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mary-jo-perinoIf you are a Kentucky football or basketball fan, you likely know WLEX-TV (Channel 18) sports anchor Mary Jo Perino. She’s been a smiling face that openly roots for the Big Blue but yet comes across as knowledgeable and fair and not a homer.

Soon she’ll be leaving her job to pursue other opportunities that will make it easier for her to spend time with her 7-year-old son. Our loss on April 16, her final day, is her gain and her son’s gain and how could you not be happy for her.

Still, after watching her for 10 years at WLEX (2002 to 2006 and then from 2007 until now after a brief stint in Atlanta), it’s not going to be quite the same without her on the local sports scene.

Just ask Alan Cutler, the sports director at WLEX. He’s worked all 10 years with Perino and their Friday night high school football show was must-see TV because of the way they interacted. So what will he miss most once she’s gone?

Read more at Central Kentucky News where this story was originally published.

Bruce Miller dies at 81

April 1, 2013
Courtesy of WWL TV

Longtime New Orleans sports broadcaster Bruce Miller, whose career included many years covering the Saints and serving as the play-by-play voice of Tulane University football, died Wednesday. He was 81.

Colleague Ken Trahan, who worked with Miller at several radio stations, first reported Miller’s death. Miller’s family told Trahan that he died at home after suffering a heart attack.

“An unassuming man who never courted fortune or fame, Miller simply went about his business on a daily basis, using his God-given talent with his terrific pipes to serve two generations of area fans in many capacities,” remembered Trahan.

“Bronco Bruce,” as his longtime broadcast partner Wayne Mack called him, worked for many years at WDSU-TV and radio, as well as at WGSO Radio and WWL Radio, where he retired in 2000.

But it was his role as the voice of Tulane University athletics for which he may have been most revered. From 1959 to 1977, serving as play-by-play announcer on radio broadcasts for Tulane football games.

“His ‘Oh brother! Man alive! Holy cow! Hold the phone!’ repertoire was legendary,” wrote Angus Lind in a 2007 Times-Picayune story marking Miller’s selection to the Tulane Athletics Hall of Fame.

A native of Illinois, Miller, came to New Orleans in 1957 and never left, other than serving three months in Lake Charles in 1974, according to Trahan.

“There were some great moments, especially with Wayne (Mack),” Miller remembered to Lind. “We had a lot of fun. The road trips were special, with guys like Buddy DeMonsabert, Bill Curl, ‘Big Daddy’ Dr. Hugh Rankin, and Milt Retif,” Miller said.

Miller later covered the Saints for more than two decades, hosting pre-game, halftime and post-game shows as well as filling in as play-by-play and color commentator. He also did morning sportscasts on WWL-AM for many years.

Miller was honored with the Joe Gemelli Fleur de Lis award by the Saints Hall of Fame in 2011 for his contributions to the New Orleans Saints organization. Miller served on the media selection committee for the Saints Hall of Fame, which Trahan oversees, from its inception in 1988 through 2013.

Miller is survived by three children, 7 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren.

Relatives and friends of the family are invited to attend a memorial gathering at Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home, 5100 Pontchartrain Blvd. on Friday, April 5, from 10:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m.

Read more at WWL TV where this story was originally published.

Syracuse Chiefs go online only

April 1, 2013
Courtesy of CNY Radio

Syracuse-ChiefsFor decades, baseball fans have enjoyed hearing their favorite teams on the radio. But this year, an ordinary radio won’t cut it for Syracuse Chiefs fans. Today, the team announced it’s bypassing radio altogether, streaming all of its games exclusively via the internet.

The triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals today announced the debut of the “Syracuse Chiefs Baseball Network.” All 144 of the team’s 2013 games will be broadcast on the network — no radio. The audio stream will be available through the team’s website at A free smartphone app will allow fans to listen with their iPhone or Android-based phone. The network debuts with the team visits the Lehigh Valley IronPigs next Thursday. Pre-game at 6:50pm, first pitch at 7:05pm.

