Tuesday, April 28, 2015

From Rough Draft To Completion

Nice going last week on WFAN 660 New York's Boomer & Carton morning show when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was a live guest. They managed to get Silver to talk about the possibility of eventually legalizing sports gambling. This is a topic very rarely discussed on live airwaves with an executive who is directly involved.

Silver, of course, has been public about the subject in recent months, including his op-ed piece published in the New York Times last November. With pro sports commissioners under so much heat these days, it was refreshing to actually hear one address a matter which others have all but avoided over the years.

As we wind down the hours before the NFL Draft, Fox Sports plans to go ahead with its "Fox Sports Live 2015 NFL Draftcast". Their first round coverage for Fox Sports Radio (on Thursday 4/30) will also be streamed on FoxSports.com and available via their live app. What makes this interesting is that Fox Sports does not have official rights to broadcast the Draft, with ESPN and NFL Network both providing that.

Supposedly the Fox Radio crew will be stationed nearby at a Chicago restaurant getting the choices and with the analysts. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see whether the NFL decides to charge an additional rights fee for this in coming years, or if they restrict this in some way, even though Fox Sports is a media partner of the NFL. Not that ESPN or NFL Network have anything to worry about, given how much of Fox Sports activities are aired in relative secrecy.

My thinking is that ESPN won't complain because it makes for still another network adding to the endless hype about the Draft, which ESPN has been covering live for more than 30 years.

A proud moment for the Albert family this past Saturday (4/25) when father and son were each calling play-by-play on a national network of a game in New York City at the same time. Marv was on TNT calling the late afternoon Atlanta at Brooklyn playoff game, while son Kenny was on Fox Sports 1 calling the Yankees vs. the Mets.

Kenny Albert will also continue to call selected NHL playoff games for the NBC Sports Group, giving him the unique opportunity to call play-by-play of national telecasts for two separate networks within the same week.

NBC Sports will be doing an analyst crossover this Saturday (5/2)  when primary NHL analyst Ed Olczyk joins the NBC telecast of the Kentucky Derby as its Stanley Cup coverage begins Round 2. Olczyk has done analysis during Breeders Cup Series last year, during which he picked a couple of winners ahead of time. Then, on Sunday evening, he is expected to be back in Chicago for NBCSN's coverage of the Minnesota vs. Chicago Game 2 telecast.

Speaking of the Mets vs. Yankees series this past weekend, ESPN generated strong ratings for its Sunday Night Baseball exclusive telecast of the series finale (4/26). The local New York City ratings were the best for an ESPN telecast of an MLB regular season game since the 2011 season.

CBS Sports Network has announced it will again televise a series of ten minor league baseball telecasts this season, running from May 28th through August 6th. This season there will be AAA, AA, and A games included. Interesting idea, but it is tough to overlook associating CBS Sports Network with the minor leagues.

NEW YORK: This one was not the fault of the NBC Sports Group, which is airing every Stanley Cup playoff game again this season, but it sure didn't help matters any. WNBC-TV Channel 4, the nation's largest NBC station, embarrassed themselves big time on Sunday (4/26) on one of its morning updates. The station showed a graphic about the Islanders (then) playoff game, saying that "Nassau Coliseum could stay open for Game 8". Yikes.

HARTFORD: WTIC 1080 has decided to go with a sports talk show in afternoon drive as of this week to instead of its usual news and political talk. The Joe D. and Gresh Show features  Joe A'Ambrosio and Andy Gresh. D'Ambrosio, the voice of University of Connecticut basketball, has been with WTIC for more than 23 years. Gresh most recently was a host on WBZ Sports Hub in Boston, as well as a college football analyst for Comcast SportsNet New England.

The pair will now compete against 97.9 ESPN and the Rob Dibble Show, now in its second year. Yes, that is the former pitcher.

HOUSTON: Now that the Astros are back to being a major league team again, the TV audience is returning. Through the first 20 games of the 2015 season, Root Sports is showing ratings almost three times higher for Astros telecasts compared with the "late" CSN Houston ratings of 2014. When Root needed to bump the Astros game (for Tues. 4/28) to its "plus" channel due to the Rockets playoff telecast, it was actually a news item this time around. Last season there were several reports of 0.0 ratings for some Astros games.

