Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sports Talkers On The Rise

First and foremost, our sincere prayers and best wishes to all those impacted by Hurricane Sandy and all that went with it. For the moment, it puts sports and how it is covered in the background, but soon, a lot of people will need the relief and the escape that sports is supposed to provide.

At press time on Tuesday, some of the late September to mid-October radio ratings are coming out for the top markets. In New York, as WFAN is about to begin its move to the FM dial on Saturday (11/3), the station showed a .4 overall increase to a 3.2, good for 13th place. Of course, the increase is more likely due to the Yankees being in the East Division race until the last day of the season (before clinching it) and then into the post-season for the duration of the ratings period.

In Los Angeles, KSPN 710 is showing signs of life, inching up to 24th place overall, while KLAC 570 lingers in 32nd place, even after a full season as the Dodgers' flagship station. Chicago listeners have again increased WSCR The Score 670 up to 13th place overall. Although rival WMVP ESPN 1000 showed a significant .6 increase (to a 1.9 overall), it finished 23rd overall. San Francisco listeners, as you might expect, had Giants fever and put KNBR 680 into the top spot overall. Despite the amazing season by the Oakland A's and the sellout crowds during the final homestand and Division Series, KGMZ The Game showed only a slight increase and is out-rated by KNBR by a higher than 4-to-1 margin.

Perhaps Philadelphia is the most interesting race among the sports stations around the country. The move to FM seems to have taken over in Philly. WIP-FM has risen to 10th overall, and now has more than six times the total audience of WIP-AM, which now airs more separate programming than in the past. WPEN-FM ESPN rose by .3 and is up to 19th overall, also trumping the ratings by its AM signal. This would seem to bode well for WFAN going to FM, at first with a simulcast, and a possible "split" with the AM going to national programming just after the first of the year.

As for baseball ratings, the World Series ratings seem to reflect the decline in the local telecast ratings of several MLB teams during the just concluded season. Ratings were down overall in comparison for the World Series, even with two of the top market teams involved (Detroit and San Francisco). It could be that football, both college (Saturday night Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma) and NFL (Sunday and Monday nights) was a factor. It wasn't that long ago that NBC did not provide a Sunday Night Football telecast during World Series weekend.

Yet, there is a cause for concern for MLB. Although it is an indirect comparison, the NBA Finals did better in the ratings this year than the World Series, making it five times in the  past seven years that has happened. And this June's Finals were decided in only five games, so you can't "blame" a deciding game. In 2012, even the NCAA BCS Championship Series (football) and Final Four (basketball) showed better audience numbers than the World Series.

MLB Network is returning its "Hot Stove" show on Monday November 12th. What's interesting this time is that the show will supposedly originate in the morning, rather than early evening. This could be MLB looking to compete against the NFL Network's weekday morning show by starting during the off-season. This gives MLB Network the chance to refine and develop the show, in hopes of luring viewers over after the Super Bowl leading into the start of spring training.

In an ironic twist, the Dan Patrick Show will be seen on NBC Sports Network starting next Monday (Nov. 5). The Show was dropped a few weeks ago by the Comcast SportsNet regional networks, which, of course, are owned by NBC. Hopefully, and especially with the holiday season coming up, NBC Sports Network will assure having guest hosts on the holidays (and days such as the Friday after Thanksgiving) so that the Dan Patrick Show will have live and fresh content every weekday. Especially now, there is NO excuse for showing repeats during mornings when there are plenty of games and sports news to talk about, and when many viewers can watch who do not otherwise have the opportunity during the regular work week.

CBS-TV will bring viewers an SEC doubleheader on Saturday (11/3), with Ole Miss at Georgia at 3:30 ET (Tim Brando on the call) and then Alabama vs. LSU at 8:00 ET (with Verne Lundquist).

St. LOUIS: A great move, in more ways than one, for sports fans courtesy of KMOX. As the station moves from its long-time studios, the station has posted a link to comments from several major sportscasters and reporters reflecting:


SARASOTA: WTMY 1280 is returning its local 3 to 6 PM "Ozzie & The Godfather Show" after only two weeks of national programming.

SCRANTON: Congrats to John Sadak on being named as play-by-play voice of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees minor league games starting in 2013. The former voice of the Wilmington Blue Rocks replaces Mike Vander Woude, who had announced that he was leaving the position after the team was eliminated from the International League playoffs last month. Sadak is expected to continue calling regional college football games for ESPN.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Will TV Ratings Jump Through The Hoops?

