Monday, September 23, 2013

Not Enough Hoops For Sports Media

Must the media report on what the media will report? The "news" that the NBA has revised its media guidelines somehow was published in and on a variety of sports media over the past few days. That makes absolutely no sense. The public doesn't need to know how easy the reporters and writers covering the league have it in terms of media access to players and coaches on a regular basis.

Years ago, before the glut of cable TV sports channels and networks, multiple sports radio stations in every city, and various web sites devoted to teams and leagues, the few reporters assigned to specific teams or leagues faced the challenge of coming up with fresh and interesting information to engage the fan base. It helped to be around the teams as much as possible, sometimes more than the "other guys" who had the same assignment so that they could hopefully gain an exclusive story.

Being the only reporter to witness an injury in practice, a conflict between a player and coach in the locker room, or notice a player working a different position (for example) was what helped to distinguish many a reporter or writer. Years ago there were NO league mandates that any team personnel had to talk with any media. That often included local radio and TV broadcasts, for which the stations pay a lot of money. I recall several post-game shows during which the "star of the game" didn't even show up for a live interview after being promised to listeners or viewers.

So now the NBA has announced that coaches are no longer required to meet with the media after morning shootarounds prior to home games, but that the visiting coach "has to". And that injurred players need to speak to the media "at least once" if sidelined with a long-term injury.

Although I have no problem with leagues and organizations having a policy in place, the fact that this policy was published for fans to be aware of is absurd. This tells fans that the "beat reporter" from their favorite station, newspaper, or web site, probably had the same access to the coaches and key players that all of the other reporters had. They didn't really report that "Player X did not practice due to a hand injury today" because he or she was watching practice and noticed when the injury happened. Instead, he or she now finds out at the same time as everyone else because the coach or the player tells the "group" of reporters at the same time.

As a result, everyone gets the same stories and quotes at the same time. Staying with the NBA example, fans can usually watch the post-game coaches press conference on their local sports network post-game show, and often see key player reaction from the press room or while surrounded by reporters in the locker room. And then those fans read, hear, or see those exact same quotes later on when watching, going online, listening to radio, or reading the morning paper.

Reporters do not have to dig for stories, since everyone gets them at the same time. No wonder so much of the content is merely reporting what another reporter or source is reporting, instead of trying to confirm or deny using one's own sources. Allowing and having guidelines for media access is actually taking away from the fans if every source has the same information at the same time.

However, I am pleased to be able to report on an exception to this, even if it was not heard by a very big audience. Kudos to WSCR 670 The Score in Chicago for following up on a possible story that other reporters did not. It's nice to know that some people are paying attention.

WSCR is the flagship station for the White Sox, who are completing one of the worst seasons in team history this week. I happened to be listening to their September 15th game vs. Cleveland when ace pitcher Chris Sale was being knocked out by the Indians, who had also defeated Sale a couple of times earlier this season. This season, Cleveland had, by far, the most statistical success against Sale of any team in the league.

White Sox radio broadcasters Ed Farmer (a former pitcher) and Darrin Jackson (a former outfielder) began speculating on the air about the possibility of the Indians picking up signs or a tendency of Sale and those being reasons why Cleveland was having so much success against him. To the best of my knowledge, no other reporters even raised this possibility following the game or in the couple of days which followed.

A couple of nights later, White Sox broadcast pre-game show host Chris Rongey was interviewing White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper, and thought to ask coach Cooper about the possibility of the Indians knowing something more about what Sale was about the throw in his most recent game. To my amazement, Cooper responded on the air that he heard about what the broadcasters were discussing, and had already begun "looking into it with our staff".

Even though this started from an actual game broadcast and not from a sports station "report", the point is that this possible story began on the broadcast, was noticed by team personnel, and taken into account. Yet, had reporter Chris Rongey not thought to ask the question, the fans never would have known. That was a great job.

To tie all of this together, the possible tipping of pitches was not a story which would have typically come up during the daily media sessions or post-game mass interview. That is why the media should have fewer guidelines and more creative time.

