Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Long Knight For Vegas Radio

Sometimes what goes on behind the scenes at radio stations are more interesting than the content being discussed on some of the sports stations. This week brings us examples from both Portland and Las Vegas.

Portland's KXTG The Game 750/102.9 had recently disciplined host Dino Costa for on air comments which actually had nothing to do with sports. Somehow, Costa said on the air, that drivers should "run over" political protesters (he named the group on the air) that were blocking traffic.

The backlash continued to the point of the MLS Portland Timbers more recently having management "clarify its stance" regarding those comments and continuing its relationship with the station, since KXTG airs the Timbers games. Station management then issued a statement that it "holds the relationships with the Portland Timbers and the University of Oregon in high regard".

UPDATE: KXTG fired Costa within hours of this story originally posting, due to the continued backlash from his inappropriate on air comments.


Hopefully the remaining hosts will stick to sports topics moving forward.


In Las Vegas, management of the local CBS Radio group of stations issued an apology and a change of plan after an internal memo was leaked. The group was known to be upset when KRLV Fox Sports 1340/98.9 got the play-by-play rights to the expansion NHL Golden Knights, which will be Vegas' first pro sports team.

Shortly after, the CBS stations sent a memo advising their stations not to so much as mention the Golden Knights on any of its stations. One of their station is Sports 1140, which actually does very little in the way of local programming, but airs Chicago Cubs baseball among its play-by-play offerings. Because of this, the other CBS stations often give Cubs information along with local scores such as UNLV and the minor league baseball team.

However, the memo about ignoring the Golden Knights was leaked, so management issued a public apology about the "error in judgment", stating that their stations will indeed include the Golden Knights.

Sure is amazing that this "error in judgment" did not surface until after the original memo was leaked.

The Golden Knights have hired their radio play-by-play voice, hiring Dan D'Uva away from the minor league Syracuse Crunch. The 32 year old D'Uva recently called the Crunch's run to the 2017 Calder Cup (as well as their 2013 Cup season). Team (Vegas) president Kerry Bubolz revealed that Mike Emrick was among those recommending D'Uva for the job, with D'Uva chosen among the roughly 200 applicants.

By the way, Columbus Blue Jackets voice Bob McElligott is also a former voice of the Syracuse Crunch.


Meanwhile, CBS Radio on the national level is preparing for its potential merger with Entercom Broadcasting and the impact it would have on cornering the sports market. It appears that if the merger is going to be approved by the FCC, it would come during the 4th quarter of this year. If it goes through, it would give the new network the play-by-play rights to a total of 45 pro teams.

Amazingly, it would "own" two of baseball's biggest rivalries, as this merger would give them the Yankees and Red Sox play-by-play rights, as well as the Cubs and Cardinals, among many others. They would also own both of Boston's powerhouse all sports stations with the rights to all four major pro teams.

Although we don't normally post outside links here, we do have the chance to look in on their proposal toward this potential merger, which spells out the sports implications:

https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1067837/000119312517259943/d443829d425.htm


Meanwhile, it's looking like the toughest hole for the PGA is not on any of the courses it uses. Looks like it's for viewership, based on this year's Grand Slam.

The ratings for The Masters were the lowest since 2004, while the U.S. Open finished with its second lowest ratings EVER. While the ratings for the British Open were not disastrous, it was beaten by the Brickyard 400 race on the day of its final round. And, the PGA Tournament ratings were the lowest in 2008.

Time to examine whether it is the lack of superstars (compared with earlier years) or the slow pace of play catching up to viewers. Frankly, it seems to be a combination of both. This year is certain to increase the concern.


CBS Sports has finalized its announcing lineup for its NFL coverage for the upcoming regular season. As expected, Beth Mowins will become the first female to call a regular season game for the network on September 24th. She will call the regional telecast between Cleveland and Indianapolis, with Jay Feely as the analyst.

