Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Why Detroit sports talk radio blows: Cheap Channel edition

As someone who just can't justify the expense for satellite radio (As Charter has me by the balls for TV and internet), I'm stuck listening to terrestrial radio. For a sports fan who has the radio on all day, having 2 sports talk stations to pick and choose from is actually pretty nice.

WXYT, (Now pimping themselves as "The Ticket!" How original...) appears to be in expansion mode, with their simulcasting on on AM and FM, soon going local 24 hours a day (Talking sports for 20 hours, save for 6-10AM, until Demenski and Doyle's contract expires), hopefully soon eliminating the lame nationally syndicated sports talk on overnights.

24/7 local content is great for Detroit sports fans, as I'd rather hear hosts talk about what matters in the D, than some national hack that knows jack shit, taking calls from listeners who know even less.

You can get a national perspective easily enough from the usual suspects, so I like the idea of keeping it local on my radio. I may bitch at times about local hackery, but at least it's local, not some lame ESPN/Fox Sports/Sporting News crap off pulled off of the satellites.

Unfortunately, WDFN seems to be going in the opposite direction of WXYT, making personnel cuts with all subtlety of a butcher with a dull cleaver. I guess station owner Clear Channel is known as Cheap Channel for good reason as they unceremoniously eliminated their long running morning show yesterday...

Sports-talk WDFN-AM (1130) and its morning show duo of Jamie Samuelson and Greg Brady with sportscaster Matt Shepard parted company Monday after their 6-9 a.m. broadcast.

The station's Web site indicated their slot will henceforth be filled with Fox Sports Radio network programming 6-8 a.m. weekdays; local mid-morning host Sean Baligian will now toil an extra hour, from 8 a.m. to noon.

Just what local radio needs, MORE lousy syndicated programming...

I've listened to more than my fair share of the Jamie and Brady show over the years, as they were the ONLY local sports talk available in morning drive time for several years, thanks to WXYT flailing around with the likes of Don Imus, Opie and Anthony, (Neither show developed any sort Detroit listener base), and ESPN's Mike and Mike, who didn't do much better.

If something big happened locally the night before, you'd know that Jamie and Brady would be talking about it that morning. (Even though I did get the impression that, at times, Brady would rather be talking about anything other than sports) There was no place else to go for sports. As of today, even that option is gone.

Why? Because they were deemed too expensive. It's more cost efficient, despite lower ratings, to pay some kid a few bucks to twirl knobs, and monitor a satellite feed, than actually pay proficient broadcast talent. And no matter how you felt about Jamie and Brady, if you liked their show or not, that's a God damn shame.

Now commuters will be missing that local discussion entirely. (As WXYT has D & D doing their version of WRIF's Drew & Mike) Those in need of a sports fix are stuck listening to whomever Fox has on the air at that time in the morning, talking Boston/New York/Chicago/LA, ignoring the hard core sports cities like Detroit.

Hell, I guess short-sighted cost cutting is to be expected, as local radio has been dying on the vine for years. The once "Great voice of the Great Lakes" WJR is a shell of what it once was, becoming a poster child for syndicated right-wing talk radio. AM is well on it's way to becoming a refuge for niche broadcasters. I rarely listen to music on FM anymore, as their playlists are tightly controlled, put together by some suit in New York. I have a hard drive full of music anyway, so screw 'em.

Terrestrial radio as a whole is overly homogenized, as what you hear in Detroit is the same you hear in every single other market in the country. Now our sports talk is slowly losing it's local flavor, all in the name of media conglomerates making a few extra pennies for only-looking-at-the-short-term shareholders.

Maybe it's time to cut back on the cable TV, and put the difference towards a subscription for XM or Sirius.


  1. Get Sirius. I listen to Howard Stern in the morning and sports talk in the afternoon. When I was in Detroit (now in w. mi) I liked Stony and Wojo in the afternoon. I dont like sports talk in the car before I get a chance to read the paper. Dont get XM. All they have is MLB. They dont carry NFL, NBA or college fb or bb. IF you get satellite, get sirius. Ill never go back to regular crappy radio.

  2. It's funny you bring up Sirius vs XM, Brick. Iwasthisclose to picking up a heavily discounted Delphi XM boombox from Woot for around $25 last week, but I held off, mostly due to the reasons you say. I'll have to keep my eyes out for a reasonably priced Sirius unit.

  3. Sirius is usually doing a try it free for 60 days type deal. Its worth it. And when XM and Sirius merge, the monthly price is going to come down.

  4. Actually XM carries MLB, NHL, 6 BIG 10 channels, PAC, SEC, I could go on, but with the merge none of this will matter.

    Go with whomever has the better long term deal. I was given the XM boombox and a free trial 6 months. Then received an $9.95 a month deal. The boombox is very convenient for parties, on a boat...you know what I mean.

    Nice job on the story.