Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Two National Telecasts - Two Mishaps On Same Big Night

Two games on national TV on competing networks on Tuesday (10/27) night, and two screw-ups to report. Obviously, the Fox Sports mishap with the power outage in their production truck during Game 1 of the World Series tops the list. That wasn't their fault, but it was ironic that it happened during one of the few times they had a big audience and didn't bury a post-season telecast on FS1.

They had an audience indeed. The overnight rating was 31% higher than last year's Game 1, and the highest Game 1 since 2009 which had New York (Yankees) playing Philadelphia. While NYC had a nice 26.2 rating and 43 share, Kansas City went bonkers, with an astounding 57.3 rating and a 78 audience share.

In Texas, where both the Rangers and Astros were long gone from this post-season, the overnight numbers showed at Austin actually had higher viewership than Dallas (for Game 1) while the Houston's audience came in as only the 54th highest rated market.

Over at TNT, about an hour after the Fox truck power loss, the network was showing its NBA season opening game from Chicago against LeBron James and the Cavaliers, which was a tight game going into the final minute of the 4th quarter and Chicago barely holding on to its lead. A basket by the Cavs, which was from near the three-point circle but a two-point basket, actually made the score now 97-95 in favor of Chicago.

Yet, the on screen score changed to 98-95. Seconds later, it changed to 100-92. As play continued with Chicago in possession, the score then changed to 98-95. Play-by-play voice Kevin Harlan (fresh off the Sunday NFL webcast from London) admitted the confusion about the actual score. Finally, the score was changed to the correct 97-95. Good thing it did. That wound up being the final score of the game.

Then, in the usual hurry to sign off right after the game (without an instant interview even though the game ended before the bottom of the hour and in plenty of time for the Golden State game telecast to begin), there was not even an apology or acknowledgement of the graphics mishap.

One other things both Fox and TNT had in common that night. They both insist on having a cast of thousands in the studio for analysis. By the time they introduce their studio cast and joke around during the studio segments, each analyst only gets a few seconds to chime in about each topic. Too many cooks, and not nearly enough food.

The latest radio ratings, these for the September/October 2015 period, show just how sports crazed the Boston area is with amazing ratings for both of the rival sports talk stations. Even the biggest of sports fans couldn't have dreamed that two of the top four stations (and this is overall audience, not just males 25-54) in the marketplace.

WBZ-FM Sports Hub jumped to a 7.1 rating (from a 4.9 just two ratings books earlier) and placed at #2 overall in the market. Yet, rival WEEI-FM showed a similar rise, going from a 4.6 to the now 6.3 rating this month, coming in at #4 in the market. That is nothing short of amazing, representing high points for both stations.

This helps to prove my point that content makes the difference for sports stations ahead of specific hosts and shows.

New York City also shows this trend, with WFAN 660 showing a one-half point rating increase over the previous month during the Yankees run to the post-season. (This was The Fan's first season as Yankees radio flagship.) WEPN ESPN 98.7 also increased, by .4 and had its best showing since May 2015. While WOR 710 is not sports talk, the Amazin' Mets made a huge difference. During this year 2015, WOR has more than doubled its overall audience, now riding its tenth consecutive ratings book with either an increase or holding steady.

In Chicago, WBBM 780 has ratings gold with the Cubs (1st year as flagship station) in the post-season throughout the ratings period and the always popular Bears football broadcasts. In fact, on Oct. 7th when the Cubs played Pittsburgh in the National League Wild Card playoff, the radio overnights showed 28.5% of radio listeners tuned to the game, combining the local WBBM broadcast with ESPN 1000 airing the national feed. This helped WBBM tie for #1 overall, with well over double the total audience of both WSCR 670 The Score and WMVP ESPN 1000. It will be interesting to see how WSCR and WMVP do over the next couple of rating periods, as each station is ahead of the other in key dayparts and demographics, while WMVP begins its final season as flagship for the Chicago Bulls.

