have saddled the rookie phenom over the past month. During a recent telecast, Dibble more than once was critical of two female fans seated behind home plate (and on camera a lot from the center field view) for what he considered not following the game closely, for which he later apologized.

While we don't know for sure this was really some sort of suspension, my concern is that Dibble made his comments about Strasburg on his Sirius XM Radio show, and NOT within a MASN Nationals telecast. But either way, he was expressing an opinion.

CHICAGO: Long time sportscaster George Ofman has been hired by WBBM NewsRadio 780 as a sports anchor and reporter starting next Monday (8/30). He leaves rival WGN Radio where he had been handling some of the pre and post-game programming for that station's Blackhawks and Cubs broadcasts along with updates. Ofman has been on the Chicago sports scene for more than 30 years, going back to SportsPhone Chicago in the late 70's. He is most known for his work on WSCR The Score 670 from its beginning in January 1992 until 2009.

Mark Grote, who had been handling sports updates on WBBM, moves over to WSCR The Score (sister station) to handle morning show sports updates and is also expected to get his own weekend sports talk show.

Further across the dial, former WGN Radio afternoon drive talk host continues to "fill in" on WMVP 1000 with a sports talk show on Sundays. His "experiment" show has aired during the previous 3 Sundays, and reportedly will lead to more assignments on the station.

WMVP 1000 will sponsor a "Fantasy Football Championship Convention" this coming Saturday (8/28) at a suburban casino. The day-long event will include a live broadcast of the station's 2-hour fantasy football show, an appearance by "Da Coach" Mike Ditka, and formation of several fantasy leagues which will draft the same day. This could definitely catch on at WMVP and around the country if successful. A great audience participation idea that also doesn't eat up valuable air time.

PHILADELPHIA: Former Eagle Ike Reese will also be handling more sports anchor duties for Channel 3 (CBS), while continuing his role on the Sunday Kickoff program for the coming regular season.

Reese continues on CBS' WIP SportsRadio 610 with Howard Eskin during the 3 to 7 PM weekday slot.

WIP's Anthony Gargano, who co-hosts middays with Glen Macnow, will soon begin a network show for Fox Sports Radio, which is expected to orginate from Philadelphia.

ATLANTA: Another sports station, but this one will be in Spanish. WWWE 1100 will begin airing ESPN Deportes on Monday (8/30). (If you are wondering, the WWWE call letters used to be on 1100 AM in Cleveland, aired both the Indians and Cavaliers broadcasts, and had Pete Franklin talking sports at night.)

DENVER: John Elway will switch his weekly NFL analysis and again join Vic Lombardi and Gary Miller on The Ticket 87.7. He will appear every Friday morning at 8:00 during the football season in what is believed to be a 2-year deal.

PORTLAND: KPAM 860 will again air the weekly Oregon State football show on Thursdays at 7 PM starting this week (8/26). Play-by-play voice Mike Parker will host the show with coach Mike Riley live from a local restaurant.

KANSAS CITY: SportsRadio WHB continues its in-depth coverage of the Chiefs during training camp. In addition to several live broadcasts from training camp, the station scored a lengthy interview with Chiefs' GM Scott Pioli about both the team and the newly renovated Arrowhead Stadium.

DALLAS: The Ticket 1310 will begin airing a high school scoreboard show each Friday night at 11 PM. The 1-hour show will be co-hosted by David Newbury along with Brandon George (of the Morning News). The station's high school coverage will also be supplemented by HSGameTime.com. This is a more realistic use of a sports station web site than blowing off news merely to take more calls from fans.

HOUSTON: Fox Sports Houston goes into expanded football mode over the next couple of weeks. The network will air a weekly show featuring the Texans as well as carry coach Gary Kubiak's Monday news conferences. Next Thursday (9/2) begins Owls Insider, the weekly show about Rice University football.

The "High School Sports Live" weekly TV show will no longer air on KTBU-TV after 10 years of what many consider to be a successful run. No word yet on a replacement outlet, whether on a cable network or over-the-air.

SALT LAKE CITY: Sorry to learn of the passing of Chris Tunis at the age of 54 following a battle with cancer. Tunis handled sports talk on KSL 1160 and called play-by-play for Brigham Young among his other accomplishments. He will be missed.

