Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Broadcast Booth - September 28th Update.....

The Monday Night Football game between Chicago and Green Bay drew the highest viewership for Monday Night Football for this young season around the country.

Chicago area viewers proved once again that the Bears remain the big media draw on TV even as the Blackhawks prepare to defend their Stanley Cup championship. The Bears' last second win over the Green Bay Packers on Monday night (9/27) drew a rating of more than 38 even with some fans struggling to find the telecast.

WLS-TV Channel 7, owned by ABC/ESPN, originally had the rights to show this game (and retains for a later Monday game vs. Minnesota), but elected not to in order to show the series "Dancing With The Stars" live during the same evening. WLS-TV "sold" the game to WCIU-TV instead. WCIU, with a limited promotional budget and no sports staff, hired WGN-TV's sports team of Dan Roan and Rich King to host its local pre-game show. This while WLS-TV was able to use its #1 ranking in overall audience and late night news to promote the ESPN originated telecast.

The result made ABC/ESPN a bigger winner than the Bears. The ESPN version of the telecast outdrew the WCIU-TV simulcast by more than 10 rating points (reported to be 24.2 rating on ESPN compared with 14.1 for WCIU). At the same time, "Dancing..." drew a 17 rating, meaning that it technically had a larger audience than WCIU during that hour.

Thus, ABC/ESPN won big time. ESPN dominated the ratings over a local station's telecast, while "Dancing...." also killed in the ratings. Plus, they made money by selling the rights to WCIU-TV, which in turn spent for staff to get a pre-game show in the mix.

Then I took a look at the (early) Milwaukee ratings, and found that the market scored a 55 rating. (Not as many households as the Chicago area, but a higher percentage of sets in use.) Yet in the Milwaukee market, WISN-TV's simulcast scored a 38+ rating while ESPN came in with just under 17.

Let this underscore my recent point about how fans need to know where their games are being telecast and broadcast. With more and more pro teams going with "split" packages including different TV and radio stations throughout a given week, this should prove that teams need to do more to be sure they are in a consistent location. Viewers and listeners who can't find the games are less likely to purchase tickets and so on.

Back to the Bears vs. Packers game. A major "ooops" for the Packers Radio Network. During the 4th quarter, just prior to the Bears kicking a go-ahead field goal (not the game winner), a signal for a timeout was reversed. However, the Packers Radio Network had already cut away to a commercial. The Bears had already kicked the go-ahead field goal before the Packers' broadcast cut into the first commercial and came back on with the roar of the Chicago crowd still going to then inform listeners of what they had just missed.

Once again, they grow 'em big in Texas. This time it is a big ticket contract extension between Fox Sports Southwest and the Texas Rangers. The two announced a reported 20-year extension of their current deal that doesn't even start until the 2015 season and is worth at least $1 billion even with disputed reports of the total value.

The Rangers obviously benefit the most, knowing they will take in millions upon millions for years to come, regardless of the number of victories the team achieves each season.

This is really about Fox Sports taking steps to remain a force in the marketplace and not wanting to lose out on another top 10 market. Fox Sports already went through the pro teams partnering with Comcast in Chicago (among other cities) and having their local and regional network there disappear a few years ago. By sewing up a deal for more than 20 years, they put themselves in the game for the long run.

While this is understandable, a lot of consumers are panning this story, without realizing that this is the sort of thing that means continued inflated cable and satellite bills each month.

Fox Sports Radio has added an innovative show to its early Saturday morning lineup, at least for the next few weeks. "Stox 'n Jocks", which debuted this past Saturday (9/25) from 7 to 9 AM ET attempts to combine sports and investment topics. Brothers Jon and Pete Najarian (former NFL players turned traders) and Guy Adami co-host the show. This addition comes just after Chicago's WBBM-TV canceled an early morning TV show of the same nature (due to poor ratings), with co-host Mike North then signing to host some weekend shows on Fox Sports Radio.

DALLAS: KRLD has killed off some talk programming to become full-time all news, which includes sports updates at :15 and :45 as of this week. The station remains as the flagship station for Rangers baseball, including the upcoming post-season games. The Rangers have been one of the teams jumping around with its radio broadcasts due to programming conflicts, although it is not yet certain that every Rangers game for next season will be carried by one station.

The Ticket 1310 scored an impressive interview on Monday (9/27) morning when George Dunham and Craig Miller interviewed Rangers GM Jon Daniels. The hosts pulled no punches, getting Daniels to comment on topics such as possibly having post-season games without Josh Hamilton and the current state of the pitching staff.