Meanwhile, next week brings us the opening of the MLB post-season and the NHL regular season. NBC Sports Network begins its thorough NHL coverage on Tuesday Oct. 1st with a one-hour pregame show leading into showing the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks' opening game against Washington.

TBS will begin its post-season coverage that same day (Oct. 1, unless a 'game 163' for playoff position is shown on Sept. 30) with the two Wild Card playoff games and then all but two of the Division Series games. (MLB Network has the rights to two telecasts.)

As expected, Ernie Johnson and Ron Darling will be the primary crew, also calling the NLCS for TBS. To their credit, TBS has added Cal Ripken along with Darling, replacing John Smoltz who was the "third man" last year. This move makes a ton of sense, but is not a reflection of the broadcasting talents of Ripken or Smoltz. It made zero sense for TBS last year when they had two pitchers as analysts. Now, they have one pitcher and one hitter, as it should be. At least as it should be if they must have three in the booth.

The other TBS and TNT broadcast crews for the Division Series will be Brian Anderson, along with Smoltz and Joe Simpson; Dick Stockton and Bob Brenly; and Don Orsillo along with Dennis Eckersley and Buck Martinez.

Having Orsillo on one of its series this season presents an interesting decision for Turner Sports. Orsillo, of course, is the TV play-by-play voice of the Red Sox, who this year are in the Division Series. Thus, TBS either puts the announcer for one of the teams on an unbiased national forum if they put Orsillo on the Red Sox series, or they put him on another series and take away from expertise of having covered one of the participating teams for the entire season. (Either way, Orsillo will do just fine as always.)

BOSTON: Not that many people will notice, but WUFC 1510 has switched over to Yahoo Sports Radio. The station has already dumped out of NBC Sports Radio and ESPN over the past couple of years. This does give rivals WEEI and WBZ-FM Sports Hub something to agree on, for a change, which is that Boston sports radio will remain a two station race.

NEW YORK: With nothing announced (as of press time) regarding a TV simulcast for Boomer and Carton from WFAN's morning show, it appears more likely that this show will be picked up by YES Network during the first quarter of 2014. Their show had been simulcast, until recently, on MSG Network, which did not renew the contract but reportedly could match an agreement with YES Network. YES Network figures to pay a higher price for this same show, however, which MSG Network would probably not match. With WFAN airing the Yankees games starting next spring and YES Network owned by the Yankees, having a "Yankees flavored" morning show for both WFAN and YES Network makes a lot of sense for listeners/viewers as well as for advertisers. Same for the Brooklyn Nets, who are shown on YES as well as broadcast by WFAN.

HOUSTON: Quite a find for David Barron of the Houston Chronicle, who dug and discovered that, officially, no one was watching on Sunday (9/22) when CSN Houston was showing the Astros game vs. Cleveland up against the NFL Texans. Barron did think to contact a couple of sports bars to find that several had the Astros game on at least one screen although a couple of them did not, implying that a handful of people could have been watching. For that matter, two WNBA games shown on ESPN, neither involving Houston, had higher ratings than the Astros.

This is not to pick on the Astros. The significance is that CSN Houston is still not carried in much of the Houston market, despite paying huge money for the Astros and Rockets games. And with the season the Astros are having (or not having), and these low low ratings, it is hard to believe that CSN Houston can generate much income from subscriber fees or advertising.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Couldn't Fox Tell Us What We Missed?

Technical difficulties are, as they say in the sports world, part of the game. But Fox Sports did not have to make them as "difficult" as they did on Sunday (9/15) for NFL viewers watching, or trying to watch, their regional NFL telecast between the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings.

This telecast had problems ranging from not having any on-screen graphics to a complete loss of the feed during play throughout much of its telecast on a rainy day in Chicago. I certainly understand that things go wrong from time to time, and probably had as much or more patience than most fans while watching this telecast unfold. Personally, I have had my share of things go wrong while on the air from a game and in the studio producing a broadcast. It happens.

However, my problem with Fox Sports on this one is because of elements they COULD control, but didn't. People sharp enough to have network jobs should have enough experience to be able to improvise in order to help the viewers deal with the problems. But Fox did not.

