Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Broadcast Booth - June 29th Update

A pair of temporary baseball assignments in the news this week. Jim Riggleman, until last week the manager of the Nationals, will have weekend work. Literally for just this coming (July 1 - 3) weekend. He will be at Wrigley field as an additional pre and post-game analyst for the White Sox vs. Cubs telecasts on Friday and Sunday on Comcast SportsNet Chicago on Friday and Sunday. Granted, it is merely a weekend assignment and is not a part of the actual game telecasts, but Riggleman's expertise figures to be excellent. In addition to having managed the Cubs earlier in his career, he comes into this role just over a week after having been the manager of the Marlins.

It is great to see a local telecast add such fresh analysis, even if it will be as part of a panel of analysts outside of the actual game telecast. The Saturday game of this series will be a Fox regional game, while the Friday and Sunday games are also televised on WGN-TV.

MLB Network, which continues to innovate and improve from month to month, brings us a treat next week. Its Friday July 8th telecast of the Mets at Giants game will feature a pair of legendary play-by-play voices. Bob Costas will call the game, even though it is a Friday night instead of Thursday, and will be joined by Al Michaels.

Since the telecast cannot be shown in the San Francisco or New York markets, the duo will spend at least one inning in each of the S.F. and N.Y. local TV booths, with Gary Cohen and Ron Darling switching over to the MLB Network telecast while this happens in the Mets' booth. Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow will do the same while Costas and Michaels call it for Giants TV.

Although Al Michaels is now known for his NFL work over the past 20+ years, it was baseball which originally brought him to the network level back in the 70's for ABC's Monday Night Baseball. He had been the radio voice of the Cincinnati Reds on WLW until 1974. By the way, the man who replaced Michaels is still calling Reds radio. Marty Brennaman, who since has become a Hall of Fame baseball broadcaster, was his replacement.

As you would expect, the upcoming holiday weekend features a ton of nationally televised baseball. On Friday (1st) MLB Network shows the Yankees vs. Mets game, and then celebrates Monday (4th) and the return to league action with a doubleheader. As you would also expect, it's the American League East, with Toronto vs. Boston at 1 PM ET and the Yankees at Cleveland at 6 PM ET.

Sporting News Radio has, as expected, gone literally down the hallway to complete its search for its 1 to 4 PM ET weekday show. The network will really be simulcasting the Sean Pendergast Show from KGOW 1560 Houston, just as it does with the Travis Rodgers show that follows, starting next week.

Meanwhile, I'm in shock about the story regarding Charlie Sheen and what he supposedly did during the filming of the "Major League" movie many years ago. But not because of the content of the story. What is shocking is that this "story" actually made several sportscasts and the sports sections. If it were my sportscast, or if I was still a Sports Director (which I'm sure some of my detractors will gladly remind me that I'm not), there is no way on earth that "story" would take even one second of air time, unless it was from a caller I would want interrupted.

Sorry, Charlie. That movie was years ago, was fictional, and this story has nothing to do with sports news.

CLEVELAND: Another step in the growing trend of pro sports teams taking over from radio stations. Several pro teams have their own deals with radio stations in which they (the team) sell some or all of the advertising, hire the announcers and staff, and have virtually full control. Now, the Cleveland Browns are taking over to have "Cleveland Browns Daily" air when they want it to.

The Browns want the 6 to 7 PM time for a weekday show surrounding their season. However, flagship station WTAM could not offer that time slot, due mainly to its having Indians and Cavaliers broadcasts on many weeknights during the Browns training camp, exhibition season, and regular season.

Now, the Browns have arranged for "their" show to air during the 6 PM hour all year round, and it will air on WKNR Sports 850 instead. The team, not the station, has hired Vic Carucci, most recently employed by, to host the show. As of press time, the start date has not been determined due to the NFL lockout.

As a longtime radio person, this disturbs me because the team is taking control of two radio stations by doing this. The flagship station loses a team focused show. And chances are that game broadcasts and this show will have some degree of cross promotion. Yet, these stations both compete for the sports audience during that time of night. It's hard to believe that both stations could be allowing the other's call letters to be aired as a result.

SAN FRANCISCO: KBWF 95.7, the latest addition to the Bay Area sports radio scene, continues to grow its local presence within its first few weeks on the air. Eric Davis has taken over the 2 to 6 PM spot, with the former NFL player (13 seasons) handling much more than only NFL related topics. Davis will, if and when the NFL season gets going, continue his role as analyst on 49ers radio while Ted Robinson returns for play-by-play.