CHICAGO: The Cubs radio booth could well be changed for the start of the 2011 season. Ron Santo's failing health prevented him from making the Cubs' final road trip to the west coast this week. There has been talk that Santo will be limited to home games plus "close" road games (Milwaukee, St. Louis, Cincinnati) at best for next season. Former pitcher Dave Otto is replacing Santo this week. Meanwhile, play-by-play voice Pat Hughes has yet to be re-signed for next season, although this is reported to be a formality. What is not certain is whether or not Hughes would get more help with actual play-by-play and if Santo would return as a third man in the booth for games he works.

BOSTON: WEEI has extended its radio partnership with the NBA Celtics by announcing a multi-year extension. Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell are about to return for their 10th season as the broadcast team. The station is also creating "Celtics Thursday", which will include Head Coach Doc Rivers appearing on the Dennis & Callahan Show, Danny Ainge (team President) on with Glenn Ordway and player appearances on the Dale & Holley Show. Certainly a much better approach than the station's adding more fan phone calls within its Red Sox programming. Hopefully they will get the distinction between team personnel on the air ahead of what some fan thinks the team should have done.

PITTSBURGH: While 1250 ESPN continues to phase out local programming between now and the end of the year, the station continues to carry Penn State football and some Steelers related programming including with linebackers James farrior, LaMarr Woodley, and Larry Foote. Sources expect ESPN Radio to be picked up by another station in the market come January.

BALTIMORE: Even with the Orioles playing better since changing managers, it might be too late for 105.7 FM. This is the final week of their radio contract with the team after 4 years. At this point, there aren't even any strong rumors about major interest in the contract, including previous rights holder WBAL 1090.

SAN DIEGO: Change continues on the San Diego sports radio scene. It won't seem like late afternoon anymore as Lee Hamilton shifts to middays on XX Sports starting on Monday (10/4). Darren Smith and Marty Caswell are taking over the 2 to 6 PM slot with Hamilton moving up to 10 AM to 2 PM. The Scott Kaplan and Billy Ray Smith morning show moves back to 6 to 10 AM. Part of the reason for these changes is because XX Sports will no longer carry Jim Rome's show, which also starts next Monday on XTRA Sports 1360. Thus, the Hacksaw is being moved up to presumably keep listeners from following Jim Rome over.

XEPE-AM 1700 will begin carrying ESPN Radio in the San Diego area next Wednesday (10/6) from 2 PM until 9 AM on weekdays and the majority of weekend hours, including all ESPN Radio play-by-play. As a result, the station will air the entire baseball post-season, except for a couple of division playoff games which would start prior to 4 PM ET. The weekday 9 AM to 2 PM times will continue to air financial programming.

CINCINNATI: The area's fans love their local teams on TV, especially when they are doing well. This past Saturday (9/25), the baseball telecast on Fox between the Reds and Padres came in at #1 in the market as the Reds closed in on their first N.L. Central title in years scoring a 5.8 rating. This figure bested the Ohio State vs. Eastern Michigan telecast which scored a 3.2 rating, along with beating the Notre Dame telecast on NBC and Alabama vs. Arkansas on CBS.

Then, on Sunday (9/26) the Bengals' win over Carolina finished as the top rated TV show for all of Sunday in the market with a 60% audience share. By comparison, the local telecast of the CBS doubleheader game between Indianapolis and Denver finished with a 28% share.

The Fox Sports Ohio telecast of the Reds from San Diego (which coincidentally aired after the Bengals game had ended) also was the final "fill-in" broadcast assignment for George Grande, who came out of retirement to call some TV games for the Reds due to Thom Brennaman's football conflicts for Fox Sports.

MIAMI: WQAM 560 is ready for the NHL Panthers season with more surrounding programming than ever before. The station has planned a live special from a local sports bar for next Wednesday (10/6) and will debut the Coach Pete DeBoer Show each Thursday at 4:00 (with Sid Rosenberg). In addition. GM Dale Tallon will have a show with Joe Rose each Tuesday at 9 AM. Tallon's broadcast knack should make a nice fit, given his 15+ seasons as analyst with Pat Foley on Chicago Blackhawks telecasts in the 80's and 90's.

SEATTLE: KIXI 880 has added Washington State Cougar football as of this past Saturday (9/25). This adds signal coverage along with KKOL 1300, KRKO 1380, and KHHO 850 for the Seattle region. The school also streams its broadcasts this season on WSUCougars.com.

