By Dave Hughes
Imagine this. An Orioles game hits a rain delay. The radio team goes home. And then the game resumes without radio coverage.
That actually happened March 29 during an Orioles preseason game against the New York Mets at Fort Lauderdale Stadium.
Heard via CBS’s WJZ radio, 105.7 FM, announcers Joe Angel and Fred Manfra headed back to their hotel rooms after the 40-minute delay.
But don’t blame them!
Angel told the Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck that the “powers that be” at WJZ told them the game was going to be rained out and they should leave.
Angel even sent around the following e-mail the following Monday:
“Fred and I had nothing to do with the decision to discontinue the broadcast… It was completely out of our hands. We normally fill during a rain delay for about 15 minutes and then return the broadcast to the network which enables affiliates to continue with local programming. We then WAIT OUT THE RAIN DELAY until the game resumes. On Sunday… we filled for about 40 minutes and then we were told to discontinue the broadcast and simply sign off. The engineer left, the equipment went with him.
Fred And I did NOT make that decision. We are not in a position to make that decision.
"Fred Manfra and I would much rather have preferred to stay and finish the broadcast after the rain delay. That's why we were there, to keep you informed and entertained. We consider ourselves to be professionals and would never abandon a broadcast as some would seem to perceive. The decision to end the broadcast was made by the decision making level at our flagship station. It didn't come from us and certainly not from the Orioles.”
Dave Labrozzi, vice president of programming for CBS Radio Baltimore, which owns WJZ-FM, confirms that the decision to cut off the broadcast Sunday came from station management.
"The impression by the station was that the game would not be resuming, so the decision was made," he told the Baltimore Sun’s Ray Frager.
Baltimore’s new sports talker, WJZ 105.7 FM, placed a solid 11th in the latest radio ratings for the city. That’s the best number for the station since it flipped from a talk format as WHFS last fall. It placed far above Baltimore’s other sports talkers, WVIE 1370 AM and WNST 1570 AM.
The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network launched its fulltime MASN-HD channel April 1. It's on Channel 247 on Comcast's area systems, and is also being carried by Verizon’s Fios and DirecTV. Look for more than 200 Orioles/Nationals outings in HD this season.
Now available in high-def on MASN-HD is the simulcast of WJZ-FM’s afternoon drive show featuring Anita Marks and Scott Garceau (technically, the show is still using standard-def cameras).
Speaking of Comcast, the area cable giant might be adding the ESPNU college sports network in the not too distant future. There are reports that ESPN will allow cable operators to swap little-watched ESPN Classic for ESPNU. Comcast currently offers ESPN Classic on a pay-extra digital sports network.
The Sun’s Ray Frager reported that as part of its ongoing project that will produce 30 one-hour, sports-related films, ESPN has brought on Baltimore native Barry Levinson to make “And The Band Marched On: The Colts Sneak Out of Baltimore.” The movie will look at the Colts' departure with a focus on the Baltimore Colts Marching Band, which kept on playing after Robert Irsay took the team to Indianapolis.
Scott Fleischer launches the sports-oriented "On The Sidelines" show via TalkZone.com. A sports reporter for Chicago news station WBBM radio, Fleischer, an area native, has worked for XM's Major League Baseball channel and Washington's WTEM. His co-host is fellow local guy Glenn Younes, also formerly of WTEM and now an anchor at XM's MLB channel.
For more media news from Dave Hughes, check out his Web site, www.DCRTV.com.
Posted April 2, 2009