SEATTLE: ESPN 710 will air a 2-hour memorabilia auction for charity on Tuesday Sept. 14 from 11 AM to 1 PM. The event will be in support of the Fred Hutchinson Center's Pete Gross House. Gross was the original play-by-play voice of the Seahawks who died from cancer in 1992.

CHARLOTTE: WZGV-AM 730 has switched from oldies to all sports as of this week (8/23), carrying Fox Sports Radio. The Sports Director will be former Panthers voice Bill Rosinski, who will continue to do college football games for ESPN. Rosinski may soon add a local show in the morning. "Sports Yapp" with Bryce Johnson will move from sister station WAVO 1150 into the 3-5 PM spot within the next few weeks. The station will carry some NFL game broadcasts along with Appalachian State University football and basketball broadcasts.

Meanwhile, now "rival" WFNZ has added former Panthers receiver Muhsin Muhammad as a host for it's "Primetime" show on Thursdays, with other duties at the station expected to follow.

RALEIGH: WDNC 620 The Buzz will carry a Friday night High School Game of the Week broadcast including a 30-minute pre-game show. Drew Smith and Jerod Brooks will have the call. Sister station The Fan 99.9 will air "High School OT" with host Chris Morris on Saturday mornings to recap the area's Friday action.

LOUISVILLE: WKJK TalkRadio 1080 has added a 10 AM to Noon sports show hosted by Matt Jones and Zach McCrite as of this week. McCrite was most recently a host on WQKC-FM which was shut down earlier this month. Jones will continue to host University of Kentucky post-game shows on sister station WHAS-AM.

ARKANSAS: Former running back Michael Smith has been hired by The Hog Sports Radio as a reporter and host. Smith handled sideline reporting during the University of Arkansas spring game telecast. While it figures to be a great oppportunity for Smith, the opening occurred because of the female reporter fired last week supposedly because of wearing the cap of a rival school to a press conference.

BATON ROUGE: Eagle 98.1 and LSUSports.net/live will carry the coach Les Miles Show each Wednesday night through November. It will again be hosted by play-by-play voice (for football, basketball, and baseball) Jim Hawthorne, who will be calling the games for his 29th season.

WARRENSBURG MO: Southwest Missouri coach Jim Svoboda will again have his show on KOKO 1450 and 98.5 FM each Wednesday at 7 PM throughout the season, along with WarrensburgRadio.com.

BIG TEN NETWORK: Eric Collins and Tom Hart have been added to the network's roster of play-by-play voices for football telecasts this season. Former NFL standout Dan Dierdorf has been added as an analyst.

The Network has also announced an estimated 61 conference basketball telecasts for the upcoming season and a total of 108 hoops telecasts when including non-conference home games.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Broadcast Booth - August 17th update

There is no excuse for the decision of Detroit Tigers' TV not to have shown the dugout confrontation which occured during this past Sunday's (8/15) game in Chicago.

After the (opposing) White Sox had batted bottom of the first inning, a heated discussion took place between Tigers starting pitcher Armando Gallaraga and catcher Alex Avila which resulted in the pitcher needing to be restrained from a possible physical confrontation with Gerald Laird (also a catcher).

When the top of the 2nd was beginning, the White Sox telecast on Comcast SportsNet did show the confrontation, with announcer Steve Stone making a comment to the effect of "the battery could be getting battered" and then getting back to the game. Obviously, fans in attendance seated on the 3rd base side could see it, and probably White Sox personnel from the 3rd base dugout, and the TV cameras caught it.

Yet, fans watching their Tigers on Fox Sports Detroit did NOT see this video, and it was their team involved. Media accounts from Detroit indicate this was a decision made by the crew and not by FSD executives or the Tigers. FSD did show the video of the incident on its pre-game show on Monday night, but that should have been the case even had it been shown right away on Sunday.

This should not have been a "cover up". FSD replays errors and poor play by the Tigers on the field. The dugout is in full view of fans and media. It's not like this incident occured in the clubhouse or someplace off limits and was secretly videotaped.

For example, baseball fans recall the June incident with Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano and his tantrum in the dugout that caused manager Lou Pinella to remove him after 1 inning and suspend him from the team. That was immediately shown on TV. The list goes on. If FSD is going to say the dugout "is not part of the playing field", then they shouldn't show the bullpen. They put Manager Jim Leyland on camera during the game, mostly when he is in the dugout. Why was this important incident off limits?

