Archive for NYC Sports Media
Via Phil Mushnick, the Yankees have decided to remain with WCBS 880 for another season, rejecting ESPN’s bid to purchase their radio broadcasting rights. This almost certainly means John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman will remain the radio voices of the club for at least one more year.
The Yankees renewed their long-term deal with WCBS for this season about a year ago, which figured to set off a bidding war as ESPN shifted over from 1050 AM to 98.7 FM back in April. The 98.7 signal is stronger than 880′s, but it’s not as far-reaching. The current deal with WCBS pays the team about $14M per season, and supposedly the company loses money with the broadcasts. Ben wrote more about a potential radio broadcast shift back in April.
You can make a pretty strong case that Ichiro Suzuki is the most popular baseball player in the history of Japan, and with that comes lots of media attention. A swarm of Japanese media has followed his every move since coming over to MLB more than a decade ago, including several reporters assigned to follow on a day-to-day basis, home or away. Dan Barbarisi wrote about that media swarm the Yankees inherited by acquiring the outfielder last month, including those who had to uproot and move across the country with him. It’s the rare article on the media that isn’t self-serving and is well worth the read. Check it out.
If you’re wondering why I frequently complain about John Sterling’s game calling, this is perhaps the most illustrative example I’ve ever encountered. Please excuse the presence of Craig Carton.
Carton ends by saying that the Yankees should employ Sterling and Waldman for life, because they bring something to the game that other broadcast teams cannot. Call me a stick in the mud if you will, but when I’m stuck with a radio broadcast I’d appreciate an accurate description of the game.
By the way, this is a shot of McGehee’s hit. Just for reference.
On Monday morning, New York City’s long-running R&B station Kiss FM will lose its music. Shortly after midnight, the station will flip from music to sports talk radio as ESPN is moving its operations from 1050 on the AM dial to 98.7 FM. It’s a big move for New York City radio as sports now invade FM, and it’s a move that could impact the future of the New York Yankees’ radio broadcasts as well.
Currently, the Yanks are wrapping up an extended radio stay on WCBS AM 880. Their long-term deal expired after the 2011 season, but with an ESPN move rumored since early last year, the club opted to re-up for one more season with CBS before setting off a radio bidding war. In doing so, the club allowed ESPN to find a radio home that would boost its signal and provide a more inviting home for the Yanks’ radio broadcasts.
With this weekend’s looming format change, then, the pieces are in place for a fight over the rights to the Yanks’ broadcasts, but it’s currently unclear what that deal will resemble. Currently, according to Phil Mushnick, CBS pays $14 million to broadcast the Yanks and $7 million for the rights to the Mets on WFAN. Supposedly, the media company loses money on the Yanks’ broadcasts, but that doesn’t mean WCBS isn’t interested. In fact, with the Mets’ deal expiring after 2013, CBS could retain the Yanks but move them to 660 AM a year later.
Of course, ESPN may have something to say about that as well. According to numerous reports, ESPN is spending big bucks on the move to FM in order to attract some baseball. With a better signal, they’re in a position to make an enticing offer for a New York team. While these behind-the-scene machinations are all well and good for clubs looking to line their pockets with broadcast dollars, what does it mean for those of us listening at home?
For starters, if the Yanks were to move to FM, their extended radio network becomes a lot more important locally. Take a look at the vast WCBS signal coverage map and compare that with 98.7 FM’s map. While the FM signal will be crisper — the better to hear John Sterling — its reach is not nearly as expansive as WCBS’. (For what its worth, night-time coverage for AM 1050, ESPN Radio’s current home, is limited.) So while New York City residents and those who live nearby will be able to better hear Yankee games, the folks a little farther away will have to find a local affiliate. As an AM landing home, WFAN, with its vast signal coverage area, would be ideal.
The bigger question though concerns two of the most controversial members of the Yankee family. Would the club retain John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman, not-so-affectionately dubbed Ma and Pa Pinstripe by the New York City tabloids? If it were up to those same tabloid writers, the two broadcasters would be replaced tomorrow. Phil Mushnick of The Post has held a vendetta against the liberties Sterling takes with his play-by-play duties. Recently, Mushnick slammed Sterling for botching a call in the bottom of the 9th of a one-run game. Yesterday, he claimed a new radio deal could spell the end of Sterling and Waldman. “It’s highly unlikely,” he wrote, “that ESPN, if it lands the Yankees — especially attached to a big price tag — would be bound to retain the team’s current longtime broadcast duo of John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman.”
In The Daily News, Bob Raissman has pushed a similar argument, but I don’t agree. For better or worse, Sterling is a part of the Yankees’ image right now. He’s been with the club since 1989 and serves as an M.C. on TV and at Yankee-related events. The club will likely require its next rights partner to retain Sterling. Waldman’s job is less secure, and last year, Moshe ran down a list of possible replacements. Still, I’d be more surprised if the duo weren’t together next year on a new station than if they are.
So the wheels are turning indeed. It doesn’t sound as though the Yanks are inclined to start their own radio network, but their rights will be in play. I’ve heard the games on FM up in New England, and the sound is certainly clearer than that traditional AM broadcast. To win the games though with a more limited signal, ESPN Radio will have to pay heavily. With the Yanks, though, money talks, and they won’t say no if the dollars are right.
When the Yankees announced a one-year renewal of their radio deal with WCBS AM last week, it seemed clear that something was going on. The Yanks wouldn’t just renew their preexisting — and lucrative — contract for one year without a plan, but at first, the story hadn’t emerged. And then The Post got their hands on it.