This ratings book was also good for a few other large markets. In San Francisco, KNBR came in at #2 overall, still with more than three times the total audience of KGMZ-FM The Game, even though The Game was up slightly.

In Dallas, KRLD-FM rides those Cowboys to #8 overall in the market, its highest rating ever. The significance here is that KRLD-FM did not take away from its competitors. KTCK The Ticket and KESN ESPN both showed audience increases of at least 10% over the previous month. Philadelphia's WIP-FM rose .8 of a ratings point to finish #7 overall in that market.

Baltimore's WJZ-FM also rose .8 for the month, and came in at #6 overall, while Denver's KKFN The Fan rose more than a full ratings point. While at #13 overall in the market, the Broncos' start helped them to this impressive jump.

A couple of markets that usually don't make a splash came up positive for their sports stations as well. In Atlanta, which has not exactly been a force in sports talk over the years, WZGC-FM The Game has risen to #15 overall, increasing by a full ratings point over the past two months. And in Minneapolis - St. Paul, KFXN The Fan went up an astounding TWO ratings points over the previous month, showing up at #4 overall. The station now has six times the audience size of KSTP, which held steady. KTWN the music station which is the flagship for the Twins (who finished their improved season during this rating book) dropped .3 overall.

While most L.A. Dodgers fans still have nothing further in terms of being able to watch the local telecasts in 2016, the fallout from the Time Warner Cable mess is growing again. Now the L.A. Times reports that Time Warner Sports President David Rone will be gone by the end of 2015, adding that TWC "has no plans for a replacement". The Dodgers Channel is reportedly losing another $100 million just for 2015 alone, while its Lakers channel is suffering as the team sinks slowly in the west.

Speaking of fallout, the fantasy sports controversy continues to extend to the media. Over the past few days, the NCAA has officially notified the major networks that it has "banned all sponsorship/advertising activity in televised college sports championships" for DraftKings and FanDuel. The "request" also seeks to have these services stop offering fantasy contests based on college sports.

By the way, the new college football playoff system for this coming December-January is NOT overseen by the NCAA.

ESPN has not commented on its position for those playoffs, but did report that FanDuel has issued a legal response that it has no plans to change its offerings.

Of course, ESPN also has its ties to the NFL and advertising revenue for those games as well. Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, was quoted as defending his investment in DraftKings, which is a personal investment, since NFL teams are "not allowed" to invest in fantasy sports companies. Yet, The Kraft Group, comprised of the Kraft family (and others) which own the New England Patriots, also owns a stake in one of the major fantasy sports companies. Jonathan Kraft went as far as to appear on WBZ-FM Sports Hub last week to comment about how the fantasy sports industry remains unregulated.

BOSTON: While fans mourn the loss of Don Orsillo from the NESN TV booth, there will be more changes for next season along with Dave O'Brien moving over from radio to handle the play-by-play. The phasing out of Jerry Remy is starting, in a move which will also not go over well with the fans. Remy will now work "about 100 games", which is a reduced work load (about 30 to 50 games less) from this past season. NESN is adding Dennis Eckersley and Steve Lyons as regular game analysts as scheduled, including a few games in which there will be three in the booth.

CHICAGO: WMVP ESPN 1000 needs to listen to Bristol (ESPN headquarters), which is certainly "talking". The station is forced to air the World Series radio coverage (which is not a priority in Chicago where Cubs fans lost interest after the Mets swept them out of the playoffs) in place of up to three Bulls regular season broadcasts.

Even though this is the final season as Bulls flagship, the conflicting broadcasts are being moved to WLS 890, which takes over in 2016-17 as Bulls flagship. During the same week this was dictated, ESPN announced that John Cravens, who had been with WMVP for more than 10 years, is no longer with the station, with no talk of a direct replacement.

