Tuesday, December 11, 2012

End of an Era - Sporting News Going Online Only

It's one of those blockbuster announcements that shows your age. Or, if you are not over 40, chances are it isn't even a blockbuster announcement at all. But for those of us who grew up in the era before cable TV, all-sports radio, the internet, cell phones, and constant communication, the announcement that The Sporting News will no longer publish is significant.

TSN will go all digital as of January 1st, which, according to the announcement, ends a 126-year history in print. The most important news is that the content will be free and advertiser supported, which hopefully will send a different sort of message to newspaper and magazine publishers around the country.

The Sporting News had been a weekly publication into 2008 when it reduced to bi-weekly, and then to a monthly only publication just over one year ago.

For those who grew up as sports fans in the 50's, 60's, and early 70's, the publication was known as "the sports bible" and introduced generations to the thought of waiting for the mailman to come on Tuesdays with that week's edition. It was our entree into out of town team news, statistics, and even box scores, that we couldn't always get in our local newspapers, radio, or TV reports. Columnists from all over the country shared details about sports stories of national interest.

Those of you who remember "The National" daily sports newspaper from the late 80's and into June 1991 and how much great content it delivered on a daily basis can relate to the impact of TSN on a weekly basis 20+ years earlier.

Granted, I'm among those that stopped relying on The Sporting News in the 80's when ESPN came into prominence and more and more sports events were being televised. By then, we as sports fans were being brought a daily dose of highlights, headlines, and current statistics which were "old news" by the time TSN arrived in the mail.

From my having followed sports, reported on them, taught college students about it, and having been a "fan" for more than 50 years, losing the print version of The Sporting News is still significant. It's how Detroit Tigers fans felt when Tiger Stadium wasn't there anymore, Yankees fans felt about the "new" stadium, and fans of the likes of Fenway Park and Wrigley Field will feel years from now when those parks aren't there anymore. Just as new stadiums and arenas for the events offer new perks and conveniences for the fans, we will never forget the venues which came before and built up our "hunger" as sports fans. Just as "The Sporting News" in print did for fans before the newer methods and sources of coverage came along.

Elsewhere, the impact of the lack of NHL hockey is being felt by more media than NBC Sports Network. It shows even more on the Canadian side. The latest radio ratings from Vancouver show that CKST 1040, the flagship station for the Canucks, has dropped from #2 to #10 in males 25-54 during the most recent ratings period, which took place during the time the NHL would normally have been playing. The Fan 960 in Calgary has seen a similar drop.

SAN DIEGO: XEPRS XX 1090 is reportedly bringing back Scott Kaplan and Billy Ray Smith to its 3-7 PM weekday spot, after the two were removed from the air in February of this year due to inappropriate on-air comments about local reporter Andrea Lloyd. The pair are, at least for now, keeping their morning TV gig for U-T TV.

In another significant move, XX 1090 has brought back Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton for morning drive, as of this week, replacing Dave Palet and Jeff Dotseth. Darren Smith moves up from afternoons for Noon to 3.

MINNEAPOLIS: Mike Morris is out after nearly 10 years with KFAN-AM 1270. The former Viking had been co-hosting the "Power Trip" morning show along with Vikings post-game shows. Not that it helps to pay the bills during the holiday period, but it wasn't anything personal. Morris was one of many staff cuts implemented by Clear Channel, which also owns WFAN.

SEATTLE: Hard to believe it was 21 years, but Mike Gastineau has left KJR-AM 950 following last Thursday's (12/6) show. The former N.Y. Jets and NFL standout says he decided to move onto "something new", but did not rule out a return to radio in the future. No official replacement named as of press time.

HOUSTON: Steve Bunin, formerly with ESPN for more than nine years, is joining the new Comcast SportsNet Houston as a "SportsNet Central" anchor.

HARTFORD: Sorry to report the passing, at the age of 82, of Arnold Dean, who seemingly forever (he started in 1965) was a part of WTIC 1080. Dean is widely considered to have pioneered local sports talk in Hartford, where he began hosting sports talk in 1976. He co-hosted the pre-game "Tailgate Show" this past season for UConn football games, including the final home game just a couple weeks ago.

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