There was a stretch of several minutes during the second quarter of the game during which the telecast did not have any graphics on the screen, including not having the score box at all. That means that viewers who just tuned in or were also watching other games could not see the current score and the amount of time remaining. Those who had been watching likely knew the score, but also had no idea of the time remaining in the quarter and other pertinent information also included within the "Fox box".

Again, I understand that technical problems can happen. Thom Brennaman, the play-by-play voice for this game, did apologize several times for the technical difficulties and was more than fair in acknowledging them. Of course, with the game score and time remaining constantly on the screen week after week, I can even excuse Brennaman for not providing the time remaining and game score more often. Even though he, as a broadcaster with so many years of experience, should have known to do so.

My issue is more with the producer(s). With all of the cameras available, one of them should have been focused on the stadium scoreboard, which shows the game score and the ticking clock with time remaining. That is all they had to do to cover up this "technical difficulty". Just show the stadium scoreboard between plays. Brennaman wouldn't have to changed anything he was saying. Instead, viewers had little to no idea how much time remained in the 2nd quarter, and many viewers were not aware of the score of the game for several minutes at a time in real time. That doesn't cut it.

Late in the second quarter, the "difficulties" got worse. The video feed went out completely forcing Fox to go with an over-the-phone version of Brennaman's play-by-play. Worse yet, even though Thom kept apologizing for the glitches, he continued along doing TV style play-by-play instead of going to a radio style knowing people could not see everything they usually do.

But there was more. During the last three minutes of the first half, in a tight game, Fox lost the feed entirely. No video or audio. With a longer first half than most other games, this feed was switched to the Fox NFL Today studio for their half time highlights, with Kurt Menefee telling viewers "Those of you watching Minnesota at Chicago - we'll get you back there as soon as we can". Viewers missed a Bears drive which led to a field goal giving them the lead.

Yet, when the live feed returned, all viewers got was a recap of the scoring play. We were not told how many plays were missed, or anything about key plays on the scoring drive. As if it was "too bad" and Fox couldn't be bothered. Then, along came halftime, and viewers got the "regular" NFL game highlights. They didn't even take any time to recap the scoring drive they missed, instead sticking with their usual format.

This was the case for viewers around the country, whether watching the local telecast in Chicago, on a Fox affiliate, or via Sunday Ticket.

Sorry, but this refusal to keep viewers better informed than they easily could have is by far worse than the technical glitch. Fans are entitled to better, considering all of the money it costs us all each month to watch these games.

Maybe they should stop spending so much time promoting their sports networks with mostly filler programming and concentrate on getting the big stuff right.

Meanwhile, it looks like CBS Radio Sports is doing a solid job with keeping interest in their New York City sports stations in a favorable light. It appears that even CBS Radio executives now realize that the Sports Network idea is not going to take off like they somehow thought. Their pipe dream of pulling local WFAN 660 programming off and moving it over to 101.9 FM so that they could stick their national programming on 660 would have been a huge disaster.

In order to make adding 101.9 a positive, as they see it, WFAN went ahead with what is believed to be $15 million per season to put the Yankees broadcasts on 660 (from CBS sister station 880 AM) starting next season. The press release went on to make it look like a big deal that the Yankees will have both an AM and an FM signal for their broadcasts, as if it was a horrible thing they haven't had this yet.

The real advantage that hyping the 101.9 version of WFAN is that it helps for local fans to know to tune into the FM signal during conflicts, since WFAN also carries the Giants and Devils broadcasts. This really means that WFAN will not have to farm out any of its local broadcasts. That is a nice feature for local fans, but hardly what CBS had in mind when they thought they could just put a national network out there and listeners would flock to it. The ratings for most of the CBS Radio Sports affiliates around the country have generally been poor all year.

CBS-TV has announced moving college basketball analyst Greg Anthony out of the studio and into its lead analyst role, working at games along with Jin Nantz starting with the upcoming season. Clark Kellogg will move into the studio analyst role on most days, but the word is that Kellogg will work at a few of the actual game telecasts as well.