This is not the first time a TV crew has been called out for not covering an incident which happened during the course of a game. My memory even went back to the late 70's when Ohio State was in a bowl game and Coach Woody Hayes punched an opposing linebacker live on camera. Yet, the announcing team made absolutely no mention of what took place while local TV ABC-TV stations were all flooded with phone calls from confused fans.

Hopefully TV sports crews will take note of what happened, or as I should say, didn't happen, during Sunday's Tigers telecast, and make certain that the fans watching the game are given all of the pertinent "news" of the game. And not just the opposing team's telecast either.

Speaking of fans not seeing what they are entitled, it's time for another NFL season. Thus, the media "right of summer" that not everyone can get The NFL Network, even when they once had it.

It seems that Comcast Cable has taken away the NFL Network from some of the Digital Starter packages they offer, even though it was once a part of the package. Naturally, those who are effected by this could get it again, if (you guessed it) they upgrade to a higher package for more money each month.

On the NBA side, it's good to see the Portland Trailblazers get involved in a similar mess. Team President Larry Miller reportedly has written to the FCC regarding Comcast and its handling of the Blazers' TV rights, which will soon enter the 4th year of a 10-year agreement. Comcast is being accused of making it financially difficult for competing carriers to carry its Blazers telecasts.

Comcast isn't the only problem. The MLB Network is still not available on AT&T U-Verse, Dish Network, or Wow. With all of this, sports fans everywhere continue to be subjected to game telecasts being blacked out on cable and satellite, even though we still have to pay for a full day's worth of programming.

Maybe we should all write the FCC.

Meanwhile, Fox Sports sports adds coach Jim Mora Jr. and former QB Kurt Warner to its roster of analysts for the coming season. Mora will act as a 2nd analyst along with Charles Davis while Dick Stockton handles play-by-play on that crew. Warner will provide color commentary on the "Chris crew" working with either Chris Myers or Chris Rose.

ARKANSAS: Renee Gork should be pursuing becoming a household name, if she isn't already. Gork appears to have been fired by KAKS Sports Hog on Monday (8/16). Not because of anything she said or did on the air. Not because she is female. Not because she made an error of fact or missed an assignment.

All she did was wear a Florida Gators hat at an Arkansas news conference which got coach Bobby Petrino upset. Amazing that Petrino held back the tears. Here's hoping that a regional or national media organization hires Gork. Her first report should be to question University of Arkansas and SEC officials about why they allow a coach representing a major university to conduct himself in such a matter. Then find students on the Arkansas campus wearing items from other schools and ask if they feel safe. And keep on the story until Petrino is disciplined.

While one media member loses her job for no apparent good reason, another is about to be hired, likely without enough qualifications. If this is a legit advertisement, a Portland radio sports station is attempting to hire via Craigslist.


If this were for a small town I could maybe understand, but not for a "major league" market. Even at the low pay the position probably offers, you would think they could find applicants from other stations in the area. This is almost as insane as the contests to hire sportscasters.

Steve Czaban has become even busier. He has joined Sporting News Radio to co-host the 6 to 9 AM morning show along with Scott Linn from Washington D.C. Czaban will continue to co-host the "Sports Reporters|" with Andy Pollin on WTEM 980(Washington D.C.) from 4 to 7 PM. What about in between? He continues to contribute to The Hog 102.9 in Milwaukee during afternoon drive with segments for that rock station.

LONDON ENGLAND: BBC 5 changed its live MLB broadcast this past Sunday (8/15) in order to broadcast the Rogers Cup Final between Roger Federer and Andy Murray. They got a more important game in the process, taking the later starting Giants vs. Padres broadcast instead of the originally scheduled Yankees vs. Kansas City game.

CLEVELAND: Congrats to Joe Tait on receiving the Curt Gowdy Media Award from the Basketball Hall of Fame this past Friday. This honor comes a few weeks before Tait begins his final season calling the Cavaliers games on his way to retirement. Hopefully he will be honored throughout the NBA on his "final stop" at the various arenas throughout the season. He has called the Cavs' games for most of the seasons since 1970. He will also be remembered for calling Indians games during most of the 70's and 80's along with Herb Score.

