Tuesday, September 27, 2011

If It's Not On The Air And No One Hears It, Did They Report It?

If a radio station reports something but not over the air, does it still count? It seems that WSCR 670 The Score in Chicago raised that very question on Monday night (9/26).

It so happens that the Chicago White Sox are my favorite baseball team, so I was watching their game vs. Toronto on Monday night which began hours after (then) Manager Ozzie Guillen had met with team owner Jerry Reinsdorf and speculation was heavy that Guillen would not be returning as manager. Early in the game, media reports began to surface that this game would be Guillen's last as manager, which indeed was announced right as the game ended.

I had gone onto Twitter and began to follow various media reports about the Guillen situation while watching and listening to the White Sox game. It so happens that I find White Sox TV announcer Ken Harrelson (or "Horrible-son" as he is called by some) to be dreadful and instead listen to the radio play-by-play with Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson on WSCR.

Sometime around the 2nd inning, Ed Farmer said, to the effect of, (not an exact quote) "There has been a lot of speculation about manager Ozzie Guillen, but at this point it is all speculation, and if there is an official announcement we'll tell you".

A while later, a friend sent me a text message he received from WSCR, for which he signed up to receive texts of sports headlines. This text said, to the effect of "WSCR reports that Ozzie Guillen will be out as manager after the game". Of course, I told this friend that WSCR "has NOT" reported that, since I have been listening for over an hour prior to this text.

As the game itself progressed, various media reports surfaced with variations of the story that Guillen was managing his last game. Another friend who somehow tolerates the TV audio said that Harrelson and Steve Stone were discussing the Guillen reports during the game, while on WSCR (and the White Sox Radio Network), Farmer and Jackson gave no further mention of the situation until the 8th inning.

During the 8th inning, Ed Farmer said something to the effect of "There will be a news announcement at the end of the game" but did not elaborate. By that time, the various media reports I found via Twitter from a combination of print reporters, TV correspondents, and bloggers, were all reporting the upcoming announcement and press conference.

Now back to my initial question. Did WSCR "report" this information? The answer is philosophical as much as technical.

My personal philosophy is that WSCR The Score is a radio station, and that radio station did NOT report the Guillen story until Ed Farmer read the announcement on the air right after the final out of the game. To me, the web site and the Twitter updates and text messages are not the radio station. I understand that WSCR thinks it "reported" this news early on. Not everyone agrees with my personal philosophy, and that's fine.

However, it magnifies an issue I have been commenting on over the past couple of years. Maybe it's because I'm a radio guy from many years ago. It's not that I don't embrace the new media and social media being utilized by radio and TV stations, because I do. It's just that I still see WSCR as only being a radio station. Their web site, social media, and text messaging are secondary. My opinion is that WSCR did NOT report the Ozzie Guillen story until after the game had ended, whereas WSCR says it reported the story during the 2nd inning of the game. They are radio station, and their radio station itself did not give the information.

On a separate point, I find it interesting that White Sox TV and Radio took opposite approaches dealing with this breaking story even though the team has control over both broadcasts. If it were up to me, WSCR should have "broken in" during the game broadcast or between innings to truly report this story as a news source, just as they would for a weather bulletin.

As it is, WSCR is not a source I go to for breaking sports news. During the evening and many weekend times when there are big slates of games in progress, their so-called "Scoreboard Update" consists of what are really sports headlines and then the Chicago team scores. Some of their "reporters" go on as if there are no out of town games in existence instead of realizing that some people would tune in or stay tuned in longer to be kept up to date. Because of this, I see no reason to use their web site, subscribe to their text messages, or any of what I consider to be "extras". First, they have to deliver the goods on their true product, which is being a sports radio station. And, again, the radio station failed to deliver on the biggest story for White Sox fans all year, even though they were broadcasting the game.

Meanwhile, Ozzie Guillen also will not be returning (as of press time) to Fox TV Sports for its post-season coverage this year, although the White Sox will still have a presence. Guillen did pre and post-game analysis for Fox on its World Series coverage last year and also did color on the Spanish coverage. This year, White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski will be on the Fox crew for its ALCS and World Series coverage. Pierzynski was hired as analyst for ESPN studio coverage of the 2010 ALCS and World Series.

Speaking of the baseball post-season, it begins this Friday (9/30) with Turner Sports coverage of all Division Series action. Sorry to report that Ernie Johnson will be away due to the illness of his son. As a result, Brian Anderson moves up to the TBS lead crew and will be working a division series (to be determined) and then the entire NLCS with Ron Darling and John Smoltz as analysts.

Dick Stockton will be joined by Chicago Cubs TV analyst Bob Brenly, most likely on a National League series. The American League series will be handled by Don Orsillo (Red Sox TV voice) and Buck Martinez on one crew, and Victor Rojas and Joe Simpson on the other ALDS.

Fox Sports did follow up on the story which the Chicago Tribune reported a week after the fact regarding their use of fake headlines about Bears QB Jay Cutler during their week 1 telecast of the Chicago vs. Atlanta game. This past Sunday (9/25), Curt Menefee issued an on-air apology during its NFL Sunday pregame show, as if Daryl Johnston had been given incorrect information when he made the comments. The apology also was geared toward Jay Cutler as well as to the Chicago Bears in addition to the audience. Nice to see that Fox did respond to the matter and did so on a national basis.

NEW YORK: The N.Y. Daily News reports that the Yankees "are not close" to a new radio deal to start for next season even as the team enters the post-season. WCBS-AM 880 did not renew during its exclusive window, leading to speculation that WEPN ESPN 1050, WABC, and WRXP-FM could be in the running. The broadcast combination of John Sterling and Syzyn Waldman has also not been renewed as of press time.

SEATTLE: Even though the Mariners are finishing a bad season on the field, their radio relationship with KIRO 710 remains solid. The station has completed a multi-year extension to continue the broadcasts, which had returned to the station prior to the '09 season.

ATLANTIC CITY: AM 1490 now carries a simulcast of WIP AM-FM from Philadelphia, adding to the FM simulcast of the station in the Philadelphia area.

BOSTON: the Felger & Massarotti Show on 98.5 The Sports Hub will begin a TV simulcast on Comcast SportsNet next week. Felger is no stranger to the CSN audience outside of the Boston area, since he already hosts Sports Sunday and some Sports Tonight shows on CSN.

On one hand, the additional visibility could help in the radio ratings battle between the Sports Hub and WEEI, and also provide more regional coverage for the show since CSN has millions of potential viewers outside of the FM signal reach of the Hub. However, those viewers within the immediate Boston area would take away from radio ratings points.

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