A lost art: ‘Talk about so-so…’ is not a question

Want to share an excellent column by my old pal, Malcolm Moran. The director of the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana offers a lesson for sports journalists, young and old.

He begins:

Can we talk about an epidemic?

Less than a month ago, in the days leading to the Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game, Jameis Winston, the Florida State quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner, heard a media member say, “Talk about the preparation you’ve had out here.”

His teammate, running back Devonta Freeman, who had overcome challenging circumstances during his adolescence, listened to a reporter say, “Can you talk about your childhood? Was it just you and your mom?”

Their head coach, Jimbo Fisher, delivered lengthy opening remarks at a press conference, which were followed by this: “Coach, can you talk a little bit about the focus?”

His opponent, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, began a session and heard, “Talk about the preparations thus far.”

Chris Davis, the defensive back whose 100-yard return of a missed field goal beat Alabama and made him part of Auburn lore, heard this: “Chris, can you talk about Florida State’s wide receiving corps? How do you plan to prepare for them?”

Wait. Was there actually a question in there?

He adds:

When reporters across all platforms – print, broadcast and digital hybrids — pass those lanyards attached to credentials over their heads, they should do it with the understanding that “talk about…” is not a question. It’s a command. At the very least, it’s lazy and rude. It displays no thought, conveys no respect, offers no genuine invitation to some form of information, insight, emotion, enlightenment or dialogue. The command reflects the worst of 21st Century Mad Libs journalism, no initiative required, just the insertion of some phrase behind the official designated soundbite cue: Talk about X.

Have the industries of journalism and mass communications become so dehumanized, so indifferent, that we can’t take the time, just a few seconds, to pose a well-framed question? No wonder Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks has left skid marks as soon as the National Football League Fine-O-Meter said he can leave media sessions with his paycheck intact.

The longer I have taught college-age journalists how to develop their craft, the more I have realized that additional time has to be spent discussing the art of asking the question. The selection of the topic. The proper, antiseptic wording. The awareness needed to follow up if necessary.

And finally, Tortorella Moratorium:

During a press conference last May, Tortorella listened to a media member say, “Talk about coaching in the playoffs.” That was all he needed to hear.

“Ask me a question,” Tortorella said. “Don’t say ‘talk about it.’ Ask me a question, please. I’m not going to talk about it if it isn’t a question.”

Now that’s what I’m talking about. With the wall-to-wall rhetoric of Super Bowl Sunday nearly upon us, and the translator-driven Olympic Winter Games in Sochi right behind, I propose a pledge to eliminate those two unnecessary words.

We can call it the Tortorella Moratorium in honor of our unlikely patron saint, complete with the accompanying incentive for media members worldwide: Don’t make me send him to go knocking on your door.

OK, everyone understand now?


Podcasts with your truly: Talking Called Shot book, Super Bowl, Deadspin with Awful Announcing, Sports-Casters

Many thanks to Matt Yoder of Awful Announcing and Steve Bennett of Sports-Casters for featuring me on their podcasts this week.

Point of fact, Tommy Craggs, it was Yoder who brought up Deadspin. Here’s the rundown from my AA podcast:

-His glorious feud with Deadspin and how it all started.
-How being called every four letter word by Tommy Craggs has helped his internet profile.
-Fox’s grade for the Super Bowl broadcast and why it’s an incomplete.
-Best & Worst elements of Fox’s Super Bowl pregame coverage.
-Are we getting saturated with too much pregame?
-The firestorm surrounding Erin Andrews and all the unfair criticisms flung her way.
-No noticeable Super Bowl bump for Fox Sports 1.
-Ed’s new book on Babe Ruth’s Called Shot. Is it fact or fiction?
-Why Babe Ruth himself made the most convincing argument that his called shot was a myth.
-A quick look ahead to NBC’s Winter Olympics coverage.


Meanwhile, I was part of a Sports-Casters podcast that also included Grantland’s Jonah Keri and Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn.

