Thursday, June 22, 2017

Not Exactly "Open" For Business With Final Round Ratings

It's still hard to say if the noticeable decline in the ratings for last weekend's U.S. Open was because of the lack of the biggest names such as Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods or because Fox had the telecasts. It could well be a combination of both factors.

The overall ratings for the Sunday final round on Fox were the 2nd lowest ever for the U.S. Open (any network) and clearly the lowest of the three years in which Fox has been the televising network. (The lowest final round was NBC's last one in 2014.) On the other hand, the case could be made that this was the first U.S. Open without both Woods and Mickelson since 1994.

Casual golf fans may still not be aware that Fox airs the Open, while Fox acts as though FS1 and FS2 are sufficient as promotional vehicles.

Over on the NFL side, Fox announced that former linebacker Ray Lewis has officially joined Fox Sports as an NFL analyst. Word is that Lewis will be used only in the studio, and likely spread across the various NFL related programming on all of its networks for the coming season.

Although it may not have been for the originally intended reasons, last week's Congressional Baseball Game for Charity, which followed the unfortunate shooting incident in Alexandria VA, drew an extremely large audience for the streamed telecast. A political publication (The Hill) was able to stream the game via Facebook Live, reporting that the live and on demand feed of the game attracted more than five million views along with more than 13,000 shares.

Meanwhile, still more advertising will be visible to viewers of certain NBA teams next season, whether watching on local or national telecasts. The two most recently announced deals will have the Orlando Magic wearing the Disney Logo for the next three seasons, while the Minnesota Timberwolves have just signed a three-year deal to promote a fitness device on their uniforms.

This means still more clutter for viewers to go along with the courtside tables and ads on the basket supports.

NEW YORK: We all have one more week to think about how exactly 30 years ago none of us were sure that a radio station could make it as an all sports station. A few were attempted, with XTRA 690 in San Diego having been among the first such station in a major league market.

July 1st marks the 30th anniversary of WFAN 660 turning all sports. Of course, if a New York radio station could do it, so could a station in another market. And the trend began.

WFAN wanted to celebrate the occasion. However, as it goes in the world of corporate radio these days, the station realized that the exact anniversary date of July 1st falls on a Saturday. Instead of keeping that date, the station has already (more than one week ahead of time) done their on-air celebration of 30 years.

On Thursday (6/22), WFAN had its Boomer & Carton morning show, the Joe Benigno & Evan Roberts midday show, and Mike Francesa's afternoon show all broadcast live from Grand Central Station in Manhattan. A nice gesture to observe a significant anniversary with the fans. But more than a full week ahead of time?

And to think that 30 years ago this week, a radio station's weekend programming and offerings were considered important to keep serving the listening audience.

HOUSTON: We now have the reason that KBME let Lance Zierlein go from its morning show earlier this month. It was to clear the way for moving Josh Innes from afternoons to mornings, where he will take over starting on July 17th. Innes will be the primary host, as remaining co-host Matt Thomas is being moved to the Noon to 3 PM spot.

Innes joined KBME The Fan 790 within the past year from Philadelphia with his "love him or hate him" style. Innes' ratings during the afternoon grew to the station's highest rated, prompting this move.

SACRAMENTO: Sports talk KHTK is changing its Program Director. Kevin Sherrets, who held the position since summer of 2015, is out since his contract was not renewed. No replacement named as of press time.

CHICAGO: The Cubs have shown signs of putting a string of victories together after a sluggish start in 2017, and the fans are taking notice. The two Comcast SportsNet Chicago telecasts of the Cubs against the Padres on Monday and Tuesday nights earlier this week, turned out to be the two highest rated Cubs telecasts on CSN thus far for the 2017 season.

The incredibly long (4 hour 50 minute) rain delay prior to the start of Thursday's (6/22) White Sox vs. Minnesota telecast on CSN wreaked havoc on the CSN Chicago schedule. The regional network had been scheduled to air the White Sox game at Noon CT and later have the Cubs at Miami at 6:00 CT.

However, the White Sox game did not begin until roughly 5:00, forcing CSN to begin its Cubs vs. Marlins telecast on CSN+ (which not all systems receive), with main CSN joining late in the game following the White Sox postgame show. The network had already scheduled replays of both games.

VERMONT: Those who recall the former voice of NASCAR, Ken Squier, will be amazed to know that he is still doing well at the age of 82. Squier, believed to be the inspiration behind putting a camera in a Daytona race car in the early 90's, has decided to sell his family's Vermont radio station WDEV Waterbury 550 and 96.3. The stations have been in his family since his late father Lloyd purchased the AM station back in 1931. Squier told the local newspaper that his hope is to sell the stations to a local group. Here's hoping he is not in a race to get rid of them, and will be able to find the local support.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

How The Games Impact The Ratings

The fans were definitely interested in the NBA Finals between Golden State and Cleveland, evidenced by the highest rated Finals series since Michael Jordan's last time there back in 1998.

Coincidentally, the NHL season ended the night before (6/11) with Pittsburgh winning in Game 6, which was, understandably, the highest rated Stanley Cup Finals telecast. It still hurt the NHL that all of its biggest market teams were long gone. Even though this year's Finals were up roughly 19% over last year's (which Pittsburgh also won), the fact remains that on Sunday night Celebrity Family Feud on ABC had more total viewers, whereas the NBA finale easily won the night's total national viewing.

BOSTON: The sports radio competition remains tight through the just released May Nielsen ratings. WEEI-FM is the #7 most listened to station overall as the Red Sox flagship, while rival WBZ-FM Sports Hub came in just behind at #8. To show how close these stations are in audience, WBZ-FM Sports Hub finished #1 between 7 PM and Midnight, which most of the Red Sox games are being played, with WEEI-FM at #3 at night.

NEW YORK: Baseball makes the difference in the May ratings with WFAN holding steady vs. the April ratings book but finishing #1 at night as Yankees flagship. WOR-AM, the Mets flagship, has now risen .7 since the March ratings to what is its largest audience share since fall of 2010.

PHILADELPHIA: WIP-FM has jumped up .7 of a ratings point for the second consecutive ratings period which amounts to an overall audience increase of more than 25% during that time. Now the #6 most listened to station, this is WIP's best share since late 2013, when it was airing Eagles broadcasts. At the same time, WPEN-FM held steady and is #19 in the market.

DALLAS: KTCK The Ticket has increased its margin to more than 33% higher overall than KRLD-FM The Fan with a .4 increase for May. This is even though The Fan is the Rangers flagship station.

PITTSBURGH: The sports impact is felt in the May ratings book, as WXDX, the alternative music station which airs the Stanley Cup champion Penguins, finished #1 at night and rose one full ratings point from April. KDKA-FM The Fan, also the flagship station for the Pirates, showed a full ratings point increase over the month.

CLEVELAND: Similar to Pittsburgh, where Indians flagship WTAM is a dominant #1 at night, while WMMS (a rock station) went up to #4 at night with its Cavaliers broadcasts.