LAS VEGAS: Makes me wonder if there will soon be a line on how many sports radio stations there will be in Vegas. Now KRLV 1340 is changing from a Spanish format to Fox Sports Radio, taking the affiliation away from KMZQ 670. The market already has ESPN 100.9 and 1100, KBAD 920 The Game, and KXST 1140 Sports Radio. And that doesn't count ESPN Deportes KENO 1460.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Reds Reporter "Catches On" With His Story

Kudos to C. Trent Rosecrans, the beat writer covering the Reds for the Cincinnati Enquirer. It was his report, and an accurate one at that, about Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco not being available to the Reds during their Sunday game against the Cardinals, which opened up a media controversy.

As you probably know, Reds Manager Bryan Price had a tantrum about Rosecrans' story by way of a more than five minute tirade laced with profanity. Rosecrans, and rightfully so, pointed out in his follow up column for the newspaper that not even Price questioned the accuracy of his story. That is the most important element of all of this.

Price, for some bizarre reason, feels that the media "covering" the Reds should not be doing anything which could impact the Reds in any way. Those fans who don't seem to mind when pro sports teams produce their "own" content for TV and radio shows should take notice of how many pro teams would prefer to handle "news" about their teams. The fans are paying enough money in ticket prices and for telecasts of the games to know the truth, and nothing but the truth.

I could see Price throwing a tantrum if the story was not accurate, but most definitely not for reporting the news. For all of the rumors and speculation which too many of today's media members confuse with "news", the last thing sports fans need is for a reporter to be chastised for simply reporting a news story accurately. The Reds were swept by the Cardinals in the weekend series. At least Price didn't get mad at every publication, TV and radio station, and web site which reported about all of the losses he managed.

Although Rosecrans was simply "doing his job" by being the first to report this information, it is what followed which should earn him kudos. His follow up column tells of how he turned down numerous interview requests, including CNN and ESPN, with the reason being a very simple "not wanting to be part of the story". This is how it should be, but not every "reporter" these days would have taken that perfect approach and gone for the air time and the glory.

ESPN, CNN, and other media were so very wrong in approaching Rosecrans for an interview. This is part of the problem with many of today's journalists. They wait until a "story" comes to them and then aim for the easy and sensational reaction. Instead of looking to make Rosecrans part of the "story", their producers and reporters should have been following up on the injury to Devin Mesoraco of the Reds. ESPN pays millions of dollars to televise and cover MLB, but a local reporter scooped them on a story.

Fans have the advantage of various forms of technology to receive their sports information. The "reporting" media needs to go back to actually reporting on stories and not be focused on someone who actually reported on one.

Speaking of the Reds, their all-time great Pete Rose has been hired by Fox Sports to be a studio analyst for Fox and Fox Sports 1 baseball telecasts, as well as appear on some of the rarely watched FS1 baseball coverage. It will be interesting to see if this association has any impact on Commissioner Manfred's possible decision to reinstate Rose to MLB in some form within the near future. Like him or not, Rose is extremely knowledgeable about today's players as well as the history of the game, and figures to add some pertinent commentary. Not sure even his presence will be enough to draw an audience to FS1.

As we continue with the first round of the NBA Playoffs, chances are the televising networks are rooting hard for LeBron James and the Cavaliers to keep advancing. The Cavs were involved in five of the six highest rated regular season telecasts on ESPN during the regular season. The first game between Cleveland and Boston on Sunday (4/19) on ABC was the third highest overnight rating ever for a Round 1 Game 1 matchup.

In the Cleveland area, the Cavs finished with the second highest local telecast ratings for the regular season (behind perennial winner San Antonio) with an impressive 137% ratings increase over the previous regular season (without LeBron).

While ESPN and NFL Network are putting the final touches on their in depth NFL Draft coverage for next week, Fox Sports is also planning its "NFL Draftcast" from Chicago. The network plans to simulcast its coverage online and on Fox Sports Radio Network, in what seems like another well kept secret.