In a press release, Syracuse Chiefs GM John Simone said, “”We are glad to offer our fans the ability to take the Chiefs anywhere. I grew up listening to baseball and now more people in more places will have more chances to listen to the game we all love.”

“It is my sincere hope that everyone I’ve met since 2009 in this community will come along with us to our new channel,” said Jason Benetti, who returns for his fourth season as the team’s lead announcer. “We’re planning to bring you some pretty neat stuff, including the games.”

Benetti will be joined for a third season by Kevin Brown. According to today’s announcement, the pair will be hard at work on more than just the game day broadcasts:

Every Sunday, Chiefs play-by-play announcers Jason Benetti and Kevin Brown will recap the week that was in Syracuse Chiefs baseball on Chiefs Digest. And every Friday, Benetti and Brown will be joined by a special guest in the booth to discuss baseball and beyond on the weekly current events quiz, Where Have You Been? Other programming will debut during the season.

For the past two years, Chiefs games were carried by The Score 1260 (WSKO). Earlier this week, Cumulus Media Syracuse Operations Manager Tom Mitchell told, “we look forward to future promotional partnerships with the Chiefs organization.” Mitchell didn’t provide any further comment on the matter, but today, Simone told reporter Lindsay Kramer that the Chiefs did try to negotiate with WSKO owner Cumulus Media for a possible renewal.

Simone didn’t get into specifics, but told Kramer that going online-only would save the team money while gaining the ability to program more content on its own.

According to the article, the Chiefs are likely the very first triple-A team to offer broadcasts exclusively online. The article also says the team paid WSKO $25,000 to lease the air time for all of last year’s games — money which the team could then try to recoup by selling its own in-game advertising. Simone told Kramer this year, the money can be spent elsewhere, and the team’s broadcasters can add the aforementioned feature programming at no extra cost.

When first learned the Chiefs would not be with WSKO this season, we had initially suspected that was a sign that the team might have been preparing to announce a deal with the only other all-sports stations in town: ESPN Radio 97.7/100.1 (WTLA/WSGO), owned by Galaxy Communications. So, we’ll admit today’s news took us for a bit of a loop. Galaxy President/CEO Ed Levine said it was a surprise to him too. He told, “if I had known that the Chiefs were an option, we would have been interested in having a discussion.”

Read more at CNY Radio where this story was originally published.

Miklasz-BernieThe major upheaval in St. Louis sports-talk radio now is shifting to hit the market leader in the format. Bernie Miklasz is set to leave WXOS to expand his duties at his primary employer, the Post-Dispatch and its website.

The move, announced Wednesday, is to take effect after Miklasz’s radio contract expires at the end of April. Miklasz has been a Post-Dispatch sports columnist since 1989 and said a long thought process led to his decision to stop hosting a sports radio show — something he has been doing in St. Louis since he returned to the Post-Dispatch and succeeded Kevin Horrigan in giving his opinions on sports. Miklasz has mixed his writing work with stints at KMOX (1120 AM), KFNS (590 AM), what currently is KXFN (1380 AM) and now at 101.1 FM.

His impending departure from hosting a midday sports-talk show comes at a time of unprecedented turmoil locally in the format. It recently was announced that KFNS, the longest-standing station in jock-jabber, will switch to ‘’guy-talk’’ this spring and its sister outlet, KXFN, will drop sports for programming that targets women. Adding to that is that 101.1 has had a major ratings drop, but Miklasz said his decision isn’t related to any of those issues.

Read more at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch where this story was originally published.

GottliebCBS college basketball analyst Doug Gottlieb almost immediately apologized Thursday night after delivering an awkward comment about how he brings a “white man’s perspective” to the CBS set.

After being introduced by host Greg Gumbel, Gottlieb made the awkward comment on the set with four other African-American co-hosts — Gumbel, Kenny Smith, Greg Anthony and Charles Barkley.

