WIP 610 Philadelphia listeners had one of those special Howard Eskin moments on Monday (1/3) night during his weekly show with Eagles head coach Andy Reid. It started when Eskin asked Coach Reid about the rumor that Michael Vick might not start against Green Bay in this coming weekend's playoff game.
When Coach Reid had a reaction of shock to the question, Eskin then told the coach that the rumor was started by Sal Paolantonio of rival station ESPN 97.5 The Phanatic. Eskin then took it a step further on Tuesday when he had Michael Vick himself on his show and asked the QB about the rumor as well, again naming Paolantonio. Vick basically agreed with Eskin's questioning of the other reporter's information.
While I don't always take kindly to a personal attack against another media person in a similar role, in this instance I'll give Howard Eskin some credit. Instead of doing what so many "reporters" have begun doing over the past couple of years and merely "reporting" the rumor, Eskin took the rumor direct to the sources and gave his audience the true story (that Michael Vick IS the Eagles' QB).
For all of the times that one media source reports that a competing media source is "reporting" a story instead of checking it out for themselves, it's great to see a sportscaster attack this situation. Now let's hope that Howard Eskin isn't as unique among sportscasters when it comes to actually verifying that a "reported rumor" wasn't true.
Along those lines, a nice job of getting a news story from Miami's WQAM on Monday (1/3). The day after the disappointing season of the Dolphins came to an end with a 31 point loss to the Patriots, running back Ricky Williams went on the air and told listeners that he won't be back with the Dolphins now that his contract is up. Williams went on to criticize the Dolphins' performance in the season finale along with coach Tony Sparano. After 8 seasons in Miami, that probably clinched his not coming back with the team.
That interview was a positive for WQAM, as they brought listeners the story as it was happening, instead of a "rumor" or speculation that he won't return.
Nice work, again, by the MLB Network for televising the Baseball Hall of Fame announcements on Wednesday (1/5) afternoon, as well as for getting the honest reaction about the election of Roberto Alomar, as well as Bert Blyleven.
If you televise it, they will come. That motto for pro and college sports continues full throttle into 2011. NBC won big with its telecast of the NFC West division championship game which happened to end its regular season of Sunday Night Football. The ratings for the best ever for a final week prime time telecast since ABC's telecast of Minnesota vs. Baltimore in January 2002.
NBC also benefited by the "rain delay" of the NHL Winter Classic telecast on Saturday (1/1), winding up with the most viewed NHL regular season game since Feburary 1975. The Washington at Pittsburgh game was seen by 22% more viewers than the previous year's telecast even though it was moved to prime-time just hours earlier. I'm sure that after NBC stops wondering how many more viewers they would have had for the game if they had more than a few hours to promote it they'll go ahead and schedule next year's Winter Classic for prime time in advance.
Even with the overflow of meaningless college football bowl games again this season, ESPN drew well with its Sugar Bowl telecast on Tuesday (1/4), winding up with one of its 6 highest college football telecast ratings ever, according to early numbers as of press time. Whether it was Big Ten fans hopeful of finally seeing a Conference team win a bowl game or fans finally getting a solid bowl matchup remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, ESPN has terminated the services of play-by-play announcer Ron Franklin after having pulled him from its Fiesta Bowl telecast last week. The 68-year old Franklin was disciplined for reportedly making a sexual reference to sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards and then allegedly swearing at her in a production meeting setting. The move was made even though these incidents both were off the air. I'm not saying the action by ESPN isn't justifiable. But it brings back one of the most incredible media stories of 2010, when a female sportscaster was terminated after the Arkansas football coach was upset about the cap she wore during a press conference. Yet, there was no disciplinary action toward that coach.
NBC figures to do very well with its NFL Division Series doubleheader this Saturday (1/8). The Philadelphia vs. Green Bay telecast will have NBC's Notre Dame telecast crew of Tom Hammond and Mike Mayock on the call. Although Mayock is well known for his Notre Dame analysis, not everyone remembers that he was a defensive back for a couple of NFL teams during his playing career. This move keeps the broadcast team in tact, which could make a positive difference for viewers. Likewise, the "A" team of Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth will call the prime time telecast of the New Orleans vs. Seattle game.
ESPN Radio begins a new football focused show on Saturday (1/8) during the 8 AM to Noon ET time period. NFL draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. and anchor Dari Nowkhah will co-host. Kiper has been a part of ESPN's coverage of the NFL draft for the past 25 years.
CHICAGO: Fans of the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks got some good news over New Year's weekend with the announcement that the TV team of Pat Foley and Eddie Olczyk have been signed to 3-year contract extensions. Foley has done Blackhawks play-by-play since the 1979-80 season for all but 2 seasons. Even with chances to go national over the years, Foley seems to want to remain the voice of the Blackhawks forever. Olczyk, one of the top analysts in the NHL, is expected to continue his duties on select Versus and NBC telecasts as well.
LOS ANGELES: Another bad break for Andrew Siciliano, this time replaced as afternoon host on KSPN 710 last week. He lost his mid-day co-hosting gig along with Mychal Thompson with Max Kellerman taking over this past Monday (1/3) at 10 AM. Siciliano and Krystal Fernandez had come to KSPN after losing their show on KLAC 570 a couple years back when that station added syndicated Fox Sports Radio programming. Kellerman will continue his affiliations with both CNN and HBO, while Siciliano will continue with DirecTV although in a lesser role now that the NFL regular season is over. (He was one of the Red Zone Channel hosts.)
St. LOUIS: KTRS, the station with the limited signal that lost the Cardinals broadcasts back to KMOX after 5 seasons has expanded "Sportsnight" to 9 PM to Midnight as of this week. The station plans to allow callers to discuss the night's games in progress, as they air on stations that area radio listeners can actually receive relatively easily.
Cardinals fans watching the games on Fox Sports Midwest enjoyed the honesty of analyst Jack Clark last season. Last season Clark ripped Mark McGwire, the Cardinals' hitting coach and other alleged steroid users. He also ripped into the team's intensity when they hit a September swoon, and just happened to miss some telecasts after that. Now, FSM quietly mentioned during the holiday period that Clark will not return for the upcoming season.
SAN DIEGO: ESPN 1700 is trying to make a dent in the San Diego sports talk race. Yet, the sports dent got smaller as the station is allowing its one hour finance and credit show to remain on the schedule during the midday period.
DENVER: The sports talk team of Irv Brown and Joe Williams is on the move. Starting the week of Jan. 17th, the duo will co-host afternoons on Mile High Sports 1510 and 93.7. Until last month, the pair were on KPEN 1600, which has transitioned to primarily national programming from ESPN.
WICHITA: This may well be a national exclusive, even for high school coverage. Sports Radio 1410 has announced it will have high school play-by-play at 7 PM on five weeknights during this month of January. What makes it unique is that the station will broadcast local high school wrestling on radio. It starts on Jan. 6th as Bishop Carroll takes on South.
GALESBURG IL: Local play-by-play voice Beau Spencer will host a sportstalk show on WAIK 1590 starting on Monday (1/10) called Sportslines. Guess you have to start somewhere. The show will air on weekdays from (Are you ready for this?) 12:30 until 1:00 PM. No telling where that could lead.