Monday, February 28, 2011

The Broadcast Booth - March 1st Update........

Usually when a media member is voted into a Hall of Fame it understandably takes a back seat to the players and coaches who are also honored. But not this time. The National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame should add an extra wing for the induction of Eddie Einhorn, even though he never played at the college level.

I have often said that while James Naismith is credited with inventing the game of basketball, Einhorn should be credited with "inventing" college basketball as we know it.

Those of us over the age of 40 most likely remember how very few college basketball games were on TV until the late 1960's. It was Einhorn who formed the TVS Television Network of stations (regardless of CBS, NBC, ABC, or independent affiliation) to show a few of college basketball's biggest matchups on Saturday afternoons during the regular season. Prior to that, TVS only handled coverage of the NCAA Tournament. You see, it wasn't the billion dollar deal with days and nights of live games it is today. When Einhorn "invented" the game, none of the national networks so much as bothered with college hoops, even at tournament time.

At this time of the year, the "E" in ESPN should really stand for Einhorn. He paved the way for them.

The 1968 game between UCLA (with Lew Alcindor, later to be Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) against Houston (with Elvin Hayes) played in the Astrodome was one of the first prominent regular season games ever to be nationally televised, and it was Einhorn's TVS that made it possible.

From there, the major schools (for basketball) of the day, such as UCLA, Kentucky, Notre Dame, LSU, and Maryland, began to appear on a series of Saturday afternoon telecasts. And the era of televised college basketball was born.

Induction ceremonies, including Einhorn's will be on November 20 in Kansas City. Any station or network which televises college hoops should be there in tribute.

Today, Einhorn remains Vice Chairman of the Chicago White Sox and is in his 30th season as a team official.

Elsewhere, it was good to see an error corrected because of a reporter knowing to verify what another source "reported". And in this case, it was as innocent mistake.

Orlando Cabrera, the infielder who recently signed with the Cleveland Indians for the coming season, then did a lengthy interview (reportedly nearly 2 hours) with a radio station in Cartagena in his native Colombia which was totally in Spanish. One of the questions had Cabrera addressing what things might be like when a player decides to retire from the big leagues. The Colombian Newspaper, El Universal, also picked up the interview. Then, in a translation to English, the quote was interpreted as Cabrera saying this would be his final season.

The "final season" story was picked up in the U.S. by several sources including MLB Network. It wasn't until hours later when local reporters began to ask Cabrera about his comment that he (Cabrera) issued a denial that it would be his last season. I am not certain as to which reporter(s) uncovered the error, but this shows the value of checking with the source rather than reporting what someone else is reporting.

Meanwhile, with ESPN being busy with a ton of college basketball games as tournament time draws nearer, NBA-TV keeps the ball bouncing with an additional slate of games this week.

On Tuesday (3/1) they originate the N.Y. at Orlando game. On Wednesday (3/2) they pick up a doubleheader (instead of ESPN) with local feeds from the New Orleans vs. N.Y. game followed by Houston at L.A. Clippers. After TNT does its usual Thursday doubleheader, NBA-TV will air the 2 regular season games from London this Friday and Saturday (3/4 - 3/5) afternoon between Toronto and New Jersey.

Unfortunately, sports media lost two of its major figures within the past few days. Fans of the Kansas City Chiefs are mourning the loss of Bill Grigsby, who was a part of the Chiefs radio broadcasts from 1963 through 2009. His biggest moments included the Chiefs' lone Super Bowl win in Super Bowl IV. Grigsby also called Kansas City A's games in the 50's and 60's (before their move to Oakland) as well as some University of Kansas football games.

Charleston WV sports radio host Wes Ryan passed away last week at the age of 33. Ryan was Program Director of WSWW Radio and a co-host (with Carl Lee) of a daily show.

In addition, University of Iowa radio football analyst Ed Podolak continues to recover from serious injuries after having been struck by a vehicle early last week in Scottsdale AZ. Podolak has been on Hawkeyes radio since the late 80's, after having played for the K.C. Chiefs in the NFL.

St. LOUIS: On a much brighter note, this week marks the return of Cardinals baseball to KMOX after a 5-year absence. The exhibition schedule includes 2 weekday afternoon broadcasts each week during this month, bumping KMOX's airing of Rush Limbaugh to the station web site on those days.

