Media column version 09.19.14: What would you do if you were starting up a sports-talk radio station in L.A.? It’s news to KFWB

BxM0mAMCYAAb9ix.png largeWhat made it into the main event this week, linked here:
KFWB, the former “news 980” station, will finally complete its transformation to “The Beast” on Monday morning with a new all-sports lineup, most of it made up of local hosts surrounding Jim Rome’s syndicated CBS Radio show from 9 a.m. to noon.
Best of luck, Beastie Boys. (And girls, like Jeanne Zelasko).
Our top five suggestions on how to make this work in a market that can be somewhat fickle about its sports-talk of the last 20-plus years.

We also had this note that somehow got misplaced so we’ll run it here:

== Starting with Fox taking Saturday’s game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field (Channel 11, 10 a.m., with Matt Vasgersian, John Smoltz and Jon Paul Morosi), all but one Dodger game (Sunday at Chicago, only on SportNet L.A.) will be available on TV to Southern California viewers no matter what cable or dish provider they have, for as far as the team goes in the playoffs. The Time Warner Cable orchestration of having the final six regular-season games – it could be cut to five if Fox takes the last Saturday game – is small consolation to the season-long rights-fee issue that has seen nearly three-quarters of the region blacked out from Dodgers games in 2014, after the launch of the team-owned channel that has been handed off in distribution negotiating to TWC Sports execs. Consider these KDOC games a TWC walk of shame, especially after it has taken out full-page newspaper ads claiming that they are “putting fans first” with this arranged marriage. No irony in that the final telecast Sunday is of the Dodgers’ Fan Appreciation Day from Dodger Stadium. So this is how you appreciate your fans? Maybe during the KDOC broadcasts that interrupt its regular repeats of the old ABC sit-com “Cougartown” and starts with the three-game series against San Francisco on Monday, Vin Scully can do a retrospective of the season that most missed. What this KDOC coverage will eventually prove, as it includes the SportsNet LA pre- and post-game shows, is that this gesture should have taken place maybe in April, May and June – giving viewers a taste of what the coverage looks like and perhaps enticing them to switch over to TWC. You don’t miss what you never see, right? TWC plans more wraparound coverage of the Dodgers games in the playoffs as well. Looking forward, Dodgers’ playoff games would take place on ESPN (an Oct. 1 wild-card game), Fox Sports 1 or the MLB Network (during the NL Division Series) and then Fox-Channel 11 (during the NL Championship Series and World Series). The Angels’ involvement in American League playoff games would all be on TBS until the World Series that would begin Oct. 21 in Anaheim. And then KDOC can go back to claiming itself to be the home of the MLS’ Chivas USA squad.

What is relegated to becoming a mere footnote:

== The column we churned out earlier this week on the Time Warner Cable disingenuous decision to simulcast its SportsNet L.A. Dodgers games with KDOC-Channel 56.

7ac3b7bd711d7aaa95d9ce9b5f7d0dac_400x400== After working as a morning-drive sports reporter for 34 years, going back to KNX radio in 1981, Rich Marotta announced Wednesday that he’s retiring from doing updates on KFI-AM (640)’s Bill Handel Show. Marotta had been part of that show for the last 21-plus years. The former Kings TV analyst, inducted into the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2011, has also spent much of his time lately growing the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame that he founded a few years ago.
“The KFI job has been a fantastic experience, but now I’m going to get some sleep,” Marotta said. “I’m just happy because I feel I’ve done as well as I could, grew in a lot of areas, having lost too much on my fastball and I’m leaving on my terms — not being fired. This is a retirement from radio, but I’m also hoping to get back into the loop in TV boxing. I’ve had to turn down a few gigs in the last year and I know if you keep saying no, then pretty soon they stop asking. So I’m hoping promoters, producers and sports networks will work me back into the equation.”

== Why wouldn’t you support Dick Enberg for the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Ford Frick Award?

== There was no folly in Fox trying to groom Gus Johnson as the American voice of soccer as the network began ramping up for its coverage of the 2015 Women’s World Cup and the 2018 World Cup. Nor is there reason to think there’s failure in the decision revealed by Sports Illustrated that Johnson has asked to be excused as the lead man from future soccer play-calling because of how it has and will affect his personal life. In an interview with SI’s Richard Deitsch, Johnson explains the passing of his mother last June that happened while he was overseas covering a match for Fox really hit home. Johnson had told us that he’d heard enough criticism for his lack of a soccer background once Fox started giving him headline assignments for the sport back in early 2013, and he said he had a “positive anxiety” about the whole situation at the time.

== Meanwhile, Brian Urlacher’s constant trips to L.A. is what led him to pull the plug entirely on his Fox broadcasting career. Urlacher retired from the NFL after the 2012 season, having spent 13 seasons with Chicago, and signed as a lead analyst on Fox Sports 1 in July, 2013.

== If you’re looking ahead to the MLB playoff TV schedule that starts the week of Sept. 29,  check here.