St. LOUIS: Even though the Rams are not considered a threat to make the Super Bowl this season, I still like the idea of an HD Radio channel "Rams Radio" as unique programming. Now Rams fans around the country can hear it, at least for the time being as this channel is wisely being streamed since hardly anyone has purchased an HD Radio lately.


NEW YORK: Michael Kay and WEPN 1050 pushed one under the rug last Wednesday (8/11) when they were not able to interview Isiah Thomas during the 4 PM hour as originally scheduled. The N.Y. Daily News reported that the NBA and the Knicks may have played a role in canceling the interview after Thomas was not allowed to have a consulting position with the Knicks due to his college coaching gig.

It would have been interesting to hear Thomas' take on the situation. Wonder what is being hidden that he couldn't go on the radio to talk about. WEPN was deprived of a chance to have a newsworthy interview. Might have helped, considering that the latest monthly ratings show WFAN with literally 3 times the overall audience of WEPN, finishing at #10 in the market overall.

CHICAGO: AM radio listeners preferred sports radio a bit more often during the June - July ratings period. Sports stations WSCR The Score and WMVP 1000 combined for a .5 overall ratings increase, while NewsRadio WBBM and News / Talk WGN combined to drop .6 overall.

DETROIT: WXYT-FM The Ticket picked up enough of the ratings it lost in June and regained the #1 spot overall in the market for the July ratings. In a similar trend to Chicago, NewsRadio WWJ fell by .3 overall.

MINNEAPOLIS: KSTP 1500 isn't taking any chances with its Twins contract, given the big attendance and standings year the team is having. The station has successfully extended for 2 more seasons, continuing as the flagship station for the Twins' Network through the 2012 season. The Network totals 85 stations for this season.

DENVER: It is all but official that the Nuggets and Avalanche broadcasts will quickly be moving to a better signal. KRWZ 950 is expected to air the games of both teams, with KCKK 1510 only being used when there is a conflict with both teams playing.

DALLAS: Bruce Gilbert replaces Tom Bigby as Program Director at The Fan 105.3 in hopes of improving the station's ratings quickly. Gilbert was P.D. at The Ticket for about 6 years until 2003, and returned to Dallas from Washington D.C. where he was with the sports stations owned by Redskins owner Dan Snyder.

Last week's Rangers telecasts vs. the Yankees (on Tuesday 10 and Weds. 11) set ratings records for Fox Sports Southwest. They were the most watched Rangers telecasts on FSS since 1998, and its most watched event since a Mavericks game vs. the Lakers late in the 2001-02 regular season.

With TV voice Josh Lewin also calling San Diego Chargers pre-season games as of this past weekend, Dave Barnett moves over on the games Lewin is not available for to handle TV play-by-play, while Bryan Dolgin fills in for Barnett.

CINCINNATI: While WLW again tops the ratings with its Reds broadcasts, the full-time sports stations again did not fare well, even with the Reds in contention. WCKY 1530 finished tied for 17th overall, while Fox Sports WSAI 1360 failed to crack the top 25 overall. Same for WQRT 1160 which is not a sports station other than Andy Furman's afternoon drive show.

St. LOUIS: KMOV-TV Channel 4 and WXOS 101.1 will utilize each other's reporters starting in 2 weeks. Channel 4's Steve Savard will do a 5:45 PM report on WXOS while radio reporters will handle some of the weekend sports reporting on the TV side.

BALTIMORE: The Ravens games will also be heard on Washington's WTOP-FM 103.5 starting this season in addition to WBAL Baltimore.

PITTSBURGH: The Fan KDKA-FM has overtaken WEAE 1250 ESPN by 1/10 of a ratings point in the latest ratings, while WBGG Fox 970 is a very distant 3rd.

LEXINGTON: To some it was only a 3-game exhibition series for the University of Kentucky's basketball team in Ontario Canada this past weekend. But not to Kentucky fans. All 3 games were shown live on WKYT-TV in Lexington and WMYO-TV Louisville along with Fox Sports South, and broadcast on WLAP Radio Lexington and WHAS Louisville.