For this Saturday (3/5), KMOX will air the Cards on tape delay following the NHL Blues' Noon game aired live. Ironically, on Tuesday March 29th KMOX will air the Blues game live and move the Cardinals broadcast to KTRS, the station the Cards came from due to weak signal coverage at night. KMOX will give priority to the Cardinals once the regular season starts, even ahead of any Blues post-season games.

The end of the current college hoops season will end the University of Missouri's contract with KMOX. Word is that KMOX will not continue due to the return of the Cardinals and the number of the conflicts with the Cards and the Blues.

BALTIMORE: The Fan 105.7 has fine-tuned its weekday schedule as of this week. The Norris & Davis morning show has expanded until 10 AM, moving Mark Vivano's show back to 10 AM to 1 PM. Bob Haynie takes over the 1 to 3 PM slot from Bruce Cunningham, while Scott Garceau and Jeremy Conn air from 3 to 7 PM.

PORTLAND ME: The Western Maine High School Basketball Tournament broadcasts have returned to the radio airwaves via 96.3 FM and 1310 AM. But it's how they got there. A pair of local businessmen actually bought the time from the stations and are selling the advertising time on their own. It will be interesting to see how the broadcasts are received by the audience, and just how much advertising revenue is generated. In other words, whether the businessmen or the station lose revenue this season. (The station would lose if the businessmen sell enough time to make the venture profitable.) That will go a long way toward if or how the games are aired next year. So far, the men say that they are already considering adding high school football broadcasts for the fall.

WINNIPEG: Sports Radio 1290 adds a new local show in 2 weeks (starting March 16) with The Hustler & Lawless Show. Gary Lawless, a local columnist, and Andrew "Hustler" Paterson will co-host. What makes this even more interesting is that the show will also stream on the newspaper site.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Broadcast Booth - February 23 Update.....

Local sports radio does good. On Monday (2/21) Mike Francesa had a live one hour discussion on WFAN New York with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman which made for excellent radio. Bettman did not duck out from any of the questions, even when Francesa interrupted him to keep asking the same questions. The vast majority of the questions were timely and pertinent, including discussion of the local issue regarding the N.Y. Islanders and ownership struggling with the current arena.

The discussion included the current state of the league, the recent player suspensions for fighting, the TV contracts, realignment, and labor negotiations, in addition to the local matters such as the Islanders.

During the second half hour, Francesa took phone calls from listeners for Bettman, and these calls were clearly well screened and asked intelligent (and for the most part, non repetitive) questions. It was clear that the show's producer and/or screener did a great job in presenting the callers and keeping it interesting.

Quite honestly, Bettman being a good guest and giving clear and thorough answers to the questions carried the segment better than Francesa's often pestering questions.

Personally, as a hockey fan, I have not been happy with a lot of what Bettman has done as NHL Commissioner. Yet, after listening to him and how well he answered the questions over the course of the hour, I think better of him now than I ever did. Thus, this was sports radio doing its job by presenting another side of some key issues and causing me to think and react.

Meanwhile, another sports media story within the past few days comes from the NHL New Jersey Devils, even if it is technically "social media". It seems that the team has brought in a group of 25 hardcore fans of the team to act as the "Devils' Army Generals" to inform and communicate directly with other fans of the team from the team's "Social Media Center" on a regular basis. This will include team sources such as Facebook and Twitter. According to, this is the first of its kind, which obviously will be closely watched by the League and its teams.

Although those first two stories are both related to the NHL, they are both tied together and important for a different reason. Let me explain.

The excellent segment on Mike Francesa's show on WFAN is all too rare on sports radio. That hour is what sports radio should be on a regular basis. An important sports figure on the air live answering pertinent questions from both the host and from callers, without boring repetition.

Each professional league has literally hundreds of players, coaches, managers, executives, scouts, and individual team personnel with a variety of responsibilities which keep the teams operating. Yet, far too many sports stations regularly go entire shows and even several hours without having anyone from a local team or a pro league on live. Not to mention local and regional college sports coaches, athletic directors, and former and current players.

Many sports stations, especially in large markets, do not have specific shows or times dedicated to the local teams. Or, if they do, they don't always have guests from that team.

Now we have the N.J. Devils taking steps to regularly address their own fans, and we know other teams will be monitoring the progress. Yet, if the local sports stations already had at least one show specific to fans of the Devils, chances are the team would not have been as inclined to take this action.