While the NFL telecasts continue to produce major ratings and the NHL is no closer to starting (as of press time), it remains to be seen how the early season NBA telecast ratings will fare now that the regular season is only a few days away from starting.

As always, NBA fans will be treated to four consecutive nights of nationally televised doubleheaders. Next Tuesday (Oct. 30) has TNT with season openers from Miami (including the ring ceremony vs. the Celtics) and then Dallas at Los Angeles (Lakers). On Wednesday (Oct. 31), NBA-TV takes over with a doubleheader that has San Antonio opening at New Orleans followed by the Lakers playing in Portland.

On Thursday, TNT shows another local matchup, as the Brooklyn Nets will host the New York Knicks, followed by another strong Western Conference matchup between Oklahoma City and San Antonio. Then, on Friday (Nov. 2), ESPN makes its regular season telecast debut with Miami at New York followed by the Lakers and Clippers from Los Angeles.

Granted, the NBA could have some serious sports audience competition for as many as three of those four nights. The first two scheduled regular nights' viewership could depend on the length of the World Series, while the Nov. 1st telecasts on TNT will be up against the NFL Thursday game. Even though it is not one of the better Thursday night NFL matchups (San Diego at Kansas City), it is the NFL.

If the World Series ends on or by Monday, it could be a very good ratings start for the NBA, especially without the NHL which is usually in full swing by this point.

College hoops are now less than three weeks from going full throttle. Tuesday Nov. 13th is the date for the ESPN College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon, which will include 11 games in 24 hours, starting with a Midnight ET game between West Virginia and Gonzaga. In fact, if you include the ESPN "family" of networks, there will be only five days without at least one college hoops telecast between Nov. 13th and March 10th. And two of those are Dec. 24 and 26.

On another positive note, Dan Shulman will again call college hoops for ESPN, including the prime Saturday night slot working with Dick Vitale. In addition, Shulman will be back as the primary baseball voice, again handling Sunday Night Baseball on TV and then post-season radio play-by-play.

SAN FRANCISCO: CSN Bay Area is going all out, understandably, with its 'surrounding' coverage of the Giants games in the World Series. Its expanded pre-game and post-game coverage includes Greg Papa, Scott Reiss, Duane Kuiper, and Mike Krukow, along with Vida Blue, Bip Roberts, and Bill Laskey as analysts. Impressive as it may be, let's hope it's not still another instance of having too many analysts and not enough time for any of them to properly express their thoughts and concerns.

CHICAGO: Bears radio broadcasts will stay put on WBBM 780 (and its 105.9 FM simulcast) as part of a multi-year contract extension announced this week. Jeff Joniak and Tom Thayer will remain in the booth. The deal also continues the (Head Coach) Lovie Smith show, known as "Bears Insider" for one hour on Monday nights (except when the Bears are playing, of course).

Sister station WSCR 670 The Score will again be airing DePaul basketball for the 15th consecutive season. While Zach Zaidman continues as play-by-play voice, local sportscaster Jeff Blanzy becomes the new analyst. The choice of Blanzy is an odd one. Not because of his ability as a sportscaster. It's because DePaul has produced several NBA players over the years. Yet, somewhere between the University and the station, no one sees the need for a former player to be the analyst. Three of the games will air on WYLL 1160 due to conflicts.

PHILADELPHIA: WIP 610 now has a multi-year agreement to air Villanova basketball starting on November 9th. In addition, "Talking Villanova Basketball With Jay Wright" will air on a weekly basis. The station will also air Villanova football starting with the 2013 season.

St. LOUIS: Fox Sports Midwest has picked up 10 of the St. Louis University Billikens basketball games, meaning that 23 of their games are now scheduled to be televised locally.

Ft. MYERS: ESPN Radio 770 is spreading the wealth among its sister stations in order to help with the large number of area play-by-play conflicts it faces. Its 98.1 FM (South Ft. Myers), 101.5 FM (Bonita Springs), and 105.1 FM (Naples) stations will air their fair share of broadcasts throughout the year. College football broadcasts include Florida State and Miami University, although the Tampa Bay Buccaneers games are expected to air on 770 each Sunday. During basketball season, the Miami Heat and college hoops will be spread around, along with the Tampa Bay Lightning (if and when the NHL season appears). When the 2013 baseball season rolls around, the stations will be able to carry both the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays games. In addition, 770 will continue to air play-by-play from ESPN Radio, including the World Series and NBA games.

