Friday, July 21, 2017

Why These Three Days for ESPN Radio?

It is most curious that ESPN Radio picked this week (three days of it) to "preview" its upcoming revised morning show with Trey Wingo replacing Mike Greenberg co-hosting its national morning show with Mike Golic. The Golic & Wingo Show is scheduled to launch on the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend.

Since Golic's expertise is, understandably, more on the football side, and since there are still more than four months before the revised show begins, doing this prior to NFL camps opening is a surprise. Yet, there is one more element that makes this so interesting. It would have been simple had Greenberg been on vacation, but he clearly was not.

Mike Greenberg spent his three days away from Golic and the morning show on the air in New York City, hosting afternoons on WEPN, the ESPN owned station, filling in for Michael Kay. Is there more to this?

The Broadcast Booth happens to think there is a lot more to this, as in this being more than "filling in". Perhaps ESPN wants to gauge how Greenberg would come across to just the New York audience in addition to his upcoming ESPN national TV show.

This may not be a coincidence that Greenberg filled in during afternoon drive, since it would not conflict with his upcoming new morning show. What about Michael Kay?

If that question has you wondering, keep in mind that WFAN is supposedly searching for its next afternoon drive host in order to replace Mike Francesa after his contract runs out late this year. WFAN is now the flagship station for the Yankees, for which Kay is the lead TV play-by-play voice. Bringing Kay over to WFAN for afternoons would solidify their Yankees coverage and presence, and do so at a time when young players such as Judge, Sanchez, and Frazier are showing promise for the near future.

WEPN would then bring in Greenberg to handle its afternoon drive, perhaps shortening the show by an hour to help Greenberg's schedule and help him to maintain a strong radio presence. This makes sense for WEPN, and would help to explain why ESPN Radio (national) would do such an odd move in the middle of July.

On the TV side, having a Sunday Night Baseball game between the Yankees and Red Sox last week (7/16) which mattered did make a ratings difference. The ratings were up 13% from the same matchup at the same time last season. This past Saturday (7/15), it was not Fox Sports' fault that they only aired one MLB game instead of a doubleheader. The Yankees vs. Red Sox game that went 16 innings ran all the way through its scheduled Texas vs. K.C. game on FS1. Had Fox Sports aired the game over the air (like it should), the game would have run all the way through their prime time that night.

PHILADELPHIA: Still no replacement (as of press time) for WPEN-FM's co-host for its 10 AM to Noon show to work along with Harry Mayes. This could mean that, since this is only a two hour block, Mayes will continue to host it solo and that this is still another cost cutting measure by ESPN. Rob Ellis, who continues with CSN Philadelphia, had been co-hosting the show through last week when his contract ran out.

SAN FRANCISCO: KGMZ 95.7 The Game is changing its 10 AM to Noon show, although it remains to be seen (or heard, as we should say) whether or not it will continue to be a local show. As the station continues its struggle for ratings against the mighty KNBR, it is ending its local show with J.T. The Brick, which it has been airing since last September. This has no impact on Brick's nationally syndicated show.

BOSTON: The fierce ratings battle between WEEI-FM and WBZ-FM Sports Hub continues with the June ratings having been unveiled. For overall audience, WEEI-FM finished #6 in the market with its highest rating in three months, while WBZ-FM dropped one full ratings point from the previous month to #11 overall.

While many point to the Red Sox being in first place as the reason (WEEI is their flagship), it is significant that the Kirk & Callahan morning show finished ahead of WBZ-FM's Toucher & Rich for the first time in three years. This despite WBZ-FM's Felger & Massarotti finishing ahead of WEEI's Dale & Holley and what is often the Red Sox pre-game show during afternoon drive.

NASHVILLE: WSM 650 is, surprisingly, adding a sports show in time for NFL season. In an obvious effort to revise interest in the AM station, the station is going to give long time play-by-play voice and local sportscaster George Plaster a show. Plans are to make the announcement next week at a local restaurant event for what will likely be a weekly football preview show. Plaster will continue as Associate Athletics Director at Belmont.

DETROIT: WXYT-FM The Ticket has no reason to panic even though the latest ratings show the station dropping to #5 overall. Not that there is anything wrong with a sports station being in the top 5. It is clearly because the Tigers are having a bad season and the winter teams are in their off season. It certainly isn't because of WDFN, since that station literally came in with a 0.0 overall rating for the same period.

The Ticket will have a new host for its Pistons broadcasts which it resumes this fall. Although Jake Champman, who hosted when the team was on 105.1, is going to replaced, he will continue to work for

Neal Ruhl has been signed to continue for what will be a fifth season calling Oakland University basketball.

CHARLOTTE: Let's keep an ear on this one. It is interesting enough that the Carolina Panthers have brought back former General Manager Marty Hurney as their "interim General Manager" to replace Dave Gettleman. But it's what made him so easily available that is worth monitoring. Hurney is now owner and manager of WZGV ESPN Charlotte. It will be most interesting to compare that station's coverage of the Panthers against the local competition.

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