In Longview WA KEDO 1400 has gone all Fox Sports Radio from 6 PM to 6 AM on weekdays and starting at Noon on weekends. In addition, KEDO continues to air Seahawks football and Mark Morris and R.A. Long High School football and basketball games.

WINNIPEG: CFRW 1290 has launched an all-sports format including importing ESPN Radio in an attempt to compete with CJOB and its coverage of the Moose and Blue Bomber games. It will be interesting to see if the locals take to NFL broadcasts and coverage as well as Mike & Mike.

BEMIDJI MN: KBUN has added "College Hockey Tonight" to its schedule as of October 15th. The show, co-hosted by Scott Williams and Moose Richards, will air Fridays at 5 PM and be replayed Saturday mornings at 9, and will focus on Bemidji State hockey and the WCHA.

Meanwhile, next week begins the NHL regular season and the NBA pre-season. NBA-TV has announced a full slate of pre-season games, including the Miami Heat's pre-season opener on Oct. 5th vs. Detroit.

Here is the tentative NBA-TV pre-season schedule (ET):

Oct. 4 3 p.m. L.A. Lakers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves at London, England
Oct. 5 7:30 p.m. Detroit at Miami
Oct. 6 2 p.m. New York Knicks vs. Minnesota Timberwolves at Paris
Oct. 7 7 p.m. Boston at New Jersey
Oct. 8 8:30 p.m. Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Miami Heat at Kansas City, Mo.
Oct. 9 7:00 p.m. Indiana Pacers at Houston Rockets
Oct. 10 6:00 p.m. New Orleans Hornets at Orlando Magic
Oct. 11 8:30 p.m. Cleveland Cavaliers at Dallas Mavericks
Oct. 12 7:00 p.m. Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers
Oct. 12 9:30 p.m. L.A. Clippers vs. San Antonio Spurs at Mexico City
Oct. 13 8:00 a.m. New Jersey Nets vs. Houston Rockets at Beijing
Oct. 13 8:00 p.m. Miami Heat at New Orleans Hornets
Oct. 14 7:00 p.m. Milwaukee Bucks at Washington Wizards
Oct. 15 8:00 p.m. Dallas Mavericks at Chicago Bulls
Oct. 16 7:30 a.m. Houston Rockets vs. New Jersey Nets at Guangzhou, China
Oct. 16 10:30 p.m. Denver Nuggets at L.A. Lakers
Oct. 17 10:30 p.m. Utah Jazz or L.A. Clippers at L.A. Lakers
Oct. 18 7:00 p.m. Orlando Magic at Atlanta Hawks
Oct. 19 10:30 p.m. Sacramento Kings at L.A. Clippers
Oct. 20 7:00 p.m. Dallas Mavericks at Orlando Magic

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Broadcast Booth - September 21 update......

One NFL trend is on track for the young 2010 season. TV viewing is already at maximum levels, and the cold weather season has yet to attack the northern states.

CBS-TV is already up about 12% for its Sunday afternoon telecasts compared with last season after these two weeks, while NBC again won the prime-time ratings on Sunday night (9/19) with the Giants vs. Colts game, even though it was not close during the second half.

This really is media "news" as the fans are speaking up that they plan to enjoy this football season.

However, not everything related to the NFL on television is really "news". I cannot believe the number of stories devoted to whether or not certain NFL games sell out and whether or not they will be on TV in local markets. Where a game is televised does not impact my interest in a game as a fan, nor does it have any impact on the outcome, betting lines, or fantasy.

I'm sure the NFL likes these stories plastered all over the media on Thursdays and Fridays - even when games don't sell out. From a marketing standpoint, it hypes the NFL game in the sense that it is "news" when a game is not a complete sellout. But unless there is a betting line somewhere for football fans about certain games selling out or not or an over/under on the number of sellouts each week, there is no reason for this.

What irks me even more is some of the reporters now calling for changes in the NFL's blackout policy, as if this is a crisis because more and more games are not selling out.

More than any other pro sport, the NFL has successfully sold "out of town" games. Maybe too well for their own good in certain NFL markets. When the local NFL team is doing poorly, NOT buying the tickets has become a positive for local NFL fans. Instead of being saddled with a miserable home team performance late in the season, fans instead get to see a matchup with playoff implications, and get to see more meaningful (if not more exciting) games instead.

I, for one, can tell that I have never watched (or not watched) an NFL game because it was or wasn't on in another market. It is not "news" in the sense that some of media continue to make it out to be.