My prediction is that the Devils' new plan will be successful in helping to drive ticket and merchandise sales and raising fan interest. Other teams will follow and do the same. And they would take away the sports radio audience in the process.

Hopefully sports radio stations will take the cue and provide more thorough local team coverage. That will hold the audience way more than constant calls with fans' opinions, rumors and speculation, and merely reporting what competing sources are reporting.

Meanwhile, it is good to see the Triple Crown on one network. The NBC signing to carry all 3 races from 2012 into at least 2015 does just that. The new deal also includes Versus (now a sister network to NBC) and a total of 25 hours of race programming between them. The opportunity for NBC opened up after ESPN/ABC did not renew its 5-year deal to televise the Belmont Stakes.

NBC and Versus had respectable ratings for this past Sunday's (2/20) NHL spectacular with 3 entire games shown live between NBC and Versus. Yet, as seemingly could happen with an NHL deal, NBC will not have an NHL telecast this coming Sunday (2/27). The network did announce that it has moved the Philadelphia vs. N.Y. Rangers game of March 6 to 12:30 PM ET to be NBC's national game. They will also choose the national telecast for the four Sundays following within 13 days of each.

BOSTON: WEEI 850 rolls out its revised weekday schedule on Monday (2/28), including Michael Holley moving from middays to afternoon drive along with Glenn Ordway. Dale Arnold will shift to weekends and substituting, along with filling in for Dave O'Brien on about 25 Red Sox broadcasts when O'Brien has conflicts with his ESPN telecast schedule. This could prove to be a good move for WEEI to hold off the challenge from 98.5 The Sports Hub.

CHICAGO: While the NBA Bulls are enjoying a much better than expected season, the TV ratings reflect it. Comcast SportsNet Chicago reports a 64% increase in ratings over last season. Having started televising most of the Bulls games with the 2004-05 season, it seems that the Top 10 highest rated telecasts in its history have all come this season. Pre-game and post-game programming has also shown increased ratings, with post-game programming up 86%. Not quite on the radio side, where flagship station WMVP ESPN 1000 has fallen further behind WSCR 670 The Score in the just released radio ratings.

Dan Jiggetts, the former Chicago Bears lineman and sportscaster for Comcast SportsNet is now recovering from hip replacement surgery.

LOS ANGELES: The Dodgers are making a very understandable exception with their KABC Radio broadcast of opening day on March 31st. The season opener, at home vs. the rival World Champion San Francisco Giants will be televised on ESPN and not locally. As a result, Vin Scully will start his 62nd season broadcasting the Dodgers games by calling 6 innings on radio.

MINNEAPOLIS: The Twins will have at least 158 of their games shown on TV this season. However, other than Fox Sports Saturday regional telecasts, all other games will be shown on Fox Sports North. However, it is estimated that as much as 18% of the Twin Cities market does not currently subscribe to cable or satellite, while FSN is currently not part of the basic cable package.

TAMPA: Similar situation in Tampa, where Fox Sports Florida will televise 150 of the Rays games this season. DeWayne Staats will call his 14th season of play-by-play for the Rays. Brian Anderson (the former pitcher, not the Brewers' voice) takes over as regular analyst since Kevin Kennedy will not return to the Rays' booth. Todd Kalas continues on the Rays' beat and will do some analysis during the telecasts, marking his 14th season in his role.

MILWAUKEE: Fox Sports Wisconsin will air 135 of the Brewers games this season. Unlike Minnesota and Tampa, the Brewers are keeping 15 games over-the-air, as WMLW-TV will air a 15 game package. Thus, at least 150 of the team's 162 games will be televised. Every game not currently scheduled to be televised is a weekday afternoon game.

TORONTO: A third sports station will enter the market during early April with the debut of TSN Radio 1050. Former Calgary FAN 960 host Mike Richards will handle the morning show before the station takes from the U.S. Word is that TSN Radio 1050 will carry Dan Patrick and Jim Rome on weekdays. TSN personalities (from the TV network) are expected to be involved, as well as some content from soon-to-be sister stations in Montreal, Vancouver, Winnipeg, and Ottawa. The new station is also planning mobile phone access and to stream.