SIOUX FALLS: ESPN 99.1 has expanded the role of local native Jeff Thurn. Known for his work on Sirius XM and markets such as Nashville, Thurn now hosts "Overtime With Jeff Thurn" from 4-7 PM weekdays, moving from having been a weekend show. Thurn was quoted as being pleased to be back in his hometown, and we wish him well on this.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Giant Steps For A Buck

Joe Buck calls entire games in two major sports on the same day. Was it a publicity stunt, or did Fox Sports allow it because it was physically possible to do?

Whether you enjoy Joe Buck as a broadcaster or not, you have to give him credit for calling back-to-back games to a large national audience, especially when it involved both football and baseball. This past Sunday, Buck was in San Francisco. First, he called the doubleheader game from San Francisco with the N.Y. Giants playing at the 49ers. Since there was no overtime and the game ended about when it was expected to, Buck was escorted over to the nearby baseball stadium and proceeded to call the entire Giants vs. St. Louis Cardinals NLCS game in prime time. Not only the same city, but both games happened to involve the Giants!

That experience has to be one of Buck's career highlights. It's not the first time an announcer has called two sports on national TV the same day in the same area (Keith Jackson did it), but it appears to be the first with both games in progress within an hour of each other. The preparation is nothing short of amazing. It's not only knowing all of the teams involved, but it's knowing the different production and support personnel on each telecast, and then being able to carry it off so well.

A lot has been written and said about the TBS post-season coverage, with most of it less than positive. I think they have done better than most people. However, they suffer from what seems to be a network "syndrome" with announcers not always being in the exact role they are best suited for.
Ron Darling and John Smoltz are both doing well as analysts. However, why have two pitchers and no position player or manager? Aren't the fans entitled to analysis from a prominent hitter? Shouldn't Cal Ripken (like him or not as an analyst) be in the booth with either Darling OR Smoltz?

Yet, it's not only TBS that does this. I have pointed out numerous times how absurd it is that ESPN has Doris Burke as an analyst sitting courtide during some NBA telecasts, while former players sit in the studio? (And I think Doris does a very good job - it's just that she didn't play in the NBA.)

At least ESPN realizes the error of their ways and is finally (long overdue) assigning a host for the ABC/ESPN studio portion of its NBA telecasts starting this season. Bill Simmons, although more known as a basketball author than a broadcaster, has been named to host. It will still be Jalen Rose and Magic Johnson in the studio. It's not whether or not you enjoy their respective commentary, it's that because there are so many analysts, it seems none of them get the time they need to bring out their complete thoughts. Same with TBS, with Ripken, David Wells, and Dennis Eckersley in the studio. Do we really need what amounts to FOUR pitchers to comment on the same plays?

I suppose this is due in part to the major ratings success of the NFL. The executives who make these decisions see the endless parade of analysts on Fox and CBS, and the parade of hosts and analysts on Sunday Night Football, and seem to think that doing the same for baseball and basketball will make a difference.

At least Fox has done it more sensibly, having a former QB (Bradshaw), former defensive standout (Long), and a former coach (Johnson) on their crew. I'd prefer they each have more individual segments instead of all three seemingly commenting on everything.

Let the viewers enjoy and appreciate each analyst, instead of force-feeding multiple opinions about every play or move.

Meanwhile, auto racing coverage in the news these past few days, as the networks vie for the loyal and consistent audiences it delivers. Fox Sports announced an 8-year extension with NASCAR which will soon include streaming as part of their coverage.

NBC Sports Group has a new 4-year deal, starting in 2013, to cover Formula One races. NBC will show only four of the major races, with as many as 16 others to be shown on NBC Sports Network.

The NBC Sports Network continues to suffer without the NHL to act as its anchor. The filler live programming isn't going to bring in enough viewers. Just putting "any" college football and (soon) basketball games with unfamiliar teams to most isn't going to make a dent.

COLUMBUS: Scott Torgerson has been suspended (as of press time) from WBNS 97.1 The Fan because of a Twitter comment. Normally, I'd be wondering why a comment not made on the air would have such an impact, but I'll go along with this one. Torgerson stated that he wished that ESPN's Desmond Howard "would get fired or die". In this instance, especially with WBNS being the flagship station for Ohio State football, the station had to make this move. It remains to be seen how long the suspension will last, and what will happen to Torgerson's role if and when he returns.