HOUSTON: It's likely that won't know the real story for some time, but Lance Zierlein is officially "leaving" the KBME morning show, which he has been co-hosting with Matt Thomas, "later this year". Zierlein has been doing outside work as an NFL draft analyst but not with any other radio or TV stations. We will have a better idea of whose decision this really was by which announcement comes first between a new gig for Zierlein or a new host or co-host for KBME's morning show.

Sports radio in Houston continues to lag behind most other top markets, as KBME came in at #23 overall, which is higher than the other two sports stations. Although Josh Innes' afternoon show remains the highest rated show on the station, it actually trails Rich Lord, Sean Pendergast, and Ted Johnson on KILT.

After months of having the AT&T Logo as a part of the Astros and Rockets Root Sports telecasts, the network will make it official and become AT&T SportsNet Houston next month. With the Denver and Pittsburgh systems having made this change, it will leave only the Seattle system using the Root Sports name.

LOS ANGELES: Sports radio stations continue to struggle even with baseball season in full swing, as both again came in at less than 1.0 rating. Even with the Dodgers broadcasts, KLAC 570 came in #17 at night. And KLAC edged out KSPN, which shares Angels broadcasts with even lower rated KLAA, for overall audience.

Meanwhile, NFL Network has announced that it will again air every exhibition game this August, including 16 live game telecasts:

(All Times Eastern)
Week 1
Wednesday, August 9
7:30 PM – Houston Texans vs. Carolina Panthers
Thursday, August 10
8:00 PM – Denver Broncos vs. Chicago Bears
Friday, August 11
7:00 PM – Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Giants
10:00 PM – San Francisco 49ers vs. Kansas City Chiefs (joined live in progress)
Saturday, August 12
9:00 PM – Dallas Cowboys vs. Los Angeles Rams
Sunday, August 13
1:30 PM – Detroit Lions vs. Indianapolis Colts
8:00 PM – Seattle Seahawks vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Week 2
Friday, August 18
10:00 PM – Minnesota Vikings vs. Seattle Seahawks
Saturday, August 19
3:00 PM – Carolina Panthers vs. Tennessee Titans
7:00 PM – Indianapolis Colts vs. Dallas Cowboys
10:00 PM – Denver Broncos vs. San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, August 20
4:00 PM – Atlanta Falcons vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
8:00 PM – New Orleans Saints vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Week 3
Thursday, August 24
7:00 PM – Miami Dolphins vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Week 4
Thursday, August 31
7:00 PM – Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Jets 
10:00 PM – Seattle Seahawks vs. Oakland Raiders

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Fewer People Watching More and More Sports

It looks as though we are getting more proof of the impact that live sports has on television viewing all year round. Moffett Nathanson Research has completed its examination of the 2016-17 TV season. Among the information it shows is that, among the 18 to 49 age group (male and female), that live sports programming had a 37% share of the daily Nielsen ratings audience. The share of the audience viewing live sports has now increased for the fifth consecutive year.

As impressive as it is for the most recent TV season, there is one more element which makes this even more noteworthy. For the first part of the most recent TV "season", live political programming surrounding the November election also accounted for a large percentage of the audience for obvious reasons.

This trend of sports viewing on the rise will most likely continue for the near future. Why?

More and more consumers are cutting the cord and getting rid of cable and satellite, fed up with rising costs and dwindling quality program options. A good percentage of those who continue to pay the high monthly fees do so because of the amount of pro and college games on cable. Thus, if it is the sports fans who continue to be the ones watching, it would figure that the percentage of sports telecasts viewed on a daily basis will rise.

However, we now have ESPN making significant cutbacks on their programming which is not live games, while other regional and national networks continue to bring radio programs over to TV. We also have ESPN ending its long running "Mike & Mike" morning show later this year which has done so well for their radio and TV sides over the years. Another example of not offering the same quality as before.

It remains to be seen (literally) whether or not some sports fans will grow wary of the high cost of sports programming, especially when the non-game hours are not the same quality.

Having the same teams back in the NBA Finals is turning out to be a big positive for ABC after all. Through the first three games (as of press time), the TV ratings are up more than 12% compared with last year's games. That's even more impressive when you realize that Game 2 was not close for most of the second half.

The word "sorry" applies to the story of Red Sox TV analyst Jerry Remy and his comment about Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka having a translator also come out to the mound for a conference during the game. Not because Remy had to apologize for his comments. Remy said he doesn't like that teams have permission from MLB to bring a translator to the mound during game action. This while we have new rules in place by MLB to supposedly speed up the game.

Remy did not say anything negative about Tanaka or his English speaking ability. He gave an opinion. Yet, because a few people posted negatively about it on social media, it turned into a news story resulting in an on-air apology. So now analysts are even more restricted about what they can say. It's bad enough that the networks have no problem putting seemingly hundreds of analysts on their studio segments for the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL coverage, and give four people 20 seconds instead of one analyst getting a full minute to truly analyze a play or a segment of the game.

Now, anytime someone makes a comment that a few people don't like, it becomes a big deal and requires an apology. On the same day, Phillies analyst Mike Schmidt made the comment on the air that Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera's language "barrier" would make it difficult for him to be a team leader. We know about this comment for the same reason. A few people took offense, when the analyst was simply giving an opinion and not making a personal attack or meaning to offend.

BALTIMORE: Best wishes to Fred Manfra, whose health issues caused him to do his final Orioles radio broadcast this past Sunday (6/4). Manfra faces knee surgery (both knees) in the near future after having had both hips replaced in addition to back surgery. He received a well deserved standing ovation from the Orioles fans. Manfra had been in the Orioles booth since 1993, which was back when the Cal Ripken consecutive game streak was back in the 1,800's.

What made him so special as an Orioles broadcaster is that he is from the area and worked there for so many years, which means he understood being an Orioles fan and what the broadcasts mean to them. Personally, I had many conversations about baseball with Manfra when I was a correspondent for Associated Press radio in the late 70's when Manfra handled their afternoon sportscasts. A class act who deserved a lot better from a health standpoint. He will be missed.

LOS ANGELES: It's still another step to remove any connection to San Diego by the Los Angeles Chargers. The team has forced a change of its radio play-by-play voice starting with the coming season, letting go of Josh Lewin. With KFI 640 taking over as the team's new flagship station, the Chargers will have Matt 'Money' Smith call their games. Smith is co-host of sister station KLAC 570's afternoon drive "Petros & Money Show". At least the team is keeping former Charger Nick Hardwick as the analyst.

Lewin, in addition to his N.Y. Mets play-by-play, will continue to have a Los Angeles presence, as he will remain as radio play-by-play voice for UCLA.

SAN FRANCISCO: KGMZ 95.7 The Game is keeping up the struggle to gain a bigger share of the sports radio audience by giving host Greg Papa an expanded deal for his Noon to 3 PM weekday show. Papa will also participate "on a frequent basis" on the station's morning show with Joe Fortenbaugh, Lorenzo Neal, and Dan Dibley. KGMZ lags well behind KNBR 680 in the overall ratings.

