Let’s see who else steps up…

April 16, 2007 | Drew Forrester

So after my Friday the 13th battle with the O’s over those four tickets I gave-away on the air last Friday, I spent much of the weekend listening to our competitors down the dial (when you’re at 1570…EVERYONE is down the dial!) to hear how many of them were engaged in actively promoting events that would bring people back to the baseball Stadium.

Guess what I heard?  Nothing.  No one at AM 1300 or WHFS is involved in any promotional campaigns to get people to come back to the ballpark.  Of course, they’re gladly taking advertising money from the Orioles – but when it comes to actually putting their thinking caps on and creating some grass-roots marketing programs that would encourage people to return to Camden Yards, it seems as if stuff like that is only happening at WNST.  That shouldn’t surprise any of you who listen to us – or both stations for that matter.  We’re a station filled with Baltimore guys who love the hometown teams.

The event I’m organizing for May 8th is certainly small in the scope of what probably will be a 15k-20k attendance figure.  I understand that.  I’m ONLY bringing 120 or so people.  That’s a very small percentage of the people that will probably be in the stadium on May 8th.

But despite the threatening e-mail I received from the O’s this past Friday night…and other communications I received on Saturday and Sunday that chastised me for giving away four tickets that I own WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSION, I will carry on with the May 8th event and we will have a great time – first at Edgars, then at the Sports Legends Museum, and then at the game.

And that’s AFTER the team punished me last Monday by informing me (at 10:47 am…on the morning of opening day) that I would not be receiving a season media credential or a season parking pass in 2007.

And that’s AFTER their Media Relations guru fibbed to Rick Maese of The Sun and told him I didn’t pick-up my season credential from last season…a blatant mis-truth.

And that’s AFTER the threatening e-mail I received on Friday admonishing me for violating a “common business practice” that says I can’t give away tickets on the air.  “Common business practice” is, by the way, code-word for “we don’t have anything with you in writing but we feel like bullying you to see if you’ll back down.”

NOTE:  As I mentioned on the air today, I received a late-Sunday-afternoon text message from an O’s employee who once again reminded me that what I did on Friday was “a violation” (of what I don’t know, since I have no formal agreement with the Orioles on anything)…yet I was told I can give away the four tickets to the listener who wins the contest so as not to “punish the listener”.  No e-mail or text message saying, “Hey, Drew, thanks for that show on Friday that got the listeners involved and thanks for buying those tickets to the May 8th game.”  Just a quick text saying, basically, “you can do it this time, but don’t do it again.”

So my question today is this:  When will the flagship hand-holders at CBS Radio actually put together some promotional campaigns that put people back in the stadium?  When will their on-air people dedicate their time, their show, their energy – to developing something that helps Baltimore baseball fans once again embrace the team?  Any goof like me can get on the air for a few hours and talk about last night’s game and how Perlozzo should have bunted in the 8th, or taken Bedard out in the 7th, or let Millar bunt in the 9th with a runner on first and no one out.  But can the people at the flagship station ALSO go about the task of helping put fans in the stadium?  It should be easy for them to do since they’ve received every slice of the preferential-treatment-pie that the Orioles can dole out so far this spring.

We’re not allowed to talk with team execs on the air.  No one in town is allowed to have an Orioles player on the air for questions and answers with the fans except for the flagship station.  Our local cable sports network (Comcast SportsNet) doesn’t have a season press credential yet and the ground rules have been changed this year to make it difficult for them to do anything “live” at the ballpark.  Never before has a flagship station had it this easy to take ownership of the team.  The Orioles have succeeded in driving all of the media out of the park – under the umbrella of “respecting the rights of our flagship station” – yet the flagship station isn’t helping to drive people INTO the park.

Last week in Milwaukee, 52,000 fans came out on Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday for major league baseball.  The Orioles drew 45,000 on those same three nights.  Not a big deal, you say?  What’s 7,000 fans over three games you ask?  Oh, I forgot to mention.  Milwaukee drew those 52,000 for a 3-game series between two AMERICAN league teams, the Angels and Indians, after snow forced the teams to move the games from Cleveland to Milwaukee.  Baltimore was outdrawn by Milwaukee last week…and it wasn’t even the Brewers who were at home.  Lord, help us.

I keep hearing this foolishness about “rights holders rights”.  Fair enough.  When will they start doing what’s “right” and actually try to help bring the joy of baseball back to the fans?  Isn’t part of their obligation to not only air the games and take money from advertisers but to also create events at the ballpark that manufacture excitement within the city?

The brain-stormers at CBS Radio probably think by airing the games they’re doing their part to help bring the joy of the game back to the common fan.  Not quite.  A) No one really listens to the games anymore.  B) The Orioles have actually contributed to (A) by putting virtually every single game on TV this season, thereby not making radio broadcasts attractive or desirable to the common fan.

So, armed with that information, CBS Radio should spend its time trying to figure out how to make an impact in the market place.  And the best way they can do that is by physically taking people to the games…creating programs with their vast listening audience (that’s what their sales people are out on the street telling anyone who listens – that they have triple our listening audience at WNST) and using their talented on-air staff to show how much they love Baltimore baseball by developing listener-interactive events that drive people back to the Stadium to see Orioles baseball.

Meanwhile, as usual, we’ll beat CBS Radio to the punch with the May 8th event at Camden Yards and the Orioles will continue to think we’re the enemy when, in fact, we’re the only ones in town not “on the take” who still talk about them every day and try to get people to go back to the Stadium to see the hometown team.

Have a great Monday.

DF

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