Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Sports Media Notes

The radio ratings are coming out this week for January 2017, but with very little significant movement for the sports stations around the country. Of course, the cities with Super Bowl teams benefitted big time, as could be expected.

Both of Boston's sports stations went up in overall audience, with WBZ-FM Sports Hub at #5 overall and WEEI-FM right behind at #6., as the Patriots were headed to the championship.

Even in Atlanta, not exactly a major hub for sports radio over the years, has WZGC-FM The Game increase to #9 overall in the market, rising from 3.6 to a 4.4 for January according to the Nielsen ratings. Even WCNN went up by .3 to a 1.9 rating during the same period.

Sorry to learn of the passing of former Southern California broadcaster Mike Walden due to complications for a recent stoke. Walden is known for having called both USC and UCLA games during his time in the Los Angeles area. He also called some Big Ten games in the mid-60's for WBBM-AM in Chicago.

We also lost Rod Simons, the Minneapolis area sportscaster who is best known for his anchor role with KSTP-TV from 2003 into 2008. Simons died at the age of 56 while in Ft. Myers to cover the Twins in spring training.

NEW YORK: Also sorry to report that Bill Webb, the long time TV director, has confirmed that he will not be returning as lead director for the Mets telecasts on SNY this season. Webb, who has been with SNY and also Fox Sports for years (having worked 17 World Series), continues to battle cancer. He had missed stretches of games over the previous two seasons.

WASHINGTON DC: Redskins games will air, starting next season, once again on WMAL-AM 630 and on WMAL-FM 105.9, returning to the station which has aired the team going back to the 1940's.

However, this is not a shift in the broadcasts, as the games will continue to air on WTEM ESPN 980 as they have been. Outlying stations WWXT 92.7 Prince Frederick and WWXX 94.3 Buckland VA will also continue on the team's network.

PHILADELPHIA: CSN Philadelphia welcomes John Kruk back to the Phillies TV team when they present the first exhibition game telecast this coming Saturday (2/25) against the Yankees. Kruk has a reported 5-year deal and is expected to work between 80 and 90 telecasts this season, including some with Mike Schmidt also in the booth. Ben Davis will work the telecasts which Kruk does not.

KANSAS CITY: KCSP 610 Sports has added Brad Fanning as co-host of its afternoon drive show, "The Drive". Fanning, who earlier reported on sports for KCTV-TV, replaces Danny Parkins, who left for a midday co-host spot on Chicago's WSCR The Score.

LOS ANGELES: Without Vin Scully, the urgency to get Dodgers games seen by the majority of the market has lessened already. Charter Communications has already publicly stated that it "does not anticipate" reaching agreements with other local cable/satellite providers to carry Dodgers baseball, leaving them as the only major provider to do so. This will be, believe it or not, the fourth season without roughly 70% of the local market being able to watch the Dodgers telecasts, whether they want to or not.

CHICAGO: Even though the Bulls could still make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference despite being under .500, the fans aren't bothering. Through the first half of this season, the 30 telecasts on CSN Chicago are down roughly 28% in the ratings, compared with last season. And the ratings for last season were down quite a bit as well. The team could be looking at its poorest ratings since the 2007-08 season.

NORFOLK: WVSP ESPN 94.1 has selected Jeff Pantridge to host its afternoon show, with Matt Steinberg and A.J. Risser staying on board as well. Pantridge replaces Nick Cattles, who was hired away by Boston's Sports Hub WBZ-FM a few weeks back.

LEXINGTON: WWTF 1580 has officially disappeared as a sports station after three years of trying, when the station didn't even show up in the latest ratings. WLXG ESPN 1300, which only got a 1.0 rating most recently, continues on.

COLORADO SPRINGS: Along the same lines, KJME-AM has quietly dropped NBC Sports Radio, replacing it with an all Beatles music format. Guess we'll have to Let It Be.

Ft. WAYNE: Fans of the Ft. Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Development League will be amazed to know that some of its games will be televised locally. WANE-TV digital channel 15.2 will air select games, with former Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls TV voice Bill Hazen on the call. He will be joined by Jaren Jackson, who played for eight NBA teams during his career. Some of the team's games will continue to air on WKJG 1380.

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