NEW YORK: Rangers fever is strong even during the first round. MSG Network's Rangers vs. Penguins Game 2 telecast (on 4/16) finished as the highest rated first round telecast of the 25 years for which Nielsen ratings has been tracking this.

KANSAS CITY: The hot start by the Royals, combined with the intense series vs. Oakland this past weekend has been welcome news for Fox Sports Kansas City. FSKC's Sunday (4/19) telecast of that series' final game is now the highest rated telecast of any event in network history. The previous high was the 2008 Kansas vs. Missouri football game.

CLEVELAND: Word is that Chris Rose will become the new voice of Browns pre-season football on WEWS-TV Channel 5 in August. He would be working with Solomon Wilcots as his analyst.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Varied Verdict Coverage

To put it mildly, it was interesting to see how some of the key sports media outlets handled the announcement of the verdict in the Aaron Hernandez murder trial on Wednesday (4/15).

We start with ESPN, which led the way and went live with coverage, and did a thorough job. However, the ESPN.com part of things did not go so well. Their "flash" release of the verdict had a headline of "Aaron Hernandez Found Guilty......". Yet, the very first paragraph of content under that headline, for the first few minutes it was online, said "found not guilty in the murder of......".

You read that right. Their headline and first sentence of the story contradicted each other as the story was breaking. This from a news organization which has been quick to suspend employees over social media (and not on the air) comments in the past.

On the air, ESPN, along with CNN, stayed with the story following the guilty verdict for live reaction, with ESPN continuing its coverage (along with other sports news) during the hours which followed.

A different story, however, over at NFL Network, where they joined the coverage just prior to the verdict announcement, and then seemingly hurried back to regular programming, which was their scheduled pre-recorded fare. This raises an interesting question as to how an official league network should handle what is really a negative situation.

If NFL Network had stayed with the coverage and attempted to minimize the public relations impact on the League, there would have been criticism, just as there is for running away from extended live coverage as if they are not facing it head on.

From my point of view, the NFL Network blew it. Providing their own reaction coverage could have been a form of damage control. This is not to say that a guilty verdict on murder charges is minimal, but avoiding it was not the right call.

NFL Network had time to prepare for the verdict announcement and should have been ready to react. They could have had at least one Patriots official ready to comment about how upsetting this is, while reminding fans and viewers that Hernandez had no longer been a part of the team. They could have taken some reaction from fans of the Patriots and around the league. If the reaction was supportive of the team and the league, it would have reflected. If it was negative reaction, it would show the fans that NFL Network is not above criticism, while letting league officials know that they would need to do some crisis management as soon as possible.

Instead, fans who heard the news and wanted to see some reaction and turned to NFL Network had no choice but to tune over to ESPN, CNN, or in some instances to one of the regional sports networks where they could see immediate reaction and analysis of the verdict. Keep in mind that in two weeks the NFL Network will be directly competing with ESPN for viewers during the NFL Draft. Although fans would not put a murder verdict in the same category as draft news, the point is that other networks outshined in coverage of a league related story.

Of course, the verdict was bigger news in New England because of Hernandez having played for the Patriots. While both sports radio stations were among those on top of the developments, it was a split decision for the regional TV sports networks. Comcast SportsNet New England interrupted their programming to provide live coverage and reaction. However, NESN did not, continuing to air paid infomercials during the time its biggest competitor was airing the live reaction.

The radio station ratings for the March ratings period are coming out this week, with the general trend of major market sports stations being that they are at lower listener levels for March than they were for January. As always, the Boston sports station race bears a closer look. From January through the March ratings period, WBZ-FM Sports Hub has dropped in overall audience from a 5.5 to a 4.7.

As happens in most other markets, an audience dip of the leading sports station is not as a result of the "lower" rated station taking away listeners. Rival WEEI-FM, during the very same time frame, dropped from a 5.0 to their current 4.1.

These drops are not a disaster for either station, as those totals continue to put both sports stations in the nine highest rated stations in the Boston area, still by far the strongest showing for a combination of two sports radio stations.