This is not only because of seeing "better" games. These same reporters continue to overlook the cost of these games for NFL fans who do not attend any games in person. They overlook that we are stuck paying inflated cable or satellite bills each month to help pay for the NFL (and other sports) packages. Worse this year is they are now gearing the score and stats boxes on the screen to HD viewers, leaving those still watching in Low Def to struggle to read the scores and information as it appears on the screen.

With higher costs to watch the games, interactive media to help follow, and now for HD TV's and the like, the budget has to come from somewhere. With it really costing this much to watch the NFL (and other leagues) on TV, it's no wonder that people won't spend $200 plus to attend an NFL game in person, and then not have nearly the same amount of information (let alone the personal comfort level) available to them.

It is not news when certain games don't sell out.

On the baseball side, MLB Network emphasizes the Yankees vs. Tampa Bay series during the early part of the week, showing every game it can through Thursday (9/23) when it originates with Bob Costas on the call.

TBS has named Ernie Johnson Jr. as the lead voice for its Division Series and ALCS coverage, working with Ron Darling and John Smoltz. The number-2 crew will feature Red Sox TV voice Don Orsillo along with Buck Martinez.

Additional crews for the Division Series will be Dick Stockton and Bob Brenly, as well as Brian Anderson and Joe Simpson.

TBS will also have its usual cast of thousands in the studio. I might be the only one who finds fault with the "A" team this season. Why are there 2 pitchers on that crew but no "hitters" to comment from the game site? Are they expecting a string of 1 - 0 games?

The AAA Baseball National Championship Game will air on Versus on Tuesday (9/21) night from Oklahoma City in the first of a multi-year deal for Versus to show this.

Versus has already shown a minor league game live this season, when it showed the professional debut of Stephen Strasburg during the Buffalo vs. Syracuse game on June 3rd.

Mike Capps, who just completed his 11th season as the voice of the AAA Round Rock Express, will call the game, while Charlotte Knights Manager (and former Yankees post-season hero) Chris Chambliss will provide analysis.

BOSTON: The Sports Hub 98.5 has come a long way after just one year on the air. The most recent ratings show The Sports Hub finishing ahead of rival WEEI in 25-54 men during both morning and afternoon drive. WEEI won during the 7 to Midnight period, bolstered by Red Sox broadcasts while the team was still in contention.

CHICAGO: The musical chairs game of local TV sportscasters continues. Jill Carlson, whose contract was recently not renewed at WFLD-TV, has emerged as a once per week fill in at WGN Radio, handling Thursday mornings to relieve Northwestern football and basketball voice Dave Eanet. And now filling in on a freelance basis on WFLD-TV is Kerry Sayers. She recently joined The Score 670 for morning updates and also appears on the Big Ten Network after having worked at Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

DETROIT: While the area's pro teams all continue to struggle, it seems to be the talk of the town. 97.1 The Ticket has turned up at number one in the market in the recently released July-August ratings for the 2nd straight month.

WASHINGTON D.C.: WTNT 570 turned all sports as of this week with the focus being on airing ESPN's national lineup.

PHILADELPHIA: With WPHT 1210 airing the Phillies game this coming Saturday (9/25), the Temple vs. Penn State game will be moved to WIP 610. And WIP plans to take advantage, scheduling Rob Charry and Hugh Douglas to do a studio pre-game show starting at 2:00 (for the 3:30 kickoff) before Harry Donahue and Steve Joachim call the game as usual. WIP is also planning an expanded post-game show.

MIAMI: An interesting change of pace was scheduled on Monday (9/20) for the Marlins local broadcast of their late afternoon game vs. the Cardinals. As of press time, 3 of the middle innings were scheduled to have been called by The Ticket 790 afternoon team of Dan LeBatard and Jon Wiener, along with Marlins President David Samson.

Normally, station promotional gimmicks such as this can be annoying to the hardcore fans. In this instance, the addition of the team President is the attraction. After all, we are now into the final two weeks of a failed season for the team.

The LeBatard and Wiener team just beat out WQAM's Sid Rosenberg in men 25-54 in the latest ratings after Rosenberg had finished ahead of them in the 3 prior head-to-head matchups.

St. LOUIS: The wonderful welcome that the Cardinals broadcasts will get for going back to KMOX for next season will create some conflicts. KMOX will continue to carry the NHL Blues and University of Missouri football. The early word is that KMOX will utilize the other CBS Group stations to handle the overflow with KMOX giving priority on a case-by-case basis.