The former voice of the Warriors will also continue his current role of hosting the studio portion of Warriors coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area (formerly CSN Bay Area).

NEW YORK: The great start by the Yankees is paying off for YES Network. Through April and May the Yankees telecast ratings are up by more than 50% over last year's (for the same period), while YES prime time telecasts came in at #1 in the New York cable market, their best showing since the 2012 season.

At the same time, the YES Network simulcast of the Michael Kay radio show in the afternoons during April and May came in as their highest rated radio simulcast since Mike & Mad Dog back in 2004. The Kay Show ratings were more than double (for the YES Network portion) of what they were for April and May 2016.

LAS VEGAS: Although the Raiders are scheduled to stay in Oakland through the 2019 season before moving to Vegas, the team has changed radio stations effective with the coming season and staying in place after the move. KDWN 720 and WCYE 102.7 The Coyote will air the broadcasts. This will be the Raiders broadcasts as they currently air on KGMZ San Jose (San Francisco), with the aforementioned Greg Papa staying in his long time play-by-play role and 'coach" Tom Flores as the analyst. KVVU Channel 5 will air the team's available exhibition game telecasts.

By the way, there is an additional Raiders to connection to the Vegas station move. Those who remember David Humm, who was the Raiders backup QB during the Ken Stabler era, will be interested to know that his brother, Tom Humm, is in management for the radio group which now has the local broadcast rights.

DETROIT: WXYT-FM 97.1 The Ticket is making the effort to stay on top of the market. Starting on Monday (6/12) "The Jamey and Stoney Show" adds WWJ-TV's Heather Park to the show. Park is also known as a host at Comerica Park at Tigers games.

In addition, Kyle Bogenschutz has been added as a co-host of the evening show (on those rare nights without play-by-play) along with Bob Wojnowski. This forms the "Wojo & Bogey Show". Bogenschutz will also take over as host of "Pistons Weekly" which airs on Thursday nights. Bogey has been with the Ticket since 2014.

WASHINGTON D.C.: No surprise that CBS Sports Radio is pulling the plug on WJFK 1580. The station will become the flagship for a broadcast which caters to military veterans and will probably be available online in the near future.

PORTLAND: KXTG 750 / 102.9 The Game has brought in Dino Costa for its afternoon drive show as of this week. Costa has hosted on satellite radio and the Radio Colorado Network in the past.

PENSACOLA: WBSR dropped its ESPN affiliation and ended its sports programming completely after six years. Reports are, as happens in radio, that the staff was not told until the very last day, which was May 31st.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

MLB Telecasts In Virtual Reality Become A Reality

Hard as it may seem to believe, Fox Sports 1 is actually making progress with its MLB telecasts this season. Even putting Alex Rodriguez in the booth as a game analyst has made a difference in viewership, with the recent Yankees vs. Royals (May 18) prime time telecast (his debut in the booth) finishing as FS1's highest rated regular season telecast ever.

Factoring in the Saturday telecasts, FS1 has roughly 17% higher ratings compared with the first two months of the 2016 season, and more than 20% higher than the same point in 2014.

As much as some fans would like to think this is due to Fox finally having a consistent time for its Saturday games (mostly at 4:00 ET), it seems that A-Rod is part of the impact. Especially for Yankees fans. It seems that the prime-time telecast against the Royals on FS1 in the New York market had ratings more than 15% higher than the season average for the Yankees telecasts on YES Network.

And, as we continue to point out, it's not as though FS1 has any rhyme or reason to when it airs a prime-time MLB telecast. Now, if FS1 can come up with a more consistent time to air MLB Whiparound on weeknights, it would have a better chance to build a steady audience, especially with the demise of ESPN Baseball Tonight.

Although the Stanley Cup Finals may not be attractive outside of Pittsburgh and Nashville, NBC got some attention from its Game 1 telecast on Monday (5/29) when it allowed the f-word to air in prime time.

Penguins coach Peter Laviollette was shown giving his pre-game talk to the team, and somehow the word was not bleeped out. It even took until late in the first period for Doc Emrick to acknowledge what had happened and issue an on-air apology.

NBC did get the blessing of the NFL to put Mike Torico on play-by-play for its Thursday Night Football package starting this fall, rather than having Al Michaels doing both their Thursday and Sunday games.

Sorry to learn of the passing of Frank Deford at the age of 78. Deford represented old school sports journalism as well as anybody going back to the 1970's when Sports Illustrated was truly a factor in the sports media. Many fans became aware of his personality when he began appearing on CNN in the 80's, back when CNN covered sports on a regular basis. (Younger fans find it hard to believe that CNN used to do at least two half hour sports shows every day in competition with SportsCenter.)

His distinct sports commentaries also appeared on NPR since the early 80's on "Morning Edition", from which he retired earlier this year.

In addition, DeFord was an Editor for "The National", a daily national all sports newspaper which published for around two years from 1989 to 1991. The National was an awesome sports publication, serving hard core sports fans prior to the internet coming along. It so happens that its last edition was on June 13, 1991, the morning after Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls won their first NBA Championship.

Sports took a back seat for a few minutes on a riveting segment of Mike Francesa's show on Tuesday (5/30) on WFAN. Caller "Mike from Yonkers" got on the air to praise Francesa about helping save his (caller) life last summer. The caller had gone on the air then while suffering from serious injuries from an accident and had thoughts of suicide, crediting Francesa's show for helping to save his life.

To his credit, Francesa took the high road, saying "You don't owe me anything" and letting Mike from Yonkers know that "I'm glad you got through it".

MLB is about to begin participating in an experiment which will be watched closely in more ways than one. Those with the Intel True Virtual Reality app (from the Oculus Store) will be able to watch a live stream each week during June of entire games in virtual reality along with up to the moment player and team statistics and exclusive commentary.

The "Intel True VR Game of the Week" begins on Tuesday June 6th with the Cleveland vs. Colorado game, followed on June 13th by Kansas City at San Francisco. This app will also provide post-game highlights and on-demand replays. No info was available, as of press time, regarding any rights fees.

SEATTLE: KIRO 710 ESPN has confirmed that John Clayton will continue his 10 AM to Noon weekday show on the station despite having been released from his ESPN duties in late April as one of the mass firings. The difference maker is that KIRO is an ESPN affiliate and not a station owned by ESPN.

CHICAGO: Although reaction is somewhat mixed among the fan base, it is great news that Ken Harrelson is finally closer to going away from the White Sox TV booth. Harrelson announced on Wednesday (5/31) that he is cutting back next season to only 20 telecasts (less than one per week) and that 2018 will, finally, be his last one as a broadcaster.

It's not only the constant repeating of expressions which don't make sense or the unreasonable rooting for the home team. It's not only the constant criticism of the umpires and coming up with excuses every time something goes wrong for the White Sox.