SYRACUSE: Syracuse Chiefs minor league baseball has a new home for the coming season. WSKO The Score 1260 will also air a 15-minute pre-game show, with Jason Benetti returning as play-by-play voice, along with Kevin Brown (a 21 year-old sportscaster - not the former pitcher). The games will also stream on the team's web site.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Update from 2/15 The Broadcast Booth

Hours after pointing out that no one had been named yet, the Chicago Cubs and WGN Radio officially announced that former Cubs player Keith Moreland will be the analyst for Cubs broadcasts starting in just a few days.

Moreland has filled in on Cubs TV and radio broadcasts already, and was analyst for University of Texas baseball broadcasts for 16 years. This means it is likely that play-by-play voice Pat Hughes will continue to call upwards of 8 innings per game.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Broadcast Booth - February 15th Update.....

Sports media makes headlines on Tuesday with the announcement that Time Warner Cable has an upcoming 20-year agreement to air every Los Angeles Lakers game it can (other than national TV exclusives) starting in less than 2 years. This gives the team only the remainder of the current season and all of next on KCAL-TV and Fox Sports West.

The deal is expected to total as much as $3 billion. That's billion. There is a lot to this deal. This will not be just one network, as there will be both an English and Spanish version. The cable company has the rights to the complete Lakers TV territory, which in addition to much of Southern California also includes portions of Nevada as well as Hawaii. Pre-season games as well as early round playoff games (as allowed) will also be included.

The Lakers obviously benefit from this deal, and Time Warner Cable has the potential for regional and local ad revenue, plus revenue for distribution to other cable and satellite systems. But what about the fans?

Face it, this will cost sports fans, and for that matter those who are not sports fans. This doesn't exactly mean that Time Warner costs will be dropping anytime soon, and everyone will have to pony up whether they like the Lakers or not. Then there is the matter of distribution to other cable and satellite systems. Those systems will, of course, have to pay Time Warner for these games. Don't think that price increase won't get passed along. And don't think that Fox Sports West, even with the loss of Lakers basketball, is going to lower their costs accordingly either.

A positive for sports radio last week when the major story broke in Salt Lake that Jerry Sloan had resigned as coach of the Jazz, ending the longest head coach or manager tenure in pro sports. THE FAN Radio got right on it, and by the end of that dramatic afternoon brought their listeners live interviews with Sloan and with Deron Williams of the Jazz. (Reports indicated that incidents between Sloan and Williams played a big role in Sloan's decision to suddenly resign.) While both Sloan and Williams denied any serious rift between the two, it made for compelling radio, and let the listeners hear it for themselves. That's how it should be, with the sports station getting the reaction from those involved, and THEN getting some fan reaction.

We'll see how this Sunday (2/20) and the NHL spectacular do in the ratings. After the NBC-TV doubleheader, Versus takes over with its live prime-time coverge of the Montreal vs. Calgary game, to be played outdoors at the University of Calgary's football stadium.

Thus, a live NHL triple-header complete with studio updates and cut-ins to other games. We shall see.

Looking ahead to baseball, Fox Sports was so pleased with their 2 nights of Saturday prime-time telecasts that they have decided to go with 3 for the coming season. Whereas last season the 2 Saturday night games were over a month apart, this year they will be for 3 consecutive Saturdays in May. Why? Ask the New York decision makers. The May 14th schedule includes Yankees vs. Red Sox and May 21st Yankees vs. Mets. On May 28th, which is during Memorial Day weekend and thus not a heavy viewing night, there will be as many as 6 regional games featured. No word, yet, as to whether or not more prime time games might be added later in the season. This could be a step toward doing a prime-time game on a weekly basis, based on the ratings generated by the NFL and NBA of late.

ESPN will air 10 spring training games this season, starting in just 2 weeks on Thursday afternoon March 3 with Detroit vs. Atlanta. Somehow the Braves rate being on 3 of the telecasts, putting them right up with the 3 telecasts involving the Yankees (surprised?) and Red Sox. The one prime time game is on Monday March 14 with the Yankees vs. the Red Sox. Nine of the ten telecasts will be on weekdays, with Sat. March 26 Texas vs. Chicago Cubs telecast being the exception.

Barry Larkin is the newest addition to the ESPN roster for Baseball Tonight and possible analyst assignments. Larkin leaves MLB Network to take on this new role.

