Monday, August 12, 2013

The Oddest Sports Media Week

Those fans who constantly disagree with the coach or manager of their favorite team will understand this week in Sports Media just the same. Some, well, odd decision making going on these days by station and network executives.

St. LOUIS: Just as quickly as it started, Kevin Slaten and Jack Clark are already gone from their afternoon drive sports show on WGNU 920. On Friday (8/9), Clark was on the air claiming that Albert Pujols had used performance enhancing drugs during his time with the Cardinals. Upon Pujols' emphatic denial hours later, the group (buying the time for the show on KGNU) announced that Clark, along with co-host Kevin Slaten, were both sent packing. This even though Slaten was not involved in the specific claim that Clark made.

NEW YORK: It seems that now sports telecasts are getting into the "clutter" business. It is bad enough that regular programming on many networks is filled with endless and distracting clutter on the lower screen promoting other shows. Those watching KNBC-TV 4's NFL exhibition telecast between the Giants and Steelers on Saturday (8/10) had to deal with an oil company logo for much of the telecast. Worse yet, it was ABOVE the score box at the bottom. As if all of the advertising visible on practically every camera shot during the games isn't enough. What a distrubing trend, if this is indeed a new trend. Now that the "over-the-air" local TV stations are charging for subscribers, the viewers shouldn't have to endure still more on-screen distractions.

On a separate NY note, congrats to Bobby Lewis, the 40+ year director of both Knicks and Rangers telecasts for MSG Network, on his retirement.

ATLANTA: 92.9 The Game is taking a controversial measure in trying to gain an audience. Not satisfied with getting the play-by-play rights to the Hawks games starting for this season, the station wanted college football for its Saturday afternoon lineup. Since the U. of Georgia and GA Tech are aired elsewhere, The Game has decided to air University of Alabama football each week.

It will be the regular Alabama broadcast with Eli Gold and Phil Savage. One thing for sure. By the end of the upcoming season, The Game will have an idea of what percentage of its current audience are hardcore U. of Georgia fans. Hard to believe they would be interested in local programming on a "rivalry" station.

Usually, carrying a "rival" football game would be something a low-signal station at 1600 on the AM dial would do for lack of anything else.

DETROIT: The success of The Ticket over the past couple of years has led to WMGC 105.1 dropping its music format and turning all sports as of this week (8/12). The station is adding Drew Lane as afternoon drive host. At least for now, the station is airing ESPN national programming mornings and middays, although plans are supposedly in the works to add more local programming.

Why not START with more local programming? If mornings and middays are treated as a "throwaway" to start, why would people flock to the new station?

What makes this interesting is that WMGC is looking to compete with The Ticket, which is a CBS Sports Radio station. Detroit is one of the very few markets where CBS Sports Radio has any kind of impact. Of course, there has been no serious sports radio competition. Makes me wonder if (and that is IF) WMGC actually puts up some viable and local competition just how CBS Radio Sports would hold up in Detroit.

You'll notice that in most cases, the only CBS Radio Sports stations doing anything worthwhile in local ratings is where they have an edge over the competition, such as in Detroit.

Speaking of Michigan, the upcoming start of Michigan football means the start of the 33rd and final season for radio voice Frank Beckmann. To put that in perspective, Beckmann replaced the legendary Bob Ufer at the start of the 1981 season. Ufer called the games for 40 years prior to that. Therefore, everyone of us under the age of 70 have had no more than TWO voices calling Michigan football in our lives.

As of now, Beckmann plans to continue his "general" talk show middays on WJR Detroit.

DENVER: KJAC 105.5, which will be airing Colorado State football and basketball starting this fall, has added Jim Rome's syndicated show to the midday mix. Normally, this is not worth comment.

What makes this story so interesting is that last Tuesday (8/6) the Rome Show aired on The Zone 1600, as it had been. Then, as of Wednesday (8/7), the show moved, with no announcement, over to KJAC and its stronger signal. The Zone 1600 simply brought in another syndicated sports show.

And finally, there is the debut of Fox Sports 1 this coming Saturday. Other media and reporters act like this is a big deal and as though this network will be "competing" with ESPN.

While FS1 does have some impressive NFL analysts lined up, it's not as though they have any significant live content on the docket in the immediate future. It's hard to get excited about "overflow" events that other networks didn't want and still more discussion and analysis. Let alone FS2 also scheduled to start up.

Look at how little CBS and NBC Radio Sports has done this year. No reason to get excited about FS1 or FS2 just yet.

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