SCHEDULES: ESPN will again kick off the college hoops regular season with a 24-hour marathon of live games on November 16th, with start times Eastern:

Midnight Miami at Memphis ESPN
2 a.m. St. John’s at Saint Mary’s ESPN
4 a.m. Central Michigan at Hawaii ESPN
6 a.m. Stony Brook at Monmouth ESPN
8 a.m. Robert Morris at Kent State ESPN
10 a.m. Northeastern at Southern Illinois ESPN
Noon Oral Roberts at Tulsa ESPN
2 p.m. La Salle at Baylor ESPN
4 p.m. Virginia Tech at Kansas State ESPN
5:30 p.m. NIT Season Tip-Off (from Villanova): Marist at Villanova ESPNU
6 p.m. Ohio State at Florida ESPN
7:30 p.m. CBE Classic (from Durham): Miami (Ohio) at Duke ESPNU
8 p.m. Butler at Louisville ESPN
9:30 p.m. NIT Season Tip-Off (from Knoxville): Belmont at Tennessee ESPNU
10 p.m. South Carolina at Michigan State ESPN
11 p.m. CBE Classic (from Spokane): San Diego State vs. Gonzaga ESPN2
11:30 p.m. NIT Season Tip-Off (from Los Angeles): Nevada or Pacific at UCLA ESPNU

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Broadcast Booth - August 11th update

Last week's report released by Arbitron about the listenership of Major League Baseball on radio for most of the first 3 months of the current season confirms my theory that radio audience preferences are not always consistent with those of TV audiences.

Out of 25 markets where PPM's are used for audience measurements (which includes 28 of the MLB teams), it was most interesting to see the Seattle Mariners broadcasts in the Top 10 of total audience (all demographics). The pre-season high expectations for the Mariners quickly faded after the first month of the season, while Seattle is not a top ten market in terms of total radio audience. Yet, the Mariners broadcasts (which moved to a different station for this season) came out with a larger audience than the Chicago White Sox, playing in a top 3 market and with the team still battling for first place in the A.L. Central.

Along those same lines, Seattle ranked 9th in the 25-54 Men age group across the country, with the lowly Kansas City Royals finishing 6th. Compare that to the Boston Red Sox finishing below both of those teams in this category.

At the same time, TV ratings for teams which are or leaped into contention have generally risen for this season, during the same period as this radio report. The Padres' surprising first place run has resulted in their highest TV ratings in almost 3 years, even though the radio report does not have the Padres among the top 15 in either overall or 25-54 men. Chicago Cubs radio ratings, compared with other teams, remain strong despite a poor start by the team, while the TV ratings have been slipping.

My theory is that the radio audience, especially at night, tends to consist of people who are listening for longer periods of time, seek a live and unique event vs. talk or music, and could be at work or where they do not have online access to keep up on the progress of other games. The sports fan with TV access is more likely to watch a "better" game when available if their favorite team isn't doing so well. Interesting to see the difference between the radio broadcast and telecast ratings, and I'll be anxious to see the end of season report.

NBA fans won't be disappointed in the schedule for the coming season just released, especially when it comes to televising games. It will again be a feast.

TNT will have 22 Thursdays of doubleheaders, plus 8 other game telecasts within what will be Turner Sports' 27th season of televising the NBA. Their marquee telecast is probably December 2 when LeBron James and the Heat play at Cleveland.

When the ESPN/ABC package is factored in, it means that the coming season will begin with 4 consecutive nights of doubleheaders for the fans, and that's before NBA-TV kicks in the first weekend.

On opening night, Tues. Oct. 26th, TNT has Miami at Boston and then Houston at Lakers, showcasing the finalists in their openers. On Weds. Oct. 27 ESPN has a doubleheader with the Chgo. Bulls at Oklahoma City (Well, it is Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant) and then the Clippers vs. Portland. (Ironic that the Bulls AND Vinny DelNegro will be featured in their respective openers.) TNT takes it back on Thursday Oct. 28th with Orlando vs. Washington (debut of #1 pick John Wall) and then Phoenix vs. Utah. On Friday Oct. 29, ESPN comes back with Miami's home opener vs. Orlando and then Phoenix against the Lakers. A definite edge to TNT with their opening week selections! On Saturday Oct. 30 NBA-TV kicks off its scheduled 96 games with Denver at Houston, and then Utah at OK City on Oct. 31.

From then on, ESPN / ABC will again combine to show 5 NBA games on Christmas Day, including the first Miami vs. Lakers matchup of the season.

