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Why play-by-play sports activities on the radio isn’t what it was once – Orange County Register

Two tales caught my eye this week concerning play-by-play sports activities on the radio; each circumstances concerned baseball.

The primary needed to do with WIP-FM/Philadelphia, which earned an enormous share of the scores throughout broadcasts of the Philadelphia Phillies-Miami Marlins Wildcard video games in early October, not less than with the focused demographic of males aged between 25 and 54. The primary two hours of sport one earned an astonishing 50+ common within the demo, which means that over 50% of males aged 25-54 listening to the radio had been listening to that sport.

What’s much more attention-grabbing is that it was in-home listening that drove the scores, not simply folks in automobiles, at work, or in any other case unable to tune into the tv broadcasts.

The second concerned WCCO/Minneapolis, which noticed that absolutely one-third of listeners to the latest Twins Wildcard video games had been listening by way of on-line apps. Extra (40%) listeners nonetheless got here by way of WCCO’s regular AM sign, whereas the stream accounted for 33%, beating the FM simulcast the Twins added final yr on KMNB-FM, which accounted for 27% of listeners.

Additional, 73% of stream listeners and 45% of all listening occurred at house.

What’s driving the at-home listening? In some circumstances, it has to do with the native announcers being favorites of native followers, because the nationwide announcers are sometimes perceived to be “in opposition to” the locals. Usually radio play-by-play is superior to tv because of the requisite storytelling necessitated by the dearth of video. Assume Vin Scully, longtime Dodger announcer, and the way vastly superior he was to just about everybody else. Similar for Chick Hearn and his play calling for the Lakers.

However why doesn’t this translate to success anymore right here in Los Angeles? At one time, it was an enormous deal for native stations to hold video games … particularly the Dodgers, Lakers, and UCLA and USC soccer and basketball. KMPC (now KSPN, 710 AM), KFI (640 AM) and KABC (790 AM) previously noticed large scores success with play-by-play. Right this moment, carrying sports activities on the radio in Los Angeles is extra of a legal responsibility … a scores killer.

I’m positive there are analysts who will communicate to quite a few theories, however I believe it comes right down to Southern California not being as connected to the groups as followers in lots of different cities. Extra importantly, we simply don’t have a Scully or Hearn anymore. We might choose sure announcers — particularly over the announcers used when the Dodgers video games are carried by AppleTV+ — however there are none that even come near the legends. There may be simply no compelling motive to tune into the radio play-by-play at house.

I ponder what would occur if some new blood discovered precisely what made somebody like Scully so fashionable. An incredible storyteller, Scully may make virtually something attention-grabbing, together with then-sponsor Farmer John’s meats. However what appears misplaced in the present day is Scully’s means to remain quiet when acceptable, letting the group noise on the ballpark say all that wanted to be mentioned. Plainly in the present day’s announcers are both paid by the phrase or are afraid to let the sport play itself.

Virtually Occurred

Radio historian David Grudt posted on Fb not too long ago an previous article from the Los Angeles Instances concerning what was to be an impending shakeup at then top-40 powerhouse Ten-Q (which is now Spanish language-formatted however nonetheless utilizing the KTNQ name letters at 1020 AM).

The June 28, 1978 story mentioned Ten-Q could be dropping top-40 and altering to nation with name letters KXAM; sister station KGBS (now KNX-FM, 97.1) could be altering from nation to automated rock, all coordinated by Neil Rockoff, head of station proprietor Storer’s radio division.

This is identical Rockoff who three years later took KHJ (930 AM) nation. He clearly has a penchant for eager to take profitable top-40 adjustments nation. I do not know why anybody ever listened to him.

Regardless, I had by no means heard this story, and in the long run, it turned out to not be. Lower than a month later, the Instances reported that the format switches had been being deserted and that Storer as an alternative was on the lookout for a purchaser. Ten-Q lasted virtually one other yr – going Spanish on July 30, 1979 – with KGBS changing into top-40 KHTZ that very same day.

Not that the early report of the change went unnoticed; one gross sales consultant on the station talked about shedding 80% of her advert gross sales as a result of that announcement. Equally, when Rockoff took KHJ nation in 1980, he introduced it months earlier than it occurred, which allowed time for an additional station to beat them to the punch. Once more … why did folks ever assume this was a good suggestion? And I say that as somebody who likes nation music amongst quite a few different genres.

Curiously, regardless that top-40 radio was slowly shifting to the FM band, KHTZ switched out of the format pretty rapidly and have become extra of an adult-contemporary station despite the “Ok-Hits” title. The explanation behind that story – if I can get extra data – coming quickly.

Richard Wagoner is a San Pedro freelance columnist. E mail rwagoner@socalradiowaves.com

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