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.

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