Thursday, August 14, 2014

When Suspends Hurt The Suspense

Note to radio executives: The recent wave of sports talk hosts being suspended or disciplined is going to result in more harm than good. This is not to say that on-air personalities who say or do something inappropriate should not be disciplined. It's just that the audience gets punished, and it is an audience of sports fans who have plenty of other easy resources for sports commentary.

Sure, a Boston radio host acted wrongly by specifically calling out a network sideline reporter last month. But the fact that I heard about the host being suspended on radio stations nowhere near Boston, as if the story had any meaning to a non-local audience, is a horrible waste of my time when I am listening for sports information. So what if a Miami sports host was shut down for buying advertisements in Cleveland?

Fans in other cities do not need to be bothered with this so-called "news" when there are local teams and colleges to cover. Let alone some of the "local" sports stations that don't bother giving out of town scores, but somehow make time for a waste of time story about a program host hundreds of miles away.

What is the harm? These "announcements" can make sports radio listeners think that any host that crosses the line will be disciplined in some way. If these hosts cut back, their shows won't be as entertaining. Or if the primary hosts are not on the air, listeners are forced to listen to a substitute instead. How does it help that Boston station when they had a secondary host as a fill-in for an entire week?

As it is, too many sports radio stations spend too much time on local callers and speculation and not enough time on actual sports news, guests, and local coverage. Having program hosts suspended and talkng about it as if it is big news provides the audience with ANOTHER reason to go elsewhere.

Those stations which fail to provide full scoreboard updates "argue" that the hardcore fan is getting those scores on their phone or personal device "anyway". While I "argue" that they can get more information and expert opinions from that same device than the station provides as well.

What these stations should do (or should have done) was to announce that "(Name) has been disciplined for (whatever was said or done)" and not reveal any details. When fans of him or her do not hear him/her on the air the first day, it keeps them tuning in every day to hear when he/she returns. Stations in other cities have zero reason to include this story on their newscasts. The advertisers which often need to be pleased and are the reason some of these suspensions occur will be made aware of the disciplinary actions.

This needs to change (stop) before even more listeners think there is less of a need to listen to their favorite local hosts.

CHICAGO: It is curious that there is still nothing regarding Cubs TV for next year, as rumors of a pending deal with the local Fox TV stations have yet to pan out officially. I'm thinking this is a case of the local stations and regional networks waiting to see how the standoffs regarding paying a truckload of dollars for TV rights in Los Angeles (Dodgers) and Houston shake out over the next few weeks. That both of these deals have been financial disasters for the entities which spent billions could be an incentive for Chicago stations to wait and see before spending millions more than they need to.

WBBM-TV 2 has added Camron Smith as a backup sports anchor. The former high school hoops coach has appeared on local high school basketball telecasts as well as on the Big Ten Network.

Northern Illinois University football, which has jumped into the national spotlight during this decade, will have a new Chicago radio home for the new season. WIND 560 will air all football games and at least 12 basketball games, along with a weekly one-hour coaches show during football season.

Chicago native Bill Hazen will be calling play-by-play for select Conference USA basketball games on Sinclair Broadcasting Group TV stations starting with the coming season. Hazen has called Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls telecasts in the past.

INDIANAPOLIS: Michael Grady, co-host of the "Grady & Big Joe Show" on WFNI 1070 and 107.5 and the P A announcer for the Pacers, has also been hired as a sports reporter for WRTV-TV 6.  He begins his new role on August 22nd.

PITTSBURGH: Meet the news boss. Same as the old boss. Must be the slogan at WWCS 540. The station will be dropping its Fox Sports Radio programming. What will replace it? By September 15th, the station will remain a 24 hour syndicated sports station, but will have the Yahoo Sports lineup instead.

CHARLOTTE: Fans who can't get enough of sports radio from the three stations already with that format in the market will have still another choice starting within the next few weeks. WRFX 99.7, a low power signal, will begin airing Fox Sports Radio and nothing but within the next few weeks.

NASHVILLE: WNSR 560 and 95.9 has a new sports show from 4 to 7 PM as of this week, as Johnny "Ballpark" Franks returns to the airwaves for the first time since the late 90's.

ROCHESTER: ESPN Radio 950 and 95.7 has a new local show from 3 to 7 PM. Scott Pitoniak and Dan Borrello now host "The Radio Press Box".

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