Professional broadcasters know to never speculate on an injured player on the field, never to leave the booth during a game broadcast, and to report rather than simply react. Somehow, Harrelson managed to keep his job even after events such as having been called by then Commissioner Bud Selig about staunch criticism of umpires, telling a female reporter on the air, "Thanks honey!", and referring to the actions of this "Japanese pitcher" all in recent years.

And, of course, a professional broadcaster knows to let other members of the broadcast team have their chance to voice an opinion or start a conversation, as well as jump in to tell fans what is actually going on in the game they are trying to watch.

It was so fitting that in each of the last two seasons, Harrelson finished at #32 in a national poll of MLB television announcers. Quite the accomplishment since there are 30 teams.

Congratulations to Jason Benetti, who has been given a multi-year contract to lead the White Sox TV team. He doesn't have to be as good as he is at calling games to be such a welcome addition.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Feels Like The First Time In Nashville

The excitement in Nashville about the Predators making it to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history also makes a positive story about the significance of a team's games airing on an all sports station.

The Game 102.5 has the time and ability to provide the extensive and expanded coverage that fits the circumstances. The station aired the Game 7 between Pittsburgh and Ottawa which set the finals between the Penguins and Predators (which begin on Monday May 29th). This is in addition to being able to focus on the Finals throughout its local talk shows. As an ESPN affiliate, the station will air NBA Finals games which, obviously, do not conflict with the NHL, along with Sunday Night Baseball and other ESPN Radio play-by-play.

On the national level, ESPN has extended the contract of Dick Vitale to continue as the lead college basketball analyst through the 2019-20 season, which will be his 41st season with the network.
Also, after cutting some of its NFL analysts, ESPN has added coach Chip Kelly as, according to the announcement, both a college and NFL analyst.

DETROIT: The Pistons have realized their mistake and are moving their radio broadcasts back to the highly rated WXYT-FM 97.1 The TIcket starting with the 2017-18 NBA season. They want to sell more tickets, since the team moves into its new arena as well. This comes after four seasons on WMGC-FM 105.1, which was "The Game" sports radio when the Pistons first moved there.

However, The Game never put a dent into The Ticket and eventually bagged the sports format in favor of hip-hop while continuing to air the Pistons. With the move back to 97.1 The Ticket, it puts the team back in the radio spotlight. However, the Pistons are now the low team on the pole, as they will lose out on the many conflicts The Ticket has with airing the Tigers and Red Wings as well.

On a positive note, the conflicting games will air on WWJ 950, which is a sister station with excellent ratings, and which has carried local play-by-play over the years. In fact, WWJ and WXYT-FM were the market's top two rated radio stations during the most recent Nielsen ratings for April 2017. It will be a much better situation than being stuck on WXYT-AM 1270 which barely shows up the ratings.

Also in Detroit, the sad news is that Wayne Walker, the former all-pro with the Lions and long time broadcaster, passed away this week at the age of 80. In addition to his analyst role for CBS, Walker also served as Sports Director of KPIX San Francisco from 1979 to 1994.

LAS VEGAS: The new Golden Knights have arranged for every game to be televised from the beginning of the franchise with a new agreement for ROOT Sports to air the games. A big part of the reason for going with ROOT Sports is the regional network opportunity which includes parts of Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and sections of Arizona and Colorado which are considered broadcast territory by the NHL.

However, ROOT is currently not available on Cox Cable or CenturyLink. The team says it is already in negotiations with those and other systems to get the games shown. ROOT Sports will be able to air every game it can, other than any on NBC or exclusively on NBCSN.

We expect the team's first home game to air on NBCSN, although the schedule won't be available for several weeks.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Turning Off The Mike On Morning Radio

As we touched on last week, the many changes at ESPN are much more than the staff reductions and the impact that has on its coverage of the various major sports. This week we learn officially that management is going a step further, messing with their radio bread & butter.

Mike & Mike, the staple of the ESPN Radio Network, will see the long time team of Greenberg and Golic broken up sometime before the end of the year. After all these years together, this show has been the one that some of the stations around the country have often made a major effort to carry, often in place of a local morning show.

It will soon become "Mike & Trey" as Mike Golic will be joined by Trey Wingo for the three hour show. Mike Golic Jr., who hosts the 4 AM to 6 AM ET spot, will stay on to participate with his father (and Wingo) for the first hour each morning.

Incredibly, the "Mike & Trey Show" will also be coming off the long standing (Mike & Mike) simulcast on ESPN2, which takes away an anchor morning show from the TV side. The simulcast won't completely vanish, although moving it to the lesser viewed ESPNU is not likely to spark an audience increase, especially with new co-hosts.

Instead, ESPN will debut a so-called "new" show in early January which will air from 7 AM to 10 AM ET and be hosted by Mike Greenberg, with SportsCenter moving to ESPN2. If you consider ESPNU in the morning as an option, it means that from 8 AM to 10 AM ET on weekdays, TV viewers would now have choices "between" Mike & Mike instead of the staple program which successfully ran for years.

Combine this change with the significant reduction of Baseball Tonight (from seven nights to one) and this is what the paying subscribers (who have not cut the cord) get for their increasing monthly fees. And, we still don't know what ESPN might be thinking for its expanded NFL and NBA coverage shows yet.

Meanwhile, while ESPN reduces its TV baseball coverage, the radio ratings for the month of April show how much baseball means to the ratings.

In Boston, the two sports stations came in at #5 and #6 overall in the market. WEEI-FM jumped back up .6 to a 4.8, while WBZ-FM Sports Hub held steady right behind with a 4.7 Nielsen rating for the month.

The Yankees helped New York's WFAN-FM jump up to #9 overall (including #1 at night) with its Yankees broadcasts, while Mets flagship WOR jumped .5 overall for the month.

Chicago Cubs broadcasts helped WSCR The Score 670 to jump more than 40% from March to April into the top 10 after being just 21st overall for March. This while WMVP ESPN 1000, now without any major local play-by-play, dropped .4 to its lowest rating of 2017 despite strong midday numbers.

San Francisco's KNBR 680 rose more than one full ratings point and back into the top five in the market, while KGMZ-FM The Game dipped slightly from March.

Philadelphia's WIP-FM with the Phillies broadcasts rose another .7 to be at #7 overall in the market during April, while WPEN-FM dropped one-half point during the same period.

In Detroit, WXYT-FM The Ticket rose more than 30% from the previous month and is now at #2 in total listeners, while Baltimore's WJZ-FM rose another 1.4 ratings points in one month and is now at #5 in the market.

Pittsburgh's KDKA-FM showed a rise of 1.8 to the #6 overall position, while St. Louis saw KMOX with its Cardinals broadcasts finish #1 in the market for the first time since 2015 with a rise of more than two full ratings points.

However, the markets which always struggle with sports stations still did not show gains, even with baseball (in some instances). Both Los Angeles sports stations, even with airing Dodgers (KLAC 570)  and Angels (KSPN 710) games, failed to crack the top 30 in the market while showing overall ratings of under one rating point.

