Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Times They Should Be Changing

Always interesting when one form of sports media makes a bit of news directly because of another form of sports media. Such was the case in Seattle late last week.

The Seattle Times announced, publicly, that it has decided "to prohibit" its sports writers from appearing on local radio and television, including commitments already in place. KJR 950, one of the two local sports stations, had regular segments with Times reporter Bob Condotta, who covers the Seahawks, Ryan Divish, who covers the Mariners, along with Adam Jude, who covers Washington football.

This "prohibit" announcement, while intended to cover all radio and TV stations, including KIRO 710, just happened to come on the heels of Times editorials against the proposed new arena for Seattle. KJR, on the other hand, has been expressing opinions very much in favor of the new arena.

Yet, shortly after the initial announcement was made, the Times actually issued a statement which singled out KJR Radio as the main reason for this boycott. It will be interesting to see whether or not KJR's owners decide to pursue legal action. Either way, this one falls on the newspaper, which loses out on the favorable publicity from a radio station making their reporters look like experts throughout the broadcast day. As if newspapers haven't done enough to shoot themselves in the foot in the past few years.

Here we are about to begin the NFL regular season, which, unfortunately, begins without the Miami vs. Tampa game on Sunday (9/10) due to Irma. This Sunday, with Fox having the doubleheader, could be the debut of Fox showing paid advertisements for ads which are officially six seconds in length. The network claims it has research showing that :15 commercials were roughly two-thirds as effective as :30 commercials, and is allowing select advertisers to purchase the six second commercials. These also fit in with the NFL plan of reducing the number of commercial breaks this year for all of its network coverage. Fox is also expected to have these short ads running on its MLB post-season coverage.

With the Tampa vs. Miami game coming off of Week 1, those Florida markets will get the primary national games on Sunday. Both markets will get Atlanta at Chicago and the Seattle vs. Green Bay openers on Fox, as will the entire state of Florida. From CBS, both Miami and Tampa will get the CBS late game telecast of Indianapolis at the L.A. Rams, while most of the remainder of Florida gets the Jacksonville at Houston game.

Los Angeles, back to having two NFL teams, gets the Rams vs. Indy telecast as its only CBS offering, while Fox offers Philadelphia vs. Washington and then Seattle vs. Green Bay. San Diego, in its first Sunday without an NFL team, is going to get the Oakland at Tennessee early matchup from CBS instead of the Rams vs. Indy late. (The L.A. Chargers play on Monday night, shown everywhere.)

The Nielsen radio ratings for mid-July to mid-August were released earlier this week. This is the period which included the three days when ESPN Radio spent most of a week to try out the upcoming morning show with Trey Wingo and Don Golic, who are still scheduled to replace the long successful Mike & Mike show.

Think what you will of this, but in New York WFAN FM-AM rose again and is a solid #1 at night with Yankees baseball. WEPN, the ESPN station for NYC, dropped still again and now has less than 30% of the overall audience of WFAN. In Chicago, while WSCR The Score 670 finished #7 overall with a nice rise in their ratings, WMVP ESPN 1000 dipped for the third consecutive month and now has one-third of the total audience of The Score.

In Dallas, KTCK-AM The Ticket dropped .4 of a ratings point for the month, but still leads the sports station battle over KRLD-FM. The Cowboys flagship rose .3 of a point overall, which is expected with the arrival of Cowboys pre-season camp. However, KESN-FM ESPN dipped .4 of a ratings point, and now has less than half of the total audience of both KRLD-FM and KTCK-AM.

The sports station in race in Boston is heading back up, which is expected with the Red Sox charging toward the post-season and the Patriots starting their season. Both WEEI-FM and WBZ-FM Sports Hub rose at least one-half point for the month, with WEEI-FM at #6 overall and WBZ-FM at #10.

Perhaps the biggest large market surprise came from Philadelphia, where WIP-FM rose .8 of a ratings point during this one month period, including finishing #3 at night. This despite a horrible season by the Phillies (flagship station) and uncertainty about the city's winter sports teams.

CHICAGO: WSCR The Score 670 evening host Laurence Holmes has been named as host of Comcast SportsNet Chicago's host of its Bears pre-game and post-game coverage shows, starting this Sunday (9/10). The analysts for the one hour shows will continue to be former Bears Lance Briggs, Jim Miller, and Alex Brown.

SAN ANTONIO: KTKR The Ticket 760 has started airing "The Sports Grind" with Calvin Casey, Rudy J, and Salami, which is produced by SB Nation. Can't help but wonder if "Salami" will be sandwiched in.

WINSTON-SALEM: WSJS 600 became the latest station to move to all sports as a cost cutting measure. To the point of this being the very first time in the 87 year history of the station that there is no local morning show. There is now only one true local show, which will be an afternoon show hosted by Kyle Schassburger. The station will continue to carry David Glenn, a regional sports talk show from Noon to 3 PM as well.

However, mornings and time not devoted to play-by-play will be Fox Sports radio. The WSJS Sports Group also includes WMFR 1230 and 104.9 High Point; WCOG 1320 and 93.7 Greensboro; and WSML 1200 and 104.5 Graham. The station(s) will air high school sports, NASCAR, and area college football including Appalachian State.

MYRTLE BEACH: WRNN 1450 and 105.5 has dumped ESPN Radio and undergoing a complete format change. It's unknown if this was planned prior to ESPN Radio stopping Mike & Mike.

AMARILLO: With KTNZ 1010 having (also) dropped ESPN Radio, KGNC 710 and 97.5 have picked up ESPN, but on a limited basis. KGNC will air ESPN Radio only from 6 PM to 5 AM weekdays and on weekends. Interesting that they stop ESPN at 5 AM CT on weekdays, which is when their national morning show begins. The station carries extensive play-by-play including Rangers baseball and Cowboys football.

TERRE HAUTE: WFNF 1130 and 99.5 has dropped ESPN Radio completely and has gone to a music format for both stations under new call letters WAMB. Yet, as WAMB, the station will air Indiana Pacers games and remains, at least for now, a Cincinnati Reds affiliate.

Finally, our thoughts and prayers to everyone in Florida and points beyond in the path of Irma. Thinking of them, along with Texas and Louisiana, as the nation recovers from this devastation.

No comments: