More than in past seasons, the NFL is aggressive about showing exhibition games on the national level, even this week, which is only the third week of pre-season.
In addition to Thursday's (8/25) NBC prime time game between Atlanta and Miami, the national audiences have more NFL action available than during most regular season weekends. Proving this point is that Friday (8/26) CBS is actually airing the Cleveland vs. Tampa Bay game in prime time.
Cleveland vs. Tampa Bay? If this was a regular season game it would be hard to imagine this early game going anywhere beyond the local team's regular markets. Yet, CBS is devoting its prime time to this game.
On Saturday, CBS is back, this time with a prime time telecast of Tennessee vs. Oakland. In New York, WCBS-TV is, of course, airing the local Jets vs. Giants exhibition game at 7 PM. There will be only one telecast of this game, which will be considered a Jets telecast on Channel 2 and called by Ian Eagle and Greg Buttle. WCBS will then air the Tennessee vs. Oakland game on delay at or after 10:30 PM. Yes, nothing like a delayed telecast of an NFL exhibition game to complete a Saturday night of TV viewing.
This Sunday fans could make like the regular season. Incredibly, Fox is airing a national pre-season doubleheader, with San Diego vs. Minnesota followed by Arizona vs. Houston. Then NBC takes over for Sunday Night Football, with Mike Torico (now on NBC) and Chris Collinsworth calling the Cincinnati vs. Jacksonville game. Yes, it's Jaguars on in prime time with an exhibition game.
It will be interesting to see the national ratings for a couple of the prime time games featuring teams that won't be anywhere near primary game feeds during the regular season.
PHILADELPHIA: Josh Innes finally got the whip from WIP-FM 94.1. After several months of losing in the ratings during afternoon drive to Mike Missanelli on The Fanatic, while clearly winning in the overall ratings battle between the two stations, Innes was let go earlier this week. His contract had been scheduled to run out after this year.
WIP used an on-air attack against Missanelli's show, which reportedly used at least one "fake" caller, which Innes commented on, as their excuse to end his run. Clearly they were looking for the excuse to dismiss him prior to his contract running out.
The bigger news will be the naming of his replacement, especially with the Eagles' season starting in just two weeks. With the uncertainty at CBS Radio (parent company of WIP), we will see if they spend the money to attract prime talent for their all important afternoon spot.
CHICAGO: WMAQ-TV Channel 5 wasted little time in moving recently hired sportscaster Mike Berman to a weekday role within some of its newscasts. Berman will replace Peggy Kusinski, who will continue with the station on a freelance basis and will focus on occasional investigative pieces.
WCIU-TV will again televise a series of eight regular season high school football telecasts on one of its substations and its web site. However, five of the eight games will air on delay at 10 PM although they will be streamed live. CSN Chicago continues to air the high school football playoff games in November.
DETROIT: Best wishes to WXYT-FM The Ticket 97.1 co-host Terry Foster, who continues to recover from a stroke suffered last week. Foster now says he is "going to be fine" and expects to return to co-host his show along with Mike Valenti no later than October 3rd.
BILLINGS MT: KBLG 910 ESPN is adding a local show, which, however, will only be once per week. Billings Gazette Sports Editor Jeff Welsch will host "Billings Sports Talk", focusing on local and area college and high school sports, each Wednesday from 4 to 6 PM.
LUBBOCK TX: Those of you who don't believe how important high school football is in Texas will be amazed at KFYO 790 and its sister stations and their plans for the local season.
The three major high schools (Coronado, Monterey, and Lubbock High) will all have their games broadcast live on either KFYO, 98.1 FM or KRFE 580, complete with 15-minute pre and post-game shows for each. After the games, SportsRadio 1340 will air a high school scoreboard show with reports from other area games. Play-by-play voices will be David Thetford, Chris Due, and John Hill.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS CO: KTYV 98.9 has become the latest station to dump ESPN Radio and take the chance with going to Fox Sports Radio. The station will, however, continue to air every NFL game it can (but not the Broncos), planning to air the NFL prime time games on Thursdays, Sundays, and Monday nights.
The Broncos broadcasts have moved, starting this season, to KQZR 95.5, which also continues to air "select" Rockies baseball games, even though this is a classic rock station all other times.
HELENA MT: ESPN Radio 94.9, along with 99.9 in Great Falls, have added a new local show focused on area high school and college sports. What makes this unique is that this show will air weekly - in morning drive. As of this week, Jason Walker (who calls the local Carroll College games) and John Kemper (who calls Helena High School football) will co-host the show each Monday morning from 8 to 9 AM. Stranger things have happened, but this would seem to be the only such weekly program to air in morning drive in any market.