ESPNU is adding more college baseball to its lineup, announcing a Thursday night national game from the SEC from April 7th through May 19th. The Big Ten Network will televise between 25 and 30 games, including the conference tourney (the reason for the uncertain number). In addition, BTN hopes to stream at least 50 other baseball games involving Conference teams on

Nice innovation for NBA-TV, which is enhancing the upcoming All-Star Weekend with more coverage surrounding TNT's programming. Included on the schedule is showing Commissioner David Stern's press conference this Saturday (2/19) at 7 PM ET. This probably won't be the typical goody-goody session, as reporters are sure to ask Stern about the potential labor dispute. If this is not brought up, there will be reason for suspicion.

College football TV schedules are in the works. ESPN has announced a Labor Day prime time game (Monday Sept. 5) with Miami at Maryland. The Thursday night games will include five other telecasts also involving at least one ACC team. The coming season will be the first of that 12-year agreement between ESPN and the ACC including all conference "controlled" football and basketball games.

Although it has been covered over the past few days, the NCAA Tournament next month should draw even better as this season begins every game being shown live nationally. CBS, TNT, TBS, and Tru-TV will handle the entire schedule, including games airing at times not used in the past due to CBS local news and programming allotments. The surprise is Tru-TV already being scheduled in for several of the early tournament games, even though it is not carried in as many households as TNT and TBS.

NEW YORK: It's almost as if media rights news is getting to be like player contact news. At least to the N.Y. Daily News. The paper published an in-depth speculation last week about the Yankees beginning the final season of the current radio contract with WCBS-AM. The story just happened to point out that the Red Sox radio rights are generating approximately $5 million more for the Red Sox this coming season than the WCBS contract will for the Yankees.

BALTIMORE/D.C.: The Orioles will be like the Red Sox and Yankees in one respect this season. On a big-time AM radio station. The O's have returned to WBAL 1090 after 4 seasons on WJZ-FM 105.7. In D.C., the Orioles games will air on ESPN 980 and SportsTalk 570. The Washington Nationals games will again air on at least one of three local stations, lacking priority over the Wizards and Capitals games early in their season. Ouch.

LOS ANGELES: In addition to the Time Warner and Lakers deal, KABC 790 and the Dodgers have named Joe Block as a co-host on DodgerTalk, which surrounds the radio broadcasts during spring training and the season. Block was studio host surrounding New Orleans Hornets broadcasts for four seasons. He will co-host with Josh Suchon, and replaces Ken Levine who left to join the Seattle Mariners' play-by-play lineup.

CHICAGO: WGN-TV has a 5-year extension of its Blackhawks contract, keeping the defending Stanley Cup Champions in the fold through the 2015-16 season. Now just over half way through the third season of telecasts, ratings have increased more than 85%. Due to NHL restrictions, each of the 20 regular season telecasts will only be local to Chicago.

As of press time on Tuesday evening, WGN Radio had still not announced a partner for Pat Hughes for its Cubs radio broadcasts, which begin in less than 2 weeks. The position opened up due to the unfortunate passing of Ron Santo in December. However, word is that another former Cubs player will be brought in more for analysis, meaning that Pat Hughes would continue to do as many as 8 innings of each game on radio. Hard to believe that one announcer would again have to carry such a heavy load in Chicago and for WGN.

Local NASCAR fans lost their primary radio outlet of the past few years last week. WUSN US99 FM decided to drop the NASCAR package after 5 years, and it is effective immediately. Thus, there might not be a local radio outlet for the Daytona 500. Neither of the sports radio stations is expected to pick up any of the auto racing. WSCR carries local college basketball and soon begins White Sox broadcasts, while WMVP ESPN 1000 is highly unlikely to move ESPN Radio play-by-play such as the NBA for racing.

INDIANAPOLIS: Speaking of auto racing, sorry to learn of the death of Tom Carnegie. Locally he was known from his 32 years on WRTV-TV sports, but to auto race fans everywhere he was the voice of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 1946.

He called the Indy 500 some 61 times, along with 12 Brickyard 400's and 6 Grand Prix races.

PHOENIX: KBMB 710 will carry all 162 Diamondbacks games this season in Spanish, replacing KSUN 1400 and adding the rest of the schedule. Oscar Soria, Miguel Quintana, and Richard Seanz remain as the Spanish broadcast team.

