State of Baltimore Sports Media: Where do you get your info & whom do you trust?

January 27, 2012 | Nestor Aparicio

State of Baltimore Sports Media: Where do you get your info & whom do you trust?

in one of the most ill-fated pairings since “New” and “Coke” and effectively agreed to be a “silent partner” with Peter Angelos after watching this city and the downtown area disintegrate over the last decade and a half. And this was coming from a guy who as a young reporter in Baltimore watched Mayflower trucks steal a decade of his love of football in his prime?

We’ve all had 15 years of joy taken away from us. NONE of these “journalists” ever say a word about it, do they? And none of them ever opine on someone like free speech and access for someone like me, who after 20 years of having a media pass has had it revoked for speaking the truth. That’s truly disappointing to me but “I get it.” I really do. I have a family to feed as well.

Ask Steve Davis what it was like to be at WBAL Radio during his time on TV Hill taking phone calls before and after Orioles games in their 10th straight losing season. He was ostensibly told to not take the “tough calls” from irate Orioles fans wanting to criticize the team or its management after another 90-loss season. Davis, as far as I could tell, found that unacceptable. Good for him!

Ask Yaffe how he really feels about the Orioles or how he felt prior to the CBS rights deal? Ask Viviano how the Orioles professionally treated him five years ago when WBAL had the rights? Ask Cunningham his private feelings about the Orioles and listen to him squirm as he tells you “what great people they are” in the hopes that maybe someday he’ll get a paycheck from them like he does for the Ravens as their game day announcer.

But it’s not just a sports radio thing.

Brent Harris has gotten “second class” treatment from the Orioles because he works for Comcast, which must be Greek for “Bin Laden” for Angelos. Highly respected WBAL Radio guys like John Patti had their passes held hostage by the Orioles public relations staff as well over the past three years since the nasty divorce between Angelos and WBAL and Comcast.

While I would say the guys at The Sun have been “soft” on criticism and investigative work to the damage that the franchise has caused the entire downtown business community, I also realize that they also have to go into The Warehouse and work every day as well and use Andy MacPhail as a source for information.

If you think ALL of these people haven’t noticed that I’ve been “banned” by the Orioles for free speech, then think again. Three years later – and almost 300 losses later – are you not astonished that ONLY people from WNST regularly criticize the Orioles?

I could go through the list of “media” members who work for MASN, but even their access is flawed because some of the stuff is so “sensitive” that they won’t even let Roch Kubatko break some of the stories because they’re not “positive” news. The website at MASNSports.com reads more like a public relations sheet for the Orioles and Nationals than anything resembling journalism. It’s a PR firm on the web, really. Just read Steve Melewski’s PR notes with the orange thumbprints all over them.

How are you going to get “the truth” from these people who have Angelos’ autograph on the right corner of their paychecks every two weeks?

You can even ask my “pal” Jerry Coleman about how he’s been treated over the years and he’ll tell you the only thing that sucks worse than my signal are the Orioles. But, like Mikey from the Life cereal commercials, he hates almost everything.

It’s almost comical – the inbreeding of the corporate entities and the personalities and who is employed by who and who you’re going to get a straight answer from when you call into a sports talk show on CBS’ The Fan 105.7.

But any lack of transparency of the dealings of Phillips and the Orioles disappeared when they moved to send Anita Marks onto television via MASN, which is owned by Angelos. So, that part has and will forever be a compromised mess for the integrity of all of the CBS Radio hosts. Throw in Amber Theoharis, Kubatko and the laughable, loveable cast of MASN’s baseball coverage including Tom Davis, Jim Hunter and Rick Dempsey, who’ve had to spin 30-3 losses into character-building endeavors over the years to the point where they’re a running joke, and you’ve got a “synergistic media entity” constructed as a eunich PR firm for the baseball team’s last place follies.

And of course, there’s Exhibit A for why our prime competitor sucks:

Anita Marks spent four years here, never saw a game of meaningful baseball and never uttered a disparaging word about the team. Word is the Angelos family liked her so much they wanted to keep her around on MASN, but apparently Phillips had heard enough of that train wreck and figures he can still salvage it through Garceau’s three decades of goodwill. We’ll see for how long Garceau wants to take four hours of phone calls a day? It just never seemed to me that he would enjoy doing sports radio. Or that I would never want to hear four hours of radio without a strong opinion from the host.

As for Marks and her departure – it was not just overdue it was wholly unjustified that she ever showed up in Baltimore. She also never bought a ticket to an Orioles game in her life and had no sense of the history of baseball in Baltimore yet spent four years defending the guys who wrecked baseball in our city. She also befriended a series of Ravens players and some of the on-air repartee was downright embarrassing, especially when she tried to cast some light on “knowing the game” from her perspective as a QB. Once I saw the Playboy spread and saw the “sex symbol” positioning of her marketing coming into Baltimore back in 2006, I knew what the whole thing was about.

But the bottom line is that she was a sick joke on the radio. She was wholly unqualified and it showed every day. If left alone in the studio taking phone calls, she would’ve perished much more quickly. What kind of sports talk show host is that?

