Sports Media Weekly No. 147- Ed Sherman, The Sherman Report & Dale Arnold, NESN and WEEI

Ken Fang of Fang’s Bites and I are back for another Sports Media Weekly program.

Joining us for our news segment this week is Ed Sherman of the Sherman Report.

We begin the show previewing tomorrow’s NFL Draft and the plans being put forth by NFL broadcast partners ESPN and NFL Network.  Our discussions lead to reports that the NFL insiders at the networks will be more restrained in using Twitter to give away team picks before they are announced by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.  Ed has written some great pieces on how two insiders will handle tweeting during the draft.  The topic has definitely struck a nerve with some fans.

We then look at the prospects of the job new ESPN Omdudsman Robert Lipsyte will do when he assumes his role in June.

We finish our news segment by issuing our early thoughts on ESPN and TNT’s coverage of the NBA Playoffs.

Our second guest this week is Dale Arnold, studio host for Bruins telecasts on NESN and sports radio host at Boston’s WEEI.  Ken speaks with Dale about last week’s bombing at the Boston Marathon and how the sports media took a break from sports and provided fans with an outlet to discuss the events of the week.


Sports Media Weekly No. 146- Barry Horn, Dallas Morning News

It’s a very busy sports media week and we have it covered on this edition of Sports Media Weekly.

Ken Fang of Fang’s Bites and I are joined for the show by Sports Media Columnist for the Dallas Morning News Barry Horn.

We begin the program looking at the local media response in Boston to Monday’s tragic bombing at the Boston Marathon.  Ken and I discuss the local coverage, which led to the two local sports radio stations, WEEI and 98.5 The Sports Hub, suspending their regular programming to allow sports fans the opportunity to share their thoughts on the tragedy.

We then shift to the passing yesterday of legendary announcer Pat Summerall.  Barry had the opportunity to speak to Summerall on many occasions and had the same good things to say about the former CBS and Fox announcer as others regarding Summerall’s generosity and professional demeanor.

We move on to the announcement yesterday that Dan Hicks will replace Tom Hammond as the voice of Notre Dame football.  Barry predicts the move signals Hicks is being groomed to be the network’s lead play-by-play voice when Al Michaels decides to retire.

We finish the segment by looking at NBC’s plans for the English Premier League season later this summer and the viewership gains for CBS and ESPN from last week’s Masters.

Ken and I wrap the show by looking at a new policy announced at ESPN on how the network will attribute stories not broken by its reporters.

Sports Media Weekly No. 141- Chad Finn, The Boston Globe

I am riding solo on this week’s edition of Sports Media Weekly as Ken Fang of Fang’s Bites had a previous engagement and could not join us.

I am joined on this abbreviated version of the show by Chad Finn, sports media columnist for the Boston Globe.  Chad and I kick-off the show talking championship week in college basketball and how this will be the last Big East Tournament under the current structure of the league. We tie that in to how the Big East became an important property for a new all-sports network called ESPN.

We then talk about CBS and Turner’s unveiling of its announcer pairings for the upcoming NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and the minor changes made to its line-up.

We move to the official hiring today of Ray Lewis as a NFL analyst for ESPN.  We both agree that Lewis has the charisma to do well in his new role, but wonder how, or if, ESPN will use his exuberance on the air.

I get Chad’s opinion on the announcement of the launch of Fox Sports 1 last week…and we wrap the show talking Boston Sports Media, specifically the changes being made to the on-air roster over at sports talker WEEI.

Sports Media Weekly Podcast No. 63- Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, NBC Sports

Ken Fang from Fang’s Bites and I are back with another edition of the Sports Media Weekly Podcast.

We begin the show by looking at the historically low ratings numbers for Fox on its coverage of the MLB All-Star Game.  In conjunction with that we talk about the physical struggles facing Joe Buck and a petition to have Vin Scully call one last World Series before he retires.

We also take a look at the solid ratings being seen by ESPN on its coverage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.  With the success of the U.S. squad chances are good that ESPN will see good numbers in this Sunday’s final.

Ken and I also talk about how, when soccer gets a following, sports talk tends to bash the supporters.  We look at examples from local radio in Boston and from national sports writer John Feinstein.

We also talk about Google+, a new service by Google intended to compete with Facebook and Twitter.  Both Ken and I are on the service and offer our opinions.

Our guest this week is Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, college sports analyst for NBC Versus.  We talk to Akbar about his NFL career and how it has shaped his craft in broadcasting.  We also talk about his upcoming assignment working on PAC 12 football contests on Versus as well as his views on the NFL lockout.  We also talk to Akbar about his appearance on the ABC reality series Expedition Impossible.

