It's enough to make me change from the term "sports reporter" to "sports reader". Maybe I should make it a rumor so that one station will report that another station is reporting a rumor about it.
Some people say "Awesome, baby!" over the news that Dick Vitale is staying with ESPN's college hoops telecasts and programming until at least 2015. Others aren't so thrilled.
In my case, I admire and appreciate his unbridled enthusiasm after 30+ years of TV commentary. But the problem is in how I found out about this earlier this week.
The first story about it that I saw was that USA Today "reports" that ESPN has signed Vitale to the contract extension. That, in itself, raises questions for an "old school" sports reporter and radio Sports Director such as myself.
What was the urgency of this story for USA Today? Why couldn't they wait until ESPN made the announcement official? It's not as if this "news" impacted the sports world within the hours before ESPN put the word out.
Ah, but there is more to this. I did not read this "report" from USA Today. I happened to see it as "Breaking Sports News" on ChicagoTribune.com. So let's get this straight. The Chicago Tribune was reporting as a "breaking" story that USA Today "reports" that ESPN has extended the contract of Dick Vitale.
The Chicago Tribune is part of the media group which includes WGN-TV and WGN Radio Chicago as well. The Tribune has its own sports department, as does WGN. They want local sports fans to go to either of these sources for sports news and developments. They might not think it's a big deal, but if it were under my guidance, heads would be rolling on this one.
First, this is NOT a "breaking" story. This is a story which should be reported by ESPN and its various TV, Radio, and online outlets, and by sports media columns and bloggers at most. It's actually not that major of a story, since Vitale was extended. Had he moved over to ESPN from another network, THEN it would have been more newsworthy.
Next, this was the Tribune crediting USA Today for "reporting" this story. So if USA Today is ahead of the Tribune on this "story", why would the Chicago Tribune dare to promote that fact? (In addition to USA Today's report enticing some sports fans to head over to the ESPN site in order to confirm the story.)
What ever happened to sports "reporters" actually lifting a finger and doing some work looking for actual "breaking news"? Instead of monitoring other web sites and competing news sources to relay what they "report", how about going to a local team practice and see if someone is hurt? How about calling a coach or team executive and looking for a story that no one else has "reported"?
Once upon a time, you would never mention a competitor in a story over the air (or in print). Either confirm or deny it on your own, and either report it with your own information or don't bother. Use judgement as to how newsworthy it is or is not. I and many colleagues way back when would even record our competitors' sportscasts (if they were head to head) or listen to them to make sure we had everything covered. But you had better believe we would never "report" what they were reporting and give them a mention. Have mercy.
As you might expect, NFL post-season ratings continue to soar, and with New York and Chicago teams in the mix, as well as the Patriots, don't expect that to change. NBC generated the highest Wild Card Saturday TV ratingssince the 1998-99 season with the Jets last second defeat of the Indy Colts on Jan. 8th.
What's curious about this is that New York City market ratings were not in the Top 15 highest rated markets for this telecasts. The number of N.Y. Giants fans who were not interested in the Jets made their lack of presence known. This actually serves to make NBC's prime-time ratings even more impressive, since it was not boosted by New York numbers.
This Monday (1/17) is King Day, and the NBA continues to take over the day with 4 national telecasts available. ESPN starts it with a matinee from Memphis as they host the Chicago Bulls at 1:00 PM ET. At 4 PM ET NBA-TV kicks in with Sacramento at Atlanta.
TNT takes over in prime time with a holiday special doubleheader that figures to be a nice draw. Orlando visits Boston at 8 PM ET followed by Oklahoma City at the Lakers at 10:30 ET. I do wonder, however, with this being a Monday holiday and the majority going back to work the following morning for the remainder of the week, why TNT isn't starting these games at least one hour earlier.
Baseball season is drawing closer, as we are now a month from the opening of spring training camps. ESPN has announced that the Thursday March 31st opening day of the regular season will now feature 3 opening day telecasts.
The Yankees host Detroit in the MLB opener on ESPN March 31 at 1 PM ET, followed by San Diego at St. Louis at 4 PM and then the World Champion San Francisco Giants at the L.A. Dodgers at 8 PM ET. The Giants vs. Dodgers telecast will be an ESPN exclusive telecast.
Then, on Friday April 1, ESPN airs a daytime doubleheader. Philadelphia hosts Houston at 1 PM ET, followed by the A.L. champion Texas Ragners hosting Boston at 4 PM. The Friday telecasts are day games since ESPN is already commited to an NBA doubleheader that same night. In fact, as of now the Celtics at Atlanta is the scheduled 8 PM game, followed by the Lakers at Utah.
Thus, ESPN will air both the Red Sox and Celtics road games on a national basis as consecutive live telecasts. That could be a first.
ESPN has also announced several Sunday Night Baseball telecasts for the first half of the season, whether for ESPN or ESPN2:
April 3: San Francisco at Los Angeles Dodgers (ESPN2)
April 10: N.Y. Yankees at Boston
April 17: Texas at N.Y. Yankees
April 24: Cincinnati at St. Louis
May 1: N.Y. Mets at Philadelphia
May 8: Atlanta at Philadelphia
May 15: Boston at N.Y. Yankees
May 22: Chicago Cubs at Boston
May 29: Cincinnati at Atlanta (ESPN2)
June 5-July 3: To be determined
July 10: N.Y. Mets at San Francisco
July 17: Boston at Tampa Bay
The National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame will honor ABC & ESPN's Mike Torico as 2010 National Sportscaster of the Year at its May 14-16 weekend in Salisbury NC. Brent Musburger, also with ABC & ESPN, has been elected to the NSSA's Hall of Fame, where he will join Bob Uecker on the broadcast side.
One wonderful benefit of the Thursday/Friday start to the MLB season is that opening day will no longer conflict with the NCAA Final Four, thus giving each its own days of prominence as it should be. The NCAA has announced that Westwood One Radio will continue as the radio source for all NCAA Tournament games, including the national broadcasts of the Final Four games.
PHILADELPHIA: For all of the publicity and news regarding Phillies broadcasters over the past couple of years, it is Scott Franzke of the Phillies Radio Network who was selected as PA Sportscaster of the Year.
MILWAUKEE: WSSP 1250's "The Big Show", co-hosted by former Packers (and University of Wisconsin) Gary Ellerson along with Steve Fifer and Josh Vernier, took a one-hour detour from sports last week (1/4). A youth disturbance resulted in a police shutdown of Mayfair Mall in Milwaukee, prompting the sports talk hosts to discuss this story and the issues surrounding it for about an hour of their afternoon drive show. Ellerson was cleary passionate about this while allowing the audience and his other co-hosts to discuss this story and what it means to the community. Normally I prefer that sports stations stick to sports and not vary, but these hosts giving this matter this sort of immediate attention is the sort of thing that local radio (what little there is) can use a lot more of.
ALBANY: Sorry to learn of the passing of Richard Hill, long time Albany radio host who also once handled play-by-play of Army football and basketball. Albany listeners best remember Hill from his 26 years on WROW Radio. He won four New York State Broadcasters Association Awards during his great career.
TORONTO: Hopefully it was a slow news day in Toronto earlier this week when some media outlets actually ran the story that FAN 590, as well as co-owned FAN 960 in Calgary are being renamed. That might be a stretch, actually. But for those who keep track, both FAN stations will soon be known as SportsNet Radio Fan 590/960. I'm sure listeners and staffers can rest easier now that this executive decision is out in the open.
SCHENECTADY NY: WNYT-TV 13 has extended the contract of Sports Director Rodger Wyland, who has held that position since 2000. This year marks Wyland's 25th year with the station.