How convenient that ESPN just happened to find comments made by host Colin Cowherd offensive last Friday (7/24) and pulled his radio and ESPNU show off the air one week before it was expected to happen. This, of course, may put a damper on the anticipated announcement that Cowherd will be joining Fox Sports, by making him look less favorable to the masses.
This move also further distracts some fans and media from noticing that losing Cowherd, along with Keith Olbermann and Bill Simmons recently, was about ESPN reducing its expenses by cutting millions off the payroll.
The network also 'just happened' to have its ESPN Los Angeles radio team of Steve Mason and John Ireland all set to begin filling in as of this Monday (7/27), whether on an interim basis or as an audition for taking over the national slot as well.
NBC, fresh off a much improved showing from its NHL telecasts, has already announced their tentative national TV schedule for the upcoming 2015-16 season for NBC and NBCSN with more than 100 regular season telecasts. The network is beefing up its "Wednesday Night Rivalry" 24 week series and including six double header Wednesday nights.
NBCSN will be showing at least 12 Sunday night matchups after the first of the year. Opening night, Oct. 7th, will start with an impressive doubleheader with the NY Rangers vs. Chicago followed by San Jose at Los Angeles.
The network is counting on the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks to have another solid season and continue to deliver major numbers from the Chicago area. Already, the Blackhawks could have up to 21 of their regular season games shown on either NBC or NBCSN.
However, NBCSN continues to struggle for an audience beyond its NHL and some of its auto racing schedule. Case in point is their just announced schedule of Ivy League football on Friday nights during October and November, starting with Columbia at Princeton at 7 PM ET on October 2nd.
Fox Sports has added former Colorado QB Joel Klatt as its lead analyst on its college football telecasts, with Klatt being teamed with play-by-play voice Gus Johnson. Its other play-by-play crews will include Tim Brando and Joe Davis on play-by-play. Brady Quinn will serve as an analyst, although not yet regularly paired with a play-by-play voice. Former NFL Referee Mike Pereira, who is a part of Fox's NFL coverage, will also be used on most of the NCAA telecasts during the coming season.
CHICAGO: The Bears will again have their games broadcast in Spanish, although they will have a new radio affiliate starting in a couple of weeks with the first pre-season game. The AM-FM combo of WRTO 1200, WVIV 93.5 and WVIX 103.1 will take over the broadcasts after three seasons on WLEY-FM. Hector Lozano, the Sports Director for Univision Chicago, and Omar Ramos, will handle the play-by-play and analyst duties.
MIAMI: WQAM 560 will continue as the flagship station for the Florida Panthers, with Randy "Red Deer" Moller remaining on play-by-play. The station will also air "Panthers Insider" for one hour on Saturday mornings along with other team related programming.
BALTIMORE: WBAL 1090 wanted football on both weekend days so much that it will continue to air Navy Football on Saturdays, renewing its contract. This will be its 11th season airing the games, with the contract reported to be a multi-year deal. The station is, of course, the flagship station of the Ravens.
NASHVILLE: The "Greg Pogue & Big Joe Show" is back as of this week, even with a 9 to 11 AM air time, on WNSR 560 and 95.9. The station already has "The Bill King Show" from 7 to 9 AM. Dubin, who is expected to continue his sports reporter duties for WSMV-TV 4, was paired with Pogue previously on The Game 94.9 FM.
SYRACUSE: Music fans are crying "WOLF" since WOLF 1490 dropped its music simulcast to pick up Fox Sports Radio this week. However, as of press time, there is no local sports programming on the station.
RALEIGH-DURHAM: Mike Maniscalco is now the solo host of the morning show on The Buzz 99.3 as of this week. Former NC State football standout Mark Thomas has left the station, and his co-hosting duties, in order to join a local advertising/marketing agency. Thomas is, however, expected to continue to be involved with NC State sports.
ALBANY: WCWN-TV 45 plans to begin a 30 minute live and local sports report, starting on August 31st, at 10:30 PM Monday through Friday, and hosted by Kelly O'Donnell. Known as "Upstate Sports Edge", the station has also hired Brittany Devane as an anchor and reporter for the show, which promises to focus heavily on the local college and high school sports scene.
FARGO: KQWB 1660 has also dropped its music format and has gone sports. However, the station is also airing Fox Sports Radio with no local sports programming as of yet. The station was the local ESPN station for five years until changing to music in 2012.
FREEPORT IL: Sorry to learn of the passing of Rick Edwards, who did play-by-play and hosted shows going back to the 1950's on Rockford stations WRRR and later WROK. He was "the radio voice of Freeport sports" in the 1960's and 70's on WELL-FM and WFRL-AM. He passed away last week (real name Ed Richter) at the age of 94.