Monday, May 6, 2013

Broadcast The Big Game - Just Don't Talk About It

Suppose you aired a huge game in the forest, but nobody could talk about it. Would anyone listen?

Obviously, that doesn't make sense. But neither did Chicago's sports radio stations on Saturday night. As NBA fans can tell you, the Chicago Bulls pulled off a miracle win with a 7th game victory in Brooklyn to advance in the playoffs. Fans of the Bulls were surprised and ecstatic, and still frustrated because superstar Derrick Rose still is not playing. Plenty to talk about.

However, WMVP ESPN 1000, which is the flagship station for the Bulls, simply aired the regular post-game show and then joined the national ESPN Radio programming. Over at WSCR The Score 670, all the local fans could hear was CBS Radio Sports.

I already know that everyone in radio (that hasn't already) can't wait to tell me that "It was a Saturday night and the audience isn't there!". But this was not just "any" Saturday night! With this having been a 7th and deciding playoff game, WMVP (if not both) should have been prepared with a local host taking calls and playing highlights and interviews until at least two hours after the game ended.

Here is why. The audience would have been more than the 'typical' Saturday night. There were a number of local fans who were out and about, would find out the result, and want to talk about it and hear other fans basking in the glory. Instead, it is another instance where radio let them down.

Radio is supposed to be instant. Expecting fans to wait until the "regular" hosts are in place on Monday morning means waiting until the excitement has worn off and the victory is "old" news. This is still another way that radio says "We don't really care" to its listeners. The "It only matters if it happens during weekdays" attitude is a big part of the problem.

The station just aired play-by-play of the biggest game for the team in more than a year. Yet, they didn't know to schedule even one of their hosts to talk about it immediately after, no matter how many people were listening.

Sorry, but for a sports radio station, especially in a major market, the on-air schedule needs to be treated in ways other than a 9-to-5 corporate schedule. Big games take place on the weekends, and local hosts need to be in place. Although this wasn't as bad as The Dan Patrick Show having reruns when Patrick is away, executives need to look at moves (or lack thereof) such as this one when they wonder where the radio audience is going. It's not the players who need to be prepared for the big games. It should also be the sports radio stations.

Here we go with another college conference forming a TV network, for which people who are not sports fans or do not wish to support any schools in the conference will wind up paying more. Now it's the SEC with a 20-year deal to have its own network and show its own content. I guess the $205,000,000 that the Conference already takes in annually from its ESPN and CBS deals aren't enough to keep the member schools competitive. Ooops, that's the pro teams' excuse.

INDIANAPOLIS: The new Program Director of WFNI The Fan 1070 is not new to the station. Greg Rakestraw, who has been hosting the Colts pre-game show and filling in for various hosts, has been named to the position as of this week. Rakestraw is no stranger to the market either, having been a sports reporter for WNDE 1260 for about four years, and later was P.D. at WXLW 950, which used to be the ESPN affiliate in Indy. (The Fan 1070 is ESPN Radio now.) In addition, Rakestraw will also oversee sister station WYXB 105.7, which is a soft rock station.

PHILADELPHIA: Sorry to learn of the passing of Robert Russo Sr., the former producer of hundreds of radio play-by-play broadcasts in NYC and Philadelphia. Russo, who was 75, produced Eagles football games for WIP in the late 60's and returned in the early 80's, also producing Flyers broadcasts. In addition, he produced Mets, Nets, and Islanders broadcasts for WHN-AM in the early and mid-70's.

BOSTON: The Brick is back. WEEI 93.7 has brought back J.T. The Brick to host overnights starting this week. He had been hosting overnights on Fox Sports Radio.

MEMPHIS: WMC-AM Sports 790 is dropping Fox Radio and picking up CBS Radio Sports beginning this coming weekend.

ANCHORAGE: This is hard to believe. Anchorage AK now has three sports radio stations. Obviously, a lot of national programming dominates the airwaves there. This is because KHAR 590 is about to drop its music format and pick up CBS Sports Radio. KTZN 550 airs ESPN Radio, while KUDO 1080 airs Fox Sports Radio.

Although it seems a stretch to call it "local" play-by-play, Anchorage does get its share of play-by-play in addition to the games ESPN Radio brings. KTZN airs Seattle Mariners games, while KUDO airs the Seattle Seahawks and U. of Washington football.

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