Houston's three sports stations each failed to crack the top 20, even though KBME-AM showed a nice increase of .6 of a ratings point to edge out KILT-AM, which doubled up on KFNC-FM. San Diego's XPRS-AM dropped while KLSD-AM showed a slight increase, but neither registered more than a 0.8 overall.

Fox Sports continues to increase the role for Alex Rodriguez as he makes his game analyst debut this week. He will be the analyst on Thursday (5/18) when Fox Sports 1 airs the Yankees vs. Royals game in prime time. The fact is that if Rodriguez wasn't going to be making his debut in the booth, we might not have even known that FS1 is airing this game nationally.

Then, on Saturday (5/20), Rodriguez will team with Joe Buck for the Fox Sports prime time regional telecast of the Mets vs. the Angels. Most of the Midwest as well as northern California and surrounding areas will get the Giants vs. Cardinals telecast which will have A.J. Pierzynski as the analyst while Joe Davis does the play-by-play.

Compass Media Networks has announced its radio broadcast schedule of 72 NFL and major college football games for the 2017 season. On the NFL side, they will provide national coverage of the Dallas Cowboys along with regional coverage of Oakland Raiders games.

ATLANTA: Recently retired outfielder Jeff Francoeur has joined the Braves TV crew as an analyst for some of the upcoming telecasts on Fox Sports South and Fox Sports Southeast. Francoeur will make his debut on June 5th when the Braves host the Phillies.

PEORIA: It will play in Peoria. Sports radio, that is. WNGY 95.9 The Sports Nut is, at least for now, airing Fox Sports Radio programming.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Coverage Cutbacks Are "Off Base"

It's not just personnel changes that are resulting from the financial concerns at ESPN. Unfortunately, we are already seeing how their coverage is also being negatively impacted.

Baseball is the first of the major sports to feel the crunch. Letting several baseball analysts go was bad enough. Since that time, the staple Baseball Tonight show is now gone from the weeknight schedule during the show's 27th season. Granted, it had aired at inconsistent times and on ESPN or ESPN2, making it hard to find, but it was always there.

Now, the show only airs on Sunday nights as a lead in to Sunday Night Baseball telecasts, and already has become more of a pre-game show (along the lines of NFL Countdown) than the true highlights and updates show it had been.

The network and some fans will respond by saying that SportsCenter shows all of the highlights. It always has. However, many baseball (and fans of other sports) agree that the format of jumping around from one sport to another and adding more feature stories has made SportsCenter too tough to deal with in terms of wanting scores and highlights - it's original purpose.

We don't know yet whether or not ESPN will start similar reductions toward its NFL and NBA related programming.

However, the network fails to recognize that the fans (and even the non-fans) are still being charged the same high monthly fees to receive ESPN. This is not the way to serve a customer base. Not adding or improving is one thing, but cutting back on existing programming is another. More reasons for consumers to cut the cord.

Meanwhile, ESPN Cleveland has taken the network's money grab to another level. At least consumers have a choice with this one, but the trend is dangerous if people actually do sign up.
WKNR ESPN 850 has taken to offering podcast versions of station programming without commercials on a paid subscription basis at $85 per year or $8.50 per month starting this month.

If people actually do start paying out of pocket to hear "Steve from Akron" comment on how few games the Browns will win this coming season, and other such delights, this sends the wrong message to the industry.

By promoting these paid podcasts, the station is in effect telling its audience that advertisements are bad, along with taking away from the audience those very same advertisers are paying to reach. They seem to have forgotten that the hardcore fans who might actually pay for this content are the ones the advertisers want to reach the most!

Now we have a network wanting people to pay more to hear opinions without commercials instead of watching the reduced coverage on the TV network. There is one positive to this, at least to this point.
Our monthly phone bills aren't being raised to support the ESPN App we are forced to carry.

Speaking of the money grab, there is the NFL taking in $21 million for streaming rights to ONE regular season game. For whatever reason, Verizon thinks it is worth that much money to stream the Sept. 24th game in London between Baltimore and Jacksonville on its various platforms. One game. I have a hunch there will be more than a few commercials for one product during the streamed telecast.

They must have overlooked that the game will be over the air in both local markets and available as usual to those who have Sunday Ticket.

If only they had asked me. I would have pointed out how that $21 million could have sponsored Baseball Tonight on ESPN seven nights a week and maintained the coverage we have enjoyed all these years - at no extra cost to the consumer.

Over at CBS, the newest addition to the Sunday NFL Today show is Nate Burleson, who has been named to replace Bart Scott. Although there has been no announcement (as of press time), Scott could be moved to a lesser role on the CBS Sports Network Sunday NFL pre-game show.

In a surprisingly quiet development, Solomon Wilcots is out after 16 seasons as an NFL game analyst, with no explanation as of press time.

CHICAGO: It appears that WSCR 670 The Score's decision to add Ryne Sandberg to its roster for the Cubs post-season run last season proved a popular one. Sandberg has been brought back to be a part of the team's post-game coverage for all remaining home games this season, being teamed with host Mark Grote.

HOUSTON: Although many other MLB markets have streaming for cable/satellite subscribers for local telecasts, it's a slow road in Houston. Now, as of this week, Root Sports subscribers can stream their Astors telecasts, with a "coming soon" for AT&T subscribers. No word yet on any of the other cable services being able to offer this.

DALLAS: KRLD has decided to pick up The Joe Pags Show for nights, taking Joe Pagliarulo's show live from WOAI San Antonio. Pags now airs in the majority of Texas markets.

SAN DIEGO: San Diego State University has finally gotten a nice radio deal for both its football and basketball games starting in the fall. KSLD 1360 will air every game it can, while play-by-play conflicts will send some broadcasts over to classic rock KGB-FM. In addition, KTDD Fox Sports 1350 Riverside will also carry the broadcasts.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Some Callers Are Worthwhile On Sports Talk!

For as much as I comment about the constant overemphasis of fan opinions on sports talk stations, they got me with this one.

When the caller is actually a Major League Manager, I can accept that!

This past Monday night (5/1), that's what happened on the Blue Jays post-game call-in show on 590 AM in Toronto, which had just aired the Jays' 7 - 1 win over the Yankees. It was clear that Manager John Gibbons was happy with the rare win.

Gibbons actually called in to the radio post-game show and had the producer alert host Mike Wilner to take the call. The caller began talking about Jays pitcher Marco Estrada and poked fun at Wilner, who was reportedly critical of Gibbons' pre-game decision about which catcher had started the game.

During the call, Wilner did not tell the listeners that it was Gibbons, instead using "John in the Bronx" to identify this caller. Gibbons added to the goof by asking for free tickets in return for calling in.

A fun moment, and a bit of a lesson for sports talk hosts to keep in mind that you never know who might be listening in.

Stronger first round series helped viewership for the NBA Playoffs all around. Average viewership for the entire first round was up roughly 12% over last season and is the highest since 2014. And that was the year in which five of the opening series all went to 7th games.

