Big Ten Network situation may turn fans to radio

| | Comments (1)



By: Art Vuolo

On The RadioThis is a radio column, and I love sports. But I don’t aspire to be another Pat Caputo. He does a fine job reporting sports for The Oakland Press.

However, I cannot ignore what’s going on with The Big Ten Network.

Did you watch the University of Michigan game yesterday? Did you see the Michigan State University game? Any contest considered a “lesser game” won’t be seen locally as this new college football network fights with area cable TV operators over, you guessed it, money.

Currently the Big Ten Network is available only to DirectTV subscribers. Comcast and other cable outlets would be charged about $1.10 per subscriber to add the college football network and feel customers (not interested in the games) would balk at the rate increase.

The network feels it should be offered at no additional charge similar to dozens of other sports channels like ESPN and FSN. The Big Ten Network is 51 percent owned by the Big Ten Conference and 49 percent by the Fox Television Network.

The one benefactor in all of this should be radio.

Mike Chires, new vice president/general manager of Host Communications and the Michigan Sports Network in Novi, feels that this situation will hopefully drive more fans over to the radio coverage.

Remember that after 30 years on WJR, the Wolverines are now on CKLW-AM (800) which reaches from Ontario and southeast Michigan down into Indiana and Ohio. The games are also on Oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) along with a network of stations statewide.

 • • • • • • • • 

Recently, I begged stations to turn off the delay during football games so our radios would be in sync with the action.

Well, if you were at the Michigan Stadium yesterday, you may have seen these little radios, which allow fans in the stadium to hear the live play-by-play without the time delay of the “regular” radio broadcast of every home and away Michigan football game this year.

For $20, fans can purchase the radio from Earadio. Sales associates were stationed around Michigan Stadium selling them from mobile backpacks.

For more information, please visit

 • • • • • • • • 

Sadly, this is the first year in over three decades that the popular WJR Michigan Radioguide is not available.

Last year’s sponsor pulled out due to those pesky budget cuts and no new client has yet to commit. If things should change we will let you know about it here. Potential clients contact your humble radio reporter fast.

 • • • • • • • • 

Spartan football fans have the 50,000 watts of WJR still on their side with George Blaha at the microphone. Michigan fans will again be treated to the trio of Frank Beckmann calling the plays; Jim Brandstatter providing a rainbow of color analysis; and Doug “Krash” Karsch down on the sidelines baking in the sun, like he did yesterday.

 • • • • • • • • 

I don’t want to seem like I’m beating a dead horse, but I found this analysis of HD Radio by one of radio’s better-known consultants, Joel Raab, real interesting.

He observed that, based on the focus groups and research he’s seen, listeners do understand the promos about HD2 providing “the stations between the stations.”

But they’re far less clued in about what those stations can offer them. Raab said it’s easy to scan the format lineup for either satellite service. But for local HD2 — there’s a void.

Then he said: “We haven’t given people a reason to spend a hundred bucks on a new HD receiver.”

Joe Lenski of Edison Research said: “HD Radio is a concept not completely known to the public.”

The latest Edison study shows increased awareness of HD. But the “increased awareness has not yet translated into higher interest in the product itself.”

Raab’s point is that radio hasn’t marketed the advantages of the programming, which is still lacking primarily because of budgetary restraints. Only 6 percent of the study participants are “very interested” in HD.

Another 23 percent are “somewhat interested.” But that’s still less than one-third of the sample. Not good.

 • • • • • • • • 

More good news (Raab said sarcastically) for traditional radio operators, someone is touching that dial.

“Internet radio, satellite radio, pod-casting, high-definition radio and mobile audio services are revolutionizing a radio industry that had remained virtually unchanged for a century,” according to Ben Macklin, author of the new report, Radio Trends: On Air and Online.

By 2008, online advertising spending in the United States is projected to surpass radio advertising spending for the first time. These are scary statistics for those who love radio.

Here’s the worst news, adults are spending more time each day on the Internet and watching TV than listening to the radio. Whoa!

 • • • • • • • • 

There’s speculation that satellite radio could cost you more per month if the merger between XM and Sirius doesn’t bring the billions in synergistic savings everyone expects.

XM president/COO Nate Davis said: “We’ve never gotten into and won’t get into speculation about a rate increase.”

But he says they’ll “look at the cost structure of the business.”

He indicated they have several options if the merger is rejected.

 • • • • • • • • 

Before Dennis Neubacher or Joel Alexander and even before Jo-Jo Shutty-MacGregor, North America’s first female helicopter traffic reporter, came WXYZ Radio’s Barney Stutesman in the Wixey Whirlybird.

Detroit radio legend Lee Alan wanted you to know Barney died a few months ago, and wanted you to know that we’ve lost another eye in the sky.

 • • • • • • • • 

On WMUZ-FM (103.5) you can hear the music of the early 1920s at 6 p.m. this evening, and remember that if you’re stuck in traffic at 7 p.m. news WWJ-AM (950) carries the audio portion of “60 Minutes” over the radio.

 • • • • • • • • 

Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Contact him at

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, September 2, 2007



I do some work with NAB, and I'm not surprised that analysts are predicting higher prices if XM and Sirius form a monopoly:

"There's speculation that satellite radio could cost you more per month if the merger between XM and Sirius doesn't bring the billions in synergistic savings everyone expects."

Monopolies have never been good for consumers, and this one is no different.






Home Page | Contact | Station Listings | History | Links

Search | About | Shop | Sitemap | Weather



Twitter Facebook E-mail Feed


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Mike Austerman published on September 2, 2007 10:41 AM.

Mid-Michigan: Newsmakers Sep 2, 2007 was the previous entry in this blog.

West Michigan: Newsmakers Sep 3, 2007 is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.