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.