The NFL Rams and St. Louis University basketball remain on WXOS 101.1.

COLUMBUS: This doesn't seem to bother the Blue Jackets, but I continue to believe that these scattered radio arrangements drive the fans nuts. Blue Jacket fans will have to check both the radio and TV listings to find their team's games for the coming season.

97.1 WBNS-FM The Fan will air many of the games. At some point. You see, some of the pre-season contests and then the season opener (against San Jose from Stockholm) will air on WBNS-AM 1460 instead. WWCD 102.5 will carry a couple of pre-season and regular season Saturday broadcasts early on due to conflicts with Ohio State football. George Matthews and Bob McElligott return as the broadcast team for the 10th season (the duration of the team). However, including the pre-season and first week of the regular season, 97.1's first Blue Jackets broadcast won't be until October 15th. "Blue Jackets Sunday Morning Skate" will air on Sundays from 10 to 11 AM on 97.1.

Ft. MYERS/NAPLES: Sister stations WMYR 1410 (Ft. Myers) and WCNZ 1660 (Naples) are serving the transplanted Chicagoans by carrying Chicago Bears broadcasts this season, making these the only stations more than 200 miles away from Chicago to air the Bears Radio Network. These will be in addition to an NFL "Game of the Week" broadcasts and Miami Hurricanes football on Saturdays.

The stations will also air Florida Everblades hockey for the upcoming season, the team's third radio outlet in 3 seasons.

CINCINNATI: WKRC-TV 12 has announced Zach Wells as its new weekend sports anchor and reporter. Wells had a similar position with WXIX-TV until July. He replaces Tara Pachmayer.

HOUSTON: As the NBA Rockets season approaches, it turns out that KTXH-TV 20 will air only 6 regular season games, with Fox Sports Houston carrying as many as 75 games.

The latest radio ratings show KILT taking the lead among men 25-54 passing up KFNC 97.5, but it is a very close race. KFNC retains a slight lead in morning drive, with middays and afternoons being a tight race.

RENO: 94.5 made its debut last week (9/13) with mostly ESPN Radio programming and play-by-play. The station is also carrying Oakland Raiders football this season.

On the schedule side, the SEC television packages get into full swing for this coming Saturday (9/25):

SEC Network, 12:15 ET, UAB at Tennessee
CBS, 3:30 ET, Alabama at Arkansas
ESPNU, 7:00 ET, Kentucky at Florida
FSN, 7:00 ET, Georgia at Miss. State
CSS, 7:30 ET, Fresno State at Ole Miss
ESPN, 7:45 ET, South Carolina at Auburn
ESPN2, 9:00 ET, West Virginia at LSU

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Broadcast Booth - September 14th Update.....

I can't help but wonder how Fox Sports execs now feel about the hire of Mike Pereira for their NFL coverage now that the former head of NFL officiating failed miserably during the early games of opening Sunday. I was watching the Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears telecast at the time of the over-ruled "almost" TD catch that directly changed the outcome of the game in Chicago's favor.

Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick drew upon the opportunity to bring in Pereira from the Fox studios just as it was revealed that the TD catch was under review. Pereira then went on to explain "the procedure" and how the play could be ruled as "no catch" and not a touchdown. However, before turning it back over to Billick, Pereira then went on to add about how the officials could still determine that the Lions' receiver maintained possession long enough to be awarded the touchdown. Billick then added his reasoning behind the play standing during the next replay of the incident, of which Fox had multiple angles.

By the time the TD was taken away, Pereira was already off of the telecast. Having left it that we would have been "right" either way. Sorry, but if we are going to hear from the former head of league officials, he should ONLY call it as he sees it and not go back and forth to be safe no matter which possibility is determined. My expectation was "Here is how they should rule this play" instead of "They could say.......".

This while watching the telecast in Low Def. Normally not an issue. However, Fox Sports seems to have determine that since about half of their audience now watches in Hi Def that the score boxes on the top portion of the screen should be geared toward the Hi Def audience. As a result, the roughly half of the audience viewing in Low Def now has to struggle to see the score and time left in the game they are watching, while the scoreboard was nearly impossible to read without a struggle. They seem to overlook that many people can't afford to go to Hi Def because their cable or satellite bill each month keeps going up so that they can afford to pay to watch all of these sports events.

NBC got off to a great start for this season with a record high overnight rating (best Week 1 prime time telecast) for its Sunday Night Football opener. Of course, having the Dallas Cowboys' opener didn't hurt. Then again, the Sunday game beat out this past Thursday's league opener's ratings for NBC on the Minnesota vs. New Orleans telecast.

