Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Broadcast Booth - June 23 Update

When does one team's policy about announcers doing every game impact the two largest media markets? Seems to be when the N.Y. Knicks have one policy and the L.A. Lakers have another.

Spero Dedes had reportedly verbally agreed to move over to the L.A. Lakers TV side for the long haul until he learned that doing so would prevent him from his expanding national work for CBS TV. The Lakers do not want their announcers missing games due to outside conflicts. Yet, this decision by the team ultimately impacted three other announcers.

The Lakers moved on, and immediately signed Bill MacDonald to handle TV play-by-play, working with Stu Lantz. MacDonald has been a part of the Lakers TV coverage for years, most notably handling studio segments and regularly interviewing now retired Head Coach Phil Jackson. MacDonald would have been the Lakers radio voice until this opening came along. Next, the Lakers named sideline reporter John Ireland to the radio play-by-play gig starting for the coming season. Ireland will team with Mychal Thompson.

Ironically, long-time Los Angeles based sportscaster Joel Meyers was taken out of consideration for the TV job earlier due to regional and national play-by-play conflicts. The Lakers seem to remember Meyers missing the telecast of the game in which Kobe Bryant scored 81 points.

While Dedes will continue his assignments for CBS TV, which are expected to include NFL regional telecasts if and when there will be a season. And, since it so happens the N.Y. Knicks are among those teams that allow their announcers flexibility, Dedes will still be calling some NBA games as his schedule allows.

The Knicks have hired Dedes to call some games on MSG Network, most likely covering conflicts for Mike Breen when he has ESPN/ABC games to call. Dedes worked at YES Network before heading to L.A. handling Yankees and Nets studio hosting.

Next NBA season will be the final one with the Lakers on KCAL-TV, as their huge multi-year cable package is scheduled to kick in for the 2012-13 season.

Football voice Tim Brando will soon have his Sporting News Radio show simulcast on CBS Sports Network as an unexpected partnership has been formed between the two networks. His 3-hour late morning show will add the TV element on August 22, just in time for the start of the college football season, and originate from Shreveport.

Joe Morgan, bounced from his ESPN analyst role prior to this season after 21 seasons, will begin hosting a radio show, coincidentally on August 22nd. He has been hired by Sports USA for a one hour weekday show, and it supposedly will not be limited to baseball. Without Jon Miller to bail him out, it might be worth a listen to hear him give conflicting views within the same thought about football and basketball too.

Meanwhile, whether it is a negotiation ploy by the league or fear of needing programming desparately, the NFL Network is actually going ahead with showing Canadian Football League games for "at least" 5 weeks. This will mean two games each week in the early going. If there are no NFL games, the Network has the ability to increase its CFL coverage.

As of now, the coverage is scheduled through July and is open for early August when the NFL is scheduled to have its pre-season games. For those chomping at the bit to know, these start on Thurs. June 30th with British Columbia at Montreal and then Sat. July 2 with Toronto at Calgary.

All of this while NFL Network is supposedly working toward a package of 15 (or more if the regular season expands) Thursday Night Football telecasts, with NBC retaining the Thursday season opener.

Other networks are also working toward having football programming if and as the NFL games are not played as scheduled in September and beyond. It's to the point where CBS Sports Network is paying for a package of Patriot League football games. Participating schools include Colgate, Bucknell, American, and Lehigh. The Network will also carry several basketball games.

If CFL and Patriot League games are considered for replacing a possible NFL football void, frankly it doesn't justify the NFL players asking for all that money. Let's hope it doesn't come to this.

CHICAGO: Local announcers in the news, and it's all positive. Blackhawks radio voices John Wiedeman and Troy Murray were honored, and justifably so, with the Illinois Association Silver Dome Award, for their work on WGN Radio.

Cubs TV play-by-play voice Len Kasper has been signed to a five-year contract extension that keeps him in the TV booth through the 2016 season. Kasper is now in his 7th season, teamed with analyst Bob Brenly, who is currently signed through the 2012 season.

It's not as positive for WMAQ-TV this week. This past Sunday (6/19), the local NBC-TV station showed interview clips with both Chicago baseball managers (Ozzie Guillen of the White Sox and Mike Quade of the Cubs) as usual. However, the graphics identified BOTH as "General Manager" of their respective teams. This while now "sister network" Comcast SportsNet Chicago displays the "now part of NBC Sports" promos throughout its (to this point) outstanding coverage of the local teams. Yikes.

NASHVILLE: The NFL Titans have extended contracts with their radio and TV flagship stations. WGFX 104.5 will continue to air the games, with Mike Keith on play-by-play and analyst Frank Wycheck, as well as the (head coach) Mike Munchak Show for one hour on Tuesday nights.

WKRN-TV 2 will continue to televise 'non-network' exhibition games and the TV version of the Mike Munchak Show. In addition, the team tried to make it a big deal that their broadcasts will also be available on SiriusXM Satellite. Their announcement overlooked the fact that the Titans had been the only NFL team not already doing so.

MILWAUKEE: The woes of sports talk radio are no more evident in any "major league" market as they are this month in Milwaukee. The latest monthly ratings again show WTMJ, with Brewers play-by-play, as a strong #1 in the market, while a news/talk station the majority of the time it does not have game broadcasts. Once again, those same ratings showed WSCR The Score from Chicago (75 miles away) with the same overall audience rating in the Milwaukee market as the TWO Milwaukee sports radio stations. Thus, WTMJ now has literally more than 10 times the audience of both WAUK and WSSP combined!

Within the week, WSSP let go of Doug Russell, who had been its morning drive co-host, and named the show's producer Chuck Freimund as the new co-host. Russell also had served as Sports Director. The first inkling of this actually came from Russell via Twitter. Wonder if more people knew it from there or from listening to the station.

MIAMI: The uncertainty about if and when the NFL exhibition game season will start gives the Dolphins more time to decide how they will handle their game broadcasts after the passing of Jim Mandich. As of now (press time) Jimmy Cefalo and Joe Rose are the only definites, with no announcement yet of a third man in the booth.

VALDOSTA GA: WTHV 810 has added a local sports show during morning drive with a major focus on the local high school sports scene. Monty Long is primary host, with Marty Rodgers and Taylor Biddle also participating.

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