ESPN/ABC announced that analyst Mark Jackson has been signed to a new multi-year deal to continue in that role. Ironic timing, coming just days after the same network let go of roughly 100 of its people across the country.

LOS ANGELES: We got our answer to last week's question about local media coverage of the Chargers now that they have moved in. Powerful KFI 640 AM rejoins the world of sports by becoming the new flagship station for the team.

Sister station KLAC will air several hours of Chargers programming throughout the week, but could not air the games due to Dodgers conflicts. (Keep in mind that the Dodgers own 49% of KLAC, so it's not as though the Chargers would have had any kind of priority for game broadcasts.) KLAC will also air some of the surrounding game day coverage when there are no Dodgers conflicts, airing part of what will be a 10-hour game day broadcast each week.

No word, as of press time, regarding the broadcast teams.

KFWB 980, now a Spanish station, will air the Chargers games in Spanish, also starting with the upcoming season. On the TV side, KABC-TV Channel 7 will air the team's pre-season games not shown on national TV.

KABC-TV will also air Saturday shows specific to the Chargers during the regular season.

HOUSTON: Recently retired Astros broadcaster Bill Brown has returned to the Astros booth for this week, but it's not exactly a happy homecoming. Brown is filling in for Todd Kalas due to the passing of his mother, the former wife of the late Harry Kalas (the former NFL films and Phillies play-by-play voice). Our thoughts and prayers to the Kalas family.

DETROIT: While WDFN 1130 continues to struggle to attract a sports talk audience against 97.1 The Ticket, they have dismissed long time morning host Matt Shepard as of this week. This is actually the second time Shepard has been let go from WDFN. He had joined them in 2001 and was let go in 2007, only to be rehired in 2009.

Shepard is expected to continue as the play-by-play voice of University of Michigan basketball along with Eastern Michigan football, as well as reporting duties for Fox Sports Detroit.

VANCOUVER: The purchase of CISL 650 by Rogers Media means significant changes for local sports fan. The station is being converted to Sportsnet 650 and will carry the Toronto Blue Jays. In addition, the station will become the flagship station for the Canucks, which have been airing on CKST Team 1040 through this past season.

PHOENIX: As you know, it is very rare that we post a link on The Broadcast Booth, but this story is a worthwhile read. It's the "final" column of Paola Boivin as it appeared in the (Phoenix) Arizona Republic this past Sunday, and details several challenges sent her way during her career:

Monday, April 24, 2017

No Jumping Through Hoops To Get These Ratings

The NBA playoffs are the hot item for sports viewing these days, and that figures to continue for a while. This past weekend (April 22/23) saw a 13% increase in total viewership over the seven telecasts compared with the 2nd weekend of opening round telecasts last season. On Friday night (April 21), ESPN's doubleheader games finished as the top two most watched cable programs (of any type) for the night.

Although NHL Stanley Cup Playoff viewership had started to rise after the opening weekend, NBC and its group figure to take a hit with the elimination of Chicago, Minnesota, and Boston after the opening rounds. It's certainly not NBC's fault, especially with its even more improved coverage, that it has "only" St. Louis, Nashville, and Edmonton as three of its four Western Conference markets starting this week.

In addition, have the much anticipated East matchup between Pittsburgh and Washington may be good for those ratings, it hurts in the long run that one of those two teams will be gone before the semi-finals begin.

The NFL gets some of the spotlight later this week as ESPN provides live coverage of the entire NFL Draft again this year. It will have a different feel without Chris Berman, like him or not, since this will be the first time he will not be hosting at least the opening round of an NFL Draft live telecast.

Fox Sports Radio is hitting its draft coverage hard, especially looking to helps its Philadelphia affiliate WPEN-FM. The network plans to be on live from a Philadelphia restaurant on Thursday at 7 PM ET, with WPEN-FM morning host Anthony Gargano hosting an earlier "pre draft" show live starting at 6 PM ET which will also air across the network.

Here's hoping that the sports media will wait until picks are made and report the facts instead of seemingly endless projections and "expert" picks which have no bearing on actual news.

The NFL schedule, released late last week, will not allow NBC a flex scheduling option for Week 16, which surrounds Christmas weekend. In a seemingly rare move to actually please the paying fans, the NFL has determined that the Saturday Dec. 23rd Minnesota vs. Green Bay and the Christmas night Eagles vs. Raiders games will remain in prime time on NBC no matter what. By doing this, it eliminates the possibility of fans having to change holiday weekend plans because of changed starting times.

On Week 17, which surrounds New Year's weekend, an oddity has all four California NFL teams (at least for the coming season) playing within California on December 31st. The Raiders are scheduled to host the L.A. Chargers in Oakland, while the L.A. Rams will be hosting the San Francisco 49ers at the same time with 4:25 PM ET kickoffs.

Speaking of California teams, a curious move by KSWB Channel 5 in San Diego for the coming exhibition season. The station, which had aired all available Chargers exhibition games in the past, has dropped the team since its move to Los Angeles.

Instead, KSWB will air three of the L.A. Rams exhibition games. Ironically, the one August game it cannot air is a national telecast on CBS on August 26th, in which the L.A. Rams will take on, you guessed it, the L.A. Chargers.

While this is going on, there has yet to be an announcement about which Los Angeles radio station will become the flagship station for the Chargers. Even the team's official web site still has "Coming Soon" for its radio broadcasts, as of press time.

In recent seasons, San Diego Chargers games were carried in L.A. on KLAC 570 when available (when no conflicts with Dodgers broadcasts). Of course, now that the Chargers are a local team, they need a station which will air every game along with full pre-game and post-game programming.

KLAC is not a logical candidate, given that the station is 49% owned by the Dodgers, which have games throughout September and possibly post-season games during October.

COLUMBUS: Former NFL standout A.J. Hawk joins WBNC 97.1 The Fan for a daily Noon to 1 PM talk show with co-host Anthony Rothman. It will begin on May 8th and be titled "Off Season with A.J. Hawk". The station has already announced that Hawk will remain part of the midday "Carpenter & Rothman Show" during the season on "Football Fridays".

DETROIT: Health issues have caused WXYT-FM 97.1 The Ticket morning show co-host Terry Foster to announce his retirement, effective immediately. Foster suffered a stroke almost one year ago and missed most of the second half of 2016.

As you would expect, Mike Valenti will remain with the morning show. Since this announcement caught everyone by surprise, it's too soon to think about who the replacement will be.

CHICAGO: Even though the Bulls have attracted attention with winning their first two playoff games against Boston and helped the ratings, their regular season proved a local TV ratings disaster. The ratings for CSN Chicago, which aired most of their games, were the lowest for any season since 2007-08, down roughly 33% from the previous season, and down around 58% from two seasons ago. Their highest rated single game telecasts were all during November and December.