WEST PALM BEACH: WUUB 106.3, licensed to nearby Jupiter, becomes ESPN 106.3, allowing WEFL 760 AM and its limited signal to change over to ESPN Deportes from ESPN Radio.

KELSO WA: KLOG 1490 dropped its music format last week and suddenly became ESPN 1490, now airing ESPN programming except for morning drive and regional play-by-play. John Mitchell and Kirc Rolland remain with "The Morning Show" and both a news and sports focus. The station continues to air Mariners baseball, NBA Portland Trailblazers, and University of Washington football and basketball games.

Monday, September 9, 2013

NFL Controlling Its Own Highlights?

September brings us even more instances of sports leagues and organizations gaining too much control over content which reaches the fans or uses modern technology in some form.
Now comes word that Sporting News Media has a multi-year contract directly through the NFL regarding distribution of NFL video highlights through several newspaper web sites using a specific video player. This online video player is seen through sites such as,, (Houston Chronicle) and Upon further review, the announcement about this goes on to reveal that SNM also has "deals" with the NBA and NHL for highlights distribution.

Having game highlights available through these and other sites is a wonderful service, actually. Yet, my question is why Sporting News Media needs an agreement direct with the NFL in order to provide this. The game highlights they "distribute" are games shown by TV partners Fox, CBS, NBC, and ESPN. Since these networks pay a hefty sum for the rights to air the games live, shouldn't those same networks be the ones making the "deal" to make their telecast highlights available?

The fact that there is NFL control for these highlights should be a cause for concern. Suppose there is a negative incident of some sort, which for whatever reason is not positive publicity for the NFL. It could be anything ranging from a fight among players to a wardrobe malfunction to a coach or player saying something inappropriate to a mostly empty stadium.

To put it another way, there could be something very newsworthy to the major newspapers and their web sites. If the NFL has "control" over the highlights deal, do we know for sure that readers would be able to see such an incident unfold by visiting the very website that is there to "report" about it?

If such an incident happens, for example, on a Fox Sports NFL telecast, showing the "highlights" might not be positive for the league, but it would be positive for Fox Sports which would have been the only network to show that particular NFL game live, and would be credited for it.

However, if I'm understanding this "deal" correctly, this would be under NFL control and NOT the individual networks.

Also within the week, USA Today Sports Media Group announced a new "platform" they launced on NFL opening week which provides "real time" news and analysis of NFL games, called "The Q".

This is a mobile platform which Quickish (the technology company) hopes to expand to other sports, likely as a companion for televised game viewers.

Week 1 of the NFL season also saw Sports Illustrated starting its own online half hour weekly series which airs on Thursday mornings to preview the coming weekend's games. Although this is not a league control concept, it does mark SI's increasing use of technology to provide NFL related content, which, in this case, could be a good thing.

While this was going on, the NBA announced that the league is overseeing the installation of multiple "motion tracking" cameras into every NBA arena in time for the upcoming season. Initially, the purpose of these cameras is for individual team and league use, with these cameras focused on individual players and game officials to be used for evaluation purposes. The press release for this feature did mention that there is also likely to be a portion of this video available to fans, perhaps for instructional purposes, but that was not specified.

This concept is in conjunction with STATS Inc. (which tracks extensive player and team statistics for individual teams, player agents, and TV networks) and will include software to help teams with player performance analysis.

In this instance, it is not about positive or less-than-positive player performances which now may be caught on video. My question is why the NBA itself is involved in contracting for this. Again, what about the networks paying hefty rights fees? The NBA already has Turner Sports handling some of its more complex online content, as well as televising a national package of games.

Shouldn't the NBA be working with TNT or ESPN's resources about such a service? The fact that the league itself is bypassing its multi-million dollar existing partners to do what these partners do should be a concern. The league's focus should be on selling tickets, improving the appeal of the game, and all of the marketing it has become so efficient at over the years. Not doing what is essentially its own private telecasts.

