Blazers-something to get excited about and "the philosophy" of Sports Radio
As we get ready for a week filled with Mariners baseball on the Fan, I stumbled across an interesting tid bit regarding the battle to continue to be the flagship for a big time team on a sports radio station. While it is not the same situation as we have here, it does bring up some interesting points about being a sports radio station that also doubles as a flagship station for a team. More on that in a moment.
First, an interesting piece in yesterday's Portland Tribune from Kerry Eggers regarding the future of Blazer G.M. John Nash.
Some things jump out from that story, and really the situation as a whole:
1) My how times have changed. One year ago this was the talk of the local media. I can remember during the final few regular season home games a group of us always gathered around Nash to ask about his future. That isn't happening this year. Why? I think all of us feel deep down that he will be gone before the start of the next season. Last year it was THE story. This year, it is a non-issue.
2) Why is the above true? Has Nash ever really been the GM? Not right now, and really in title only for about a year and a half. I like to give him credit and say yes when he first came here, when Steve Patterson was running the Rose Garden as the President of the OAC, and prior to Kevin Pritchard coming here. I believe that it was Nash who pulled off the deals for Bonzi, McInnis, and Sheed and I disagree with Kerry when he says Nash has traded Rasheed Wallace, Bonzi Wells and Ruben Patterson over the last two years, getting less than market value in return. He actually did a remarkable job of getting "chips" as he said in return for those three knuckleheads, but instead of turning around and getting something in return for Shareef Abdur-Rahim (and more than a late first round pick in the ill-fated New Jersey sign and trade), Damon's expiring contract and the Nick Van Exel non-guaranteed deal which was picked up later, those all walked with no compensation. Was that Nash's fault? Or was the directive from above coming from Vulcan to cut dollars at all costs-including the possibility of winning? I think the latter as opposed to the former. You can't blame Nash for doing what he was told. It appears, in his defense, that his hands have been tied.
3) Nate as a GM. He won't be. But he told us on our show ("Primetime with Ian and Big Suke," on KFXX 1080 The Fan 3-7 PM Weekdays) two weeks ago that he will have more say in personnel decisions and what direction the franchise is going in. If Nate squeezes into that decision making picture, there are now a lot of differing opinions including the "real" GM Steve Patterson, the probable new GM-at least in terms of title-Kevin Pritchard, and Nate. McMillan will want to win right away. He was very direct on our show talking about that (you can hear the long version of the interview on www.1080thefan.com on the Podcast section).
All I know is that while the final five games mean nothing, the first couple of weeks of the offseason could be telling with Nash's status-and then the NBA Draft Lottery on May 23rd. If Portland gets the first pick, they run the entire show. Packaging the pick with a current player (Darius, Theo or Zach) and picking up major value in return would seem to be the best way to get better sooner.
But whatever they do, the boring and worthless regular season will soon be over and a very compelling offseason will finally get us excited about the basketball activities of this team!
Sports Radio Independence vs. The Flagship
One of the most interesting things about our business is how many misconceptions there are. At the top of the list is the one that we are supposed to be objective. No. We are supposed to be giving you opinions. Since my background is grounded in five years working in a television newsroom at the ABC affiliate in Seattle, I do like to think of myself as a journalist who then takes what he knows and gives an opinion. Not everyone in our business subscribes to that theory, but it was what I strive for. But today, more and more teams are looking to get their hands around the neck of the stations that form the opinion of the sports media and fans-i.e. the stations themselves.
That is where the Boston Red Sox come in. Check out the middle part of this article.
You need to know that WEEI is part of my station's company, Entercom. WEEI is also considered to be one of the best stations on the country, at least in terms of ratings and sales numbers. But how many of those sales and how much of the ratings success is based on the fact they have the Red Sox? Personally, I think a lot. They also have hosts who have equity in the market (something we haven't had here with five different PM Drive shows in five and a half years) and Boston is one of the best sports towns in the country. But now the Red Sox are looking to move their broadcasts from THE sports station to what effectively would be their own station. First, WEEI will take a hit. That is guranteed. But more importantly is the whole philosophy behind being a flagship and not being a flagship.
I have worked on both sides, and there is something to be said about both. But I believe the independence you have without the station controlling content is beneficial to the fan. Here in Portland, KXL and it's staff can't afford to criticize the hand that feeds it. That isn't a shot at the folks at 750, it is a fact. There is a reason the Red Sox want to have their own station, the Dallas Cowboys partnered up with The Ticket in Dallas, and other teams want to be on the all-sports station or just their own station. That reason is simple-controlling content!
Truth be told, part of me would love it if PA sold the team and we got the radio rights to the team-but there is another part that knows from working at the flagship for the Utah Jazz being a "part" of the team means not being entirely honest with your audience and having the freedom to express your opinion. I like the independence, and hopefully the sports fan here does to. One thing you won't hear on our independent station is "Telfair's shot is looking more and more like Ray Allen's" as I heard from one Blazer broadcaster last week. There is such a thing as trying to "sell" the team and there is such a thing as saying something that takes away any and all credibility and makes you a complete schill for the organization.
Have a good week-we'll talk on Friday for an hour (3-4) from the Beer Festival!
Thank you and goodbye,