Perhaps the most curious assignments for CBS announcers are the early ones for the new "team" of lead play-by-play voice Jim Nantz and analyst Tony Romo. Since there is no doubleheader game on opening day, the network assigned Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon to call the N.Y. Jets vs. Buffalo game. Nantz and Romo have been assigned the Oakland at Tennessee game.

Then, on week two, when CBS does its first doubleheader game, they have Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts slated to call the N.Y. Jets at Oakland doubleheader game. Nantz and Romo will call the early game with New England at New Orleans.


The unveiling of the NBA schedule earlier this week also saw TNT, ESPN/ABC, and NBA-TV reveal their schedule of national telecasts already selected. In a way, this provides an indication of who the favorites will be for the coming season. Warriors fans outside of the Bay Area will have plenty of chances to see the team play, even without the NBA games package.

It seems that with the maximum number of appearances on TNT and ESPN/ABC, along with NBA-TV, that 43 of their games are already scheduled to be shown live. That's out of 82 for the season!

Next comes Houston with 40 telecasts scheduled, Cleveland with 39, and OK City with 37. As it goes with the Los Angeles teams, things are changing back to the familiar. The Lakers are now scheduled for 35 appearances, while the Clippers are slated for 31.

On the other side of the spectrum, two of the most familiar teams for TV viewers, the Knicks and Bulls, are drastically reduced for national TV. With neither team expected to contend, the Knicks are scheduled for 13 times, and the Bulls for only five telecasts.


CBS Radio Sports has hired Emmy Award winning Amy Dash to serve as a "legal analyst contributor" for the network, including separate segments in New York for WFAN. Nice idea, given the complexities of collective bargaining agreements and player negotiations these days.


In response to a reader's question, we can tell you that Fox Sports' Curt Menefee is indeed calling play-by-play of the Seattle Seahawks exhibition games televised locally on Fox 13. Menefee continues his regular studio duties on Fox's studio coverage throughout the regular and post-season.


Former NFL QB Ryan Leaf has joined SiriusXM, but not as an NFL analyst. (At least not yet.) Leaf is part of the College Sports Nation Channel, working with co-host Jason Horowitz.


DALLAS: The Mavericks have extended their contract to continue on KESN ESPN 103.3 through the 2023 season. The team has been heard on the station since 2001.


ALBANY: Tred Hulse was officially let go as afternoon drive host by WOFX, reportedly based on low ratings. As it goes in radio, Hulse was on vacation last week, and returned to be notified and escorted out of the building. WOFX is running the syndicated Doug Gottlieb show in afternoon drive until a replacement is brought in. Interesting how the station knew it was going to dismiss him upon his return from vacation, yet listeners are being given out of market syndicated programming until a replacement is found.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Sports Radio Ratings Up & Down

The Nielsen radio ratings for the month of July are an interesting gauge for sports radio because it is the only month of the year which is the off-season for three of the big four pro sports (NFL, NBA, NHL). Even though we see the impact of baseball in the ratings in the 'avid fan' markets, July is also the mid point of the MLB regular season and too soon for playoff races.

In Boston, the nation's strongest sports radio market, July showed a decline for both stations. WEEI-FM lost .7 of a ratings point overall, dropping to #8 in the market. Rival WBZ-FM Sports Hub dropped .2 and came in at #10. You can spin this however you like. Even with the drop, while the Red Sox battle for first place and the Patriots season is near, the point is that Boston remains the only market in the country with two all sports stations in the top 10, while many other large markets do not even have one sports station ranked that high.

This rating book was not kind to San Francisco either, although with the poor season by the Giants, limited expectations for the 49ers, and the Warriors now early in their off season, it is not surprising. KNBR 680 has dropped out of the top ten stations for the first time in years. It's not as though KNBR lost listeners to another sports station. KGMZ-FM The Game lost nearly half of its total audience from the June 2017 ratings. Down in San Jose, which is a separate market for the Nielsen ratings, KNBR only lost .1 of a ratings point while KGMZ-FM dipped to 0.4 overall. KNBR starts a new night program next week, with details below.