“Cream rising to the crop. I don’t know why you guys asked me, I’m just here to bring diversity to the set here. Give the kind of white man’s perspective on things from the point guard position,” Gottlieb said, according to USA Today.

All four co-hosts immediately looked away, and Smith told him he was “swimming upstream.” Later, CBS released a statement from Gottlieb, who remained on air throughout the night.

“It was not a smart thing to say and I apologize,” Gottlieb said, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Later, during halftime of the game between Wichita State and La Salle, Barkley addressed Gottlieb’s comment by saying that Gottlieb was just making a joke and blamed “all those idiots” on Twitter for making it seem controversial.

“Listen — me Kenny, Greg Anthony, and Greg Gumbel did not take that personally, so all you people at home who have got no life and who are talking bad about Doug Gottlieb — get a life. It is over with, and it’s no big deal,” Barkley said.

Read more at Sports Illustrated where this story was originally published.

Valentine hired as Mets analyst

March 29, 2013
Courtesy of Newsday

Japan Times PhotoIt still is slightly more than three months before former Mets manager Bobby Valentine will officially become Sacred Heart University’s athletic director, what the school called an “out of the box” hiring.

So in the meantime, Valentine, 62, has signed up to make 12 to 15 appearances on SNY as part of the Mets’ television analyst team. That agreement was officially announced Thursday and is apart from Valentine’s third job, as an NBC Sports radio commentator.

“I like being busy,” Valentine said. “Get up early, go to bed late. That’s what it’s all about. This seemed like a nice way to watch a ballgame.”

He guessed that his parents “put me on the path” toward simultaneous, wide-ranging activity.

“I was competing in international dance competition the same week as playing in Babe Ruth League regional championships as a kid,” he said. “I was in the school class plays the same week as the high school championship football game.

“It’s all I know; let’s put it that way.”

He first tried TV work in 1980, shortly after the last of his 10 years as a major-league player and before 16 years of managing the Texas Rangers, Mets and Boston Red Sox, and eight more in Japan.

“I think all of life’s experiences blend together if you allow them to, if you’re open enough to take on challenges,” he said. “I see as a blank canvas.”

And, working mostly with former pitcher Bobby Ojeda on SNY, “I’ll just try to give the lefty a little idea of what happened and what might happen.

“And who knows what will happen during a rain delay.”

Read more at Newsday where this story was originally published.

ESPN, WNBA extend agreement

March 29, 2013
Courtesy of ESPN

WNBAESPN and the WNBA have extended their agreement through the 2022 season, ESPN president John Skipper and WNBA president Laurel Richie announced at a news conference Thursday in New York City.

The deal will extend ESPN’s relationship with the league to 26 years, dating to the WNBA’s inaugural season in 1997.

The new agreement allows up to 30 live games to be televised each season on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and WatchESPN, including coverage of the playoffs, draft and All-Star Game. In addition, for the first time, ESPN will telecast the WNBA draft in prime time at 8 p.m. ET April 15.

“This strengthens ESPN’s commitment to the league and helps solidify us as the home of women’s sports content,” Skipper said. “We want to be active participants in growing the league.”

Also in attendance at Thursday’s event was NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver, WNBA star Swin Cash and former NBA star Bill Laimbeer, who recently was hired to coach the New York Liberty and who previously won three WNBA titles as coach of the Detroit Shock.

At the event, Richie also revealed the WNBA’s new logo, which marked the first time the logo had been modified since the league launched 16 years ago.

Richie explained that the new logo better embodies the athleticism and diversity of today’s WNBA players, while still embracing the traditional silhouette logo that fans have come to associate with both the NBA and WNBA.

“The logowoman represents so many things to me,” Cash said. “It is a symbol of strength, growth and leadership … like our players, the woman in the logo is sleek, smooth and ready to ball.”