The station also re-upped to air 15 games (out of a 30 game schedule) of the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) basketball team. They have aired some to all of these games since 1997 (with the exception of one season). Jonathan Hood takes over as play-by-play voice for these broadcasts, replacing Dave Juday who left the station earlier this year.

Comcast SportsNet Chicago has added Leila Rahimi to its anchor and reporter staff starting this week. Rahimi is making the CSN rounds, having most recently held similar duties for CSN Philadelphia, and before that with CSN Houston going back to 2012.

MONTANA: Still no reason known for the sudden and unexpected "parting of the ways" between Mike Holien and the University of Montana football and basketball play-by-play position he held for the past 22 years. All we know for sure is that it has nothing to do with the entire broadcast crew, since Greg Sundberg continues as analyst and Adam Painter remains as sideline reporter.

U. of Montana games continue to be streamed (in addition to the large statewide radio network) at

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Fantasy Sports To Produce Media Winners & Losers

My hunch is that many NFL and TV network executives are stressing out about recent developments from this season. Not the ones on the field even with a record number of unbeaten teams six weeks in. You can bet (pun intended) that the recent barrage of legal questions surrounding FanDuel and DraftKings and daily fantasy in general is their real "top story" of the week.

Maybe the news networks are reporting the story accurately, but maybe they are not. In recent weeks, the two fantasy "services" have been among the top three biggest national advertisers on the networks, bringing in millions of advertising dollars to the networks spending billions for the rights to televise NFL games. The more revenue the networks bring in, the higher the rights fees to renew the next contract.

If daily fantasy is not legally allowed to continue, the results would probably be millions in lost revenue to the networks. (I say "probably" because if there will be a loophole, it will be found.) Because of all of this, the NFL would stand to lose out on millions in TV revenue if the networks aren't taking in as much. In addition, the existence of daily fantasy entices even more fans to watch and follow each week's games above and beyond the numbers from 'season long' fantasy participants.

How this ongoing story will be covered by networks such as CBS, Fox, ESPN, and NBC, will be interesting because of how much their revenue could be impacted as a result.

Leave it to the NFL to create tremendous hype for a "filler" game between Buffalo and Jacksonville this week. The Bills have surprised and are holding on at .500, while the Jaguars have won one game so far this season. Fans of both teams are probably glad the game is being played in London and that it is not on one team's season ticket plan. Those in Buffalo and Jacksonville will see the game "over the air" at 9:30 AM ET on Sunday morning, and will probably be glad it will be over before the interesting games are played.

However, the tremendous hype comes from what is sure to be a large audience because of the NFL allowing this game to be streamed live nationally via Yahoo and its various platforms. Look for a large audience to give it a try by watching live action online ahead of the endless hours of pre-game programming at the same time. Of course, if this were played in either city and an early CBS regional game, fans in those market areas would likely do what they could to watch a different game.

As ESPN continues to crunch the numbers due to their spending for broadcast rights while consumers cut the cord, now ESPN Radio is feeling the effect. At press time, ESPN was beginning to issue a series of employee layoffs. Among the first set of casualties is Mike Thompson of KSPN 710 Los Angeles, who has been let go from his Program Director duties. The hunch here is that ESPN will reduce to having a single Program Director handle the large market ESPN stations, combining the responsibilities to include KSPN, WESN New York, WMVP Chicago, and perhaps one or two other top 10 markets.

The song title from the 70's, "It's A Strange Way To Tell Me You Love Me" by Firefall seems to apply to Fox Sports regarding its ALCS coverage. Even in prime time on Monday (10/19), the network stuck the Kansas City at Toronto Game 3 on Fox Sports 1, where fewer people knew to find the game. I have no idea how having only one of the five games in the series (as of press time) on Fox Sports and burying the rest on FS1 helps to promote the network having the World Series on.
Now that FS1 has a couple of years behind it, many more fans know it exists, but seem to forget about it because they have so little to offer on a consistent basis.