To sum it up, there is something about pro sports leagues, and for that matter the NCAA to an extent, becoming technology and marketing entities ahead of governing bodies for their respective sports that makes me uncomfortable. Thoughts?

Back at all of the sports networks, this announcement about Big East Conference college basketball is a pretty funny reflection on two of them if you ask me.

CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network have acquired "up to" 30 Big East game telecasts, starting with the upcoming season, with 25 games airing on CBS Sports Network after this coming season's 18 telecasts. Why is this "funny"?

It is because CBS actually "acquired the rights" from Fox Sports! This is the same Fox Sports that just started not one, but TWO national networks even though most of the overflow sports programming it has acquired doesn't even start until 2014. So, instead of making use of its own facilities to show even more Big East games, they farm some telecasts out to CBS and collect the revenue instead. Probably means more of Bulgarian Tiddly Winks or whatever FS1 and FS2 are showing until the bigger sports they are adding show up. If they survive that long with such a small audience.

Chalk up still another sports radio network for former NFL QB Sean Salisbury, although he is running out of room. Formerly with ESPN Radio and CBS Radio, Salibury will be co-hosting "The War Room" with John Harris from 2 to 4 ET on weekdays. However, this is on Yahoo Sports Radio. At least Salisbury will have an audience in Dallas, where he continues his pre-game analysis for Fox Sports TV in the Dallas area prior to Cowboys games.

With the latest radio ratings being released late last week and this week, let's just say that play-by-play continues to rule the roost, especially in Ohio. Cincinatti's WLW 700 continues as that market's top rated overall radio station, increasing its ratings significantly this season as the Reds stay in contention. Before the season started, WCFN "The Fan" 100.3 debuted and showed with a 0.1 in both the June and July ratings. At the end of July, that station went back to music, and already jumped up to a 1.5 share since dumping sports talk. In Cleveland, WTAM, the flagship station for the Indians, showed higher ratings than April, while WKRK-FM "The Fan" dropped to less than one-third of the overall audience that news/talk WTAM now has.

It's not just limited to Ohio, however. In Kansas City, Royals' flagship KCSP 610 Sports went up a full ratings point in just one month, while the CBS Sports Radio affiliate again didn't even do a half a point.

MIAMI: WAXY 790 The Ticket will add an additional and exclusively local hour for Dan LeBatard starting on September 30th. Dan will be local to Miami from 3 to 4 PM and then his ESPN Radio show will air from 4 to 7 PM. In addition, the station has already begun its 7 to 10 PM show with Jorge Sedano and Mark Schlereth, known as "Sedano & Stink". Sedano is the former Program Director and host of WQAM.

ATLANTA: After two months since needing to replace the "Mayhem In the AM" morning show, WQXI The Zone 790 has introduced its new morning team of J.P. Peterson and (former Falcon) Alge Crumpler. Crumpler has served as an NFL analyst for The Zone in the past and also on Fox Channel 5 in previous seasons.

MINNEAPOLIS: The Ticket 105 FM, which has roughly 10% of the overall audience as KFAN, has decided to air what has been a live podcast from 6 to 7 PM. The podcast has been with Tom Barnard, who in real life hosts the KQRS "Morning Show", and Don Shelby, formerly of WCCO Radio. Barnard admitted that he is not getting any money from The Ticket, but is seeking the exposure to his daily podcast. As of this week, The Ticket, which actually consists of three limited range signals at 105.1, 105.3, and 105.7, has also begun an afternoon drive local program from 3 to 6 PM with Mike Morris and Bob Sansavere, giving the station its first local weekday programming.

The University of Minnesota has moved its football game for Saturday Sept. 21st against San Jose State to an 11 AM start so that it can be shown live via ESPN. Might be for more of a home field advantage than a media move when you consider it means a 9 AM start for the San Jose State fans and players. Let the jokes about "getting up for a big game" begin.

