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CBS-Sports-NetworkCBS Sports Network today announced that it has acquired rights to telecast college football and basketball games from the American Athletic Conference (the leftover Big East schools) through a sub-licensing agreement with ESPN.

The agreement begins with the 2013-14 college basketball season and continues through 2019-20.

The deal allows for 30 men’s basketball games per year, except for the first year (25), and between 13 and 15 football games, beginning with the 2014 season.

The 2013-14 CBSSN college basketball schedule includes five games with defending NCAA champion Louisville, which will be bolting for the Atlantic Coast Conference the following season.

The deal includes five women’s basketball games per year, three involving reigning NCAA champ Connecticut.

The AAC this year has Central Florida; Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, Louisville, Memphis, Rutgers, Southern Methodist , South Florida and Temple.

In 2014-15, East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa will join, and Louisville and Rutgers (Big Ten) will leave. Navy will join for football only beginning in 2015.

Read more at the Albany Times Union where this story was originally published.

Fox-Sports-1Halfway through the premiere episode of Crowd Goes Wild, the weekday afternoon sports-chat hour starring Regis Philbin on Fox Sports 1 (FOX), the show cut live to Delaware for a harness race. One of the horses, the host had just learned, was also named Regis. The show had arranged the stunt as a surprise for Philbin on his 82nd birthday. So viewers watched, in split screen, as Regis the host watched Regis the horse circle a dirt track pulling a two-wheeled cart.

Crowd Goes Wild has been a centerpiece in the months of hype and bluster leading up to the launch of Fox Sports 1, touted as the most viable competitor yet to ESPN (DIS). Regis and friends were going to yuck their way to the top. On day one, however, the show didn’t feel like an ESPN killer. It felt like a slow day at an off-track betting parlor with granddad.
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Fox Sports 1 shows promise

August 21, 2013
Courtesy of USA Today

Fox-Sports-1Fox Sports 1′s flagship show and would-be SportsCenter killer, Fox Sports Live, debuted Saturday on Rupert Murdoch’s new sports network. Executives at the network have stressed how “fun” the new show will be, as if SportsCenter is the old schoolmarm, reciting highlights like Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller. That’s why the first few nights of FSL have been so surprising. The program has far more similarities to SportsCenter than you’d think from all the pre-debut posturing. It’s not reinventing the wheel, in other words. We watched Sunday and Monday nights of both shows and though it’s way too early to proclaim Fox Sports Live a success or failure, here’s our early impressions.

1. What’s the focus of each program?

Fox Sports Live initially seemed like it would respond to SportsCenter critics who complain the show is too analyst driven. Those people want to watch what happened in sports, not hear about what’s going to happen. On Sunday, at least, FSL was starkly different than SportsCenter.
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Wes DurhamWes Durham is a 47-year-old rookie.

Durham, who was once the voice of Radford University basketball, will be doing football play-by-play on television this fall.

After 18 school years as the radio play-by-play announcer for Georgia Tech, Durham has left the Yellow Jackets for a role on ACC football and basketball telecasts. He will be the play-by-play announcer for Fox Sports Net’s syndicated cable package of ACC games, which will again be seen in this region on CSN.

“It had to be something on a larger scale for me to make the jump from Georgia Tech, and fortunately it was. It’s an unbelievable opportunity,” Durham said. “The emotional decision was a lot harder than the professional decision.
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Dan HastyDan Hasty has new duties this fall at 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit. An STAA client, Hasty has been named studio host on the Detroit Lions Radio Network. In addition, Hasty will be producing the station’s morning show and doing some co-hosting of an overnight show. He has been at the station since 2011.

An STAA client, Hasty is especially excited about his new Lions duties. “I’m simply thrilled to be a part of it. I’m extremely blessed to be a part of the future for Detroit’s most successful sports station,” says Hasty.

“The chance to be a part of an NFL broadcast is truly an honor. As someone who’s grown up listening to Miller, Brandy, and Tony Ortiz is a dream come true. I’m following in the footsteps of people I respect, and hope to do half as well as they did.”

Three years ago, Hasty had an opportunity to shadow the Lions broadcast team the night the franchise drafted Ndamukong Suh. “Getting to work with them just a few years later is pretty special,” Hasty smiles.

Celtics, WEEI split

August 20, 2013
Courtesy of Boston Globe

The Celtics will have a new home on the radio dial in the coming season.

Entercom Communications, whose WRKO and WEEI stations in the Boston market have been the radio home for the Celtics since 2005, will no longer broadcast the NBA franchise’s games beginning in 2013-14.

“WEEI has had an incredible run with the Boston Celtics, from being a part of their 17th championship banner to the end of the [new] Big 3 era,” said Entercom Boston vice president/market manager Jeff Brown in a statement.

“Unfortunately we were unable to come to terms on a new contract moving forward. We thank the entire Celtics organization for our tremendous time together and wish them the best of luck in the future.”

The Celtics did not offer a statement but team management confirmed Entercom’s announcement.

It’s uncertain at this time which station will carry the Celtics games in the 2013-14 season, but an announcement is expected soon. Greater Media, which owns five stations in the Boston market, has expressed interest in Celtics broadcasts in the past.

The CBS Radio-owned 98.5 The Sports Hub, which has surpassed WEEI in the Arbitron ratings among Boston’s two primary sports radio stations, is the Bruins flagship station, but has enough other properties in the market to make any scheduling conflicts work.

No matter where on the dial the Celtics land, expect to hear the same broadcast team. Play-by-play voice Sean Grande and analyst Cedric Maxwell, a popular tandem who have been paired since the 2001-02 season, are hired by the team rather than the station that broadcasts the games.