For example, last week's Game 5 between Texas and Toronto showed only a 10.9 rating in the Dallas market, even though it was a deciding game and was mid-week (with no competition from the Cowboys or college football). The following night, the same market showed a rating of 0.7 for some UFC show it aired. Probably came from casual fans checking in to see if a baseball game was on.

Then there is the matter of Fox having a cast of thousands of studio analysis. Don't get me wrong. I find Raul Ibanez, Frank Thomas, Pete Rose, and the other guests to be interesting. But having four or five guys giving their opinions on every little thing doesn't give any of them the chance to explain or go into depth.

What is strange is having Tom Verducci as the third man during the actual games. I actually enjoy his analysis, so it is not as though he does not do a solid job. My problem is that during the game itself is when a former player/coach/manager should be in the booth to interpret the games for the fans.

It makes zero sense to have Verducci in the booth while Ibanez, Rose, and Thomas are in the studio having to wait a couple of hours to get 10 seconds to comment on the big play of the game. Then again, if a tree fell on Fox Sports 1, would anybody hear it?

For the "How Embarassing!" moment of the week we turn to CNN. The sister network to TNT which has aired the NBA for more than 20 seasons and which also partners for the league's official NBA-TV. While reporting on the sad story of the condition of Lamar Odom last week, the on-screen photo happened to be of LaMarcus Aldridge of Portland.  Not the same player.

Besides the concern about what other mistakes has CNN gotten away with (when viewers are not familiar with a subject), you have to wonder how a network with ties to the NBA could have this happen. Look how far down CNN has come since the days of offering regular sports coverage in the era of Nick Charles and Fred Hickman.

CINCINNATI: A great idea has come from picking up on the Bengals getting off to a 6 - 0 start this season. To let fans enjoy the highlights of win number six this past Sunday, Dan Hoard put up a stream of the scoring play calls from the broadcast of the 34-21 win over Buffalo.
It can be heard at:

WASHINGTON D.C.: Following the announcement of a multi-year radio agreement to air Georgetown basketball, WJFK The Fan 106.7 has announced the broadcast schedule. Rich Chvotkin begins his 42nd season of play-by-play with the majority of the games airing on 106.7 The Fan. However, since The Fan also carries the Wizards and Capitals games, the Georgetown games will air elsewhere for the 13 games which conflict. Eleven of the games will air on WNEW 99.1, while a couple of others, due to Wizards/Capitals conflicts, will air on 1580 AM. These days the challenge for fans is more to know which station to tune to instead of keeping track of the players.

TULSA: Congrats to Steve Braun, named as Sports Director of KTBZ 1430 The Buzz. It completes a wonderful "working his way up" story. Braun returns to the station in this capacity after having worked there from 2010 to 2012 as a board operator and then a show producer. His position is also expected to include a hosting or co-hosting role to be announced shortly.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Will It Play In New York?

With all of the baseball ratings and other media stories this week, it is understandable that a couple of stories would fly under the radar. What is most amazing, however, is that one of those stories in taking place in New York City. Actually, it is what is NOT taking place in NYC.

Last week the NHL's New York Islanders played their historic first home game in Brooklyn, now sharing the three year old arena with the NBA's Nets. The Islanders, which have yet to change their name from their 40+ years of playing on Long Island, seem to have made an even more drastic mistake (than not renaming the team or at least officially becoming a Brooklyn team) in establishing themselves in Brooklyn.

It seems that Islanders management overlooked getting the team on a "big name" New York City radio station. Then again, they were struggling to get on a "name" station in the Nassau area where they played their home games all along until now.

For the second consecutive season, the Islanders games are originated on WRHU 88.7 Hempstead, which is a non-commercial station operated out of Hofstra University. To this point, all the Islanders have been able to do is get the games on WNYE 91.5, which happens to be owned by the City of New York. The team's "network" only includes one other radio station, which is a commercial station. However, that station is WRCN Riverhead 103.9 "Long Island News Radio".