It remains to be seen whether the next ratings period will show an impact from WEEI morning co-host John Dennis being off the air for what could be six weeks. Dennis has voluntarily checked himself into a local rehab facility. The "Dennis & Callahan Show" continues with co-host Gerry Callahan and Kirk Minihane during his absence.

On one hand, the NBA may not care when games air via their big spending TV partners, but on the other hand they should. Granted, the final round of the Masters was this past Sunday (4/12) and ESPN aired early round coverage, but that should not be a reason to concede viewers to CBS.
ESPN/ABC should be promoting its upcoming extensive NBA playoff coverage which begins this coming weekend with more than the usual number of appealing first round series. Yet, neither ESPN or ABC aired any NBA games during the usual Sunday afternoon window. That window included the 1 PM ET "first game" possibility, which would likely have ended during the first hour of CBS-TV's final round of the Masters coverage. There were four afternoon games on the NBA schedule on Sunday, and three of those had playoff implications.

This means that fans checking ESPN and ABC on the weekend days before the playoffs had no games to watch, and the NBA had significantly less promotional time for what is to come.

Although this blunder was via social media and not national TV (or lack thereof), an "ooops" moment on Twitter on Tuesday (4/14) was certainly embarrassing for the 26 minutes it was posted.

TurnerSportsPR put out on Twitter, "NBA on TNT Action Continues TONIGHT with Doubleheader Featuring Bulls vs. Heat & Trail Blazers vs. Warriors". However, that doubleheader was what TNT showed the previous week!

It wasn't until 22 minutes later (making it nice that Twitter feeds have a time stamp), then posted "Tonight’s #NBA lineup: 7pm/E @NBATV GameTime 8p @NBAonTNT @WashWizards vs. @pacers, 10:30p @LAClippers vs. @suns". There was no apology, nor was there any mention of this being a correction or of any earlier error. Yikes.

On the other side, NBC is taking a more aggressive approach to promoting its NHL Stanley Cup Playoff coverage. In addition to adding USA Network to the fold for a group of first and second round games, NBC has decided to televise the NHL Draft Lottery for the first time, and it will air in prime time. NBC has a first round game to air in prime time this Saturday (4/18) at 8 PM ET, which will be Game 2 of the N.Y. Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins series. The Draft Lottery will air just prior to the opening face off.

According to Sports Business Journal, NBCSN scored its third best audience since acquiring the NHL telecast rights prior to the 2005-06 season, although viewership was actually down slightly from the previous season. The "Wednesday Night Rivalry" series did gain steam this season with increased viewership over the previous year, and finishing up with seven of the most watched NBCSN telecasts for its entire season of games. The report shows that Buffalo, Boston, and Pittsburgh were the top local markets for viewers. Looks like the majority of the snow-ins in the Buffalo area this past winter got interested in the NHL.

ESPN has announced that 78 year old Lou Holtz really has retired from his college football analyst role. The former Notre Dame coach held that role since the 2004 season.

PHILADELPHIA: After being so strongly rumored the actual announcement seemed liked no big deal, but it is official that Anthony Gargano will join WPEN 97.5 to co-host a new local morning show to start within a month. Gargano, formerly at soon-to-be rival WIP 94.1, will co-host with Jon Marks, who would reportedly move up from his current early afternoon slot. The ESPN station has been airing Mike & Mike in the morning since 2009.

CHICAGO: New Cubs manager Joe Maddon has been signed by WSCR 670 The Score for a regular Tuesday midday segment on The Spiegel and Goff Show. The move comes as sister station WBBM 780 has begun as the Cubs flagship station. Ironically, WSCR is currently the flagship station for the White Sox broadcasts, although in its final year of the current contract which has yet to be extended.

The Cubs newest TV station, WLS-TV Channel 7, experienced a horrendous start to the start of a very special season for them. For the first time in station history, they are televising 25 Cubs games this season. Last Wednesday (4/8) during the station's first ever local baseball telecast, the station aired a series of graphics featuring every National League team. However, it appears nobody thought to proof read them first. Viewers saw the "San Francisco Mariners" on the screen. Incredibly, that wasn't the entire blunder. San Francisco was misspelled, as were Milwaukee and Cincinnati. It is probably a good thing they didn't feature the American League that day.