NBA-TV will again do its Tuesday Fan Night where fans vote for the game to be shown, and will also carry the two games from London between Toronto and New Jersey on March 4 & 5, both at 3 PM ET.

Meanwhile, maybe ESPN and Fox will begin to realize that the entire nation of sports fans do not stop everything else every single time the Yankees play the Red Sox. This past Sunday night (Aug. 8) NBC's telecast of an opening NFL pre-season game more than doubled the audience of ESPN's Red Sox - Yankees game. It turned out to be the highest rated NFL pre-season game since 2004, even though not all of them are against national baseball telecasts. Ouch. This was a pre-season opener. The game where NFL teams play the most rookies and the least number of starters. And people still chose that. In ESPN's defense, of the ten TV markets with the highest ratings for the NFL game, only one hosts an American League, and that was Dallas. Understandable, since this was the Cowboys' exhibition opener.

NBC Sunday Night Football's studio crew will go on without Keith Olbermann, supposedly dropped to no longer take away from his MSNBC prime-time show. By my count, this reduces the studio crew to about 20 on-air hosts. (Not really, but it seems that way.)

The NFL Network welcomes the exhibition season in style, with a promise to show every game either live or on delay, starting this coming weekend. The live telecasts will be:

Bills at Redskins, Friday at 7:30 PM ET
Buccaneers at Dolphins, Saturday at 7:00 PM ET
Titans at Seahawks, Saturday at 10:00 PM ET
49ers at Colts, Sunday at 1:00 PM ET
Broncos at Bengals, Sunday at 7:00 PM ET

On the college scene, all of the TV rights activity in the past few months involving the SEC and ACC plus Big Ten expansion has not gone unnoticed by the Big East Conference. The Conference has reportedly hired former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue as a consultant with an eye toward developing its own cable network. Even with the New York City and Chicago markets involved, I don't see this getting off the ground and competing for channel space with the likes of YES, SNY, and Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

SALT LAKE: Surprisingly little coverage of this beyond Salt Lake. This past Thursday (8/5) 1280 AM sports reporter Jan Jorgensen was asked to leave a University of Utah football practice after Head Coach Kyle Whittingham expressed concern. Jorgensen was there to join co-host Kyle Gunther (a former Ute) after joining the station for the daily "Red and Blue" program. However, Jorgensen is a former BYU defensive lineman.

Jorgensen returned to the studios while Gunther remained at the practice to continue with gathering interviews.

BOSTON: It has been well documented here and other places about the passion of the Boston area sports fan, the success of all of the pro teams, and the battle for the sports radio audience. In addition to WEEI and the Sports Hub, regional cable TV network NESN also provides sportscasts and interview based programs. Thus, it comes as a surprise to me that NESN's web site published a story about the local sports radio competition:


One hand has NESN promoting its web site to viewers "for more in-depth coverage" while the other hand lets the web site indirectly reminding those viewers about other 24 hour sources for news and information.

CHICAGO: Crain's Chicago Business reports that WSCR The Score 670 is close to a new multi-year deal to continue with White Sox broadcasts beyond this season. This will probably wind up being better for the White Sox than the station. There had been rumors that the White Sox would buy into an FM station and move the broadcasts there and lose a 50,000 watt strong AM signal covering the region.

Hopefully this will lead to some much needed improvements by WSCR. The station needs to eliminate their so-called "interactive" spring training broadcasts during which the station literally stops the play-by-play mid-game only to have the broadcasters take calls from listeners. As if White Sox fans would rather hear fan opinions about who should make the team ahead of how those very players are performing at that very moment.

In addition, after the games are over, the station needs to learn to get right into the next sports talk show right out of the White Sox post-game show. Currently, they end the post-game and air a several minute cluster of commercials prior to starting the next show. A poor use of a lead-in opportunity for surrounding programming. Worse yet, there have been some late nights when WSCR has failed to provide updates of west coast games in progress, merely providing earlier final scores on its "scoreboard updates".

FARGO: Excellent move by WDAY Radio. In the wake of the Minnesota Timberwolves President being fined last month by the NBA for comments made on a radio interview not in an NBA environment, WDAY was scheduled to have Twins President Dave St. Peter as a guest this past Friday (8/6) during its early afternoon show. Good to see a team executive continue to do an interview he doesn't need to do rather than say no because he could be fined.

