== Another stupidiotic sign of the media times, or a sports radio station that has ill-fated plans believing no news is good news:
KSPN-AM (710) program director Mike Thompson has done some questionable cool sculpting of his own on (tr)Ash Wednesday by eliminating the sports update positions that were held by Beto Duran, Dave Joseph and Pete Fox, leaving Jeff Biggs as the lone survivor, according to sources. The philosophy has to do with what else is going on at ESPN Radio, where the Colin Cowherd show and Mike Golic-Mike Greenberg shows eliminated their national update person, apparently deciding that anyone who needs scores and news can get them from their mobile phone, computer or yelling at the guy in the car next to them at the red light who is listening to another L.A. all-sports station. Those valuable extra minutes are then folded back into the current show and granted back to the hosts to address anything that’s breaking, in the hope it can be fixed.
More local programming also appears to be on the horizon for KSPN as part of this decision, giving credence that the Kamenetsky brothers may be accumulating more air time, as well as Biggs, a former Angels talk host at KLAA-AM (830). Reports are also that Kelvin Washington and Travis Rogers have been hired to work a 5-to-9 a.m. shift at the station — the first two hours on the radio leading into Cowherd with the second two audio streaming.
You can’t upgrade the station’s energy output with your feet firmly planted in a puddle of water. Sending away these particular three reporters who have been the direct conduit to local teams by attending press conferences and providing live updates only short circuits the flow of information. It may look electrifying when you crunch salary numbers to please the accountants, but it only delivers a weaker message to listeners. Employees like Duran (who we profiled here in 2013), Joseph and Fox — as well as the recently released Mark Willard — add value that a station can’t mark up as collateral damage when parceling out air time.
== Add to that, the Jan. 2015 ratings for Southern California radio, as released by Don Barrett’s LARadio.com, notes that all-sports KSPN-AM (710) was tied for 28th at 1.3, fairly decent considering the Lakers’ woes. When compared to the rest of the field, it’s actually at the top of the heap. The Dodgers’ and UCLA’s KLAC-AM (570) was at No. 38 with 0.6. The Kings’ new home, KABC-AM (790), is 35th at 0.7.
KFWB-AM (980) holds down last place in the book (41st overall) with a 0.2 rating and “continues to struggle with its format flip last fall” and a name change to “The Beast” despite airing Clippers games. LARadio.com notes today that program director Owen Murphy, who helped put the thing on the air, has left the station already.
With all that, neither the Angels’ KLAA-AM (830) or ESPN Spanish language affiliate KWKW-AM (1330) made the ratings list.
In at No. 1 overall was KOST-FM (103.5) at 5.6.
== Guess we shouldn’t feel slighted — again — that NBCSN will dispatch Dave Strader, with Eddie Olczyk and Brian Englom, to call the Kings-Sharks NHL outdoor game from Levis Stadium in Santa Clara on Saturday night. Kathryn Tappen will also host a studio show on site, and Carolyn Manno has been added as a reporter.
Strader and Engblom also called the Kings’ game in Colorado for NBCSN on Wednesday — meaning it’s two straight games where the Kings’ Bob Miller and Jim Fox won’t provide the TV soundtrack.
So why wouldn’t NBC have recruited the dean, Doc Emrick, on this special game?
They have him slotted to call Boston at Chicago in the middle game of an NBC network triple-header on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. Thing is, Olczyk is also going to be there with Emrick and Pierre McGuire, apparently leaving San Jose on a red eye to get there in time.
NBC’s “Hockey Day in America” telecast Sunday starts with Washington at Philadelphia (9 a.m., Channel 4, with Chris Cuthbert and Anson Carter) and ends with Minnesota-Dallas (5 p.m., NBCSN, with Gord Miller and Bret Hedican). NBC’s studio show emanates from Lake Placid, N.Y., with remembrances of the Miracle on Ice game 35 years later.
== FYI: Fathom Events also has the Kings-Sharks game live in selects L.A. movie theaters — Regal L.A. Live near Staples Center, the Howard Hughes Center Cinemark near Westchester and the AMC Puente Hills 20. Reserved tickets run $15 for adults and $8 for children and are best purchased online to secure the best seats.
== How is the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue still “a thing,” released every year to a “creepy chorus of approval” by old white guys on cable TV shows? Ewwwwwww … and why is it relevant any more in today’s internet age? Maybe the magazine per se isn’t, as the voiceover guy on “This Week Tonight With John Oliver” above points out during last week’s episode. But surely there’s plenty put on the website that make the modern man feel he’s getting something for free that maybe he shouldn’t be. That in itself is creepy enough.
The look at the retro commercials in this piece should illustrate clearly how the idea hasn’t held up well over the years and the TV spots aren’t really used any longer — the alternative method is having the cover girl released as a “news” event on a late-night comedy show.