Now the station is adding John Lund to host middays, starting August 1st. Lund has hosted for an impressive roster of sports stations around the country, including WXYT The Ticket in Detroit, KESN Dallas, and WEAE-AM Pittsburgh. He comes to the Bay Area from KXTG The Game in Portland.

HOUSTON: KGOW The Game 1560 has added Rice University football and basketball broadcasts beginning in the next few weeks as it begins a 4-year contract. Also included will be a Monday night one hour show specific to Rice sports. However, some of the Rice football games will be moved to KCOH 1430 due to pre-existing conflicts.

PORTLAND: With the departure of John Lund to San Francisco, KXTG 750 has named Brian Berger to host "The Sports Insider" during its 10 AM to Noon weekday spot.

HARTFORD: The AHL (hockey) Connecticut Whale games are movin' on up thanks to a new deal for the coming season. Their regular season games will air on rock station WCCC 106.9, with Bob Crawford retained to call the games. Crawford has done the play-by-play since the franchise came to Hartford in 1997. However, this past season only found the games on the HD2 channel of WTIC. (Does that count?) Safe to say that the presence of minor league hockey did not result in a surge of HD Radio sales locally.

CHAPEL HILL: The University of North Carolina's Tar Heels Network has made its choice to succeed the legendary Woody Durham as play-byplay voice for football and basketball after 40 years. But they didn't have to go very far. As expected by many, Jones Angell moves over from analyst to the play-by-play role after his work with Durham for the past six seasons. Angell has been calling UNC baseball, including five trips to the College World Series, over the past 11 years. No word yet on who will be selected as the new analyst.

Have a safe and happy Independence Day weekend!!

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.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Broadcast Booth - June 14th Update

The vast majority of pro basketball fans had a definite reaction late Sunday night when Dallas defeated Miami in what many term an upset to win the NBA Championship. However, it was far from a "championship performance" at the local sports-talk level when that happened.

A check of Miami sports stations within an hour of the championship having been lost by the Heat revealed that none of them had a local show on the air. No immediate opportunity for Heat fans to express their frustration, disappointment, and/or aggravation at what had just happened. Just as incredible is how Dallas' sports radio stations were just as guilty. Nothing local and live.

I'm sure I'll get private responses from friends and others I don't know within the industry who will point out that this was late on Sunday night, was a minimal audience time slot, and that station management did not know for sure the NBA Finals would not be taken to a Game 7. I know those things, and they are true.

However, there is more involved here. Sports radio stations seem to place top priority on letting the listeners react to a breaking sports story. Sometimes to the point of too much priority over the players, coaches, and executives making the news. In Dallas and Miami (and you could even include Cleveland in the mix with LeBron James not winning the championship), this was a major moment in the sports history of that city. But local fans had no local radio station to call and celebrate or vent. Every one of them that tuned in to their favorite local sports station and heard national and in a couple of cases unrelated programming will remember that. They weren't going to 'hold that thought' until the next morning or afternoon and call in after the fact.

These stations should have been ready for this. Have a regular host in the studio or able to get there within minutes of the game ending to go on the air and have a special edition of NBA Finals discussion. They should have been on spurring fan reaction either way for at least an hour. And then spent much of the following day letting listeners know that they were letting listeners react right away with that 'special edition'.

Why? Credibility is the #1 reason. Having the midday guy saying "Did you hear that one guy blaming Dwayne Wade 20 minutes after the game was over?" and talking about the station doing a post-game call-in show tells the audience that they can depend on their favorite sports station for immediate reaction of a major story - no matter when it happens. And this story could have and should have been anticipated.

Years ago, I had the opportunity to cover a championship team's return home and literally went on the air live from the airport with updates at 3:30 in the morning. By the time I returned to the studios with interviews and to record a wrap-up, the morning man was already in. So we recorded a special wrap up for him to air during the morning, letting people know the station provided live coverage overnight, and letting me get to sleep. Even though it was not a large audience at 3:30 in the morning, being able to let the audience know we did it reminded listeners to tune in when something big happens.

Several times during the next day, mentions were made of how "our live coverage" continued up until nearly 4 AM "for those who stayed up to celebrate". These days, too many radio stations forget that sports fans have numerous choices to react and/or to get news and scores, including their phones, online, and multiple sports TV channels.