On the baseball side, even though ESPN has ended Monday Night Baseball (due to Monday Night Football), MLB Network continues to pick up the slack, even more as the division races heat up. On Tuesday night (Sept. 14th) they will originate the Yankees vs. Rays telecast with Matt Vasgersian and Joe Magrane. On Wednesday, they help bring baseball fans a live triple-header, as MLB Network picks up the San Diego at Colorado telecast at 3 PM ET prior to ESPN's Wednesday Night Baseball live doubleheader. Then, on Thursday (Sept. 16) MLB Network picks up the White Sox vs. Twins game at 8 PM ET.

SAN FRANCISCO/OAKLAND: While the A's have had their share of on field success over their years in the Bay Area, it appears the radio jinx strikes again. Thinking their problems had been resolved with their broadcasts on 50,000 watt KTRB 860, the status of their radio broadcasts is unclear after this season. KTRB has gone into receivership as of this past Friday (9/9), also resulting in some personnel and program terminations. The A's say that while a regional bank is operating the station, the game broadcasts are scheduled to continue through this season, as will Stanford football broadcasts.

Over their years in Oakland, A's fans have been subjected to the team buying time on smaller stations, an entire season on a limited signal "educational" station, and limited surrounding coverage.

NEW YORK: The Boomer & Carton Show is now simulcast, as of Tuesday (9/14). The popular WFAN morning show now also shows on MSG Network. It will be interesting to see whether or not the simulcast takes away from the radio audience because of listeners becoming viewers during some or all of their available time to follow the show.

WFAN is also giving the Giants priority on Sundays through October 3rd, with conflicting Mets broadcasts being moved to WBBR 1130.

CHICAGO: The Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks will have every regular season game on TV again this season, including 20 of the telecasts on WGN-TV (in Chicago only). All other games not shown on Versus or NBC will be on Comcast SportsNet. WGN Radio will carry the games, along with 2 pre-season games. In an experimental move, the Blackhawks' pre-season game on Friday Oct. 1st will be broadcast only on WGNRadio.com. John Wiedeman and Troy Murray will again call the radio games.

DALLAS: The NHL Stars are understandably trying hard not to be lost in the shuffle, especially with the Cowboys' regular season just starting, the Rangers closing in on the A.L. West title, and college football now in full swing. On Saturday (9/11) the Stars held a fan fest at one of the regional malls which was free and featured several players and team officials. The Ticket 1310 was broadcasting live throughout the day from the mall, including team voice Daryl Razor Reaugh being a guest co-host for nearly 90 minutes.

AUSTIN: A nice start for KXBT 98.9 as the new Austin affiliate for the Houston Texans. The station's first regular season broadcast was the Texans' opening day win over the Indianapolis Colts.

MILWAUKEE: Congrats to Drew Olson, co-host of WAUK 540's "The D List" with Dan Needles for nearly 5 years. Olson has been rewarded with an expanded role, including being named Executive Producer of The D List and Senior Editor for the station's web site local team content. Olson also continues as a sideline reporter for Fox Sports Wisconsin's Brewers telecasts.

ALBANY: WTMM 104.5 says 'yes' to Noe. Brian Noe has been hired as Program Director and will also host the local 1 to 3 PM program starting next Monday (9/20).

DAYTON: Even with the Reds playing St. Louis and shooting for the N.L. Central title and the Bengals' season opener coming up, this past Friday (9/10) saw high school football take over the market. For "the game". Two of the area's leading schools, Centerville High School and Alter High School were meeting for the first time since 1967. WONE 980 SportsTalk and WING Sports Scene were both broadcasting from Centerville H.S. during afternoon drive, with WONE starting at 4:00. Centerville won the game 24-7, with post-game coverage including 3 of the local TV stations having covered it as well.

ABILENE TX: ESPN Radio has returned after having left the market in April, as 98.1 FM switched over last Friday (9/10).

GRAND FORKS ND: WDAY-TV Sports Director Dom Izzo will also host a half hour sports show on WDAY-AM at 6:30 on weeknights, beginning on September 27th. Izzo and local sports writer Jeff Kolpack will continue their Saturday 9 to 11 AM sports show as well.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Broadcast Booth - September 9 update

Portland's 95.5 The Game gave us all a good reason to be listening to sports talk on Tuesday (Sept. 7th) when local columnist John Canzano got on the air with Portland Mayor Sam Adams.