Then, on Friday (4/10), the station was airing its usual 6:00 PM newscast, when long time sportscaster Mark Giangreco's segment came on just minutes after the White Sox home opener vs. Minnesota had just ended. Giangreco called for the White Sox highlights but no video came up. A few seconds later, highlights from the earlier Cubs game at Colorado came up, and he narrated them with no problem.

When the video ended, he said something like "But we are sorry, we do not have the White Sox highlights", and then went on with the other sports news. Say what?

I understand that technical problems can happen at any time. However, there is no excuse for not having any copy ready to, at the very least, give details about the game. Viewers got nothing. Not even information about the losing pitcher, who hit home runs, or anything else except for the score of the game. Not even an Opening Day feature. And then a shortened sportscast as if nothing went wrong?

It's only a week into the new season, but WLS-TV has a lot of work to do in order to salvage their baseball season.

NEW YORK: MSG Networks have found an easy way to keep the local teams in check for the first round of the NHL playoffs, since they show both the Rangers and Islanders games. MSG Network will show all of the Rangers games it can while the Islanders telecasts, even when on separate nights from the Rangers' series, will air on MSG+.  Any games airing nationally on NBC-TV will not be televised by MSG for either team.

HOUSTON: KILT 610 has added Sara Eckert to its reporting and update anchor staff. Eckert is known locally for her previous work with CSN Houston.

COLORADO SPRINGS: KREL 1580 has dropped its sports format, but not for the usual reasons. The station has changed to become the first radio station with a format of talking about and covering the marijuana industry, which is legal in Colorado. Seriously.

SPOKANE: KZFS 1280 and 99.3 has dropped its sports format. These stations have replaced it with Christian programming.

SCRANTON/WILKS-BARRE: WHBS 102.3 The Sports Hub is no longer, having changed over to a rock music format and its call letters to WMQX.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Tournament 'Dukes' It Out For Strong Ratings

It turned out to be "ratings madness" for the NCAA tournament this year even though Kentucky fell short in its attempt to carry out an undefeated season. CBS, TBS and family drew huge audiences, gaining the tournament's highest average ratings in 22 years. The Monday night (4/6) championship game between Duke and Wisconsin drew the highest overnight rating for a championship game since (ironically) the Kentucky vs. Arizona battle in 1997. The Final Four telecast on Saturday (4/4) was up more than 38% over last year's Saturday games, and was the highest since 1996.

In addition to the TV side, word is that just the Monday night championship game generated approximately 3.4 million live video streams, which is also a record. Even with all of this, we'll never know what would have happened on Monday had the University of Kentucky been going for the unbeaten season.

The past couple of days also brought the start of the 2015 MLB season. From having watched at least one inning of several of the local and network telecasts of opening games, it seems as if the head honchos have put an unofficial gag order on the "speeding up the game" discussion.

Early in spring training, many of the local team telecasts made mention of the clock to time the between innings and pitching change breaks, along with batters needing to stay within range of the batter's box. Yet, now that the regular season is upon us, you would think there was no such rule. I didn't hear or see one mention of this, and that includes Sunday night's (4/5) ESPN opener.

For the St. Louis at Chicago Cubs telecast, ESPN generated its highest opening night ratings in five years, up nearly 40% from last season. In St. Louis, the single market overnight rating of 17.7 is reportedly the highest regular season MLB game in history on any ESPN network. The Chicago market ratings were strong, but likely hindered a bit by the more meaningful Blackhawks vs. St. Louis NHL game on NBCSN. (Coincidentally, national viewers were able to choose among two separate St. Louis at Chicago telecasts mostly head-to-head.)