An Entercom-owned station has been the flagship of Celtics broadcasts since the 2005-06 season. They had spent the previous four seasons on weak-signaled WWZN (1510), which opted out of the fifth year of its $2 million-per-year rights deal with the franchise.

Entercom and the Celtics had a revenue-sharing agreement in their deal, which began in June 2005. It’s uncertain whether a rights fee was involved as well.

The Celtics spent two seasons on WRkO (680) before moving over to WEEI (then at the 850-AM signal, now at 93.7-FM) before the 2007-08 season. The Celtics also aired on WRKO from 1981-87 and again in 1995-96.

Read more at Boston Globe where this story was originally published.

Sharief joins WDSU New Orleans

August 20, 2013
Courtesy of TV Spy

Sharief Ishaq, a native New Orleanian and LSU graduate, has joined WDSU as sports anchor and reporter. Ishaq will work with longtime sports anchor and reporter Fletcher Mackel in leading the station’s sports coverage.

“Sharief has spent his entire life in Louisiana, following the teams that inspire some of the most passionate fans in the world,” said WDSU News Director Jonathan Shelley. “His knowledge of the New Orleans Saints, the New Orleans Pelicans, the LSU Tigers and other area teams shines through in his coverage.”

Ishaq most recently worked for Baton Rouge, La., television station WAFB, where he spent three years reporting on the Saints, the Pelicans (formerly the New Orleans Hornets), and LSU Tigers football and baseball, and where he hosted the station’s “Sportsline Friday Nite” and “Sportsline OT” programs. Ishaq previously worked at KALB in Alexandria, as a sports anchor and as sports director. In his career, he has covered the New Orleans Saints’ Super Bowl championship, the LSU Tigers’ runs at the College World Series, the Sugar Bowl, the BCS Championship Game and the 2014 Super Bowl hosted by the City of New Orleans.

Ishaq grew up on the Westbank, in the New Orleans suburb of Harvey, La., and graduated from LSU in 2005 with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications.

“It’s great to be covering the ‘home teams’ for my hometown station,” Ishaq said. “There’s no better city for big-time sports than New Orleans.”

Ishaq can be seen throughout the week on various newscasts. He is expected to debut in an on-air capacity later this week.

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

Astle’s career is heating up

August 20, 2013
Courtesy of Tri City News

The Abbotsford Heat’s new play-by-play voice has yet to call his first professional hockey game, but the Port Coquitlam product has already got a memorable call on his resumé.

In October of last year, Austin Azurdia of the B.C. Hockey League’s Langley Rivermen scored an electrifying goal with 0.3 seconds left in the third period to lift his team to a 4-3 win over the Prince George Spruce Kings, and Brandon Astle’s ecstatic call of the play made it a viral sensation.

“This kid could run for mayor! Is this actually happening? … SportsCentre, get it ready, that is the highlight of the year,” bellowed Astle, his voice cracking.

The video clip has more than 107,000 views on YouTube, and TSN, Sportsnet, ESPN and Sports Illustrated (among others) all featured it on their websites or broadcasts.

Of course, success for a play-by-play broadcaster isn’t just defined by those rare highlight-reel moments — it’s about consistent excellence over the course of a long season, and that’s what the Heat believe they have in the 24-year-old Port Coquitlam native.

“It was a pretty big moment in my broadcasting career, and obviously that goal call will be something that I’ll never forget,” said Astle.

“But I don’t think I got this [Heat] job just because of that one goal call. I want to prove to people that I’m more than a one-trick pony, and that I’m a polished broadcaster all-around.”

Astle, who began his new job with the Heat last week, will also serve as the AHL team’s media relations co-ordinator.

“His skill set really fit,” Heat president Ryan Walter said of Astle. “He’s a young person who’s going to help us grow.”

Astle’s passion for play-by-play was sparked at the age of 10, when he started calling the action as he and his friends played street hockey on a cul-de-sac in his native Port Coquitlam.

Following graduation from Riverside Secondary in 2006, he enrolled in the broadcasting program at Vancouver’s Columbia Academy, which in turn led to a job with the BCHL’s Langley Chiefs. He worked three years with that franchise, then spent an additional two years with the new Langley team, the Rivermen, after the Chiefs moved to Chilliwack. He was also the Rivermen’s media relations officer and ticket manager.

“When this opportunity [with the Heat] presented itself, I jumped on it and thankfully got the job,” he said. “Calling professional games has always been a dream of mine ever since I was a young boy.”

Astle replaces Ryan Pinder, whom the Heat parted ways with in June. He’d spent the previous two seasons in the play-by-play chair.

Read more at Tri City News where this story was originally published.

Nichols-RachelCNN announced a new sports show hosted by Rachel Nichols, the Wrap reported Monday.

“Rachel Nichols: Unguarded” will air Fridays at 10:30 p.m. starting Sept. 20.
CNN hired Nichols away from ESPN to anchor a weekend sports show. Nichols was one of Zucker’s first major hires when he took over the network, and he said the addition of a sports show was part of the network’s shift towards a “more varied set of programs and reporting” at the time.

Read more at the Huffington Post where this story was originally published.

The radio team of Steve Jones and Jack Ham has signed on for at least three more years of calling Penn State football on the Penn State Sports Network, the university said in a press release.

Jones and Ham are entering their 14th straight season calling games. Jones has served as play-by-play announcer for Penn State basketball since 1982 and on football broadcasts since 2000. Ham is a Pro Football Hall of Famer who had a standout collegiate career at Penn State before being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1971.

The Penn State Sports Network can be heard in the Harrisburg area on CBS Sports Radio 95.3 FM and 1400 AM. Football games also stream live through GoPSUSports.com.
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