Thursday, February 9, 2012

When Sportscaster Comments Get Too Personal....

Sportscasters are hired and fired on (seemingly) a daily basis around the country. It's part of life, and especially a part of the radio & TV industry. However, it seems that terminations are happening (or not happening) for some strange reasons over the past few months.

Last year, we had the female sportscaster fired from an Arkansas station after she wore an out of state school's cap to a local press conference and the head coach got upset. Last month, a CBS Sports employee was fired for "reporting" Joe Paterno's death prematurely, while a Fox Sports employee was not publicly disciplined for "reporting" Joe Frazier's death prematurely.

Just last week, San Diego's XX Radio's Scott Kaplan was terminated from his morning show he co-hosted with ex-Charger Billy Ray Smith. This termination came within days of his comments about Andrea Lloyd, the women's basketball Hall of Fame member who serves as an analyst for Mountain West Sports. Kaplan referred to Lloyd on the air as a "beast", "animal" and a "sasquatch of a woman".

Don't get me wrong. I'm not supporting Kaplan for his comments, since (based on what I heard and read) they appear to have been more of a personal nature than a sports or broadcasting related comment. Yet, a large number of sports talk broadcasts include comments from hosts about specific players. "He can't catch anything thrown his way." "He couldn't hit the water if he fell out of the boat." And on it goes. Granted, these are not "personal" comments such as the ones referenced to Kaplan.

Perhaps Kaplan's comments were overstated or not phrased in the way he really meant them. He is entitled to dislike Andrea Lloyd no matter which sex she is. If Lloyd were a man, chances are these comments might have gotten a giggle or two from some listeners and no one would have thought anything of them. Hosts and callers criticize players, coaches, managers, and team executives for what they can and can't do all of the time.

It's just that calling someone a few inappropriate names is not as serious as reporting a death that hadn't happened yet or any other story which is proven to not be factual at the time.

Of course, XEPRS-AM Radio officials had not commented (as of press time) about the reason for the change of their morning show. Yet, Billy Ray Smith remains with the station, and "Dave and Jeff" have taken over the morning show.

LOS ANGELES: Normally a spring training broadcast schedule wouldn't be a big story, but when it's the Dodgers it is. A big part of the story is that Vin Scully will only describe one exhibition game this year, and that will be from Dodger Stadium on April 3 vs. the Angels. Again this season, Scully will call Dodger regular season home games and only those road games at division opponents except for Colorado. Yet, the Dodgers are among the leaders in baseball by televising 18 of their exhibition games on either Prime Ticket or KCAL-TV. Eric Collins, who handles the regular season road telecasts which Scully does not call, will handle the Arizona spring training telecasts with Steve Lyons.

HOUSTON: Even with 4 sports stations battling over a comparably smaller sports audience (compared with all other top 10 markets besides L.A.), the University of Houston has taken to streaming to provide thorough coverage of its Cougars teams. Each Friday from 9 to 11 AM the "Mo-Jo Sports Radio Show" is heard online at and features all U of H sports coverage. It isn't really radio, but this idea bears watching (or should I say listening?) because it fills a niche for fans of the school and its teams. The hosts plan to continue the show into spring semester even after the end of basketball season.

PHILADELPHIA: WIP AM and FM continue to split up for different sports programming, which expands on this excellent idea. Now comes the announcement that WIP-FM will also carry the FM simulcast of all Phillies baseball broadcasts from WPHT-AM starting with the spring training broadcasts by Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen. It seems a waste of a signal to always have the same programming on 2 stations. As WIP-FM adds more play-by-play separate from the AM signal, it gives listeners more options many evenings and weekends.

BANGOR: When WAEI-FM lost out on carrying WEEI from Boston and switched over to Fox Radio Sports back in 2010, the moved turned out to be the beginning of the end. The station has just changed to WBAK-FM and has dropped Fox Sports to switch to a music format.

RAPID CITY: As smaller market stations continue to saturate with network and syndicated programming, the amount of local programming continues to drop. This proved especially frustrating for local basketball fans on Wednesday (2/8) when the basketball game between South Dakota and South Dakota State was not aired on any of the local stations. KRKI-FM, which changed from ESPN Radio to Fox Sports Radio in late 2011, now only airs South Dakota State football, having decided to drop the school's basketball broadcasts prior to this season. Coincidentally, KIMM-AM and FM only carries University of South Dakota football. KIMM airs Stevens High School basketball games, as in both boys and girls games, and thus cites the added number of conflicts with USD basketball game. However, they do have both the AM and FM station. I would like to believe that fans would understand if one station carried the high school games and the other carried the college games when there are conflicts.

OKLAHOMA CITY: Still another loss among the sports media this week. This past Sunday (2/5) saw the passing of Ken Post, who held a variety of sports broadcast related roles in the area. Post, who was only 43, served as Operations Manager at Sports KEBC-AM and a produce at WKY and KTOK.

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