FARGO: Minnesota Vikings radio affiliate KRWK 101.9 FM decided to drop its talk format and become "Rock 102". Figuring that reaching the Vikings audience it attracts would be a good starting point, the station switched over following the Vikings' opening day game (on 9/8) and is spending this week playing 2,000 songs in a row. This is primed to last until this coming Sunday's (9/15) broadcast of the Vikings game against the Chicago Bears. I'm sure that Rock 102 didn't count on the Vikings losing their opener to the Detroit Lions and probably not having much of an audience sticking around by the time that debacle of a game ended.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Stop Insulting Sports Fans

With all of these sports channels, networks, and stations on TV and radio putting multiple competitors in front of us sports fans 24/7, you would think some of them would know not to insult what little audience they have.

NBC Sports Network has only one month to fill up air time until the NHL season starts and viewers begin to trickle back in. Their Labor Day morning certainly didn't help. Once again, as I have been pointing out, The Dan Patrick Show was not live on Labor Day. Heck, it was only after the first college football Saturday, the start of the final month of the MLB regular season, the start of Week 1 of the NFL season, and the start of the U.S. Open. Again, Dan Patrick can take all of the days off he wants. But, given the resources of NBC, there is NO excuse for not having a guest host on live. None.

But it gets worse. Unlike past re-runs of outdated Dan Patrick segments, this time there was no indication on the screen of an "Encore Presentation". This meant it took upwards of 30 seconds before a viewer could determine that they were being deceived by a repeat. Or, a viewer could have thought that NBC Sports Network was days behind with their sports information. Not telling us that a show is pre-recorded borders on misleading what few viewers there were.

Over at Fox Sports 1, the network's latest announcement is merely that they plan to televise a series of graded stakes horse races starting in 2014 with "up to" ten telecasts per year. I'd love to see the statistics on how many horse races, other than the Triple Crown, have won a ratings battle on 'any' network within the past five years.

Then again, this comes on the heels of the information that for Week 1 of FS1, the ratings estimates showed that the new network averaged only about 3,000 more viewers in prime time than when it was Speed Network, while ESPN averaged more than 12 times the total FS1 prime time audience. FS1 also trailed ESPN2, along with NFL and MLB Networks. The "Fox Sports Live" recap show averaged 6,000 fewer viewers than the network's nightly average. I know it is "early", but it seems that some of my fellow sports media reporters seem to think there is some big competition going on between FS1 and ESPN.

Some local team fans didn't get the best treatment either, such as fans of the Chicago White Sox. Granted, the White Sox season has been a disappointment, but that shouldn't mean "don't care" coverage either for those fans still interested.

On Saturday (8/31), the team's radio station, WSCR The Score 670, decided to air the Northern Illinois vs. Iowa football game which began 3  1/2 hours before the scheduled first pitch of the White Sox at Boston broadcast. As can happen with college football, especially with a Big Ten team involved, the game ran longer than planned. The top of the first inning did not air on WSCR. In what seems typical these days, when the broadcast was joined in time for the bottom of the first, listeners were NOT told of what happened in the top of the first inning. So much for people who listen and keep score of the game. Keep in mind this is the leading sports radio station in Chicago, and one which has a studio host for pre-game, post-game, and even an update during its White Sox broadcasts, but they did not bother to recap what the audience missed.

Then, on Monday (9/2) the White Sox game from New York was rain delayed for more than 90 minutes. This time, on the TV side, Comcast SportsNet Chicago (owned with NBC) went to "other programming". After a pro basketball related show, and an update on the rain delay, viewers were shown a pro surfing competition which had aired on NBC Sports.

Let's try this again. CSN Chicago had a local baseball telecast delayed by rain. Yet, they supposedly did not have anything baseball related they could show? It is bad enough that an all sports network doesn't give the announcers the opportunity to conduct one or more interviews during the rain delay. (I'm confident that they could have found someone at Yankee Stadium to talk with.) It is even worse that they don't show baseball related content to baseball fans. But surfing?

This game did resume after the rain delay and was finished. Do they really think that viewers stayed around through a surfing competition to see it?

Put all of these incidents and announcements together. Convince me that these networks and stations care about the fans they are supposed to serve. What makes it worse, in the case of the TV networks, is that upstart networks such as NBC Sports Network and FS1 are expecting fans and "non-fans" to support them by inflating our monthly cable/satellite costs even more. We deserve a lot better than this.