CHICAGO: No word (as of press time) regarding a replacement for Bob Brenly as analyst on Chicago Cubs telecasts starting next season. Brenly left after eight seasons in the role, and is reportedly in line to join the AZ Diamondbacks broadcast team.

CINCINNATI: WQRT-AM 1160 is adding to its sports content, bringing two more hours of afternoon drive sports talk as of this week. Now that the Reds' season is over, WQRT has brought in Jeff Piecoro from Fox Sports Ohio to host from 5-7 PM on weekdays, while Dennis Walker will host sports talk from 3 to 5 PM. The station airs non-sports (talk) programming the rest of the day. This change may or may not continue past next spring when the Reds' 2013 season starts.

CLEVELAND: The biggest competition the Browns may be involved in could be regarding their radio rights after this season. All signs indicate that WTAM 1100 is going to have a bidding war on its hands from the rival sports network groups seeking the most valuable rights in town for themselves.

TAMPA: Sports fans now have plenty of radio choices. WHNZ 1250 has picked up Fox Sports Radio, which was made available when WDAE 620 switched, understandably, to ESPN a few weeks back. In addition, 98.7 The Fan is the local CBS Sports station, while 1010 AM is expected to carry the national CBS Sports feed starting with the new year. WHBO 1040 had chosen to go with NBC Sports. The move by WHNZ gives Fox Sports more coverage, especially south of the Bay, as WTMY 1280 continues to air Fox Sports programming. The end result figures to be a highly saturated audience during the nights when the various games are airing on TV.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Too Many Big Losses

What a sad week for sports media everywhere, as we have lost four important members since the weekend.

Alex Karas probably deserved even more recognition for his NFL accomplishments on the Lions' defensive line, but we all remember him for his time as an analyst on Monday Night Football, in addition to movie roles and a couple of TV shows. One story I remember from his playing days was how he almost "stopped" history. Karas used to tell the story of how he was on the field when Tom Dempsey of the New Orleans Saints kicked his record 63 yard field goal in the last seconds to upset the Lions. He recalled getting a hand up and "almost" getting a piece of the football as it sailed toward the goal post. Yet, if he had even tipped the ball slightly and stopped it from going through, chances are nobody would have remembered it this many years later. No one would have believed a field goal of that length would have been made.

Beano Cook's passing at age 81 is another that takes our memories back to another era. Cook's unique style of college football analysis has been a part of ABC/ESPN since 1982, including part of this season. Whether you liked him or not, you have to respect his style and ability to keep it fresh season after season and through all of the changes in the college game.

In addition to Karas, Detroit sports fans suffered still another loss on Tuesday. Frank "Budd" Lynch seemingly invented Red Wings games. Lynch did play-by-play of the first Red Wings game ever televised in 1949 and in 1985 was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame for his broadcasting work.

Also in 1985, he became the Red Wings' public address announcer and continued in that role for as long as he could. Even though his passing comes at the age of 95, he will never be replaced.

Chicago area sports fans lost writer Bill Jauss earlier this week, also at the age of 81. Jauss was a sports writer for 50 years before retiring in 2005, most of that with the Chicago Tribune. He was also a participant in "The Sports Writers" radio show on WGN Radio in the 80's, and later on "The Sports Writers On TV" on a regional sports network.

This all combines for a tremendous loss for long-time sports fans. These were individuals who did what they did, and quite well, for a long period of time, and mostly with one employer. Here's hoping they all leave a lot of inspiration behind.

Meanwhile, we'll see if the Game 5's and competitive Division Series can rescue the MLB post-season ratings. (Press time is on Thursday afternoon while the games are being played.) Even with the Yankees on Monday night in their ALDS series against Baltimore, the ESPN Monday Night Football telecast of the Jets vs. Houston more than doubled the TBS baseball ratings. And, as usual, NBC Sunday Night Football telecast finished well ahead of TBS' Sunday telecasts, which also included the Yankees. It should be pointed out, however, that both the Sunday and Monday night Yankees games began after a rain delay, which likely sent some audience members off to the NFL telecasts never to return. Then again, this comes on top of a regular season which reportedly saw more than half of the MLB teams showing a decline in local TV ratings over the course of the season.