And this was not an all sports station I was working for. To think that stations dedicated to sports in these major cities ignored this opportunity is disappointing to say the least.

Meanwhile, congrats to NBA broadcaster Jim Durham on finally being selected for the Basketball Hall of Fame. Prior to calling national games for ESPN Radio along with an occasional TV assignment, Durham called Mavericks games from 1993 to 2001. He established himself as one of the best during his 18 seasons as radio voice of the Chicago Bulls, leaving after Michael Jordan's first championship season of 1990-91. Durham will be inducted on August 12th.

CBS Sports has signed former University of Michigan football head coach Rich Rodriguez to do both studio work and analysis on its college telecasts. He will work with play-by-play voice Dave Ryan during game telecasts.

The latest monthly radio ratings for May are coming out, with most of the Top 10 markets having been announced as of press time on Tuesday. In New York, WCBS-AM dropped .7 overall, but is 6th overall in the market with its Yankees broadcasts. WFAN finished only 17th overall with WEPN at #25, although both stations held steady compared with the prior month. In Chicago, WSCR The Score dropped since April and fell back into a tie with rival WMVP ESPN Radio, which held steady for the 3rd straight month. In Los Angeles, KSPN and KLAC both held steady, although their overall combined ratings still would not make the top 20 in the market.

In San Francisco, KNBR finishes at 6th overall this time. Even with a slight drop in total audience, they leave the other sports stations in the dust. In Philadelphia, WIP lost .5 overall from the month before, while WPEN held steady for the third month in a row. News station KYW is 2nd overall and continues with regular sports score and information updates.

Dallas and Houston continue to show different levels of interest in sports radio. KTCK The Ticket and KESN ESPN now rank only 17th and 18th overall, but both stations showed a .4 overall audience increase. KRLD-FM trails, but showed a .2 increase. Thus, the 3 sports stations combined for a one full point ratings increase. In Houston< KILT, KMBE, and KFNC each showed .1 increases overall. However, even combined they would barely dent the top 20 in the entire market. What makes the Houston numbers significant is that Houston is the largest market without a news station ranked in the top 12 overall.

Baseball fans around the country are practically needing to be reminded that there are other races in progress besides the Yankees and Red Sox. On Monday (6/13) and on Weds. (6/15) ESPN had or will have the Yankees on its Monday Night and Weds. Night Baseball telecasts. On Tuesday (6/14) and scheduled for Thursday (6/16), MLB Network did and will carry the Red Sox vs. Tampa. On Friday (6/17), MLB Network carries the Yankees at Chicago Cubs game in the afternoon, while the same matchup is a Fox regional game for Saturday. The series concludes on Sunday (6/19) on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball. This left TBS with only one choice (or so it seems) for Sunday afternoon, as it will show the Brewers at Red Sox. Next Monday's ESPN Monday Night game? You guessed it. Yankees at Cincinnati. The TBS game for Sunday June 26th is scheduled to be Colorado at the Yankees.

St. LOUIS: WXOS ESPN 101.1 has hired Kent Sterling as its Program DIrector. Sterling had earlier programmed KFNI The Fan Indianapolis, and replaces Jason Barrett who joined recent San Francisco new sports talker KBWF 95.7.

TAMPA: Gene Deckerhoff will continue his busy weekends for a while. The long time football play-by-play voice signed a 2-season extension to call the Buccaneers games, as he has done since 1989. The 12 time FL Sportscaster of the Year also continues to call Florida State Seminoles football on Saturdays.

LUFKIN TX: The Lufkin High School Panthers will have a different radio station for their football and basketball broadcasts starting this fall. KYKS Kicks 105 will air the football games while KTBQ 107 will air the basketball, with Gary Ivins getting the play-by-play role. Why is this big news? Because those games will no longer air on KRBA 1340, on which they have aired since 1938 when the family owned station first signed on the air.

LINCOLN: KNTK The Ticket 93.7 is set to debut within the next few weeks as the new sports station. The station has now hired Adrian Fiala, previously an analyst on the Nebraska Husker Sports Network, and former KLKN-TV sportscaster John Gaskins, will be among the local show hosts. The station will also carry Fox Sports programming.

LAKE CHARLES LA: KEZM-AM from the nearby town of Sulphur may not survive this year. The sports station's ownership has until the end of the year to find a new transmitter site location, but reportedly lacks the finances to do so.