DENVER: Ed McCaffrey and KOA 850 have completely parted company. The former Broncos receiver will no longer co-host his sports talk show, as well as coming out of the Broncos radio booth. He had been an analyst along with play-by-play voice Dave Logan since the 2012 season.

RICHMOND: The sale of ESPN 950 WXGI will result in even more coverage with what will soon be a three station simulcast. WXGI will continue to air sports, along with adding 102.7 FM. In addition, next market south WTPS 1240 Petersburg will also carry the station. All three will air live play-by-play of both the Washington Nationals and Redskins, along with University of Richmond football and basketball.

TULSA: KJRH Channel 2 Sports Director Al Jerkens has announced that he will retire when his current contract expires this coming August 3rd at the age of 65. Jerkens has been a fixture throughout his 43 year TV career. He will be missed.

HOWELL MI: Sorry to learn of the passing of former WHMI Sports Director Dave Johnson. He lost his battle to pancreatic cancer last week at the age of 48. Our thoughts are with his family.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sports Radio Stations Hold The Line In March Ratings

The radio ratings are being released this week around the country for the month of March, with the majority of the large markets not showing much of a change for the sports stations.

We always monitor Boston due to its two rival sports stations always being so strong. However, March was not kind as both stations combined to lose more than 10% of their total audience compared with the February results.

WBZ-FM Sports Hub lost .7 of a ratings point, although finishing #6 overall remains one of the stronger sports station showings around the country. WEEI-FM dropped .6 of a ratings point, coming in one-half point behind and in the #8 overall position. The April book should prove more interesting, since this month brings the start of the Celtics and Bruins in the playoffs along with the Red Sox season and the team expected to be a strong contender.

In Philadelphia, WIP-FM 94.1 finished #8 overall in the market, scoring its best ratings thus far in 2017.

On the other hand, San Francisco's KNBR 680, which has been as high as #1 in the market within the past 18 months, dropped again during March and is now at #10 overall. Their April ratings will be crucial if KNBR is going to rebound, as the Warriors begin their playoff run and the Giants begin their regular season.

Speaking of ratings, the TV people are pleased with the viewership for the start of the NBA Playoffs. ABC scored very well with its Golden State vs. Portland opening game telecast, while TNT also started strong on Sunday (4/16) night. The prime-time opening game doubleheader with the Chicago upset over Boston followed by the OK City vs. Houston opener was the cable TV overall winner for the night. These games also finished with roughly 39% higher ratings than the first TNT doubleheader last year.

A quick note to headline writers from sports fans. A mock draft is not and should never be "breaking news". We understand that ESPN, which televises the NFL Draft next week, and other sports heavy news organizations want to promote their "draft experts". But who they think will be picked in the first round is NOT news or factual.

It's not only some of the pro sports teams taking over and providing their own "controlled" content for fans these days. It somehow slipped under the radar that Kevin Durant has gone as far as to start his own YouTube channel to serve the fans.

Durant has already done a live stream from his home which included the view from his balcony and his dog. This channel already has more than 40,000 subscribers.

LAS VEGAS: The new NHL Golden Knights will also have games broadcast in Spanish when the team debuts next season. KENO 1460 ESPN DEPORTES will carry them.

PHOENIX: The NBA now has one less "Albert" calling its games due to the announced retirement of Steve Albert. Steve had done the Suns on TV for the past five seasons and has decided to call it a career after 45 years.

TAMPA: WXTB 98 Rock has a new multi-year contract in place to continue as flagship station for the Buccaneers broadcasts. In addition, the radio broadcasts will also be streamed via the team's web site starting with the upcoming season.

HARTFORD: WTIC 1080 has now bailed on sports talk only shows, dropping the team of Joe D'Ambrosio and Andy Gresch from the 3 to 6 PM spot. This appears to have been strictly a ratings based decision, since D'Ambrosio will continue calling University of Connecticut play-by-play as usual. Gresh is reportedly heading over to WPRO Providence to host nights. WTIC begins a general talk show with Todd Feinburg on Monday (4/24).

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Let's See How Many Watch Stanley Cup Playoffs

As the NHL Playoffs begin, with the sixth season in a row of every post-season game being nationally televised, we have significant comings and goings in the announce booth.

It is great news that Dave Strader will be back in the TV booth this week to call the first two games of the Washington vs. Toronto series for the NBC Network group. Strader, in his 32nd season of calling NHL games at the local (Dallas Stars) and national level, has missed most of this regular season undergoing cancer treatments.

At the same time, it is an official farewell to another NHL broadcasting legend with Bob Miller's last play-by-play telecast for the L.A. Kings this past weekend, wrapping up his amazing 44-years in that role. On Sunday (4/9), Miller was short and to the point on his final sign-off after the Anaheim Ducks defeated the Kings in overtime.

It was actually analyst Jim Fox, who has been with the Kings for the past 27 seasons, who spent more time and was clearly more emotional than Miller on the air when it came time to finish their telecast. Miller was very brief in his post-game on-air comments and remained very composed given all of his years in the booth.

The Stanley Cup playoffs are critical for NBC and perhaps for the NHL when it comes to future rights. There is no overlooking the fact that the regular season NHL ratings for NBC came in as the lowest since the early 90's, while NBCSN's ratings were the lowest since the 2011-12 season. Their hope has to be that the N.Y. Rangers, Boston, and Chicago teams all advance further into the post-season and bring their strong local market ratings with them.

Speaking of teams which draw ratings, the NFL is wasting no time in getting the Dallas Cowboys on national TV ASAP. The Hall of Fame Game, which begins the exhibition game season, will air on NBC on August 3rd with Dallas vs. Arizona.

Here are the other national TV exhibition games, with all times Eastern:

Hall of Fame Game (Canton, Ohio)
Dallas Cowboys vs. Arizona Cardinals (NBC, 8 p.m.), Thursday, Aug. 3
Preseason Week 2 (August 17-21)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Jacksonville Jaguars (ESPN, 8 p.m.), Thursday, Aug. 17
New York Giants at Cleveland Browns (ESPN, 8 p.m.) Monday, Aug. 21
Preseason Week 3 (August 24-27)
Kansas City Chiefs at Seattle Seahawks (CBS, 8 p.m.) Friday, Aug. 25
Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams (CBS, 8 p.m.) Saturday, Aug. 26
Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans (FOX, 1 p.m.) Sunday, Aug. 27
Cincinnati Bengals at Washington Redskins (FOX, 4:30 p.m.) Sunday, Aug. 27
San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings (NBC, 8 p.m.) Sunday, Aug. 27

Over at MLB, the effort continues to bring streaming telecasts of live games to other countries overseas. New multi-year deals have just been signed to provide live regular and post-season telecasts in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and India. DAZN is the OTT service provider for all except India, which will receive 20 games per week (with one game per three hour window) by way of VEQTA.

WASHINGTON D.C.: Looks as though the first round of the NBA Playoffs will be the last time that Phil Chenier will be the analyst on CSN's Wizards telecasts after 33 seasons in the role. It appears that Chenier wants to cut back on travel, as the early word is that he will serve as studio analyst during Wizards telecasts starting for next season.