The whole thing again proved fodder for columnists like Ed Sherman, writing for the Indiana University National Sports Journalism Center.
“You could feel a sense of desperation with the cover of this year’s edition. It features Hannah Davis, also known as Derek Jeter’s girlfriend, pulling down the bottom of her bikini. Perhaps it was hot and she suffered from some chafing issues on the day of the shoot? …
“Wrote Jennifer Weiner in The New York Times: “It’s shocking, and it’s meant to be. With hard-core pornography available to anyone with a laptop and a credit card, Sports Illustrated has to raise the stakes if it wants to stay relevant.
“SI obviously feels as if it has to push the envelope to keep the public interested in the swimsuit edition. As racy as the cover is, it doesn’t come close to matching some of the photos inside.
“I always have felt it is beneath those SI editors, who are among the best in the business, to have to decide how much of a model’s boob should be shown in a particular shot. Frankly, it shouldn’t command a second of their time.”
== “Garbage Time with Katie Nolan” may be finally the most aptly titled show Fox Sports 1 plans to launch in its limited lifespan, this time giving a weekly Sunday night window to its 28-year-old social media fiend beginning March 15. She had been on the “Crowd Goes Wild” show with Regis Philbin when the network launched, but that was canceled after eight months, or 7 7/8 months after we had stopped paying attention. We had been blissfully unaware that FoxSports.com has had her hosting a show called “No Filter.” It is the place where, this week, Nolan decided that Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant was one of the “biggest boobs” in sports because of his recent rant against the media at the NBA All Star Game. Nolan also decided a double-fingered salute to another person who made a boob of herself was appropriate, so props to her if she can convey this creativity to the TV medium (and it’s a real nice look on her as well … stay classy):
== Note to Miss Katie: Two passings to make note of from this past week:
= A tribute to Alison Gordon, the first woman to become a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America with the Toronto Star, from Claire Smith on ESPNw.com
= More on Rhonda Glenn, the first female anchor on ESPN in 1981, then an ABC Sports golf commentator who also authored the “Illustrated History of Women’s Golf” in 1992. ESPNw.com writer Mechelle Voepel also writes about Glenn’s contributions here.
Both Gordon and Glenn passed away on Thursday of last week.
== Former longtime ESPN pit reporter Jamie Little does her first race as a member of the Fox crew for Sunday’s Daytona 500 (10 a.m. Channel 11), making her the first female pit reporter to work both this race and the Indianapolis 500. Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds the race for the 12th time together. This is also the 40th Daytona 500 that Joy had worked.
== Was it really a “disgrace” that Dick Vitale wasn’t part of ESPN’s Duke-North Carolina game coverage on Wednesday (which went head-to-head with the UCLA-Arizona State game on ESPN2)? Did it warrant a five-graph story by the Associated Press to make sure everyone else knew that Jay Bilas and Dan Schulman would be perfectly fine doing the game alone, as they did? Or Vitale actually reacting to it in the Raleigh News Observer? Those reading between the lines sense ESPN is telling the 75-year-old Vitale that he’s headed down the same rabbit hole that current 75-year-old Brent Musburger was recently escorted into. Vitale, according to the data, has done about 50 Duke-North Carolina games since joining the network in December, 1979.
== Have a question for MLB historian John Thorn? He’s actually try to answer it beyond the 140 characters of Twitter, as his blog thing suggests.
== If TNT’s coverage of the NBA All-Star Game last week had any redeeming value, it was that Craig Sager came on to do a split-screen satellite interview from Orlando to interview the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony during the pregame show. Sager’s battle with leukemia began last April, and he said he plans to be back for the playoffs, if not sooner, maybe by March 1 “if everything goes well these next two weeks.” Here, again is the piece that TNT’s Ernie Johnson, himself a leukemia survivor, introduced about Sager that aired on Christmas Day.
== ESPN and Univision execs and on-air talent may be seething that FIFA last week gave the 2026 World Cup rights to Fox Sports and Telemundo without opening up the bidding process, but it’s pretty well known that Fox and Telemundo, which also paid $1 billion for the rights to 2018 and 2022 Cups, will be scrambling soon when that 2022 event in Qatar will be moved out of the roasting summer and into the winter months, likely to clash with the NFL playoffs. There isn’t even a site locked in yet for that 2026 Cup, which makes granting the right even more curious — especially if it is given to the U.S., and the rights could have been bid up much higher.
== It still happens, way too often, when a reporter jumps to a conclusion based on learning just a little bit about what has happened, then has to go back and do damage control for his own credibility. Like, in this case, it’s with the death of former NHL player Steve Mondator.