New York's WFAN AM/FM came in with its best overall ratings of the past three months, perhaps spurred by those curious about the fill-in hosts for Mike Francesa's afternoon show which will change hands by the end of the year, along with the Yankees broadcasts. On the other hand, WOR Radio is only #19 overall with the Mets games. While it's true that the Mets broadcasts are mainly at night (and weekends), the station came in at #18 in the 7 PM to Midnight time slot for the month.

The start of the Cowboys season this week should make the sports station ratings race in Dallas even more interesting. For July, KTCK The Ticket again led the way, .9 of a ratings point ahead of Cowboys flagship KRLD-FM, with both stations holding steady. KESN-FM ESPN also held steady for July, remaining third in the sports race, showing half of the total audience that The Ticket had.

Philadelphia's WIP-FM dipped slightly (not surprising given the Phillies dismal season) but still finished #8 overall in the market, with well over twice the audience of WPEN-FM ESPN, which did crack the top 20 stations.  In Detroit, WXYT-FM The Ticket dipped to #5 overall, but this is because of the Tigers diving in the standings. Struggling WDFN again had a 0.0 rating. Again.

One other strong sports radio market continues to be Minneapolis-St. Paul, where KFXN-FM The Fan came in at #9 overall, even with the Twins falling back after an early run.

Once again, a couple of the bigger markets continue to struggle for sports radio listeners. In Los Angeles, even with the Dodgers burning up the National League West and most fans unable to see the telecasts, KLAC 570 only managed a 1.0 rating, the same as KSPN 710. Neither station could even crack the top 25 most listened to.

None of Houston's three sports stations made the top 20, with KBME-AM holding a slight overall lead over KILT-AM, with each having more than three times the listeners of KFNC-FM. It's even worse in Miami, where not one of the market's three sports stations could muster a 1.0 rating for the month.


SAN FRANCISCO: KNBR 680 starts a new evening program this coming Monday (8/14), at least for the evenings when it does not have play-by-play taking over. Drew Hoffer and former Giants (and other MLB teams) player Kevin Fransden have been named to co-host "KNBR Tonight" from 7 to 10 PM. Hoffar has been a key part of the station's morning show.


CHICAGO: Long time sportscaster Chris Boden has been let go from Comcast SportsNet Chicago after roughly ten years as an anchor and host of studio coverage of the Blackhawks and Bears. Boden is a victim of circumstances, since the regional network still is not bringing back its SportsNet Central nightly sportscasts. Instead, fans continue to be stuck with their "In The Loop" experiment.


LOS ANGELES: In one of the oddest programming combinations, the (for now) Oakland Raiders have a new L.A. radio home for this season. KDAY 93.5 will air the games, as called by Greg Papa and Tom Flores. What makes this odd is that KDAY is and continues to be a hip hop station.


SAN DIEGO: Since the Chargers moved to L.A., Rock 105.3 dropped the broadcasts after having been the flagship station. In a surprise, if not funny, move, Rock 105.3 will air the Oakland Raiders broadcasts. This, like L.A., is most likely one of those radio moves, because the Raiders Radio Network will now be heard in San Francisco/Oakland, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas. That is a good opportunity for regional and national advertisers.


CINCINNATI: Gary Miller, the former ESPN and CNN anchor and host, has been hired as Sports Director at WKRC Channel 12. He is expected to start his new role next week.


DALLAS: DeMarcus Ware will make his debut as analyst on the Cowboys' first exhibition game telecast this week on KTVT Channel 11 against the L.A. Rams. Ware will work with analyst Babe Laufenberg with Bill Jones on play-by-play. Even the exhibition games are a big deal in Dallas, as there is also a separate Spanish telecast along with both English and Spanish radio broadcasts.


MYRTLE BEACH: WRNN 99.5 will be the flagship for Coastal Carolina University football, basketball, and eventually baseball broadcasts from now through the 2019-20 season. The talk station will also air some of the games on WRNN-AM ESPN.