Both Skipper and Richie mentioned the need to harness the star power of the WNBA’s incoming draft class, which includes Baylor center Brittney Griner, Delaware forward Elena Delle Donne and Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins. Skipper said ESPN should take advantage of these transcendent college stars entering the league.

“When you have that name recognition coming into the league, eyeballs will follow,” Laimbeer said.

ESPN also said it will continue to enhance its production and commitment to the sport with behind-the-scenes access to WNBA teams, players and coaches.

Highlighted in the news release were a number of additional features that ESPN and the league hope will give fans greater access and new perspectives. Some of these items include a referee camera to give fans an official take on the action and “look ins” that would provide virtually unlimited access inside shootarounds, game-day preparation and locker rooms.

“There is nothing greater than having a partnership with a company whose commitment to women’s sports is deep,” Richie said. “I think this is going to be a seminal season for the WNBA. This is a moment in time that I think we are poised and primed to capitalize on.”

The 2013 WNBA season tips off May 27 with a doubleheader on ESPN2.

Read more at ESPN where this story was originally published.

Shulman-DanNewer metrics have been a regular part of an avid baseball’s fans lexicon for years. Newly minted measures of player performance have seeped into major-league baseball operations. Maybe WAR and OPS have not been around baseball as long as peanuts and crackerjack, but some fans are just as eager to buy into them.

So given the inroads sabermetrics have made in baseball culture, to what extent should a baseball broadcast use them?

Well, not much, according to Dan Shulman, the voice of ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” telecasts.

Shulman said in a conference call with reporters earlier this week that he sees the value of “the new age analytics,” as he called them, but he’s not going to hand over his call to them in part because he does not think many viewers are into those numbers.

“I think the vast majority of our audience, I bet for everybody on a Monday morning who said, ‘Do you know what Mike Trout’s WAR is?’ I bet there are 10 people who say, ‘Did you see he hit his 30th home run?’ or stole his 49th base or whatever,” Shulman said.

“If you go back 15 years nobody was even talking about on-base percentage, that came in and then, of course, OPS came in. OPS I think is fairly common now. So things are moving. They’re just not maybe moving that the sabermetricians would like.”

Shulman said his personal preference, in terms of using the newer metrics, “is to dip my toe in the water but not delve into those during a telecast.”

Intangibles, chemistry and “guys performing better in certain situations than other guys” are still part of the game he sees.

“I think some of those (analytics) are applicable now and useful now, and I think some of those things are better off for columns on, to be honest with you, because you can get into them a little bit more,” Shulman said.

But Shulman said there has been change even during his time as a broadcaster.

“When I first started doing games, a batter would come to the plate, you would say batting average, RBIs, stolen bases, on what we call a lower third graphic,” Shulman said. “At some point more and more local and national telecasts started using on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS. I think those are all good things.”

Orel Hershiser, an analyst on “Sunday Night Baseball,” contended that “it’s easier to bring the stat to the broadcast if it’s a formula that everybody understands.”

“All of us on this call listening to my voice right now, nobody can tell me the formula for WAR,” Hershiser said. “We know what it stands for, wins above replacement, but how do you come up with a number? I think people know what an RBI is, know what a home run is, know what a walk is. Those are easy to explain. People have a huge reference point.”

By that standard, no one in National Football League telecasts should bring up quarterback rating, because no one can give you the formula for it, either. Yet NFL broadcasts routinely reference quarterback rating.

“It’s baseball and it’s an eyes test,” Hershiser said. “(Giants manager) Bruce Bochy and (Giants general manager) Brian Sabean won two out of the last three World Series. I don’t know if you can name me the WAR of any guy on their whole club. Buster Posey probably has the best one, Matt Cain, maybe Pablo Sandoval. I know those three guys are probably the core of their team.”

Shulman noted that “Sunday Night Baseball” game reporter Buster Olney “delves deeper into the new age stats” than either he or Hershiser or analyst John Kruk do.