Here the team is needing to promote their Brooklyn presence, and they didn't even get a major radio station to support them.

The other "quiet" story this week is again by way of the NFL and its own push to control content that goes to the public. Protecting game action video and reports is one thing. The Wall Street Journal reported that the League has been requesting that certain social media links to "pirated" highlights be taken down as part of its "copyright enforcement program". While this is understandable, given the billions of dollars it receives for rights fees, there is the matter of the NFL having its own YouTube channel and other outlets for game video.

This could be a matter of the NFL putting out highlights they want people to see, while stopping those with plays and comments which could be considered unflattering.

On to baseball, where an exciting post-season translates to record ratings all around, which figure to continue, especially on the National League side with the top markets involved. (Press time was hours before Game 5 between the Mets and Dodgers.)

TBS kicked major butt on Monday (10/12) with its National League doubleheader which averaged 5,000,000 viewers and increases of more than 30% over its telecasts last year. The St. Louis market drew a 27.7 rating, huge when you consider the game was only available via cable/satellite, while the Chicago audience was the highest for a post-season baseball game since the 2005 World Series clincher by the White Sox.  Later that night, the Mets vs. Dodgers telecast peaked with an average of 5,900,000 viewers, with the New York market generating the largest audience for a Mets game since 2012.

On the American League side, it depends on who you ask. The Sunday telecast of K.C. vs. Houston on MLB Network was the second highest ever for the Network, yet was by far the lowest rated of any of the weekend (and Monday) post-season telecasts. In a curious development from Monday's (10/12) K.C. vs. Houston telecast, the local Kansas City market rating was slightly more than double that of the local Houston audience.

Texas Rangers fans have the right to be upset when it wound up that not one of the five games between the Rangers and Blue Jays was played in prime time. Many expect Toronto vs. K.C. in the ALCS to suffer a similar fate because of the largest markets in the NLCS.

One nice thing about the Division Series telecasts was that at least a couple of the teams' flagship radio stations made the effort to sync up their local announcer feeds to the network telecasts in an effort to serve those viewers who prefer the home town call. Dallas' 105.3 The Fan went as far as to publicize their effort to do so, while those fans who thought to do so noticed that Chicago's WBBM 780 did the same thing for the Cubs vs. Cardinals telecasts on TBS. Then again, the Sunday Rangers game was farmed out to KRLD-AM (only) due to The Fan's coverage of the Cowboys game vs. New England, even though the two games did not directly conflict.

Congrats to the Big Ten Network which showed how far along it has come this past Saturday (10/10), even with MLB playoffs and college telecasts including Notre Dame on other networks.

BTN generated its best day of viewership in the history of the Network, smashing the previous viewership record (set in 2014) by approximately 30%. It finished as the top rated cable network in markets including Baltimore, Detroit, and Washington D.C., along with the obvious ones such as Columbus and Dayton (Ohio State territory). Among its games were Ohio State vs. Maryland and Northwestern vs. Michigan.

DETROIT: 97.1 WXYT The Ticket has punched through a multi-year renewal for both the Tigers and the Red Wings for the currently top-rated station. One element of the new contract is the expansion of teams related programming on sister stations in the local CBS Radio cluster, including news station WWJ 950.

MINNEAPOLIS: Timberwolves fans wondering why the team traded to bring back Kevin Garnett late last season now have a better idea of why. The team is more marketable, as evidenced by the multi-year extension for WCCO 830 to air the games, keeping the team from returning to KFAN 1130. With so many pro teams moving to FM and/or to less known AM stations, it's nice to have a pro team airing on a 50,000 powerhouse which gives them coverage over an extended area. This will be nice for NBA fans around Wisconsin and the Midwest who will be able to hear the Bucks games (Eastern Conference) out of Milwaukee and the Wolves (Western Conference) games via WCCO.