Frankly, ESPN got lucky that enough people knew to check ESPN2. It could be due to contractual obligations, but ESPN stuck with the Women's NCAA tournament telecasts while Sunday Night Baseball was moved to ESPN2. An hour earlier, the start of Baseball Tonight on ESPN2 (the lead in) was delayed eight minutes due to some soccer telecast which ran over. Since when do soccer and women's basketball take such priority over MLB?
Speaking of ESPN, pleased to see that the network finally released Bobby Knight from his analyst role following its NIT coverage. Ever since the incident a couple years back where he used profanity on live TV and never apologized, it was incredible that the network stuck with him. After all, if one of his players had violated policy, you know Knight would have made sure the player was disciplined and that everybody knew all about how Knight took such action. Let's hope we have finally heard the last of him anywhere.

This week's BUSTED note has to go to Yankees radio voice John Sterling. During the season opening broadcast between the Yankees and Blue Jays on Monday (4/6), Sterling finished a play and quickly recapped and sent the broadcast to the end of inning commercial. One problem. That was only the second out. BUSTED

On a sad note, both MLB and NFL fans lost a legendary broadcaster with the passing of Lon Simmons over the weekend at the age of 91. Simmons had been a fixture in the Bay Area, mostly known for his work on the Giants radio broadcasts from 1958 (when they moved to San Francisco) to 1979 (missing 1974 and '75) and again from 1996 to 2002. From 1981 to 1995 he was across the Bay as one of the A's radio voices. Lon was on the air during the 1989 World Series broadcast when the big earthquake hit. And, early in his career he also called 49ers radio play-by-play. Even though his play-by-play in later years was as boring as Pat Summerall, Simmons brought a lot of humor and experience to the broadcasts even then. He will be missed.

ST. LOUIS: KXFM 1380 has added to its "mostly sports" radio lineup, including returning Howard Balzer to the local airwaves starting on April 20th. Balzer will co-host middays with Charlie Edwards. This week the station began airing J.C. Corcoran during morning drive although that show will not be limited to sports. The station will air a ton of syndicated sports shows including NBC Sports Radio.

ALBUQUERQUE: KXKS 1190 and 107.5 have gone to an all-sports radio simulcast. However, the vast majority of its content will be from Fox Sports Radio.

MELBOURNE FL: WLZR-AM and WSJZ-FM have dropped their FM simulcast of "The Fan". WLZR remains as "Sports 1560 The Fan" and continues with ESPN Radio. WSJZ-FM has, as of last week, switched to a combination of rock music and talk.

CHRISTOPHER IL: WXLT 103.5 ESPN has named Derek Fogel as Program Director as well as morning sports anchor on sister station News Radio 1340 WJPF which serve a small part of Southern Illinois. Fogel's father, Dave Fogel, is morning man on music station WJMK Chicago.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Are The Washington Capitals Really In Tune?

Like it or not, the Washington Capitals' approach to the team's new online channel is unique. This week is the official start of Caps Radio 24/7. It will not be similar to what, for example, the Pittsburgh Penguins' channel offers, which is a steady diet of game replays, interviews, and highlights.

Instead, Caps Radio 24/7 will feature a ton of music programming. John Walton, the team's play-by-play voice will host the channel and provide twice per hour hockey updates. In between, listeners will hear the musical selections played at Caps home games, as well as playlists chosen by players and team personnel.

On a more positive note, the channel plans expanded pre and post-game coverage surrounding its upcoming playoff broadcasts. As of now, the station does not have an over-the-air option (such as the Penguins' channel being on an HD channel of a Pittsburgh FM station), but is available nationally via TuneIn and through the WashingtonCaps.com web site.

What makes this unique is the percentage of music played compared with actual team and game content. Not all of the fans enjoy the music being played, while not all of those who enjoy the music will want to hear everything about the team.

Look for extremely high ratings for the Final Four due mainly to the run by the University of Kentucky. Even the fans of the teams which have been eliminated and sports fans in general will be interested in the potential longest full season run by a team looking to remain undefeated. Hopefully even Charles Barkley will know who is playing in these games when he thrusts his studio analysis all over us on Saturday and Monday.