But that’s the dog food that Peter Angelos approves and Bob Phillips and CBS Radio offers you and expects you to eat. And all of the hosts there have “checked off” on the implied muting of any criticism of the Orioles. That’s just a fact!

Somehow at 105.7 they’ve managed to pass off their hosts as having “strong backgrounds in Baltimore media” but they field a daily lineup of natives from St. Louis, Virginia Beach and Wisconsin doing daily sports radio. None of them ever saw an Orioles or Colts game as a kid in Baltimore. As far as I know, none of them has ever bought a ticket to a Baltimore sports event. It’s a job to them and if you spent any time around them you’d know that Baltimore sports is not their passion, it’s their vocation. It’s just different and I always prefer local.

And while I’m handing out my personal report card – again you can fill yours out here – I’m wondering if Gerry Sandusky has a sports voice or an opinion about anything outside of Republican politics? He barely qualifies as a “sports guy.” He gives John Harbaugh a backrub every Tuesday night on the radio but that’s about all I know of Sandusky’s thoughts.

Keith Mills is a guy who I have an immense amount of respect for and has battled some personal demons along the way. I don’t sense that his “voice” is a major factor in the WBAL model. And Stan White and Peter Schmuck are seemingly minor players at WBAL these days. No one ever talks to me or comments about anything they’ve heard on WBAL. Just a fact…

At some point if these “personalities” are going to cross the line back into journalism or analysis, their corporate agenda can’t be to protect the guilty and praise the losses – especially when there have been 13 years worth of them.

So if these “pundits” are paid to opine – as I’m doing today, simply telling you what I honestly think — and you KNOW you’re not getting an honest assessment with them because of the deals their bosses have made, why the hell would you listen to them?

And I want to make this clear: I’m not questioning their “personal integrity.” I’m questioning the integrity of their entire establishments and institutions that they are paid to protect and how it’s still mind-bogglingly passes for “journalism” or “commentary” in 2010.

It’s not. Most of these people I have no “personal” agenda with in any way. I just don’t like or consume their work and when I do it always leaves me kinda chilly or non-plused. And, really, they are just a part of a big, corporate machine. They all have bosses who are desperate to make numbers and payrolls and the economy has devastated the entire industry over the past 24 months.

I have backgrounds with all of these people. Most of them I honestly like and am extremely cordial with in any environment. But that doesn’t mean that I want to watch, read or hear their work. Many of them don’t read my blogs or they think my show or site or opinions suck as well.

I don’t expect them to like me personally or consume WNST products, either. But maybe they’d actually learn something if they did?

Also, many of the marketplace’s weekend hosts and off-hours producers worked for me at WNST, some leaving with a variety of interesting disgruntled former employee grudges that they love to opine about on the internet and at the water cooler. Some of it is so outlandish that it quite frankly alternately saddens and amuses me but always rewards me for not having them under the WNST umbrella anymore.

(One day, you can ask Spiro Morekas to tell you the one about “Baltimoron” or “Lion Heart” but I’ll leave that story for him to tell…)

God bless them. Everyone of them now have a press pass in this business because I gave it to them and gave them a shot to fulfill a dream. Casey Willett, Rob Long, Ken Weinman, Jeremy Conn, Phil Backert, Aaron Wilson and anyone I’ve left out — I honestly wish them all the best in continuing that dream and I know I did my best to make it work for them at WNST. I bet ON all of them, not against them. In my opinion, some weren’t what we needed to move forward in an era where daily education and training on the internet and new media calls for a deeper skill set and a deeper understanding of the world of local sports media and what it takes to create money to pay the salaries of our staff. I have a limited budget and I’ve done my best to put the best programming and content together possible, kind of like how Ozzie Newsome puts the Ravens together with a salary cap.

It’s not personal. It’s business. I’ve ALWAYS been a media critic because being in the media is all I’ve ever wanted to do. Today, I’m simply just writing what I think. Trust me, I hear enough around the media water coolers to know exactly what they think of me, WNST, my hosts, etc.

“Their signal is too weak…”

“Two tins cans and a string…”

“WNST has 10 listeners…”

“They have no Arbitron ratings…”

Those stories and lies have been told for years.

This is a fact: In 2010, MORE of you are getting your sports content, news, opinions, commentary and social media at WNST and WNST.net than anywhere short of the Baltimore Sun. So, at this point, we’re “No. 2” and like Avis, trying harder.

And it’s apparent. We’re beating them every day and THEY know it and basically hate us for it. (As they should, my competitive spirit says! I don’t expect them to like the fact that we grow every day!)

But this is how I see it. This is what I really think.

Now, I want to know what YOU really think.

We’re offering you a WNST State of Baltimore Sports Media survey here NEXT WEEK and a chance to win some cool prizes for filling it out honestly and thoroughly.

Tell us if we suck. Tell us if we’re great. Or even anywhere in between. You can also write comments below if you think I’m wrong.

Beware: all of the information can and will be used to make WNST.net better.

Part Two is tomorrow: Alexa? Who is She?

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