The columnist has been frustrated because of the city not building a new stadium for the AAA Portland Beavers and went on the air and directly criticized the Mayor. The 2 got into a war of words on the air.

As of press time, the station still had the link to listen in:


Granted, this is a hot civic issue in Portland at the moment. But credit should go to The Game for getting these two on the air to express their views, and to let the "war of words" go on.

Sports radio is the place where the most "harmless" disagreements can rage on without consequences. Yet, you would hardly know that from listening to a lot of the sports talk stations.

When not focused on informing or educating the sports fans, it would do some of the stations better to present both sides of a conflict. It pains me to hear some sports stations rush through out of town scores (sometimes not even giving them all) only to take a call from "Joe from the west side who thinks that (name of team) should throw more on first down". I don't care.

But if "Joe" were paired with "Tom from the east side who thinks that (name of team) should keep running on first down" we might have something there.

It doesn't always have to involved the mayor of a big city to make it interesting, although it helped in the Portland instance.

As we get ready for the start of the NFL regular season, I can't help but point out that ESPN needs a reminder that the baseball season is in full swing. It happened AGAIN on Tuesday night (9/7). I tuned over to ESPN at 10 PM ET to watch "Baseball Tonight" and see how the division races are shaping up. For the second Tuesday in a row, there was not an 'early' edition of Baseball Tonight. I can understand U.S. Open Tennis being shown on one of the ESPN Networks. However, I don't understand poker being on the other primary network. Sorry, but I don't see the poker results being written about and the line being posted ahead of baseball in the sports sections I sample. Poker?

ESPN begins the regular season with its annual doubleheader to begin Monday Night Football for the regular season. On Sept. 13th the N.Y. Jets host Baltimore at New Meadowlands Stadium, with the primary crew of Mike Torico, Jon Gruden, and Ron Jaworski. Then, the doubleheader game, San Diego vs. Kansas City, will have Brad Nessler and Trent Dilfer on the call.

On the radio side, Sirius Satellite Radio will again carry all of the NFL games this season. Yes, I know it is supposed to be "Sirius XM". I thought these companies merged over a year ago. But no one can explain why XM subscribers need to pay MORE in order to receive the NFL package. Ya, right.

The NFL Network has extended the contract of lead anchor Rich Eisen, but it leaves a "good news / bad news" result for the fans. The good news is that Eisen will host the expanded four-hour NFL Gameday Morning each Sunday during the regular season. However, we will no longer have to stick around for the Sunday 11:30 PM NFL Gameday Final. This is really more good news. More fans are interested in the pre-game in-depth programming than seeing more highlights after watching game action for hours all day long.

St. LOUIS: Even though this was announced just hours after last week's column was posted, congrats to Cardinals fans on getting the games back on the radio starting next season. The return of the games to KMOX is as big as any other news the Cardinals could bring, other than a big winning streak over the next 3 weeks. Finally, more fans will be able to listen to the games than will be at the stadium by going from a weak signal to a dominant one.

Now if KMOX will allow for more John Rooney and less of Mike Shannon, it will be a complete jackpot.

LOS ANGELES: This coming Monday (9/13) marks the final day for Larry Gifford to serve as Program Director as KSPN 710 after nearly 4 years in the role. He is leaving radio all together, at least for now.

Anaheim's Mighty Ducks will be visible on the tube all season. As of now, 81 of the 82 regular season games will be shown in the L.A./Orange County area, with the 82nd still a possibility if Versus picks it up.

Ducks fans will continue to need to find the telecasts, however. Some will be on Prime Ticket, others on Fox Sports West, and 17 of the games will be on KDOC-TV. John Ahlers and Brian Hayward will continue to call each telecast.

DETROIT: The NBA Pistons will also have all but one regular season game available somewhere on TV for the upcoming season. That is the good news. However, the Pistons continue to make their fans constantly scramble to find out where to listen to and watch each game. I still contend that mixed packages on both TV and radio costs them some audience every night.

Fox Sports Detroit will show the games not exclusively on nationally. However, whenever the Red Wings are playing, the Pistons games will be on Fox Sports Detroit Plus, which has different channel allocations on different cable and satellite systems. George Blaha and Greg Kelser will once again handle the calls.

Then, on the radio side, games will be on either The Ticket 97.1 or on WWJ 950, depending on Tigers and Red Wings broadcasts. If the Pistons start off dismal again this season, not many fans are going to put up with the struggle to find the games anyway. Mark Champion and Rick Mahorn will call the radio action.