The NFL Network has added Andrea Kremer, formerly with ESPN and NBC, to its roster of reporters.

CBS Radio continues a serious effort to push its new sports network, especially in New York City. The acquisition of WRXP-FM 101.9 leads to a simulcast of WFAN 660, as well as FM dial competition for ESPN Radio. Although WFAN will be simulcast on FM, it appears that the two will change to separate sports programming by the end of the year. One frequency will likely shift to the CBS Sports Radio national programming, while the other continues with the WFAN local personalities. It will be interesting to see what becomes of the play-by-play broadcasts of the Mets, Giants, Nets, and Devils games. The positive aspect to that is that fans will know where to tune when there are conflicts, especially with the Nets and Devils (if and when the NHL has a season).

In Philadelphia, CBS is poised to change WIP-AM over to CBS sports programming while maintain the local presence on WIP-FM, and the NYC acquisition is reportedly designed with the same plan in mind. As a result, rumors are flying in Chicago. There, CBS is currently simulcasting WBBM NewsRadio 780 on 105.9 FM, and has a struggling music station on 104.3 FM. Some are speculating that CBS will switch one of those two stations over to WSCR The Score 670.

HOUSTON: As the Astros change leagues to start the 2013 season, they are also completely changing radio announcers. Although the retirement of Milo Hamilton after this season was known, there is some surprise that Brett Dolan and Dave Raymond have not been retained either. Then again, what they really need to change is the players.

DENVER: The Rockies, meanwhile, are keeping their broadcast teams in tact for 2013. Jack Corrigan and Jerry Schemmel return for their 4th season together on KOA 850, while Drew Goodman, George Frazier, and Jeff Huson will return on the TV side.

ATLANTA: SportsRadio 92.9 The Game continues to build an impressive staff for its debut. Its football related local personnel already includes Randy Cross, former QB Kordell Stewart, and former Falcons tackle (and NFL Network analyst) Jamie Dukes. Basketball analysis includes Rick Kamla of NBA-TV. The station has also brought in Jason Goff from WSCR The Score in Chicago to host one of its shows.

ORLANDO: The musical chairs of national networks continues for Orlando listeners. Last week we noted that WHOO 1080 mysteriously dropped ESPN to pick up NBC Sports. As you might expect, ESPN Radio will be back on (or before) November 12th on WDBO 580.

On the TV side, fans of the NBA Magic won't have to constantly search the TV listings to find the games between Fox Sports Florida and Sun Sports. Starting this season, Fox Sports Florida will air every game, except for exclusive national telecasts. And without Dwight Howard, at this point in time only one Magic game (Dec. 14th vs. Golden State) will be shown elsewhere. David Steele and Matt Goukas continue as the broadcast team.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Hidden NFL Stories

As the NFL continues to dominate in the TV ratings, the league's impact on the media is also quite significant these days. Last week, understandably, the emphasis was on the replacement referees and their role in getting the "real" officials back on the field. Those events enabled the NFL to turn a negative into a positive. And, to squash another story which could have had more of a negative impact on the league.

While the referees story was so dominant, it gave the NFL the opportunity to get the saga of the New Orleans Saints players involved in the bounty penalties out of view. Just days earlier, the previously suspended players were allowed to return to the lineup, but it would be "upon further review", to use a favorite term of the NFL. Late last week, I asked five friends who are NFL fans but do not work in the media, "What happened with those Saints players? Are they playing?". And four of them were not certain. That was the proof I needed. The media, outside of the Saints' market, abandoned that story to run with the real officials returning and debate the Green Bay vs. Seattle controversy. But frankly, the NFL should not have gotten away with having the Saints players story buried like that.

Yet, the NFL publicity machine keeps barreling on, as Sunday night and Monday night ratings were through the roof once again. But I'm convinced the ratings would have been astronomical even without the return of the "real" officials. Fans still would have watched in big numbers to see if the replacement refs would have screwed up even worse than the previous Monday night.

At Fox Sports, they do not have MLB coverage these next two weekends (since TBS has the Division Series games in both leagues except for MLB Network showing one game on Sunday), they are going all out with football. Along with the usual NFL fare on Sunday afternoon, Fox will have a college football doubleheader on Saturday (10/6), thus keeping alive the late afternoon slot which had been for baseball over the past 2+ months. The Arizona at Stanford game will air starting at 3:30 ET, with West Virginia at Texas scheduled for 7:50 ET. This means that Fox goes up against ABC's college telecasts in both time slots. Then for Saturday Oct. 13th, Fox plans to air a live Pac-12 Conference doubleheader. Utah will be UCLA late afternoon with USC at Washington as the prime-time game. And that most recent time that Utah football was nationally televised was?

