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.