Finally, this blog takes a look at "top sports media scandals" of recent years:

Interesting to ponder, while we realize that the NHL season outlasted the NBA season, even though the Stanley Cup playoffs started a week sooner.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Broadcast Booth - June 8th Update.....

Washington D.C.'s ESPN 980 has begun a 24-hour delay for show podcasts, rather than stream them live. From a radio standpoint, I personally think this is a positive move. I love the internet as much as anyone, especially as a sports fan, but in general radio stations have not handled this technology as well as they could. It's good to see this station acknowledge that the over-the-air station is the priority and that other forms of media should spin off from there.

Thus, if you want to hear what the station is doing, you need your radio. That's the way it was originally designed. I do understand that the station is streamed live over cell phones, which can be measured in terms of the audience ratings.

By doing this, the online site becomes a supplement to the station itself. Now, only if you miss a particular show or segment you wanted to hear, you can go back to it the next day or for a few days after for only those parts you missed. Until now, when "listeners" would instantly download the podcast of a just completed show, it took away from actually listening to the station and therefore being "measured" as part of the audience. In addition, same day listeners would then get scores and comments which were hours old and might have already been outdated, which could somewhat impact the credibility of the station in the listener's mind.

Whereas, going back a day or two later, you are going for something specific and understand the other information is outdated. This also frees you up to listen to what is live and current. It's the same thing as the amazingly large number of music stations which sell downloads of the songs they play. Once listeners download the songs they really like and can carry them around, they no longer need to listen to that station.

They are and plan to be a live radio station, and the priority should be placed on giving listeners as many reasons as possible to tune in and listen live.

KSL Radio Salt Lake City has unveiled a creative innovation, albeit geared slightly more toward current and potential advertisers than listeners. The station has taken to the web and its partnership with BYU to air its football and basketball games to boast about its listening audience. A new web page details the specifics about the popularity of its BYU broadcasts compared with University of Utah games on another station.

This story comes after the ESPN 980 story for a reason. These are both examples of radio stations using the internet to boost listening to the station instead of taking away from it. Looking at the KSL information leaves one with a more powerful impression of KSL and its BYU broadcasts for the future.

That link is:

Meanwhile, NFL fans could have a choice among father and son play-by-play voices next season (whenver that may be). Marv Albert has indeed joined the CBS-TV roster of NFL play-by-play voices, likely handling early Sunday games. He will have the same duties as son Kenny Albert, who calls regional NFL games for Fox TV. Depending on which games go to which markets, there figures to be Sunday afternoons when viewers will choose between Alberts in the same markets. Marv will continue his NBA duties with TNT next season. However, he will no longer call the New Jersey Nets games locally for YES. Ironically, when the Nets move to their new NYC arena next year, we can say that Albert won't be calling the games "from".

Of course, Marv is no stranger to calling NFL games, having done AFC telecasts for NBC-TV for 19 years and several seasons calling Monday Night Football on Westwood One Radio.

Speaking of NBA on TNT play-by-play voices who also call NFL games, Verne Lundquist has also picked up another assignment. Verne will handle up to three exhibition games for Denver Broncos TV in August, if there is a pre-season. Lundquist will call some football for certain, as he will be calling SEC Football telecasts starting in September.

Sporting News Radio is closer to changing its weekday afternoon offering. It appears that the network has decided to drop Two Live Stews (brothers Ryan & Doug Stewart) at the end of this month of June. The show continues as usual in Atlanta on WQXI, presumably with an even more local Atlanta focus, which is a positive for the WQXI listeners. No replacement show has been announced by SNR, with speculation leaning toward them picking up the KGOW Houston afternoon show, since the network is now based from Houston.

ESPN/ABC are thinking more and more about beefing up college football programming for lack of NFL games in September. Whether appearing on ABC, ESPN, or ESPN2 (which may vary due to individual market location), the network has added more regional non-conference games for the first three weeks of the season:

Saturday, Sept 3 (noon): Akron at Ohio State
(3:30 p.m.): Western Michigan at Michigan
Saturday, Sept. 10 (noon): Florida Atlantic at Michigan State
(noon): Oregon State at Wisconsin
(3:30 p.m.): Alabama at Penn State
Saturday, Sept. 17 (noon): Pittsburgh at Iowa
(3:30 p.m.) Washington at Nebraska

This announcement 'just happens' to go through three weeks and be made when the NFL exhibition games are now being threatened by the current (at press time) NFL lockout.

