A question to other media-nerd types out there…

Here it is:

How much does it hurt MLS teams that they cannot typically get any play on their city’s sportstalk radio station?

This question came to mind today as I listed to Toronto’s Fan 590 expecting to hear the usual hair-brained, Cherry-style screaming about how Alex Ovechkin and his recent goal celebration “aren’t what hockey is supposed to be about.” Instead, I heard the Sports Director of the station having a well-informed conversation with callers about why MLS is succeeding and expanding while other leagues suffer financially.

Let me tell you something. That conversation would never ever happen on ESPN 980 in DC, WFAN in NY or WEEI in Boston. I dunno if it would happen in other markets, but I suspect in many, it’s the same way, with soccer shunned and ignored.

What I want to know from you, is whether it matters or not. Here in DC, I don’t think it matters because the 980’s audience is infinitesimal. But does it matter elsewhere?

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6 thoughts on “A question to other media-nerd types out there…

  1. Well, I don’t listen to sports talk radio (partly because I rarely drive my car to work, but also because I find the radio personalities to be somewhat obnoxious. But in general, I think it depends on (1) the quality of information being presented, (2) how the speaker articulates their point, and frankly (3) the speakers knowledge and bias of the subject.

    When I used to listen to talk radio, back in the Freddy Adu era, the sports personalities usually focused on whatever the hype was–At the time, Freddy Adu–but not on any of the underlying topics that more informed fans discuss (player salaries, roster size, depth, etc.). That led me to believe that they were only getting their information from hype. Similar to ESPN (proper) only covering David Beckham.

    Also, the personalities usually just jump from topic to topic, not spending a lot of time focusing on how they’re going to get their message across. As a result, it’s hard to believe that they’d ever have a “well-informed conversation” with anyone. But this is a symptom of the next issue:

    Knowledge/Bias. I think that part of the challenge with our current crop of sports announcers is that they simply don’t know the game well enough to talk about. I’d suspect that this ignorance leads them to talk down to the sport (not necessarily on purpose) simply to supply their listener with a reason why they don’t want to/or dismiss detailed talk about soccer. This may change overtime though. Afterall, DC United/MLS is only a teenager. And who really takes teenagers seriously?

  2. I generally look at talk radio as yesterday’s medium, with an audience that skews old and poor. But it would be interesting to see if I’m wrong about that.

  3. The jocks in my area (Austin, TX) except for one voice, have no clue. I agree that it’s probably just a matter of not having grown up watching and learning the game. I’m a relatively new fan so there is plenty I have to learn as well, but still, I wish these “professionals” would spend one night reading up on Wikipedia. It would go a long way.

  4. Part of it is that both local teams work the promotions and buy enough ad time that they don’t actively get trashed. Sports radio in LA is small enough to manipulate that way – you wouldn’t think so, but there it is.

    Dave Denholm is easily the soccer-friendliest sincere voice on the radio in LA, maybe the country – but KSPN just got the Lakers for next year, so I expect he will make the correct decision between love of the Galaxy and covering the most popular team in town.

  5. When I first read this headline I thought it was another blog about the Evil Bert guy who is a Whitecaps fan. I thought it was someone going to suggest to supporters not to show dolls like that on TV as supporters of soccer if we want to help soccer and MLS grow.

  6. They don’t even take NASCAR, golf and tennis seriously, why would they do the same for soccer? If people change the radio station, they don’t generally change back. There are too many options so they won’t talk about anything that only appeals to a small part of their audience.

    Even last week when March Madness was going on, but ESPN didn’t have the rights to provide in-game updates or live commentary, the guy filling in during afternoon drive spent most of my hour commute pondering the question, “If you were a good high school basketball player, would you prefer to be a benchwarmer at a big program or the big man on campus at a mid-major or small school?”

    He didn’t really take any calls on it. He just opined the pros and cons of each. He was barely even relating it to the basketball tournament. He was just talking about basketball. He could have talked about so many more things, but people had basketball on the brain so he chose to talk about that.

    Quite honestly, I am glad soccer isn’t talked about on sports radio, which far too often appeals to the bottom of the barrel mentality of sports fans. Imagine the thoughts of MLS General springing to life on the radio.

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