HOUSTON: KILT 610 continues to prepare for football season, adding former Green Bay Packers and University of Arkansas lineman Greg Koch as an NFL analyst. Koch will start his studio work primarily on weekends.

SAN DIEGO: In a market where you would expect ESPN Radio to be more successful than most others, the possibility now exists that ESPN Radio would not have a local outlet as of September 1st. ESPN 98.9 is quietly dropping ESPN and the sports format at the end of August. The station, and AM 800 which carried ESPN in earlier years, was not one to go overboard in promoting its programming.

XX 1090 currently airs Sporting News Network overnights and on weekends, and the addition of ESPN instead would be a nice supplement to its Padres broadcasts and programming. With the number of transplanted sports fans in Southern California, ESPN would seem a great fit. XTRA Sports 1360 is less likely to look at ESPN, especially with KGTV's (Channel 10) Ben Higgins adding a Noon to 3 PM weekday show starting next Monday (8/16).

CINCINNATI: WXIX-TV Channel 19 will air a one hour special previewing the new Pete Rose documentary movie on Friday Aug. 20th. What makes this more interesting is that the NFL Bengals have a home exhibition game that night against Philadelphia which is to be televised nationally via Fox. However, the game has yet to sell out, and the NFL blackout rule would take effect, thus freeing up the local Fox affiliate to need other programming.

DENVER: Former NFL QB Brian Griese seems to have made one more successful pass in his career. He "passed" the audition. After being one of, count 'em, six analysts used on Broncos radio on KOA last year, Griese will officially join Dave Logan in the booth for this season. Well, almost all of it. Griese will continue with his ESPN schedule, which will cause him to miss the Broncos' 2 away exhibition games, as wel as Denver's Oct. 31 game vs. San Francisco to be played in London. David Treadwell will replace Griese for those broadcasts.

TAMPA: Buccaneers fans will be able to hear training camp coverage each Wednesday at 5 PM local time on Sports Radio 1010 with J.P. Peterson and Scott Reynolds. The show will then continue through the coming season, and will also be streamed on 1010SportsOnline.com.

VANCOUVER: Former NHL standout Ray Ferraro is adding to his busy TSN analyst schedule even before training camps open. Starting August 23rd, Ferraro will be the morning co-host on The Team 1040 from 6 to 10 AM along with Scott Rintoul. TSN will be the priority, with Rintoul hosting solo when necessary.

CHARLESTON: ESPN 1490 is now being simulcast on 104.5 FM as of this week. The stations are adding a local sports show from 4 to 6 PM, to be known as "The Drive" starting on August 23. Program Director Wes Ryan will co-host along with former Marshall and NFL player Carl Lee.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Broadcast Booth - August 4th update

For all of the sports available to us on TV via cable and satellite, the news of the day still reflects that consumers still do not have the choices they should have. There is now less than a month left for Time Warner Cable to continue with ESPN on several cable systems around the country, with the Orlando area being among the larger ones.

As of this minute, Bright House Networks' deal with ESPN ends on September 2nd. ESPN and Time Warner are, in effect, fighting over consumers' money, and the customers have no say. NBA fans in the Orlando area have already been victims of a similar battle regarding Magic telecasts over the past couple of years. Yet, this situation continues to happen.

This might not seem like a sports media story. So here is another fact. Sept. 2nd is the end of the current contract for ESPN to be carried. The early college football telecast on ESPN on September 4th just happens to be the Florida Gators vs. Miami. The NFL regular season begins the following week. Sports fans in central Florida, along with other regions possibly impacted by this situation, should be seeing, hearing, and reading about the games - not whether or not paying cable subscribers can see them.

NEW YORK: WFAN's morning show, "Boomer & Carton" with Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton will be simulcast on MSG Network beginning on September 14th. The regional TV channel will show the entire 6 to 10 AM run live each day. Very few of the TV simulcasts show an entire show live. In addition, MSG Network plans to air a "best of" most weeknights and on weekends. It will be interesting to see if the WFAN ratings drop over the next few months. Not because of losing the audience, but because of the audience transitioning over to the telecast, even if for a half hour a day. Oddly enough, both NYC sports stations will have their morning shows telecast, since Mike & Mike airs on WEPN and is shown on ESPN2.

