Usually late Friday afternoon/early evening is reserved for news that needs to be buried, but with some surprising breaking sports media news, it causes your humble blogger to write some rare Saturday sports media thoughts. On the sports media beat, one never knows when news can break and that is certainly the case here.
As usual, they come in bullet form.
- Kudos to Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch who broke the story Friday that Fox Sports had emerged as a potential suitor for Erin Andrews’ services. Then shortly afterwards, ESPN’s Army of Public Relations personnel tweeted that Erin had indeed departed the network. And while it was speculated that Erin would stay at ESPN based on little to no offers from other networks, it seems that Fox Sports recently stepped to the plate and brought what she was looking for.
The co-author of “Those Guys Have All The Fun: Inside The World of ESPN”, James Andrew Miller put out a series of tweets shortly after the news broke Friday and explained why ESPN chose not to pursue Andrews. According to Miller, talks between ESPN and Erin had broken down even before Fox had made overtures to her.
And Miller tweeted that ESPN’s offer for Andrews to stay was in essence the same duties that she had had since 2010, host of College GameDay’s first hour during football season and sideline reporter for Saturday Night Football and Primetime college basketball.
It was reported that Erin was interested in the Monday Night Football sideline reporter’s position, but she was passed over in favor of Lisa Salters. And ESPN had grown weary of Erin’s star status outside of the network. And the network doesn’t like its employees to grow bigger than the ESPN brand.
— James Andrew Miller (@ESPNBook) June 30, 2012
As far as Fox is concerned, if the reports are true that it’s in line to sign Erin, then it would be a big move. At this point in her career, she wants something other than roaming the sidelines. With Fox Sports airing Big 12/Pac-12 college football games in primetime this fall, I would think the network would look to her to host in the studio or from game sites.
Jim Miller says unlike ESPN, Fox would embrace Erin Andrews as a star and brand.
Fox would value @ErinAndrews as brand more than ESPN. Bristol didn’t place premium on DWTS, GMA gigs, mag photos,or her commercial success.
— James Andrew Miller (@ESPNBook) June 30, 2012
Is it a good move? I believe it is. She’ll get to branch out and possibly wean herself off the sidelines. And if Erin wants to be in entertainment, there are possibilities within the Fox family to do other things than sports.
- This week, NBC finally unveiled its list of announcers and hostsfor the 2012 Olympics in London Olympics. Many are holdovers from past Games like Dan Hicks, Rowdy Gaines, Tom Hammond, Ted Robinson, Tim Ryan, Andrew Catalon, etc. However, in this new era of Comcast ownership of NBCUniversal, there are plenty of new announcers for the Olympics. And talent has been tapped from the Comcast SportsNet regional affiliates.
For instance, Carolyn Manno (Sports Desk Anchor), Mike Gorman (Handball) and Donny Marshall (Basketball) come from CSN New England. Marshall Harris (Sports Desk Anchor) works at Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia. Bob Fitzgerald (Basketball play-by-play) and Jim Kozimorare from Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for CSN. I would think we’ll see more Comcast SportsNet talent on future Olympics.
As for other announcers, no longer do we have people loaned from ESPN like Mike Breen who called basketball in 2000, 2004 and 2008. There’s less of a dependence on Turner Sports although Craig Sager returns to the basketball sidelines without his loud wardrobe.
Overall, I don’t have too many issues with the talent selection although I would have liked to have seen Mike Gorman who calls the Boston Celtics to be tapped for basketball.
- Sunday is WFAN’s 25th anniversary and this week, the station has been celebrating its influence as the nation’s first sports radio station. Back when it first launched on July 1, 1987, there were many skeptics. Media observers thought there was no way people could stand listening to sports 24/7. And in the first few months, WFAN’s future was quite shaky. Its first hosts including Greg Gumbel and Jim Lampley had national reputations. But WFAN found its voice by focusing on local sports, hiring talk show hosts with New York ties and realizing fans wanted to talk about their teams and athletes.
There were big moments like WFAN moving its frequency from 1050 to 660 AM where it could be heard clearly at night throughout the Eastern Seaboard. Plus, Don Imus staying on the 660 AM frequency from WNBC gave the station huge credibility. However, the biggest move for New York sports radio was the pairing of Mike Francesa and Chris Russo to form “Mike and the Mad Dog”. The two were Type “A” personalities who wanted to host shows solo, but after they realized fans liked their banter and arguments, the two remained together from 1989 until 2008 when Russo accepted an offer from SiriusXM Radio to create his own station. For 19 years, the two were the show to listen to. And while they had their arguments, there’s no doubting their chemistry. Whenever the two pair up as they did again on Friday for a way too short 20 minute segment, it was as if they had never split.
Once the sports radio format proved viable, other markets followed, Philadelphia, San Diego, Chicago and Boston. Sports radio is so successful that some markets now have as many as four or five stations.
But WFAN started it all and it remains influential. Its format for sports updates every 20 minutes has been copied all over the country. Other stations have multiple hosts for shows sometimes even using as many as three hosts for one program. And CBS and NBC now want to create national sports talk networks of their own.
Happy Anniversary to WFAN. May it last another 25 years.
And that will conclude the thoughts for today.