Same for the advertisers, who once upon a time fully supported the costs for the networks to show us these events. Hopefully some of them will protest being charged for time when the audience they are trying to reach are being shown the door.

Meanwhile, a couple of other network announcements. Chris Mad Dog Russo will be appearing on MLB Network with his own show that will also run on MLB Radio Network on satellite.

NFL games will air in the UK via Absolute Radio on Sunday nights and for the post-season starting with the Green Bay at San Francisco broadcast this coming Sunday. This package will also include the two NFL games to be played in London. Airing at 9 PM London time, these will be "double header" games in the U.S. and not the Sunday Night Football games due to the time difference. Absolute Radio programs rock music.

NEW YORK: WFAN 660 has extended its contract to air the NHL New Jersey Devils games, making this upcoming season its 9th of doing so. Matt Loughlin and Sherry Ross return as the play-by-play team.

BOSTON: As expected, Jerry Remy will not return to the Red Sox telecasts for the remainder of the 2013 regular season on NESN. Remy is on leave following the unfortunate news that his son was arrested and charged with murder. NESN did publicly convey support for Remy, who was quoted as saying he "hopes to return" to the Red Sox broadcast booth for 2014.

CHICAGO: Former Bears defensive end Alex Brown has joined WSCR The Score 670 as an NFL analyst, replacing former Bears standout Dan Hampton in that role. Brown will appear on Sunday mornings leading into the NFL games along with Monday morning show and Friday afternoon show appearances throughout the coming regular season and post season.

At the same time, Bears' Center Roberto Garza will appear each Monday morning (or Tuesdays when the Bears play on Monday night) on country music station WUSN 99.5 to analyze the just played game.

Both WSCR and WUSN are part of the CBS Radio group, while sister station WBBM 780 continues to broadcast the Bears games and related coaches programming.

PORTLAND: The NBA Trailblazers are being moved to KPOJ Fox Sports Radio 620 starting with the coming season. This is a move from sister talk station KEX, and returns the Blazers to an all-sports station. Brian Wheeler and Antonio Harvey will remain as the play-by-play team.

TAMPA: WHFS 98.7 continues to struggle, especially with nights when they go up against the actual games without play-by-play. The station has decided to let "part-time" staff share the 7 PM time slot, and has bumped "Fabulous Sports Babe" Nanci Donnellan from that slot to weekends. When you consider that the Rays are not exactly a top attendance team despite their excellent season, it is hard to see where their potential audience actually would one from. One also has to wonder how part-timers will increase the night-time ratings.

ALBANY: For some reason, it actually took more than two weeks for WTMM 104.5 ESPN to dismiss hosts Mike Lindsley and Brian Cady. The pair had aired what proved to be a hoax interview with an impersonator of former Yankees outfielder Shane Spencer who claimed evidence of drug use among the Yankees. It wasn't discovered to be a hoax until the next day when the "real" Spencer found out about the quotes attributed to him and was forced to deny any involvement. Two weeks?

DES MOINES: Good to see local TV stations using their secondary stations to add to the sports mix! WOI channel 5.2 will air the Northern Iowa vs. Drake football game this Saturday (9/7) afternoon, with the station already announcing its plan to show at least one more Northern Iowa game this season and probably some basketball games as well. The station also plans to air some SEC "overflow" football games this season, since the SEC makes some available to out-of-area TV stations. Further up the dial, WHO channel 13.3 plans on airing some ACC football this season.

FONTANA CA: KCAA 1050, located in Southern California's Inland Empire area, has added the Brian Arrington "Coach B" Show as of this week, airing it at 8 AM each Sunday. Arrington is a local youth football coach. Why is this significant? Because this show, which started on Sunday (9/1) becomes the ONLY locally produced show on the NBC Sports station. Yikes.

BATON ROUGE: Just in time for football season, WNXX ESPN 104.5 is now being simulcast on nearby KYPY 104.9, licensed to Donaldson LA, which has dropped its music format.