St. LOUIS: We can definitely say that long time sportscaster Howard Balzer has kept himself current. Balzer, known nationally from his days of representing The Sporting News on radio, has left his early afternoon show on KSLG 1380 to join WXOS 101.1. But his new role is running the station's web site. Not quite what Howard envisioned more than 20 years ago, I'm sure. Local sports writer Rob Rains and his son B.J. began in the 1 to 3 PM spot on KSLG on Monday (2/14).

HOUSTON: Rice University baseball coach Wayne Graham will host a weekly show on KGOW 1560 beginning in March, which may include some non-sports topics.

SHEBOYGAN WI: WCLB 950 has completed its switch from ESPN to Fox Sports. The only local show is now from 3 to 5 PM on weekdays.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Broadcast Booth - February 9th Update

Somehow this story has slipped under the national sports radar. The Capital OTB cable TV channel in Albany, New York begins a sports talk show this Thursday (2/10). "Capital OTB Sports" will air live for either 2 or 3 hours starting at 9 AM weekday mornings and will be hosted by Anthony Mormino.

The information release says that there will be guests and that the focus will be on local college and high school teams. In addition to the TV channel, this show will be streamed on

Yes, Capital OTB is the off-track betting facility, and the vast majority of this channel's programming deals with horse racing. That's betting, which is off limits to high school students. College students are just of the age which is able to bet on racing.

It will be interesting to see if local high school coaches will collectively cooperate with this show. Or if local college and coaches will cooperate or be put under any restrictions. On one hand, this is media as a local cable TV outlet. On the other hand, the purpose of this channel is to increase gambling revenue, even though much of the revenue generated is distributed to cities.

The announcement also mentioned that horse racing news will be included within the show, along with national pro and college sports news and opinion. There are no major league pro teams in Albany, while the college sports scene includes Siena College and the University of Albany.

If this show in Albany becomes successful in terms of increasing the channel's audience (and ultimately betting on racing) and/or generating significant advertising revenue, chances are that other regions with horse racing channels would explore doing something similar. Especially with non-racing time during several daytime hours.

When you consider the steps the professional leagues have taken to stay away from any type of association with gambling, it could be worth monitoring whether "Capital OTB Sports" will win or place in the near future.

Meanwhile, Sports Business Journal shared some interesting findings with their examination of the local telecast ratings for NBA and NHL teams throughout the recently concluded first half of each league's current season.

It seems that one city managed to show up in the top 5 in popularity for both. That city is Boston, which coincidentally finished #5 in local viewership among both NBA and NHL teams. The Celtics games air on Comcast SportsNet New England while the Bruins air on NESN. Not only are there nights when both teams' telecasts overlap in part or in full, but the first half of both teams' seasons were during the Patriots successful regular season.

The SBJ findings were more surprising on the NBA side for most watched local telecasts. LeBron James and the Miami Heat did not crack the top 2, although that is probably because of the number of Heat games carried on ESPN, TNT, ABC, and NBA Network. The top local market is San Antonio, no surprise based on the Spurs' great start, with Utah next. Miami is #3, followed closely by the L.A. Lakers and then the Celtics telecasts finished 5th.

On the NHL side, 3 of the top 5 local telecast audiences are for teams in cities which do not have an NHL franchise. The Pittsburgh Penguins top the list, with Buffalo 2nd. Detroit is #3 (understandable given the Red Wings status in first place for most of the season while the NBA Pistons continue to struggle), and St. Louis is 4th, ahead of the Bruins. The report notes that St. Louis and Boston show the biggest increases when compared with last season.

Compass Media feels strongly enough that the Dallas Cowboys are "America's Team" to the point of signing a 5-year deal for national radio broadcasts of Cowboys regular season games beginning with the upcoming (or should we say "next") season. Incredibly, the package also includes pre-season games, and this is for the remainder of the country beyond the scope of the Cowboys' 65 station radio network.

This is in addition to the network's package of NFL broadcasts, while Compass will continue to also handle Oakland Raiders radio. The difference with the Oakland deal is that Compass also handles the local broadcasts and the Raiders Network.

MINNEAPOLIS: While the Twins may or may not get back to the post-season this year, fans will have one more season of John Gordon on the call. After originally planning on retiring after the 2010 season, Gordon has decided to return for his 25th season calling Twins games. The 70-year old Gordon will cut back to about 90 broadcasts, eliminating the long road trips.