SMJ Inbox- July 29, 2010

We have quite a bit coming in today to the SMJ inbox…

– NBC Sports is getting set for this weekend’s coverage of the U.S. Senior Open.  See the tournament Saturday and Sunday from 4:00pm to 7:00pm.

– Turner Sports has announced it’s next two Sunday MLB on TBS match-ups.  This Sunday will feature the Yankees at Rays, followed by Giants/Braves on August 8th.  Both games begin at 1:30pm ET.

– The Big Ten Network has announced a number of new programs beginning this September.  Many of them will be historical in nature.

– The MLB Network has announced its first slate of live telecasts for the beginning of August.  Here is the schedule:

August 3- 7:00 p.m. Chicago White Sox at Detroit
7:00 p.m. New York Mets at Atlanta [In select markets]
August 5- 12:00 p.m. Minnesota at Tampa Bay [Available in Twins market]
7:00 p.m. Thursday Night Baseball: San Francisco at Atlanta
7:00 p.m. Cleveland at Boston [In select markets]
August 6- 7:00 p.m.* Boston at New York Yankees – Bob Costas & Jim Kaat
7:00 p.m. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Detroit [Only in Boston & New                      York markets]
August 7- 7:00 p.m. New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies
7:00 p.m. San Francisco at Atlanta [In select markets]

– The NFL Network is getting set for it’s coverage of the NFL Hall of Fame next weekend.  The network will provide a special on the careers of inductees Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith.  NFLN will also provide seven hours of live coverage of the enshrinement August 7th beginning at 4pm ET.

– ESPN is expanding it’s 3D capabilities with the announcement that three college football games will be telecast in 3D beginning in early September.  The games are:

September 6th- Boise State vs. Virginia Tech
September 11th- Ohio State vs. Miami
September 18th- Clemson vs Auburn

– ESPN has announced it’s schedule for the next set in it’s “30 for 30” documentary film series. Here is the schedule:

Tuesday, Aug. 24, 8 p.m. – Jordan Rides the Bus (Ron Shelton)
Tuesday, Aug. 31, 8 p.m. – Little Big Men (Al Szymanski and Peter Franchella)
Tuesday, Sept. 7, 8 p.m. – One Night in Vegas (Reggie Bythewood)
Tuesday, Sept. 14, 8 p.m. – Unmatched (Directors: Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern Winters; Producer: Hannah Storm)
Tuesday, Nov. 9, 8 p.m. – Pony Excess (Thaddeus D. Matula)
Tuesday, Sept. 21, 8 p.m. – The House of Steinbrenner (Barbara Kopple)
Tuesday, Sept. 28, 8 p.m. – Into The Wind (Steve Nash)
Tuesday, Oct. 5, 8 p.m. – Four Days in October (Major League Baseball Productions)
Tuesday, Oct. 12, 8 pm. – Once Brothers (NBA Entertainment)
Tuesday, Oct. 19, 8 p.m. – Tim Richmond: To the Limit (Rory Karpf )
Tuesday, Oct. 26, 8 p.m. – Steve Bartman: Catching Hell (Alex Gibney)
Tuesday, Nov. 2, 8 p.m. – Marion Jones: Press Pause (John Singleton)
*Saturday, Dec. 11, 9 p.m. – The Best That Never Was (Jonathan Hock) * two hours

– ESPN has announced that Ron Artest will take over as editor of ESPN the Magazine’s Revenge of Jocks IV edition.  OK.

– You can find out the latest in what is in store for ESPN’s E:60 and Outside the Lines here.

– ESPN is also promoting the release of Country Music Star Kenny Chesney’s Boys of Fall video on August 2nd.  It will be featured following the 11 am and 2pm edition of SportsCenter.

–  Those of you who are fans on WEEI radio in New England can now get their hands on live streaming apps for both the iPhone and Android phones.

The Death of a Sports Radio Station

I live in sports rabid southern New England.  Our appetite for sports talk is ravenous.  it helps when three of your four major league sports teams are at the pinnacle of success.  Regardless this area has always craved sports information.

It would make sense that in this environment sports radio stations would thrive.  There is no greater testament to this then the success of WEEI in Boston.  Unlike other radio markets, this sports radio Goliath is one of the top stations in Boston…across all demographics.  Take a look for yourself.  WEEI ranks a consistent #1 among their key demo of men ages 25-54. 

What makes them even more powerful is the fact that they simulcast their programming to other Entercom-owned stations in New England.  The WEEI signal now covers the entire state of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the southern portions of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, and northern Connecticut.  They may be the only radio station in the country with such a large footprint.  And it has paid off.