ST. LOUIS; KMOX 1120 has the Blues once again. Not because of any ratings difficulties, but into the 41st season of airing the NHL Blues. For this new season, the station has expanded to a 30-minute post-game show, and is adding three more weekly shows focused on the Blues during the season. Now that the Cardinals season is over, KMOX will air all games, at least until early April when baseball arrives again, as KYKY FM98 had aired some of the early season Blues games during conflicts.

SAN JOSE: It's not often a Fox and Sharks work together, but KUFX K-Fox 98.5 has agreed to a multi-year extension as the flagship station of the NHL Sharks. Like with the Red Wings in Detroit, the deal includes additional Sharks related programming and coverage on sister station KGMZ 95.7 The Game. KGMZ is the flagship station for the Oakland A's.

CHICAGO: WLS 890 has already begun its coverage of the White Sox even though their season ended earlier this month and the game broadcasts do not debut until March. The station now airs "White Sox Weekly" on Saturdays, currently prior to the station's Notre Dame Football coverage, and then at a regular time to be determined starting in December.

Comcast SportsNet Chicago has hired Siera Santos as a reporter and anchor, replacing Jen Lada, who left several weeks ago to begin at ESPN Radio. Santos was most recently with KCBS/KCAL TV in Los Angeles as a weekend reporter. CSN Chicago still needs to add one additional anchor, having not renewed the contract of Aiyana Cristal last week.

INDIANAPOLIS: WFNI The Fan 1070 is about to add a third signal to the market in order to provide listeners with the option of local sports programming or ESPN Radio national. The Fan, also simulcast on Frankfort IN 107.5, will move that FM simulcast over to recently acquired 93.5 FM, and include only national ESPN content on 107.5.

This is a also a smart move for Emmis Communications, which also owns news radio WIBC-FM 93.1, which means that their news and sports stations will be right next to each other on the FM dial once this move is complete.

DES MOINES: KBGG 1700 is already dumping a large percentage of its sports talk programming and going with general talk as of this week. As of this week "Big 1700" will be local sports talk from Noon to 6 PM with the "Jimmy B and TC Show" at Noon followed by Marty Tirrell and Ken Miller at 3:00. The station will continue to air Northern Iowa football and basketball.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

It's How The Ratings Ball Bounces

The MLB post-season has sent a line drive to TBS and a foul ball to Fox Sports. TBS has lucked in to having the top three markets involved in its National League Division Series telecasts which begin on Friday (10/9). Along side its New York vs. Los Angeles series are two of the most popular teams in the Midwest with the Cardinals and Cubs about to battle it out in their best of five series.

The Cubs Wild Card win over Pittsburgh on Wednesday night (10/8) drew the highest ratings for a baseball game in the Chicago market in 10 years (when the White Sox won the 2005 World Series over Houston), with a 21.8 overnight rating. This is even more significant when you realize that NBCSN had the exclusive telecast of the NHL Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks opening night banner ceremony and game at the exact same time, and drew a national rating solid enough to make it the second most watched regular season telecast on NBCSN.

The American League Wild Card game on Tuesday (10/6) did quite well for ESPN, coming in approximately 48% higher than last year's Wild Card telecast (then on TBS). The difference? This year it included the Yankees, who were shut out, and with that, so were the hopes for Fox Sports in the ratings game.

Now Fox Sports has Toronto vs. Texas in one series, meaning that one of the local markets doesn't even factor in. To make matters worse, Fox is, again this year, hiding many of the telecasts on Fox Sports 1. Not only will there be fewer people interested (with the Yankees gone), but fewer casual fans will know where and when to find the games.

Kansas City, however, is a hotbed of Royals fans. The local telecast ratings (for Fox Sports Kansas City) increased nearly 90% over the 2014 season and, according to Sports Business Journal, made the Royals the team with the best local telecast ratings in MLB for the just concluded 2015 regular season. The team with the second best local ratings was the St. Louis Cardinals, also still very much alive in the post-season. Their ratings went up about 31% this season.

That report also shows that 16 of the 30 MLB teams showed overall ratings increases vs. 2014. In New York, the Yankees ratings dropped about 7% while Mets telecasts on SportsNet New York increased more than 55%. In Los Angeles, where the Dodgers still can't be seen locally in more than 70% of that market, the Angels telecasts on Fox Sports Southwest outdrew the Dodgers for 2015.

The major east coast storms continue to impact college football schedules and viewing. ESPN has been forced to adjust its telecast lineup for this Saturday (10/10) due to the LSU vs. South Carolina game being relocated to Baton Rouge (instead of Columbia). As a result, the game will air at 3:30 PM ET on ESPN. As a result, ESPN's other scheduled telecasts, both at Noon and 3:30 PM ET, are being moved within the family of networks.

Last Saturday's storms helped ABC to win the ratings battle among all broadcast networks with the Notre Dame at Clemson game drawing more than 3.2 million viewers. At the same time, ESPN's telecast of Mississippi at Florida was the most watched show on cable for the night. And then there was Fox Sports with its Arizona State vs. UCLA telecast. It was only the fourth most watched college game, also trailing ESPN2's Tennessee vs. Arkansas tilt.

Kenny Albert continues to keep busy, and continues to have two major networks in the fold. NBC has increased Albert's role in its NHL coverage for NBCSN and NBC. Hopefully Albert will improve on his hockey announcing and do more than simply give the name of the player passing or shooting the puck. NBCSN has also added Brian Boucher as a full-time NHL analyst.

ESPNU helps fans get ready for basketball, even at this early date. It is scheduled to telecast the University of Kentucky's practice on Sunday (10/11). Not to say they are going overboard, but the announcing team of Doris Burke, Seth Greenberg, and Jay Williams will be on hand. It's a practice, folks.

CBS has chosen Alabama at Texas A & M for its October 17th 3:30 PM ET telecast.

MILWAUKEE: Bucks radio will stay the same, while changes begin on the TV side for the coming season. The team has renewed with WTMJ 620 in a multi-year deal. Ted Davis, starting his 19th season in the role, will continue on play-by-play while Dennis Krause remains as the analyst for home games only.

However, on the TV side Fox Sports Wisconsin appears to be phasing out the long time team of Jim Paschke and Jon McGlocklin. This appears to be a Fox Sports decision, since they are bringing in announcers already employed by Fox for other duties. Gus Johnson will call 20 of the Bucks' games on TV, while Marques Johnson (a former standout for the Bucks in the 70's) will be the analyst on 55 of the telecasts when their respective schedules permit.

As a result, Paschke and McGlocklin will work the telecasts when either or both of the Johnsons are not available to do so.

ATLANTA: Another episode of a station reporter going overboard on social media and paying the price. WZGC 92.9 The Game suspended Mike Bell for his odd and derogatory comments about ESPN's Jessica Mendoza.

This negative publicity for the station comes during the same week as the station debuting its new morning show to replace Marc James and Jamie Dukes. The Game went all the way to their weekend staff to find its morning show, moving Hugh Douglas and John Fricke out of Saturday late nights and into morning drive. The reasoning behind the move is that this was the station's highest rated weekend show.

Some of you may remember John Fricke from CNN back in the 80's and the era of Nick Charles and Fred Hickman. Fricke is probably best remembered for laughing on the air for seemingly no reason, sometimes while reading stories.

INDIANAPOLIS: It's not exactly known as a hockey market, not having had a pro team since the Indianapolis Racers of the World Hockey Association in the late 70's. (With a rookie by the name of Wayne Gretzky in 1976, by the way.) Yet, WISH-TV is giving it a chance, signing to carry 19 regular season Chicago Blackhawks games via WGN-TV Chicago.

ORLANDO: The market already has five sports stations if you include surrounding areas. Yet, WYGM 740 The Game now has an FM simulcast at 96.9.