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 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.

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