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CFL Hopes For Growth With ESPN

Jason Barrett

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The CFL would love to take its new broadcasting agreement with ESPN and turn it into something even bigger down the road.

That is the reason why the league entered into an exclusive, multi-year deal with “The Worldwide Leader in Sports” late last month. One ESPN platform or another will carry every CFL game this season.

“What we are looking at is something that gives us great exposure, and what we hope for after a four- or five-year period is that we’ll be able to really build an audience with ESPN and build a U.S. audience,” CFL commissioner Mark Cohon said earlier this month.

Last year the network aired six games on ESPN2 and another package of contests on ESPN3, its digital network. Cohon said the ESPN2 matches drew approximately 300,000 viewers south of the border, and the network was happy with the results.

“The ESPN2 games did adequate in the spots we programmed them,” Gregg Morriss, ESPN’s manager of programming and acquisitions, told the Sun.

“It was more kind of an experiment to see how they would do, and they met those expectations. Now, with a little more consistency and having more ability to do more games, working directly with the league, we see some upside there.”

Cohon is shooting for the stars. ESPN was part of a new broadcasting deal with Major League Soccer in May. Three networks, including ESPN, are reportedly paying a combined $90 million per season for the MLS broadcasting rights.

“I’m not saying that we can get to an MLS-style deal, but if you look at Major League Soccer, they had similar sized audiences,” Cohon said.

“Over time, five years from now or six years from now, it would be great if this league was announcing a major deal in the U.S. with some revenues for the league.”

The current deal with ESPN is only just the beginning, as Cohon said it is netting the league only six figures. The fact every game can be seen on one network is likely the best news for the CFL, which ESPN aired often during its early days.

“We’ve had a fairly long history with the league, kind of stretching back to our inception in the early ’80s. There’s some familiarity there,” Morriss said. “And certainly the growth of the appetite for football in the U.S. is, as it’s stretched to a year-round proposition, this is really quality content for us to program in the off-season for the NFL — especially in the summer. But we also think there’s some appeal to it into the fall, and having digital networks now to be able to distribute all the games is certainly helpful in that regard.”

Morriss said the number of people watching the CFL on the digital platform of ESPN3 is not huge, but they are engaged.

“It’s not the largest audience, but they’re staying and they’re watching a lot,” Morriss said. “Now we’re just trying to find a way to get more people in that door. Once they’re in there, I think they’ll stay.”

OPPORTUNITY LOST

ESPN was going to show one CFL game on its main network this summer, but it has decided to push it back to ESPN3.

The contest was going to be Hamilton’s second home game at brand new Tim Hortons Field, on July 31 against Winnipeg, but the park isn’t ready yet, so the game is moving to McMaster’s Ron Joyce Stadium.

“Originally this game was scheduled to be on ESPN to showcase Hamilton’s new stadium,” ESPN said in a statement.

“But since the game has been moved to Ron Joyce Stadium, it will now be carried on ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network, ESPN3. ESPN will explore opportunities to feature Hamilton’s new stadium on one of its linear TV networks later on in the season.”

For more on this story visit the Welland Tribune where it was originally published

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Chick Hearn Headlines Radio Hall of Fame Legends Inductees

Amongst other accolades, he is credited with broadcast 3,338 consecutive Lakers game from November 21, 1965 to December 16, 2001.

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Chick Hearn

The Museum of Broadcast Communications announced today the selection of 10 new Legends inductees into the Radio Hall of Fame for 2022. This distinction honors those in the industry who have contributed greatly to it and have since passed away.

Chick Hearn, the longtime voice of the Los Angeles Lakers, will be amongst those inducted in Chicago next month. Hearn was the voice of the Lakers for 41 years (1961-2002). Amongst other accolades, he is credited with broadcast 3,338 consecutive Lakers game from November 21, 1965 to December 16, 2001.  

The full list of those to be inducted as part of the Legends class are:

  • MrDoug Banks– Nationally syndicated on-air personality;
  • MrJames Brown– Legendary singer, to be inducted as a radio station owner of WJBE Knoxville, TN;
  • MrBob Coburn– Host of the syndicated Rockline show;
  • Mr. Chick Hearn– Play-by-play announcer/voice of the Los Angeles Lakers;
  • MsBernice Judis– Owner and General Manager, WNEW-AM, 1930’s–1950’s;
  • MrSid Mark– Host of syndicated program, Sounds of Sinatra show for 60+ years;
  • Mr. Bobby O’Jay– On-air personality, WDIA-AM/Memphis;
  • MrPervis Spann– On-air personality, WVON-AM/Chicago;
  • Mr. James Thompson– Group W Broadcasting President and President of the Broadcasters Foundation;
  • Ms. Rosalie Trombley– Music Director of CKLW-AM/Detroit in the 1960’s–1970’s.