St. LOUIS: Cardinals fans, already ecstatic about the return of the broadcasts to KMOX this year, will have the same broadcast team in place. John Rooney has signed a 5-year extension, while Mike Shannon begins his 40th season in the radio booth with the first of 3 more seasons. (It will also be his 54th season in the Cardinals organization if you include his playing days.) Mike Claiborne begins his 4th season in the booth, primarily handling the pre-game and post-game programming. He will fill in when Rooney or Shannon are off. The three will also take turns on the post-game "Live At Shannon's" show after Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday home games.

CINCINNATI: By coincidence, ESPN created a conflict for college basketball fans on Tuesday (2/8). At exactly the same time, 7 PM ET, the family of networks was showing three games which targeted the Cincinnati area.

ESPN2 was showing the University of Cincinnati at DePaul, while ESPNU was showing Xavier (also located in Cincinnati, just a few miles from U. of Cincinnati) at Georgia. Meanwhile, ESPN's primary game was Indiana University at Purdue. IU is located about 2 hours from Cincinnati and has a lot of alum in that area. Not only did all 3 teams play at the same time on an ESPN network, but all 3 were on the road.

HOUSTON: KTRH begins the task of getting Astros fans ready for the coming season on Wednesday (2/9) when Craig Biggio will be the live guest on the Astroline show at 7 PM CT. Milo Hamilton will host the live broadcast from a local restaurant, which will also be streamed on

BUFFALO: A good move by WGR SportsRadio 550. The station's new phone app allows listeners to listen to the station live via phone. In addition, this reportedly includes the Sabres broadcasts and game highlights. The app also allows fans to get sports news and recently aired segments.

With satellite and some internet radio channels also available by phone, this is a good move by a local station to be available via this method. Radio stations seem to forget that people rarely if ever use portable radios anymore. It will be interesting to see if the NHL continues to allow the streaming of Sabres broadcasts. Fans of opposing teams in other areas, as well as fans of division rivals, could also take advantage of this feature.

SALT LAKE: The Zone 1280 Sports is now simulcast on 104.7, which is significant to sports fans at night. KZNS 1280 has to reduce its signal from 50,000 watts to less than 1,000 at night, when the FM availability figures to be a big factor. The FM station dropped modern rock.

SACRAMENTO: This is really more of a cross-promotion than adding another sports voice. Rob & Arnie, the morning team on rock station KRXQ 98.5 will begin a weekly sports show on KCTC ESPN 1320. The show will air only on Fridays as a weekend sports preview.

Elsewhere, the increase of college baseball on radio and TV continues as the season opens within the next couple of weeks. University of Arkansas baseball will have its games broadcast on Fayetteville's KQSM 92.1 with 20 other affiliate stations in the region carrying many of the broadcasts. Chuck Barrett begins his 20th season of play-by-play, although Phil Elson and Kyle Kellams will fill in when Barrett has to call Razorback basketball games. will also stream the baseball broadcasts.

Kansas State will have every baseball game (56 regular season) on either KMAN SportsRadio 1350 Manhattan or at (when basketball pre-empts on KMAN). Fox Sports Kansas City will televise at least 2 games this season.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Broadcast Booth - February 1st Update....

Never mind Media Day for the Super Bowl. It's the amount of media attention devoted to it that is the story.

ESPN and Fox Sports Radio are doing many of their national shows from Dallas throughout the week. One national voice with an attachment to the game is Westwood One Radio play-by-play voice Kevin Harlan, who will call the national broadcast on Sunday. Harlan's father Bob was a huge part of the Packers' organization and its success for more than 40 years. Kevin also does play-by-play of the pre-season Packers games not shown on network TV. Technically, this will not be Harlan's first call of a Super Bowl. He actually called CBS' then separate HD telecast of the 2000 game between Baltimore and the N.Y. Giants. Boomer Esiason will again join him on Sunday.

Packers fans in the Milwaukee and Green Bay areas will have no shortage of local coverage this week. WTMJ 620 (the team's flagship station) and WTMJ-TV sent a crew of 20 people to Dallas, including their team of sportscasters. In addition, TV morning hosts Vince Vitrano and Mike Jacobs made the trip, along with WTMJ Radio's morning and afternoon show hosts.

WTMJ-TV is airing half hour reports from Dallas at 6:30 and 10:30 PM all this week, as well as a prime time preview at 9 PM this Saturday.