The WEEI success has resulted in the demise of WSKO, The Score, in Providence, RI.  Part of Citadel Broadcasting, WSKO achieved much success in the Ocean State by filling the need of the crazed Rhode Island sports fan.  Although they dedicated most of their time to the Boston professional sports scene, they also discussed what was happening at home, primarily when it came to the college basketball exploits of Providence College and the University of Rhode Island.

The WSKO success took a hit almost three years ago with the emergence in the market of WEEI-FM.  The ratings of the station plummeted and the decision was made yesterday to pull the plug and change formats.  Beginning next week, the station will look like this:

I once worked for a radio station that was revered as a pillar of the industry, and more importantly, the community.  The business side took over and they too changed formats and laid-off staff.  When you decide to put music on the AM dial, that is a concession that the owners do not expect the station to make much money, just enough to pay for the electricity.

The ratings for The Score were probably comparable to other sports radio stations across the country. (For some reason Station Ratings cannot publish the Providence ratings) But because of the density of Southern New England, and the behemoth of WEEI, its fate was, unfortunately, sealed.  Too bad.

Fall Sports Radio Ratings, Part 3

Here are more of the Arbitron Ratings of sports radio stations across the country…

San Francisco (#4 Radio Market)
KNBR 2.5 (10th Ranked Station in Market)
KTCT 0.6 (33)

Boston (#11 Radio Market)
WEEI-AM 6.0 (3)
WMAG 0.7 (26)
WEEI-FM 0.5 (32)

Sacramento (#27 Radio Market)
KHTK 2.5 (14)
KCTC 0.5 (31)

These numbers are courtesy of Station Ratings. They measure all listeners ages 12+.

How about WEEI in Boston? Combine their two station ratings and they jump to a solid #2, tied with powerhouse WBZ. From the talk on the station today, the numbers for their key demo, men 25-54, are through the roof in all day parts.

Game Preview- Harvard/Yale Football

The biggest game between two teams that are undefeated in their conference takes place Saturday…and few people nationally care.  But we do here at Sports Media Journal.  Its The Game…Harvard vs. Yale.  The Bulldogs (9-0, 6-0 Ivy League) will be hosting the Crimson (7-2, 6-0 Ivy League) at the Yale Bowl in New Haven.

This will be the second time both teams enter the game this late in the season with undefeated conference records.  The other time was in 1968, when “Harvard Beat Yale 29-29” (That’s not a typo…follow the link)

The best way to get ready for the action is through the local media covering the game…


The visiting Crimson hail from Cambridge and, like the other colleges around Boston, get short-changed in the mainstream media.  If you want, you can check the Boston Globe or Boston Herald to see if they are covering the game.

Detailed newspaper coverage can be found at the Harvard Crimson.  Along with daily coverage of the team, the paper also has a sports blog.

You can also get more news online at the university’s athletic website.

Boston hosts sports radio powerhouse WEEI, but don’t expect any Crimson talk there.  Harvard’s own WHRB broadcasts the game.  Whether they have any other informaton before hand, we’re not sure.


The Bulldogs are located in New Haven, so there is a better chance the sports media is paying a little more attention to the game.  The Yale Daily News has the game covered on campus while the New Haven Register also has it’s reporters on the case.

Elsewhere on the web, there are a few blogs dedicated to Yale Athletics.  For God, For Country, and For Yale is one.  Portal 31 is another.  As with the Crimson, the Bulldogs have it covered on their athletic website.

New Haven is close enough to metro New York to fall within the coverage of WFAN.  Again, don’t expect Mike and the Mad Dog to take to talking about the Bulldogs.  Yale’s WYBC may or may not talk about the game before Saturday.

There you have it.  Enjoy the game.  Tell Biff and Muffy we say hi.

The Homers on Homers

I had a chance today to listen to the two morning shows of the dominant sports radio stations in Boston (WEEI) and Denver (KKFN) and their take on the World Series.  It was the classic case of each station looking at the series through the rose colored glasses of their respective teams.

At WEEI, hosts John Dennis and Gerry Callahan had little doubt that the Red Sox would win the Series in five games.  They also didn’t think that a sweep would be out of the realm of possibility.  They pointed to Boston’s experience in the post season and the Rockies lack of it in jumping to their conclusions.

Over at KKFN,  The Sports Guys,  Mike Evans and Sandy Clough had the Rockies winning the Series.  Evans picked Colorado in six while Clough thought the series would end in five games.  They feel the Rockies will remain on their hot streak and will catch Boston by surprise.  They also noted that the Rockies have nothing to lose and the Red Sox will have more pressure to win.

Two cities, two perspectives.  I guess that’s why they play the game on the field and not on the airwaves.