CHICAGO: WFLD-TV has announced its primary weeknight sports anchor to replace Corey McPherrin (who moved to co-hosting the station's "Good Day Chicago" on weekday mornings). Lou Canellis is the surprise choice. Over his years in Chicago on radio and television, his TV work has yet to include any regular sports anchoring.

Meanwhile, White Sox TV wound up with 2 substitute announcers for both the Wednesday (9/8) and Thursday (9/9) telecasts from Detroit. Analyst Steve Stone was already scheduled to miss the games because of the Jewish holiday, with former White Sox analyst Tom Paciorek scheduled to work both games. On Monday, a death in the family meant that Ken Harrelson would miss the final 3 games in the series. This caused the White Sox to bring in "rookie" broadcaster Frank Thomas for color while Paciorek was moved to play-by-play. As much as practically anything is an improvement over "Horrible-son", one would like to think that the Chicago market deserves a lot better, even at the last minute.

HOUSTON: Travis Rodgers begins as midday host on WGOW 1560 next week, replacing local columnist Ken Hoffman. Rodgers previously spent nearly 15 years working on the Jim Rome Show, mostly as a producer.

CINCINNATI: Even with the Reds headed toward the post-season, the broadcast crew will be down to one Brennaman this Saturday (9/11) and Sunday. While Marty will, as always, handle the radio calls, Thom Brennaman will be away this and the following 2 weekends working NFL games for Fox.

He would probably rather be at the Reds game on Saturday, which also celebrates the 25-year anniversary of Pete Rose's 4,192nd hit. Instead, he gets to try to make the Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears opener sounds exciting. At least both of those teams are technically in contention. Paul Keels is not available to fill in, either, as Keels is calling the college game between the U. of Miami and Ohio State on Saturday.

Much to the delight of Reds fans, they will say "Hi, hello, and welcome back" to George Grande, who comes out of retirement this month. Grande is scheduled to call 7 of the Reds' remaining telecasts.

SAN FRANCISCO: KNBR morning host Gary Radnich starts pulling some late Sunday hours this weekend (9/12). Radnich and Tony Bruno will co-host "The Sunday Night Rap" on Comcast SportsNet California which airs Sunday at 9 PM. We're not certain yet if this will be a timely show (and thus a late night for Radnich) or if it will be recorded earlier and possibly not up to the minute.

SAN DIEGO: Jim Rome's national show will be moving down the dial in time for the start of the baseball post-season, whether the Padres make it that far or not. Rome's show leaves XX Sports 1090 after the October 1st broadcast, and starts on XTRA 1360 on Monday Oct. 4th. This could spell trouble for Rome's show in a market heavy on sports fan transplants who enjoy the national shows over talk about the Padres and Chargers. XX Sports 1090 finished with more than 4 times the audience of 1360 in the most recent ratings, while the weaker signal of 1360 could hurt the coverage even during daytime hours.

JACKSONVILLE: Local columnist Richard Miller now hosts "Inside The Game" on weekdays from 1 to 2 PM on WBOB 1530. Although the station is not an all-sports station, this show will compliment its play-by-play lineup which includes the Orlando Magic, Florida State Seminoles, and U. of South Florida Bulls broadcasts.

COLUMBUS: Kirk Herbstreit now hosts a weekly college football show on 97.1 The Fan. Heard locally with co-host Bruce Hooley each Monday from Noon to 1, the ABC/ESPN analyst will focus on Ohio State and college football in general.

SACRAMENTO: ESPN 1320 has added a local high school football show airing each Saturday from 9 to 10 AM. Mike Finnerty is the host.

OKLAHOMA CITY: Enjoy it while you can. Bob Barry has confirmed that this, his 50th season, will be his final one calling college football. The 79 year-young Barry will call the Sooners' games this season. When you total it up, he has called either Oklahoma or Oklahoma State football since 1961.

LINCOLN: KLMS 1480 ESPN has finally added a local sports show, however brief. "On the Bench", hosted by Dick Janda, airs from 5 to 6 PM each Monday through Thursday, and starts at 4 PM on Fridays. Janda is well known locally, with more than 35 years on radio and TV in the area, including having been Sports Director at KOLN back in the 80's.

YOUNGSTOWN: WRTK 1540 has indeed given up sports talk and has dumped Fox Sports Network. The station began its country music format in time for Labor Day weekend. So, yes, they gave up sports right at the start of football season to play music on the AM dial.