HOUSTON: KILT 610 will carry the Rockets broadcasts with Craig Ackerman for a 10th consecutive season, with Joel Blank continuing as studio host for the 2011-12 season.

PHOENIX: Bruce Jacobs has returned to sports talk. After nearly seven years as a conservative talk show host (on KFYI), Jacobs has joined KDUS 1060 The Fan as of this week (6/6), replacing Kevin McCabe. He was popular as an afternoon sports talk host on XTRA 910 for several years prior. Mike Muraco and Dan Manucci continue with "Calling All Sports" from 3 to 6 PM on KDUS.

SEATTLE: Sister stations KTTH-AM and KIRO ESPN 710 have teamed up for a new three-year deal in support of Washington State University Cougars football and basketball. KTTH-AM will air play-by-play of both sports, while KIRO will feature regular segments with the coaches and related game information.

ANCHORAGE: KUDO 1080 has returned to the airwaves, and it is now Sports 1080 The Ticket. The signal had literally been off the air from December until this week (6/6). They will air Anchorage Bucs baseball, and are expected to carry college football and Dallas Cowboys football if and when there is a NFL season. At this point, the majority of the programming will be from Fox Sports Radio.

MUNCIE IN: Still another sports station got fed up with the demands of ESPN Radio at contract time, and WXFN 1340 dropped ESPN in favor of Fox Sports. With practically zero warning, listeners on Monday (6/6) heard Fox's Zakk & Jack Show instead of Mike & Mike. I'm told the change came literally at 12:01 AM.

WXFN will continue to carry Ball State football and basketball, as well as (non-conflicting) Pacers basketball and Cincinnati Reds baseball broadcasts.

SPRINGFIELD IL: The Central IL market lost a pioneer on Sunday (6/5) with the passing of 84 year-old Coley Cowan. After a stint in Huntington WV in the 50's calling Marshall University football, Cowan was hired in Springfield in 1960, eventually shifting to sports including play-by-play. Fans also know Cowan from his fill-in roles as P.A. announcer at U. of Illinois, Bradley, Illinois State, and Southern Illinois basketball games over the years. He also called minor league baseball when the Springfield Redbirds were a St. Louis Cardinals affiliate.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Broadcast Booth - June 2nd Update

It is always interesting when teams in different sports and local media work together for the enjoyment and benefit of local sports fans. Boston fans figure to benefit from just that this weekend.

While the Bruins are playing in the Stanley Cup finals, the primary sports focus is toward the ice during June for the first time in Boston. (I don't recall the Bruins being in a totally in June championship series prior to this season.) From a marketing standpoint, the Bruins' timing couldn't be any better. Local fans have moved on since the Celtics were eliminated in the 2nd round, and there is uncertainty over when the Patriots next game will be.

WBZ-FM The Sports Hub has shown a ratings increase for the entire station above and beyond its broadcasts of all of the Bruins games during this run.

Yet, June in Boston also means a major focus on the Red Sox, especially this season as the Red Sox are already battling the Yankees for American League East supremacy. Yet, the Red Sox have come to the rescue for Boston and New England area sports fans this Saturday (6/4).

Originally scheduled to host the Oakland A's for a night game in Fenway Park, the Red Sox have moved their game to a 1 PM day game. This was absolutely not a move for TV. This week, Fox Sports returns to its usual 4:10 ET start time for its regional games, and the Red Sox vs. A's games is not one of them. Therefore, this decision to move the game to the afternoon appears to be so that fans can enjoy both the Red Sox and Bruins games on Saturday.

Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals is on Saturday night, which would have originally conflicted with most of the Red Sox game. WEEI certainly benefits, along with NESN, which air the Red Sox games. In this instance, so do the fans who want to follow both teams on the same day.

It is nice to see something like this done to benefit the fans rather than for a TV network.

One of my contacts at a sports station that competes against The Dan Patrick Show asked me privately if I was going to comment about The Dan Patrick Show being reruns again on Memorial Day. At first, I told him I wouldn't, since I was done with that last holiday season. Guess I'm not done with that.