On the baseball side, plenty has been said by others about the new MLB deals which begin for 2014. Although TBS gets screwed by having to pay millions more for just under half of the inventory it has this year, the fans win because of the increase in available games on a national basis. The lifting of local blackouts for ESPN Monday and Wednesday night and TBS Sunday telecasts could be noteworthy in a few markets where not as many fans enjoy the local announcing teams. Yet, if and as the local originating telecast crew does a sufficient to excellent job, those stations/networks won't have anything to worry about in terms of losing audience share when telecasts compete.

Kudos to ESPN and MLB Network for their coverage of the last two days of an exciting regular season. MLB Network's ability to pick up the Texas at Oakland showdown on Wednesday afternoon was a tremendous service to baseball fans. And, of course, ESPN's dual coverage of the final Yankees and Orioles regular season games with the East Division on the line was right on.

Locally, it is most likely the increased ratings on YES for Yankees telecasts for their final two regular season series that could keep this season's ratings from finishing at their lowest point since the 2003 season. This is highly unusual given the Yankees' being in such as close race with Baltimore. It's one thing that the Phillies' ratings dropped more than 35% for this season, given that they went from first place in 2011 to not even contending this year.

The Baltimore/DC area has the most to celebrate in terms of local ratings. The Nationals' telecasts showed the biggest increase of any other team at more than 70%, while the Orioles ratings increased by more than 40%.

A nice act by Josh Lewin as he completes his first season calling the Mets on WFAN. On Wednesday (10/3), the final day of the regular season, Lewin sent out a Tweet to thank the fans.

Meanwhile, CBS Radio Sports continues in its attempt to grow its start-up national radio network and battle ESPN Radio in several key markets and for team broadcast rights. Somehow, they managed to embarass themselves in Chicago. WSCR The Score 670 is the flagship station for White Sox broadcasts. The White Sox were battling the Tigers for first place in the A.L. Central until two days were left in the season. Most of the time over the past week, the White Sox and Tigers were playing at the same time.

Believe it or not, on more than one occasion, play-by-play voice Ed Farmer told listeners he "is waiting for the Tigers score to come up on the scoreboard". And this happened several times earlier in the season. Let me get this straight. A CBS owned sports station hosting MLB play-by-play has no way to get instant scores to its listeners? They can't afford to have online access in the booth? Sorry, but they should have monitoring the Tigers' games on a separate TV feed and provided listeners with continuing accounts. If not batter-by-batter, certainly no less than when every half inning came to an end. This is a Chicago station, not a minor league broadcast where one guy has to handle everything. Why would fans listen to the station at other times when they aren't getting important information when it matters most?

There is absolutely no excuse for that, whether it is the cheapness of one station or a representation of CBS Sports.

In Cincinnati, ESPN 1510's "Bengals Gameplan" show on Wednesday (10/3) was scheduled (as of press time) to have Jimmy Cefalo and Rich Gannon among its guests. No question about having Dolphins' broadcaster Cefalo on. But having "Rich Gannon of CBS Sports" on has to make you wonder. An ESPN station, with all of its resources, turns to a CBS expert?

TAMPA: WHBO 1040 has decided to go with NBC Sports Radio, giving the new network one of few "major league" market signups. It is believed the primary reason is to add The Dan Patrick Show to the late morning lineup. Back in August, 98.7 The Fan was launched as a CBS Sports affiliate. (WHOO 1080 Orlando also signed up with NBC and added Dan Patrick to its lineup this week.)

CHICAGO: WRTO-AM has signed a 3-year extension to broadcast Chicago Bulls home games in Spanish again this season, now doing all home games. Oscar Ramos continues with play-by-play.

CLEVELAND: It seems not worth doing for one segment per week, but WKYC-TV Channel 3 has hired former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel. The "A Moment With Jim Tressel" segment will air within the station's Wednesday night 7:00 newscasts.

CINCINNATI: Fox Sports Ohio has picked up seven Xavier University basketball telecasts for the upcoming season. Brad Johansen and Steve Wolf will call the mixture of home and road games.