With the all-day Ohio State Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday, it made me wonder and think about news gathering as it relates to sports radio.
I was listening the other day to Mark Packer on ESPNU Radio on SiriusXM. Mark was talking about the Board of Trustees meeting at Ohio State and the situation at Maryland with the death of lineman Jordan McNair. Pack-man clearly was prepared by news stories for the show, quoting from Sally Jenkins’ piece in the Washington Post while talking to Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.
As a PD, you know that your station has to cover the big local and national sports stories but how does that figure into your programming? Does your station have a beat reporter that covers a team or a sport? ESPN 1000 in Chicago has done a great job using Jesse Rogers to cover the Cubs. He’s a must follow on Twitter (@ESPNChiCubs) and is very close to the players and manager Joe Maddon.
Other stations have newspaper or TV reporters as hosts who can lend their reporting prowess to their talk shows and assist the rest of the stations. This includes such notable reporters turned radio hosts as Tony Massarotti at the Sports Hub in Boston, Gerry Callahan across town at WEEI, Mike Mulligan at The Score in Chicago, Chip Brown at 1300 The Zone in Austin, Dan Barreiro at KFAN in Minneapolis, Dan Bickley at Arizona Sports 98.7 in Phoenix, Tim Cowlishaw at ESPN Radio in Dallas, Paul Finebaum and Stephen A. Smith at ESPN just to name a few.
Another way to garner reporting integrity for your station is to partner with a newspaper, website or TV station that is already reporting on your local sports teams. 610 Sports in Kansas City had a great partnership with the Kansas City Star in the mid-2000s. This provided regular insight from the Star beat reporters Adam Teicher on the Chiefs, Bob Dutton on the Royals, and Blair Kerkhoff on College Sports. Good assets to have for regular appearances, but even better when news breaks.
I still strongly recommend having your own beat reporters. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some great radio reporters like Mike Greenberg and Dan Bernstein at the Score in Chicago, Rhonda Moss at 610 Sports in Kansas City, and Joe Castellano at XM Satellite Radio. What did they all have in common? What made them better than the rest of the radio reporters? They always asked good questions, they got stories other reporters didn’t, they were tenacious and they were excellent on the air.
Greenberg and then Bernstein made their hay covering the Chicago Bears for the Score. Their 2x daily sponsored Bears Reports (known as Bears hits on air) were must listens in Morning and Afternoon Drive. The reports were lively, included sound, and typically found an angle that other reporters just flat out missed. It’s no surprise that they went on to big careers as hosts in sports radio. My favorite all-time Bernstein report included that then-Coach Dave Wannstedt had worn mismatched sneakers two days in a row. Bernstein asked him why he had worn them and Wannstedt said “Those were the shoes I wore yesterday.”
Sometimes good reporters piss off their local team. Rhonda Moss ticked off the Royals so much that they took away her press credentials midway through the 2006 season (along with then WHB’s Bob Fescoe) for their tough questioning of Royals Owner David Glass over the way he had dismissed Royals GM Allard Baird. The team literally took away their credentials for the rest of the season. Crazy!
So take a look today at how your station gets news and consider these suggestions.