PHILADELPHIA: 97.5 The Fanatic appears to have some behind the scenes happenings which are significantly impacting the station's morning show this week. Anthony Gargano has been off the air all week, coming just after reports that co-host Maureen Williams and producer Jamie Lynch were already dismissed by the station. No word, yet, regarding Gargano, who was said to be upset about the dismissal of Williams.

Eytan Shander, Geoff Mosher, and Joe Tordy have been filling in all week. Would have to think that Angelo Cataldi over at WIP 94.1 will do his best to deliver monster shows early next week to keep people from checking over at 97.5 to see whether or not Gargano actually returns. Since The Fanatic was part of a big sale of stations last year, it is possible this is the first of the cost cutting moves coming from new ownership.

CLEVELAND: Sorry to learn of the passing of long time local sports radio host Kendall Lewis. He was known as the "Big Sports Kahuna" during his seven year run at WKNR 850.

Meanwhile, the excitement about the Indians is already evident this early in the 2017 season. The team's first week of regular season telecasts on Sports Time Ohio produced ratings which were up roughly 90% over last year and nearly four ratings points higher than the average ratings for all of the 2016 season.

DALLAS: Rangers fans already need a scorecard to keep track of TV announcers, and now there is more. Tom Grieve has added 35 games, likely road telecasts, as studio analyst in addition to his games as the booth analyst during Rangers telecasts. Grieve will be in the booth this weekend for the home games vs. Oakland, while C.J. Nitkowski rejoins play-by-play voice Dave Raymond again on Monday when the Rangers start their road trip in Anaheim.

LEXINGTON: It will be the end of an era for local sports fans this coming September when WKYT-TV sportscaster Rob Bromley begins his retirement. Bromley just announced that after 40 years with the station that he will call it a career.

Bromley is one of the nicest guys you would ever meet, in any profession, and has been on the scene a long time. In fact, those of you that recall the 1978 U. of Kentucky NCAA Championship team coached by Joe B. Hall and featuring Jack Givens and Rick Robey might recall that Bromley was already on the scene covering that team. At the time, he was backup sportscaster to Denny Trease, before Trease went on to Kansas City to do Royals TV.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Announcers Coming And Going

Now that the MLB season is underway and the NCAA Tournament is over, it's on to some announcing comings and goings around the country.

FS1 quietly begins its coverage of MLB with a seemingly secret prime time national game on Wednesday (4/5) when it airs the N.Y. Yankees at Tampa game. The telecast will mark the debut of the Network's newest game analyst when A.J. Pierzynski joins Kenny Albert in the booth. This figures to be a good hire for Fox Sports. The problem is if it wasn't for the announcement of hiring Pierzynski as analyst, even the most hardy of baseball fans would not have known that FS1 is doing a prime time game this week.

ESPN leads the way this week with announcements about announcers. The Network has determined its course regarding its in season NFL studio programming, determining that it will take three people to replace Chris Berman.

Monday Night Football will now have Suzy Kolber as solo host of "Monday Night Countdown" along with half-time and post-game. Kolber had been co-host, along with Berman, for each of the past two seasons.

Sunday NFL Countdown, the extended Sunday pre-game show, will now be hosted by Sam Ponder, who comes over from extensive college football coverage for ESPN. Berman had hosted the show since the 1986 season.

And, since Chris Berman is no longer hosting the NFL Draft (coming April 27 - 29), the new host has been announced as Trey Wingo, who will host all three days of live coverage. Wingo will also continue as host of "NFL Live" which airs throughout the entire year.

On the NBA side, ESPN has made it official that Michelle Beadle will be the studio host for the ESPN/ABC coverage for the post-season. Good to know that the Network finally sees the need for a legitimate broadcaster to host the studio segments instead of former players trying to host a train wreck, like what happened a couple of seasons ago.

At CBS, Tony Gonzalez will no longer serve as an NFL studio analyst after three seasons in that role.

No replacement as of press time, with rumors flying that the supposedly just retired QB Tony Romo will considered as a replacement.

CBS Sports Network will simulcast the CBS Sports Radio afternoon show "Tiki & Tierney"from 3 PM to 6 PM ET. The show, co-hosted by Tiki Barber and Brandon Tierney, moves from its previous 9 AM to Noon ET time slot, with Damon Amendolara moving from nights to the 9 AM to Noon slot on the radio side. Bill Reiter comes in to host the 6 PM to 10 PM ET spot starting on April 17th.

SAN FRANCISCO / OAKLAND: CSN Bay Area, now known as NBC Sports Bay Area, has added a new studio analyst for both its Giants and A's telecasts effective immediately.
Former Giants standout Matt Williams begins his pre-game and post-game role on Monday (April 10) for the Giants home opener. With huge interest in the Giants again this year, the Network is expanding both studio shows to up to one hour for most of the telecasts.

The A's telecasts will have Jose Canseco added to the mix as a studio analyst for both the pre-game and post-game shows.

LOS ANGELES: Opening Day of baseball season was significant because of it being the first regular season game without Vin Scully as the lead broadcaster in the Los Angeles history of the franchise.

Of course, roughly 70% of the market still cannot get the Dodgers telecasts. Adding to the struggles of the fans is the fact that the ESPN national telecast of the Dodgers opener vs. the Padres was also blacked out in the L.A. area.

CHICAGO: CSN Chicago has added Scott Podsednik to its White Sox studio coverage effective opening day, where he will also have long-time analyst Bill Melton also in studio for most of the telecasts. Hard to believe that they need two analysts for what figure to be low rated telecasts again this season.

On their radio side, a bizarre move by White Sox flagship station WLS this past Saturday (4/1), which was not an April Fool's joke. The White Sox played their final pre-season game at 1:00 that afternoon, which WLS did not broadcast. The game was televised on CSN Chicago. Yet, WLS aired its "White Sox Weekly" two hour program from Noon until 2 PM.

As a result, the final hour of their show for White Sox fans aired up against a live game on TV at the same time.

St. LOUIS: KFNS 590 has brought in longtime local sportscaster John Hadley, who had been off the air since January 2016, to be its Sports Director. Hadley, as of now, will not have a regular air shift, instead filling in as needed.

SAN DIEGO: An evening host change takes place at XEPRS Mighty 1090. Chris Cantore started on Monday (4/3) as 6 PM to 9 PM host, replacing Kevin Acee. The station was rated only 23rd overall in the market in the most recent ratings, despite a 50,000 watt signal booming in from across the Mexican border.

Ft. MYERS: WWCN 99.3 ESPN has added Craig Shemon as host of its local afternoon drive show. Shemon is expected to continue with play-by-play assignments for Fox Sports and Big Ten Network.

BEND OR: The local simulcast of Fox Sports Radio is over, as now only 94.9 carries it, as sister station 940 AM has gone off the air. 94.9 will continue to also carry Oregon State University football and basketball, as well as 49ers football.