“The Radio Hall of Fame is dedicated to recognizing the individuals who have made the greatest impact on our 100+ year old industry,” Kraig T. Kitchin, Co-Chairman, Radio Hall of Fame said. “I’m thrilled to see the Nominating Committee confirm the induction of these 10 individuals who each made such an impact on our industry in their time.”    

The Radio Hall of Fame will recognize its 2022 class of inductees, including the class announced in July, during a ceremony on Tuesday, November 1st.

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Tobin and Leroy Debut on WQAM Middays

“This is a big change for us,” Tobin said. “I’ve been doing morning drive, producing or hosting now, for the last decade. Now it’s to middays we go.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Tobin and Leroy

After a brief hiatus and the closure of 790 The Ticket, Brendan Tobin and Leroy Hoard officially returned to the Miami airwaves on Monday on 560 WQAM.

Tobin and Leroy debuted in its new midday timeslot of 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on the station.

“This is a big change for us,” Tobin said. “I’ve been doing morning drive, producing or hosting now, for the last decade. Now it’s to middays we go.”

Tobin added that the timing between when they made their exit from The Ticket and returned on WQAM was a bit off.

“It was a very weird week for us to take off last week. Because they were like, ‘Hey, you’re change times, you’re gonna change stations, and also it’s gonna be the busiest sports week of the year,'” he said. “So now we’re back, and nothing will happen this week.”

“There has been less action on days we thought we had to be here than what happened last week,” Hoard added.

Hoard actually arrived to the show late, citing traffic issues getting to the station. That was something even Tobin noted is an adjustment they have to make from when they were doing morning drive.

“We’ve all discovered here today is traffic is not the same at 8 a.m. as it is at 4 a.m.,” he said. “Very different.”

Tobin made sure WQAM listeners knew that even though they switched stations, the show isn’t changing. They continued with all the usual segments that fans know and love on Monday.

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Mike Rhyner Introduces Dallas to 97.1 The Freak

“So, where were we?” began Rhyner.

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Ben Torres / Special Contributor Dallas Morning News

There’s a new radio station in Dallas which features a number of personalities familiar to local sports radio listeners. 97.1 The Freak made its much anticipated debut and the first voice to be heard belonged to the ”Old Grey Wolf” Mike Rhyner.

97.1 The Eagle stopped regular programming late Monday morning and began stunting, a technique radio stations use to separate listeners from old programming and prepare them for new content. The station began by playing songs with the word “freak” in them before transitioning into a continuous loop of “The Waiting is the Hardest Part” by Tom Petty until 3p CT. Then, a voiceover detailing the Eagle’s history switched into the voice that Dallas-Forth Worth residents have gotten to know so well, Mike Rhyner.

“So, where were we?” began Rhyner.

Rhyner went on to relive his final moments at The Ticket in Dallas. He said he was getting his “head around being a Paw Paw” before getting a call from Ben Rogers of the Ben and Skin Show and thus an idea for The Freak began to take shape.

After that, the show’s intro music played and Rhyner welcomed in Mike Sirois and before you knew it, the guys were wondering about a quarterback controversy in Dallas.

97.1 The Freak is off and running with a lineup that includes “The Speakeasy,” with Jeff Cavanaugh, Kevin “KT’ Turner, Julie Dobbs, and Matt Cather in mornings (7-11am), “Ben & Skin Show” in middays (11am-3pm) and “The Downbeat” in afternoons (3p-7p) featuring Mike Rhyner alongside Mike Sirois and Michael “Grubes” Gruber.

The station is positioning itself as a lifestyle brand but given its talent connection to local sports radio and the strong interest in Dallas sports, it’s likely the talent will weave sports talk into their on-air discussions. Sports Radio 1310/96.7 The Ticket and 105.3 The Fan have enjoyed good ratings with the male 25-54 demographic and The Freak is expected to challenge them and every other brand that produces spoken word content.

“We’re beyond excited to introduce 97-1 the Freak – the level of talent is insurmountable, and we’re thrilled for the opportunity to further connect with Dallas Fort Worth,” Patrick Davis, Regional Senior Vice President of Programming Dallas, shared in an announcement.

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