“He will use them on the air,” Shulman said. “We’re very comfortable with him using them on the air.

“It’s something that he’s put more work into and is more familiar with,” Shulman said. “I think it’s an area where he kind of takes the lead on our telecast.”

Read more at the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel where this story was originally published.

Cleveland-Browns-LogoThe Browns will make NFL broadcast history next season through a new radio partnership announced on Thursday morning.

But will an unprecedented “triple cast” allow fans to hear Jim Donovan scream “Touchdown – Browns,” no matter where they are listening in the Cleveland area? The club and the stations involved in the unique business arrangement said Wednesday that coverage gaps are a non-issue.

The Browns have awarded their game-day broadcast rights to ESPN’s WKNR AM/850 and CBS Radio’s WKRK FM/92.3 and WNCX FM 98.5. The franchise’s games had been aired on Clear Channel Communication stations, WMMS FM/100.7 and WTAM AM/1100, since they returned in 1999.

Contract terms were not revealed, although it’s believed the stations have the right to carry Browns games for at least five seasons.

“We really think this is a great deal and we got to that point through the creativity and intelligence of our partners,” Browns president Alec Scheiner said. “We had a vision for what the Cleveland Browns needed in terms of content and exposure and programming. CBS and ESPN got together and delivered all the things we wanted jointly. I will give them all the credit for coming up with this structure.”

The fact rival sports talk-show stations (WKNR and WKRK) would unite for the winning bid speaks to the Browns’ immense local popularity despite their losing ways. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told The Plain Dealer that both the triple cast and competing networks joining forces are each “first-of-its kind” according to league research.

Historical context aside, some fans are more worried about their radio signal fading out as Brandon Weeden fades back for a critical fourth-quarter pass.

WTAM has a 50,000-watt signal in the day and evening. WKNR broadcasts are 50,000 watts during the day, but drop to 4,700 watts at night, which could have an impact on prime-time games and also late-season 4:15 p.m. kickoffs. The two FM stations are both less than 50,000 watts.

As news of the agreement leaked late Tuesday, some local fans took to message boards and wrote emails citing anecdotal evidence of dead zones within the area. But the Browns and representatives from the stations said at least one, if not more, of the three stations will always have a clear signal for games.

There’s also the Browns Radio Network for fans traveling statewide. The affiliates, which operate on one- and two-year deals, have not been released for the 2013 season. There were 24 affiliates on the network this past season. Live streaming will be available on the team and station’s web sites, according to the Browns, as well as the club’s mobile phone app.

“Just the combination of the three stations will reach Northeast Ohio clearly, cleanly and with many options for listeners,” said Tom Herschel, senior vice president and markets manager for CBS Radio in Cleveland.

The Browns plan to keep the broadcast tandem of Donovan and Doug Dieken intact. The club and teams declined to discus how they will divide advertising revenue.

Beyond game days, the club will nearly double its Browns auxiliary programming to 1,000 hours annually. The new deal kicks off at the NFL Draft (April 25-27) as WKRK will supply live broadcasts on the first two nights with WKNR providing coverage on the final day. The stations will simulcast a coach’s show and also promote philanthropic events sponsored by the Browns.

“We wanted our fans to be able to listen to a great deal of programming,” Scheiner said. “By being on a number of stations we feel as though we are broadening the number of people who can hear our content and we believe a lot of it will be unique to what others can provide.”

Scheiner said the 1,000 hours of annual programming — which will include an expanded Cleveland Browns Daily show — is comparable to the Dallas Cowboys’ agreement. Scheiner worked for the Cowboys prior to his arrival in Cleveland in late December.

While negotiations did not heat up until January, WKNR and WKRK formed their alliance in mid-October. Craig Karmazin, founder of Good Karma Broadcasting, which owns the ESPN affiliate, said the two sides quickly got past their status as rivals. He knew CBS had a history of forging bonds with competitors, citing the network’s willingness to work with Turner Broadcasting on the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

“We talked about (the rivalry) in our first conversations,” Karmazin said. “But the Browns are such a great community entity we knew could make it work. We thought working together would send a really powerful statement for the Browns.”