In a small and easy-to-overlook item in Saturday’s paper, media reporter Phil Mushnick wrote of a brewing radio war between the Yankees and the Mets. As a few readers had speculated, the Mets’ deal with WFAN expires after the 2012 season, and the Yanks could be looking to find a more high-profile radio partner willing to pony up the big bucks. It helps that WCBS and WFAN are owned by the same company, and the end of the Mets’ contract gives the Yanks leverage to demand preferential treatment.
Mushnick offered up a few more tidbits about the ongoing radio machinations. ESPN Radio appears to be quite interested in landing the Yanks in an attempt to boost their popularity as a sports talk outlet, but their current home on 1050 AM offers up a weak signal. To placate the Yanks, they are looking for a 24-hour clear-signal station on either AM or FM. One possible target could be 101.9 FM, a station that recently flipped from rock to news with a disastrous impact on its ratings. Its owner is searching for something to anchor the network.
For Yankee fans outside of New York City, the perfect answer would likely be WFAN if the Yanks jump ship. Like WCBS, it is a clear-channel AM station with a signal that reaches from Boston to Washington if listening conditions are just right. WEPN, on the other hand, barely reaches Albany. In the immediate area, 101.9 has a strong signal, but as an FM station, its overall reach is limited. (For what it’s worth, local stations that rebroadcast games as part of the Yankees Radio Network will not be impacted by the flagship deal.)
With all of these radio happenings, though, the question of who will be behind the mics remains. John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman will be coming back for at least 2012, but the sports media world has featured some on-again, off-again rumblings of a new radio team. A new flagship may want to find a younger team or the Yanks may elect to maintain or replace Sterling and Waldman. Despite his roll as the long-time Voice of the Yankees, John Sterling is a very divisive person among Yankee fans. His home run calls may get laughs, but it’s tough to tell which game he’s watching when he broadcasts. As one columnist once wrote, the Yanks play two games — the one on the field and the one John Sterling calls.
And so like all good or bad things, 2012 could be the end of a Yankee radio era. Waldman, for the trail she has blazed for female radio personas, won’t draw too many tears if she is jettisoned. I personally won’t miss John Sterling. His repetitiveness and willingness to play fast and loose with the game on the field make for an exhausting broadcast. But I know a few people who find this personality far more charming than a rote play-by-play guy. So as the Hot Stove League begins to heat up with free agency looming, on this night in November, I leave you with a poll. What would you do with John Sterling?
Yankees radio broadcasts will air on WCBS-AM for the 2012 season, and the club anticipates the return of John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman to the
Lowes broadcast booth, the Yankees announced this afternoon. While it is tough to imagine life without the dulcet tones and understated approach of what one New York columnist has not-so-affectionately dubbed Ma and Pa Pinstripe, their return to WCBS was not a foregone conclusion. The 2011 season marked the final under a deal with WCBS that had guaranteed the Yanks $13 million annually for the radio rights, and throughout the season, we heard rumblings that WFAN or WEPN 1050 would make a play for the Yanks.
Instead, the Yanks and WCBS have re-upped for one year at undisclosed terms. The team said it has “retained the option to extend the agreement for another year.” Both parties however will “continue discussions about a longer term partnership.” With a handful of potential suitors willing to pay big bucks for the radio rights, the Yanks will definitely ask WCBS for more money. Barring a deal, they could try to buy their own radio station or move frequencies. That this is a one-year deal suggests that ESPN Radio could be involved next winter if they find a station with a signal stronger than 1050. For now, though, we are graced with one more season of John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman on WCBS 880 AM.
Former WFAN radio personality and current My9 sports host Russ Salzberg, who is a client of my dad’s and a good family friend, has a new weekly web show. Every Wednesday from from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m., Salzberg is taking calls and discussing sports right here on the Fox 5 website. Give him a listen and a call and tell him RAB sent you. The number’s 201-330-3466.
As the Thursday negotiation deadline neared an end, the Yankees and DirecTV have averted a blackout. The two sides have renewed their deals. Terms have yet to be disclosed, and we’ll update this post as we hear more. Yankee fans with DirecTV will not miss Friday afternoon’s contest against the winless Red Sox.
Following Rafael Soriano‘s eighth inning meltdown last night, the Yanks’ high-paid set-up man made himself some unwanted headlines when he left the clubhouse before talking to reporters. In New York City, where sports writers are the arbiters of a newly-minted Yankee’s personal character and the tabloids don’t take kindly to snubs, this move was met with outrage from the usual suspects. It seemed, in fact, worse that Soriano, upset with his pitching, hadn’t give a rote apology than that he had blown the game.
When the clubhouse opened today and reporters ambled in, Soriano was ready with his apology. He apologized for not speaking with reporters and said he was upset for blowing CC Sabathia‘s stellar start. In fact, he was too upset to speak with his mother who asked if it was too cold for him last night. He also said that he couldn’t find his balance on the mound during that fateful eighth inning. (For a more complete transcript of his apology, check out this ESPN NY piece.)
Clearly, as CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler noted, the Yankees’ Front Office and Scott Boras told Soriano to speak with reporters, and Joe Girardi said Soriano’s quick clubhouse exit last night is not a clubhouse issue. Yet as another high-priced star pitching in the Bronx, Soriano has the responsibility to answer to the media after his failures. It might just be part of the same old song and dance, but that’s what happens under the New York microscope. I’m sure Soriano has learned his media lessons; hopefully, we won’t see too many more late-inning meltdowns either.
As YES and DirecTV continue to negotiate a renewal deal, the Yankees’ network will not pull its signal from DirecTV until at least Thursday, the YES Network announced this morning. While the package deal expired yesterday, the two sides have agreed to extend their negotiating deadline until Thursday, April 7. The YES Network, a RAB partner, said it granted the extension “in order to continue negotiating with the goal of reaching a new agreement.” Today’s game is on FOX but the next five games are on YES. We will continue to follow this story.