Here’s is my official 2012 Baltimore Sports Media “report card”:
The Baltimore Sun – The mother ship of former information, this once-bankrupt dinosaur still prints the newspaper every day and it gets thinner and thinner while the price goes up and the coverage and the journalists and “personalities” of the entity prove to be quite lazy in social media. From the print standpoint, I only read it when I’m at the airport and it’s handed to me (probably less than 10 times per year) and when I do it only takes me 10 minutes to read it cover to cover. The online pay wall that was instituted last year has frustrated many users or forced folks like me to almost ignore it altogether. I’ve been a newspaper reader my entire life. I spent the first eight years of my career in the newspaper business. And I find it amazing how incredibly disposable the thoughts of Peter Schmuck and Mike Preston are the day after any event. And from the looks of their irrelevance in social media, I’m not the only one who feels this way.
MASN – By far the most profitable “media” entity in the known universe of Baltimore-D.C. sports, MASN has the enviable position of being a publicly-financed pseudo-utility that siphons money from your pockets every month via your cable TV bill. Other than providing baseball programming on summer nights and an occasional low-budget college football or basketball game, the network as a news source is non-existent. How many times will MASN air an Orioles vs. Nationals game from 2008 and call it “relevant content?” Instead of using the $100 million in profit to become an effective media outlet, the money has gone into the pockets of the Angelos family while the consumer gets re-hashed ESPN News feeds at most hours of the day. Plus, for anyone who has ever watched the mostly inane programming regarding baseball in a “state run” format, you know this is not a “trusted resource” in local sports news or information. This is the same network that broadcast a whole baseball game after one of its broadcasters has committed suicide last summer and they refused to report on the facts that were widely being reported at WNST and all over the internet. But when you have no “news department” of any caliber and a hundred million dollars of profit is guaranteed, there’s not much incentive to provide anything of any quality. Sadly, you rarely get what you pay for when Peter Angelos is involved.
105.7 The Fan/CBS Radio – To say that I have very little respect for what these corporate creeps do — or what one of their employees attempted in 2011 — would be an understatement. The lack of quality content and authenticity is apparent. The morning show is an ex-con from New York doing politics and a disinterested Boston television man – neither of whom seems to like or follow Baltimore sports the way a professional “expert” would. It baffles me that anyone would listen to “experts” who don’t know anything and don’t participate in the real-time conversation of social media. The afternoons consist of a former television sportscaster who still hasn’t discovered Twitter and a former employee of mine who has never spent any time around the strategy of sports. The rest are former Washington media castoffs and a Redskins football scout plus more former employees of mine who have no social media footprint and seem to not like working “off hours” – like when the games are actually happening. The reality of sports media in 2012 is that sports never takes a minute off. Incidentally, the ESPN part of their family of local stations will soon be giving way to the CBS Sports national radio format that is forthcoming. The folks at CBS Radio can put their heads on their pillows every night with the strength of their FM signal and the fact that the mothership in New York has deep pockets, short arms and a low bar for quality, content or expertise. They’ll always make money. They’ll always get the stupid advertising world money because they help fund Arbitron, which helps pad their pockets through a myriad of FM radio stations around the country. But to say that anything that happens at 105.7 The Fan has any quality or depth or “expertise” in regard to local sports or breaking news is just foolishness. And if you follow them, you know better anyway.
Fox 1370 Sports Radio – Oh, that’s right. They’re gone now…
PressBox – While I’m baffled by the business concept of a monthly local sports publication, it’s a nice concept from my childhood and the kind of effort I would’ve been very proud of in 1986. But in the real-time of social media, this company is irrelevant as a news source, dated as a publication and light on any content of relevance. But it always has a nice cover!
Comcast Sports Net – (or is it NBC, I get these corporate mergers all confused these days). This is the one group that really tries to do local news. Patterned after an old-school ESPN SportsCenter, they do a news show every night that it appears no one is watching. The social media footprint of the entire operation is sketchy at best and the access that CSN has via the Ravens, Wizards and Capitals should garner them a lot more attention in both places – their primary television network that is lost in the shuffle but more so online where they hope you flip off the Ravens game and come to them immediately following the final whistle. The numbers in social media indicate that CSN is irrelevant on your mobile device for all of the effort. I’ll say this: whenever I put it on I always think there are a lot of people there working hard on putting a television show on the air. But far too much Redskins content for me to ever sift through during dinner to be a daily viewer.
WBAL/98 Rock/Hearst Corporation – No one attempts to be hyper-local more than than the folks on TV Hill with the big AM stick and the heritage rock and roll. I think 98 Rock does a really nice job at what they do – giving me rock and roll and building a brand around Baltimore, local and neighborhoods. Everyone who loves rock music in Baltimore knows and probably likes 98 Rock. But as a sports news entity? Or as a place to get my Ravens insider coverage? Puh-lease. As the flagship for both the Orioles and the Ravens, their staff works tirelessly to get the games on the air and build some “partnership” credibility with the local audience but oft-times it’s lost because the radio isn’t anyone’s primary means of consuming sports. The only way you’d ever listen to Gerry Sandusky, Qadry Ismail and Stan White drone on during a Sunday afternoon would be because you’re trapped somewhere away from a TV in your car or in line at the bathroom during the home games. As for baseball, the somnambulant Fred Manfra and Joe Angel could threaten to put Sominex or Ambien out of business. Overall, I’m a fan of the work of Keith Mills, Brett Hollander and Pete Gilbert. All good guys. Legit local sports experts. But I’m not sure it’s destination programming like it was in 1990. WBAL Radio somehow needs the grandchildren of their core audience to sit in their cars all day and listen to “the only station that matters.”
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