WITI-TV, which had sent Sports Director Tom Pipines to Pittsburgh last week to supplement their coverage, is in Dallas this week along with Tim Van Vooren and that station's morning show hosts and news anchors. The Fox TV affiliate will carry the game telecast, planning on a total of at least 12 hours of live coverage including the Fox pre-game and post-game coverage.

WISN-TV has a crew in Dallas and is sharing content with its sister TV station in Pittsburgh. Sports Director Dan Needles and sportscaster Dario Melendez are both on the scene all week. The station even plans a 4 hour live pre-game show on Sunday afternoon going up against the Fox TV national one. Interesting that a local and competing TV station can do so, given the price of commercial time on Fox.

Also on the radio side, WAUK ESPN 540 has hosts Drew Olson and Steve True in Dallas and plans 31 consecutive hours of coverage on Saturday and until game time on Sunday. WSSP 1250 also has its morning and afternoon host teams, including former Packer Leroy Butler on the scene.

Meanwhile, ESPN is looking ahead to upcoming seasons. Their newest college football analyst is none other than Urban Meyer, fresh from his coaching spot at the University of Florida. Meyer will do analysis on a game telecast each week and is expected to participate on "College Football Live".

I was certainly proven wrong by NHL fans when it came to this past Sunday's (1/30) All-Star Game. Versus reports strong ratings for its game telecast, even with it being a group of players with no rhyme or reason and even hardcore fans struggling to know who was on which team, with nothing to play for. Even with teammates forced to play against each other, the strong ratings could mean a return of this format for next year.

ESPN's Wednesday Night Baseball telecasts will have Dave O'Brien and Nomar Garciaparra on the call this season. The network completed its MLB assignments, putting Sean McDonough with Rick Sutcliffe and Aaron Boone on its Monday games.

Now that Comcast owns NBC-TV it will be interesting to see if this has any impact on the sports departments of NBC owned TV stations. Since the recent approval of ownership, rumors have begun in Chicago that Comcast SportsNet Chicago's reporters could take over the sports segments on newscasts on WMAQ-TV, the Chicago NBC station.

LOS ANGELES: Max Kellerman already has a co-host for his new midday show on ESPN 710. Former NFL player Marcellus Wiley has joined the show, now called "Max & Marcellus".

St. LOUIS: A successful debut of the KMOX nightly sports block on Monday (1/31) with "The Sports Hub" starting off. Hosts of the show include Mike Claiborne and Scott Warmann, as well as Blues voice Chris Kerber and Cardinals TV voice Dan McLaughlin. This show caps off the final 3 hours of sports programming, following Sports Open Line which airs from 6 to 9 PM. Kevin Wheeler and Ron Jacober are the hosts.

Cardinals radio voices John Rooney and Mike Shannon, along with Missouri Tigers voice Mike Kelly, will also participate as their schedules allow.

This sets the stage for the return of Cardinals baseball to KMOX in less than a month.

MINNEAPOLIS: It's the start of the end of an era on ESPN 1500, as Joe Soucheray's workload is reduced this month. After nearly 30 years, Joe will no longer co-host SportsTalk on Saturday mornings and will only appear with Patrick Reusse on weekdays from 3 to 4 PM instead of 2 to 4.

Judd Zulgad, the Vikings beat writer is ending his KFAN appearances to co-host the Saturday show as of February 19th.

COLUMBIA MO: There will be a new color commentator on University of Missouri football broadcasts this fall due to the retirement of John Kadlec from that role after 16 seasons. Kadlec had actually planned to retire one year ago but returned for "one more year" of working with Mike Kelly. He is 81 years young.

NORMAN OK: There are not many areas where college baseball receives significant radio coverage, but Norman is definitely one of them. KREF 1400 will again carry University of Oklahoma baseball, airing 54 games, plus any post-season games, complete with a 30 minute pre-game show. About half of those games, as called by Chuck Kelly and analyst Ross Hubbard, will air statewide on the Sooners Sports Network. Kelly starts his 7th year as play-by-play voice with the February 18th opening game.

SAVANNAH GA: Sorry to hear of the passing of Al Jennings on Friday (1/28). The 88 year young Jennings called local football games and Savannah's South Atlantic League minor league baseball team for years on WCCP and WJCL. He was the first media member inducted into the Greater Savannah Athletic Hall of Fame. A well deserved honor.