Monday (4/6) will be a huge sports day, with the NCAA Championship and MLB openers sharing the spotlight. ESPN decided that fans want both New York teams' openers on national TV on Monday. Prior to its Wednesday (4/8) prime-time game, ESPN will debut a Baseball Tonight edition at 5:30 PM to preview lineups and fantasy information leading into its Monday and Wednesday night telecasts.

MLB Network takes over with a group of games from Tuesday through Sunday of the first week, while many cable systems will offer a free preview of the MLB package for the first few days of the season. In addition, MLB Network has announced a pair of weekday afternoon doubleheaders during April, which will be Monday April 13 and Thursday April 23rd.

MLB Network has added Pedro Martinez as a studio analyst after his previous two seasons on TBS' post-season coverage. The Hall of Fame pitcher will continue his work with TBS, which doesn't show up on the baseball map until the second half of the regular season.

Hardcore basketball fans will like that ESPN will be airing some of the post-season games of the NBA Development League starting in a few weeks, and already plans to do the same in 2016.

CHICAGO: If only it were an April Fool's joke, but once again the Chicago Sun-Times web site put up any story it could get its hands on as if there was a need to further embarrass itself. On Wednesday (4/1) at 11:19 AM CT, the site had a headline (that is headline!) stating "Bears Grab Outside Linebacker In New NFL Mock Draft".

This "story" indicated that a Sports Illustrated writer had the team choosing a specific outside linebacker with their upcoming first round pick, and that an ESPN writer has the team choosing a specific wide receiver. Two things come to mind. First, this "story" has zero mention of any players that the paid Sun-Times football reporters and columnists are thinking of. Next, this is still another major embarrassment that this story was among the "headlines" of the day.

Speaking of embarrassing, WSCR 670 The Score's Dan Bernstein and Matt Spiegel were forced to issue on-air apologies after a Twitter exchange last week. Bernstein called himself "an idiot" on the air following references to CSN Chicago sportscaster Aiyana Cristal and her physical appearance. Despite some protests, the station did not make any on-air suspensions.

NEW YORK: Madison Square Garden Co. has announced a separation of its sports business (ownership of the Knicks, Rangers Liberty, and venues) from its entertainment business (Madison Square Garden, Radio City, Beacon Theater, etc.) to be effective prior to the end of 2015.

WASHINGTON D.C.: Two weeks later than planned, the WTEM ESPN 980 "Man Cave" morning show did appear and make its debut on Monday (3/30). The resignation of Chuck Sapienza as Program Director in early March is believed to be the real reason for the delay, which led many (including The Broadcast Booth) to believe the show had been canceled before it even started. Jason Reid and Chris Paul (not the NBA star) are the hosts, as originally planned.

PHOENIX: Nick Boynton, the former 11-year veteran of the NHL, has been placed on a leave of absence from the AZ Coyotes broadcast team following his arrest late last week in a Buffalo area casino. Boynton was on what authorities termed "a drunken rampage".

HOUSTON: Now that the Astros are back to resembling a major league team, their games will be available in more places effective immediately. Area U-Verse and DirecTV subscribers will be able to receive the Astros telecasts via Root Sports, which will be the first time since the 2012 season.

PHILADELPHIA: The Eagles broadcasts will remain on WIP in a new multi-year extension announced this week. Merrill Reese, now the longest tenured radio play-by-play voice in the NFL, will continue, with WIP's Howard Eskin on commentary. The new deal also calls for an HD channel to be added which will be exclusively Eagles content.

On the baseball side, CSN Philadelphia announced that Hall of Famer Mick Schmidt will join the Phillies broadcast team for weekend home games throughout the 2015 season.

Finally, a sad note, especially for long time NBA fans. The one and only Hot Rod Hundley passed away last week at the age of 80. Hot Rod, known mainly for his 35 season run as the voice of the New Orleans/Utah Jazz, also served as an analyst back in the 80's when CBS had the national package. He is remembered as a broadcaster much more than his eight seasons as a player with the Lakers. Just as he moved with the Jazz from New Orleans to Utah to continue as the team's broadcaster, his playing days with the Lakers began when the team was in Minneapolis and ended after they moved to Los Angeles.