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Behind the Broadcast Extra: The top 5 broadcast media stories of 2011

By Ken Schott
Saturday, December 24, 2011

It was a wild year in the media. Talk shows host left, one host decided that I’m awful, two sports leagues got a big TV deal, as did college hockey, too, and a radio station decided to make a change in the baseball games it broadcasts.

As a “Behind the Broadcast” extra, here are my top five media stories of 2011.

1) Sinkoff fired
Brian Sinkoff had excellent ratings for his “Sound-Off with Sinkoff” on ESPN Radio 104.5 The Team (WTMM). He had a loyal following. And the show was the first daily local show on the station.

Then, after his Sept. 16 show, without warning, Sinkoff was fired. The explanation given by WTMM program director Brian Noe was that it was “a business decision.” Sinkoff was replaced by Bruce Jacobs, a former Phoenix and FOX Sports Radio talkshow host. Jacobs, a Long Island native, has had an interesting past, as I had mentioned when he was hired.

Sinkoff was stunned by the firing, but he has moved on. Recently, he announced that he entered the real estate business. He will continue to work for Time Warner Cable Sports-3, including as host of “TWCS Press Box.”

“I was told they were moving in another direction,” Sinkoff said after his firing. “It was a big shocker. The ratings were good. There was a huge following. The show’s Facebook page had 4,000 fans. I really loved what I did, and it came across on the air every day.”

As for Jacobs, I got under his skin early on, but have written very little since. Still, from what my friends tell me, he constantly rips me and my employer. Obviously, he enjoys my work.

Then, on Tuesday, Jacobs showed how much of an idiot he is by bashing the WNBA in derogatory terms. He was forced to apologize Wednesday for his comments. The next time he says something idiotic — wait, he does that everyday — so, the next time he offends someone — that’s right, he does that everyday, too — so, when he insults someone to the point that it embarrasses the station, then he should be fired.

2) Graney retires
After an over 40-year career talking sports on the Capital Region airwaves, John Graney decided to hang up his headphones and shut off his microphone. His last show on WGDJ-AM (1300) was Oct. 9.

“It was probably overdue,” Graney said about retiring. “I think everybody knows when it’s time to walk away. I see too many people trying to stay on their jobs too long. I know I wasn’t as good as I used to be because I had lost much of the passion that I had for sports.”

Graney also served as sports director at CBS6 in the early 1990s.

“John was a real professional,” WGDJ program director Paul Vandenburgh said. “He always brought class, integrity and first-rate knowledge to his broadcasts. It was a joy to be associated with him for the last 15 years, and I hope he enjoys many years of good health in his retirement.”

3) Big TV deals for NHL, NFL
The year saw two professional sports leagues get new TV deals.

In the spring, the NHL and NBC Sports Group agreed to a 10-year contract. The deal meant over 100 regular-season games on NBC and Versus (which becomes NBC Sports Network Jan. 2). Plus, all playoff games will be shown on the NBC platforms, such as USA Network and Bravo.

Then, last week, the NFL and three of its broadcast partners, CBS, FOX and NBC, agreed on a new nine-year deal that will keep the league on the air through 2022.

4)WOFX dumps Mets, adds Red Sox
FOX Sports 980 (WOFX) made a stunning announcement Dec. 9. After airing the New York Mets for several years, the station dropped the team in favor of the Boston Red Sox.

5) NBC Sports Group adds college hockey
With Versus becoming NBC Sports Network Jan. 2, the channel needed some additional programming. College hockey fit the bill.

In October, NBC Sports Group announced a 16-game package of regular-season games, plus the Hockey East tournament championship round. While other networks such as CBS Sports Network and ESPNU have televised regular-season games, those channels are on a special tier on Time Warner Cable, and you have to pay extra if you want those channels. Versus is available to everyone, so the game will get some great exposure, starting Dec. 31 when Boston University faces Notre Dame.

RPI will have two games on NBC Sports Network: Jan. 6 against Dartmouth and Feb. 3 against Cornell.

Also, NBC Sports Network will televise all of Notre Dame’s home games starting in 2013-14, when the team moves from the CCHA to Hockey East.

Honorable mentions:FOX Sports gives Ultimate Fighting Championship prime-time exposure; former CNN sportscaster Nick Charles dies; ESPN drops Hank Williams Jr. from “Monday Night Football” opening after comparing President Obama to Adolf Hitler in FOX News interview; FOX Sports wins rights to World Cup from 2015-2022; Still no NFL Network on Time Warner Cable.

 
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