CHICAGO: No word as of press time as to whether or not radio personality Steve Cochran will continue on WMVP 1000. Cochran was dropped from his WGN Radio weekday show recently. This past Sunday (Aug. 1) he did a 3-hour show on WMVP blending his comedy with sports talk. He had worked for AM 1000 years ago, prior to it becoming a sports station and his going to WGN.

WSCR The Score 670 finished its latest contest to find a new on-air personality. Maya Gavin will begin a very early Saturday morning 2-hour show on either September 11 or 18.

WFLD-TV began the month of July with 2 long-time sportscasters on its staff. They will begin the month of September without either doing sportscasts. We mentioned last week that Corey McPherrin was moved (as of this week) from the late night sportscast spot to co-host and news anchor for the channel's morning show. Jill Carlson was named to handle the nightly newscast. Now it turns out she will only do that through this month when her contract runs out. The station now says it will not renew her. As of press time, they have not announced a replacement.

MIAMI: The Dolphins radio team might be attracting more interest than the team which will be on the field. As of press time, with just over a week until the exhibition opener, there is still no confirmation about the radio broadcast team for WINZ and 105.9 FM. The team does not want its most recent broadcast team of Jimmy Cefalo and Jim Mandich to work for (now) rival station WQAM.

Jesse Agler anchors the new daily Dolphins show on WINZ from 5 to 7 PM Monday through Friday (with an extra hour on Mondays and Fridays)that began this past Monday (Aug. 2).

WFTL 640 begain its "Armando and the Amigo" show on Monday (Aug. 2) from 6 to 10 AM with Larry Millan and local columnist Armando Salguero.

PHILADELPHIA: WWDB 860 will soon begin airing ESPN Deportes (Spanish sports talk).

DENVER: As we have been covering, this month brings Denver area listeners the choice of 4 sports radio stations. Now that Broncos season is upon us, KOA 850, which is not a full-time sports station, is adding to its 3 to 7 PM show. Local columnist Dave Krieger will join with Lois Mokonian starting August 12th. Make it 5 stations with at least some sports content during afternoon drive.

Speaking of Denver, the reported move of KVUC to a different frequency might be more interesting than we thought. A faithful reader pointed out that the 87.7 frequency to which is moved (according to sources including the Denver Post) is not a traditional frequency.

OKLAHOMA CITY: As the NBA Thunder prepares for its 3rd season and comes off an impressive playoff run, the fans who do not subscribe to cable or satellite are screwed. KSBI-TV, which carried about 18 games each of the past 2 seasons has been shut out of the TV contract. Fox Sports Southwest will now carry every game, except for ABC-TV or exclusive TNT telecasts. Brian Davis and Grant Long will continue as the broadcast team. WWLS 98.1 will continue as the flagship radio station with Matt Pinto again on the call.

LAS VEGAS: KXNT 840 will be simulcast on 100.5 FM starting mid-September, which will provide stronger signal coverage in the area. The station will continue to feature play-by-play including NFL and NCAA games.

CENTRAL MICHIGAN: Don Chiodo has been named as the play-by-play voice for Central Michigan University football and basketball starting next month. CMU graduate and former Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals lineman Brock Gutierrez will be the analyst on the football broadcasts.

McALLEN TX: In an unusual move, KSOX 1240 has dropped ESPN Radio and replaced it with Fox Sports. Hopefully their audience was aware of this in advance. Imagine waking up expecting to hear Mike & Mike and instead having Stephen A. Smith hollering in your ear. KVJY 840 is also carrying the Fox Sports programming, with KSOX to eventually drop sports when the station's sale to a religious programming group takes effect.

KVJY has the stronger signal, and reportedly will continue to air Cowboys football and Houston Rockets basketball.

POMPTON LAKES NJ: WGHT 1500 continues to serve the area with high school football play-by-play. Not only has the station announced at least one specific game for every week from Sept. 11th into early November, but it has plans to air a one-hour pre-game show for each game. The station also plans to broadcast state playoff games including the championship game.

Speaking of ESPN, the Monday Night Football opening doubleheader will have Brad Nessler and Trent Dilfer on the call of the opening night doubleheader game between San Diego and Kansas City.