A representative for WTAM did not return a message seeking comment on Wednesday.

Read more at where this story was originally published.

ncaa-basketballSports television is one part of the industry that allows its broadcasters to age.

John Madden. Dick Enberg. Keith Jackson. Pat Summerall. Vin Scully. Marv Albert. Brent Musburger. Dick Vitale.

Tim McCarver announced Wednesday he is to retire from his baseball game analyst role at Fox Sports at the end of this season. He’s 71.

In sports, a broadcaster’s age is not seen as a millstone. It may even be considered a badge of merit.

That isn’t the case in much of television, where youth usually is served. Or over-served.

Verne Lundquist, 72, and Bill Raftery, who turns 70 on April 19, are to call the NCAA Tournament telecasts on CBS on Thursday from Washington, D.C., including Marquette vs. Miami.

According to CBS, Raftery has worked 279 NCAA Tournament telecasts and Lundquist 258. Raftery is covering is 31st tournament and Lundquist his 29th.

“That’s a lot airplane flights,” Lundquist (left) said with his familiar robust chuckle.

Said Raftery: “It’s been a fun ride because of the people that we work with. Verne and I have been together quite a bit – early on, then hiatus, now back together. . . . I don’t feel as old as the years I’ve worked. That’s pretty good.”

We asked Lundquist why, apart from some shows like “60 Minutes,” sports broadcasters can thrive in numbers even when they have become Q-tips, to borrow the designation Al McGuire used for old folks.

“I think there’s a comfort factor,” Lundquist said during telephone interview. “If the broadcaster, whoever it might be, holds his end of the bargain and doesn’t make too many egregious mistakes. . . . If the audience becomes comfortable with the broadcaster, there are allowances for occasional slips.”

Lundquist said when he joined CBS in 1982, former Madison broadcaster Gary Bender and Billy Packer were the lead announcers.

“We actually worked together, Bill and I did, in 1983,” Lundquist said. “We worked two games, one of which involved Marquette. Doc Rivers’ junior year. Listen to this one. We had back-to-back weekends in Columbia, S.C. The first weekend was Marquette at South Carolina. The second weekend was the magnetically appealing intersectional game between Idaho and South Carolina. I make fun, but Idaho had come off of a tournament win the year before and Don Monson was the coach.”

Lundquist and Raftery hit it off well. CBS suits liked what they heard.

“The guys in New York said, ‘You guys sound great. We can’t wait to hear more games,’ ” Lundquist said. “It was 17 years (2000) before we worked together again.”

Lundquist and Raftery have good chemistry and an easy, unforced style.

“I don’t think you work on that,” Lundquist said. “I think it is a gift. In my view, it’s a byproduct of a friendship. We got along famously right at the beginning. Then when we got together in 2000, it clicked.”

Lundquist said what was comfortable to him as a style “is more low-key, conversational approach – that’s just me.”

That’s the place he arrived at after some years.

“It doesn’t make any sense to me as I’m saying this to you – to say that I worked at being me,” Lundquist said. “It’s a combination, I guess, of paying attention to your craft and then getting comfortable in your own skin. That’s why working with Raft is such a pleasure.

“It carries over to my relationship with Gary Danielson in college football,” Lundquist said. “I think, I hope, they both trust me to know that I’m trying to set the plate to give them the best opportunity to analyze the game.”

Raftery said he and Lundquist have fun calling the games and that’s what is conveyed to viewers.

“We are fortunate to be part of it,” Raftery said about the tournament. “It just keeps us young. It’s so meaningful to so many people. That’s the way we both look at it. It’s a precious time for the players, the schools, the towns and captures so many areas.”

Read more at the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel where this story was originally published.

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