On the morning of Memorial Day, the story broke about Jim Tressel resigning from Ohio State, a big sports story. Naturally, I (like other sports fans, I'm sure) wanted to get some reaction to it. Of course, ESPN on TV and radio had the usual live coverage. In fact, Colin Cowherd was live on ESPN discussing that very topic. Then, it's over to The Dan Patrick Show. At the time I tuned in, during its usual air time, Patrick was discussing the Celtics vs. Heat series. You know, the one that ended more than two weeks ago.

Again, I have liked Dan Patrick for the past 20+ years as much as most other sports fans. And, yes, he is entitled to days off. But, frankly, the show is not. A rerun or "best of"?

This is another insult to sports fans everywhere. Who would possibly be listening to analysis of a series that already happened?

As my contact pointed out, this was another boost for stations competing against The Dan Patrick Show. Sports fans wanting information about the Tressel story, and to hear about the Indy 500 from the day before, look toward the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Finals about to start, and the "one-third" point of the baseball season would obviously head toward those other stations or networks.

The Patrick Show airs on several regional TV sports networks which are based around live sports coverage, as well as on sports radio stations around the country. Their credibility is put at risk by this. And let's just say I'm glad I'm not an advertiser on that show, or responsible for placement, because they paid for nothing that day.

Based on the number of TV and radio stations supporting the show, there is no excuse for not having one or more other hosts doing a live show when Dan is not working. There are the "Danettes" in the studio on a daily basis. Better yet, there is no reason not to bring in a host from a major market to fill in, such as Fox Sports Radio does, and/or a current or former player in the studio to bring fresh, live, and interesting content.

DALLAS: The Rangers decided to end their announcer experiment less than 2 months in to the current season, giving the quick hook to John Rhadigan's TV play-by-play assignment. Rhadigan has already moved back to his studio pre and post-game role (since no official replacement had been named yet), while Dave Barnett moved over from the radio to the TV booth for at least the rest of this season. Former pitcher and analyst Steve Busby will take on some of the radio duties, along with pre and post-game host Bryan Dolgin handling some, each working with Eric Nadal for the rest of the season.

It's too early to tell whether or not the team will seek a fresh TV voice for 2012 and beyond and move Barnett back to the radio booth, or continue this arrangement and bring a regular partner for Nadal for next season. This all happened after the team did not rehire Josh Lewin, who continues to host a midday show on The Fan KRLD-FM locally.

MOBILE: WNSP 105.5 is another station which did not renew with ESPN Radio, reportedly over money issues, as of Wednesday (6/1). The station continues as all sports, and is keeping its local morning show with Lee Shirvanian and Mak Heim and afternoon shows with Paul Finebaum, and then Pat Greenwood with Randy Kennedy. In addition, the station now goes local from Noon to 2 PM weekdays with the "Sidelines" show with Randy Burgan. The station had carried ESPN programming since 1994, and now has added Sporting News Radio for the remaining spots and weekends. It will also continue to carry the New Orleans Saints games along with South Alabama football and basketball broadcasts.

NATIONAL: Speaking of Fox Sports Radio, their "Loose Cannons" with Pat O'Brien and others will be away from June 20 to July 1st. Of course, the network has replacements lined up. Andy Furman, the Cincinnati based sports talker who has filled in and hosted weekend shows for Fox over the past couple of years, will be teamed with Chicago talker Mike North from 3 to 7 PM ET weekdays during those two weeks. This is expected to be a tryout for Furman to move into a weekday slot at some point in the near future. Mike North, formerly of WSCR Chicago, has previously filled in on WFAN New York, and hosts weekend shows on Fox Sports Radio currently as well.

PHILADELPHIA: Local listeners will hear less of Tony Bruno, as Bruno is giving up his extra duty co-host spot on WPEN 950 early afternoons. Bruno had been doing these two hours just for the Philly audience along with his national late night show. WPEN co-host Harry Mayes will continue, likely with a new co-host being added in the near future to lead into Mike Missanelli's show.

SALT LAKE: The University of Utah's move into the Pac-12 is already resulting in added football exposure for the coming season. Now three of their games are scheduled for national TV on three different networks. The Sept. 10th vs. USC will be on Versus, Sept. 17 vs. BYU on ESPN, and Nov. 25 vs. Colorado on Fox Sports.

TACOMA: Sorry to hear of the passing of Clay Huntington at the age of 89. Huntington is believed to have been a factor in Tacoma getting a AAA baseball team in the early 60's. He called the Class A Tacoma Tigers back in the late 1940's and early '50's, and after that called recreations of MLB games for a 14 station network in the northwest states.