512NvyU2m1L== According to those who compile The New York Times’ Best Seller List and, to make things more interesting, break out a special sports book Top 10, “the definition of sports is deliberately broad and inclusive, so as to reflect all manner of the outdoor sports world, varying from the professional leagues to personal athleticism.” Broaden the definition more, apparently, to include the latest purge by former sports TV studio anchor and aborted local sports-talk host Pat O’Brien for the top sports titles from August. Logged in at No. 7,  “I’ll Be Back Right After This” (St. Martin’s Press, ) is what NYT reviewers contend is “the sportscaster’s memoirs of his decades covering the Olympics, Super Bowl games, and World Series baseball; with insider anecdotes about Mickey Mantle, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Muhammad Ali.” O’Brien will tell most who want to interview him about the book  — that’s mostly the same gossip publications that treated him as a real reporter in the first place going back in his “Access”-whatever days — that this is really far more a true story about his recovery from all kinds of personal messes he got himself into that have nothing to do with sports and more about him becoming the celebrity he was trying to capture. O’Brien, whose latest foray into sports was an afternoon run at Fox Sports Radio/Clear Channel that ended at the start of 2014, does a credible job these days cashing in on his own fame during a  sobriety and recovery tour, which isn’t unlike many of the celebs he used to not just cover, but apparently get to know on a very intimate basis (as he will claim). Perhaps the most interesting read is through the book’s index, where he even references “name-dropping” on page 193, amidst all the names dropped. Basically, if you’re hooked by reputed tell-all books that really tell nothing, have a crack at it. If you’d like an O’Brien tome that’s far more in line with his authentic being, find the 1998 version “Talkin’ Sports: A B.S.-er’s Guide,” where he takes pride in revealing his secrets about how to fake your way through a conversation about sports at a cocktail party. We’ll be right back after this next paragraph to tell you if we actually went looking for either titles at the local bookstore.

== What New York Daily News and ESPN commentator Mike Lupica does in his free time: Promote his new books for middle-schoolers. His itinerary to talk about his latest, “Fantasy League,” is for him to be at Children’s Book World (10580 W Pico Blvd, L.A.) at 4 p.m. Friday to sign that, and whatever else a kid (or adult) may bring up to him.

== More compelling reads that came out this month, relate more to the sports world as we know it and should soon be on any best-seller list:Rickey & Robinson: The True, Untold Story of the Integration of Baseball,” by Roger Kahn, released this week; “Draw In The Dunes” by Neil Sagehiel about the 1969 Ryder Cup and its classic finishing match between Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin that gave the event a rebirth; and “Why Football Matters: My Education in the Game” by Mark Edmundson.
51H10KgttBLAnd definitely more topical considering the state of the NFL are two other books we heartily endorse. One, which came out last month called:
Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto,” by Steve Almond, and then coming out in paperback from St. Martin’s Press later this month, “The King of Sports: Why Football Must Be Reformed,” by Gregg Easterbrook, a year after its hardcover release.

== CBS reported that its opening “Thursday Night Football” telecast on Sept. 11, simulcast with the NFL Network, averaged 20.8 million viewers and was up 89 percent from a year ago (N.Y. Jets-New England on Sept. 12), when the Thursday night game was only on the NFL Network.
“The debut of Thursday Night Football on network television exceeded our ratings expectations,” said CBS Sports chair Sean McManus in a press release. “From a ratings, sales and production standpoint we could not be more pleased with the success.” He does realize that many only tuned into to see how the game in Baltimore would come out in context of the Ray Rice situation, right? Seems his boss figured it out.

== How ESPN’s Hannah Storm reacted to the NFL’s image issue during her last Sunday morning “SportsCenter” stint.

That's Frank Caliendo, in makeup getting ready to do his impersonation of ... wait for it ... ESPN's Chris Berman. Where's the combover?

That’s Frank Caliendo, in makeup getting ready to do his impersonation of … wait for it … ESPN’s Chris Berman. Where’s the combover?

== Next edition of HBO’s “Real Sports” (Tuesday, 10 p.m., episode No. 210 of its 20th season) has caught our attention with a Bernie Goldberg piece on Frank Caliendo, who has been camping out on ESPN’s NFL pregame show after breaking through with the Fox Sunday morning NFL gang. Other topics explored: Andrea Kremer has an extended interview with Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer, new correspondent Carl Quintanilla explains how the fantasy sports industry has turned into a daily exercise thanks to an exemption from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act that shut down online poker and gambling,  and Jon Frankel has an update from his 2011 piece about major league players and their chewing tobacco habits, talking to incoming commissioner Rob Manfred about it as well as Tony Gwynn Jr. to get his take in light of the recent recent passing of his Baseball Hall of Fame father from mouth and jaw cancer.

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  • Duarte_Road

    My first impression of the KFWB “lineup.” They blew it. Big time.

  • Shawn H.

    I’m trying to give the new lineup on 980 a chance…Roggin’s the best of the bunch, and as much I like him, he can be a bore at times. The morning show needs work, and I can’t believe Rome is still on the radio (I haven’t listed to a full episode of his radio show in nearly a decade, and his TV shows are literally a word-for-word copy of his radio program). The drive time show makes me long for Max & Marcellus and Petros & Money…that’s saying quite a bit.