Monday, November 29, 2010

The Broadcast Booth - November 29 update

The Thanksgiving weekend is one of the busiest sports weekends of the entire year, yet some radio and TV stations clearly overlooked when scheduling programming for the sports fans. It's not that the personalities do not deserve some time off, but it is that we as sports fans deserve a realistic alternative instead of being kicked to the curb.

There I was on Thanksgiving morning turning on my TV. It was 3 hours before the first NFL game started. NBA news including Miami being on a losing streak. The night before in the NHL saw the first regular season meeting of Chicago and San Jose who met in the Western Conference finals in the spring. Plenty of college football to come over the next 2 days. College hoops tournaments going at all hours.

Silly me. I turned over to watch some of the Dan Patrick Show, now that it has recently gone to a TV simulcast on many of the Fox Sports and Comcast regional channels. A rare chance for me (and other sports fans) to watch the show for more than a few minutes.

What did I see? A "Best Of" show. Worse yet, for the sake of this column I tuned in on Friday morning as well, only to find a repeat of a show from earlier in the week.

On both mornings, ESPN was live with its "radio" shows on TV, as in Mike & Mike and The Herd, whether with substitute hosts or not.

Several of the sports radio stations across the country that I checked also had substitute hosts on, even on Friday morning. At least it was live programming with current sports, even if it wasn't with the regular name hosts.

But there is no excuse for The Dan Patrick Show to repeat and essentially blow off its audience. It has only been within the past few weeks that Patrick's show went to the TV simulcast, and that markets like Chicago were able to hear or watch the show live. And this is how sports fans are treated?

Here was a chance to show thousands of potential "new" viewers (and listeners) what the show is all about. Instead, we get repeats? Sorry, but Patrick could have, at the very least, recorded his predictions and thoughts about the upcoming Thursday NFL games. He could have had fresh interviews in the can. He could have had a guest host, maybe even a celebrity of sorts, host a live and current show and make Thanksgiving fun and special for his current and potential new audience.

What about Black Friday? Patrick and his show totally blew it again. A lot of sports fans had the day off, with millions of people spending more than usual amounts of time in the car with shopping or road travel. The chance to listen for an hour instead of 5 minutes. And all we get is a repeat?

I have liked Dan Patrick for years, but now consider myself offended that his show was not live on either day. Black Friday is not a legal holiday. Now I'm back to my normal schedule on Monday with little time to watch or listen. But now it doesn't matter in the future.

What a blow for the regional TV sports networks. They are trying to capture the sports fan audience during times when there are not any games being shown. And they lose a golden opportunity like that. I'm glad I'm not an advertiser, paying to reach an audience that had no reason to watch or listen.

Same for the sports radio stations with substitute hosts. With all of the events going on over the weekend, that was prime time for sports talk. I'm sure these hosts would criticize an NFL coach for playing his reserves in a game which did not sell out since fewer fans than usual were in attendance. But that's what these stations and programmers just did to us sports fans.

Even though ESPN has mostly substitute hosts, at least they kept it live and topical. They get some credit.

Note to station programmers. Fans want to hear and talk sports from the 'starting lineup' more often than only on working weekdays.

As you might expect, the holiday weekend had its share of TV viewers. The Dallas vs. New Orleans game was the best rated Thanksgiving game on Fox since 1995, while the New England vs. Detroit game was CBS' best on turkey day since its return to NFL coverage in the late 90's.

The Sunday Night Football game with San Diego beating Indy, even becoming a blowout in the 2nd half, was the top rated TV show for the 12th week in a row, and even drew a bigger audience than last year's Thanksgiving Sunday telecast which featured the Steelers.

Curiously, Norfolk, Richmond, and Albuquerque, were among the top 10 metered markets for the Sunday Night Football telecast.

CBS also scored well with Friday's Auburn vs. Alabama telecast, as the game is now the highest rated college football telecast of the season.

Too bad that fans had fewer radio and TV sports outlets and were reduced to substitute hosts to discuss all of these games over the weekend. But the hosts needed their time off, so screw the audience.

Meanwhile, Sports Byline USA Network has added a boxing show, hosted by Pedro Fernandez, and airing early Saturday afternoons.

SAN FRANCISCO: Somebody wasn't paying attention last Tuesday (11/23) during the CSN Bay Area "Chronicle Live" show. Nearly 5 minutes of a discussion segment was interrupted by camera shots with little or no sound from camera shots before the Oregon Ducks basketball game vs. Texas Southern, as indicated on graphics which came on the screen. Surprised viewers saw multiple camera angles showing one of the teams practicing, and another shot of the empty chairs with microphones for the announcers to eventually do the open for the game telecast.

Although it took nearly 5 minutes for viewers to be returned to the botched TV segment (which made no acknowledgement of the cutaway), CSN was lucky that no one at the nearly empty arena knew the cameras were on live TV. Boys will be boys, but in that instance they didn't know.

MIAMI: With all there is to talk about regarding the Heat's slow start, Dennis Rodman tried to do all he could to upstage that last Tuesday (11/23) morning. Rodman had called into Jorge Sedano's show on The Ticket 790 to comment on the Heat when a female voice became prominent along with an obviously distracted Rodman. Yet, instead of cutting the interview short, Sedano asked Rodman if he was "getting it on", and allowed Rodman to reply that she "was sucking something" on the air. You could say that the call wasn't for Rodman to talk about the Miami Heat. He wanted the world to know that he was "in heat".

WASHINGTON DC: Steve Czaban has been renewed for 2 more years on ESPN 980 as a result of his success upon joining the station earlier this year.

TOLEDO: Sorry that we overlooked this last week. The death of Frank Gilhooley in late November marked the end of an era in Toledo baseball. Not only did Gilhooley call Mud Hens baseball for more than 20 seasons from the mid-80's until 2007, but his 60 years on the air in the market included plenty more. His play-by-play went back to the 1950's and the then Toledo Sox of the American Association. He passed away at the age of 86.

AKRON: Akron Aeros baseball will remain on Fox Sports 1350 for the next 2 seasons, as the station will carry all 142 games. Jim Clark returns for his 19th season of play-by-play, while afternoon co-host Ken Carman will return to the booth for his 2nd season.

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