From Bennett:

-Ed Sherman is making his fourth appearance on the podcast. Sherman critiques Fox’s job broadcasting the Super Bowl, explains why the result of the game didn’t have much impact on the ratings, and gives Troy Aikman a little grief for sticking up for Peyton Manning. Sherman also talks about NBC’s coverage of the Olympics, explains what events will be live, tape delayed, or both and notes that Olympic coverage is usually aimed at female viewers. Sherman notes that NBC does have a plan in place if the coverage has to view away from sports and focus on some kind of tragic news event. Lastly, Sherman tells us a bit about his new book, Babe Ruth’s Called Shot: The Myth and Mystery of Baseball’s Greatest Home Run. Sherman’s book will be our book club book of the month for February and he will be back with us later to talk more about it.


Also, here’s the link to my latest sports media video for The Sporting News.


Albert, Reilly named to NSSA Hall of Fame; Mike Emrick, Peter King also bag big awards

Kudos to Marv Albert and Rick Reilly. And good to see “Doc” get a well-deserved honor.

The official release from the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association:


Marv Albert and Rick Reilly have been elected to the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame, executive director Dave Goren announced today. Albert, a longtime network play-by-play announcer, and Reilly, who spent the bulk of his career at Sports Illustrated before moving to ESPN, will be honored during the 55th Annual NSSA Awards Weekend, June 7-9 in Salisbury, NC.

NBC’s Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick has been elected 2013 National Sportscaster of the Year and Sports Illustrated NFL writer Peter King has won his third National Sportswriter of the Year Award in the last four years.

In addition, state sportscasters and sportswriters of the year have been elected by their peers in 48 states, plus the District of Columbia (list below).

Finalists for the award were nominated by NSSA members from mid-October to mid-November.  Final balloting took place during the month of December.

Albert began his career as a play-by-play announcer for the New York Knicks, filling in for his mentor Marty Glickman for a game in January 1963. He then served as the full-time “voice of the Knicks” from 1967-2004. Albert has also called play-by-play for the New York Rangers, New York Giants and New Jersey Nets, in addition to his network play-by-jobs for NBC, CBS, Turner Sports, YES and Westwood One. Among his honors, Albert has won three Emmy Awards, six Cable ACE Awards and the Curt Gowdy Award from the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. He is a 19-time winner of NSSA’s New York Sportscaster of the Year Award. Currently, Albert serves as a play-by-play announcer for NFL games on CBS and for NBA games on Turner Sports.

Reilly’s journalism path started at the Boulder (CO) Daily Camera, where he worked for two years, before moving to the Denver Post for two years and the Los Angeles Times for two more. In 1985, he moved to Sports Illustrated, where he spent almost 23 years, including the last 10 as the back-page columnist. Since 2007, Reilly has performed a number of roles for ESPN, including writing a front-page column for ESPN.com, hosting Homecoming with Rick Reilly and contributing human-interest stories for Monday Night Countdown. He is an 11-time NSSA National Sportscaster of the Year and has won numerous other awards, including the 2009 Damon Runyon Award for Outstanding Contributions to Journalism. Author of ten books, Reilly also co-wrote the movie Leatherheads, parts of which were filmed in NSSA’s hometown of Salisbury, NC. And the charity that Reilly founded, Nothing But Nets, has raised more than $40 million to provide mosquito nets to hang over children in Africa, where malaria and other mosquito-borne illnesses kill more than 3,000 children each day.

A veteran of 39 years of broadcasting professional hockey, Emrick wins his first National Sportscaster of the Year Award. He moved to NBC and NBC Sports Network full time in 2011, after spending the previous 18 seasons as the TV voice of the New Jersey Devils. A two-time Emmy Award winner for his play-by-play, Emrick was the first broadcaster inducted into the US Hockey Hall of Fame, and won the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award from the Hockey Hall of Fame. Known as ‘Doc’, Emrick earned his PhD from Bowling Green State University. He will work his seventh Winter Olympics for NBC in the upcoming Sochi Games in Russia. But hockey is not Emrick’s only sport. He has also called water polo for NBC in the Summer Olympics. His play-by-play career began in 1973, calling games of International Hockey League’s Port Huron Flags.

King becomes the eighth sportswriter to win the National Award in back-to-back years (also won in 2010 and 2012), joining Red Smith, Jim Murray, Will Grimsley, Frank Deford, Peter Gammons, Reilly and Bob Ryan. The longtime pro football writer for Sports Illustrated used the success of his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback column on SI.com to start TheMMQB.com in 2012, a website devoted to the coverage of the National Football League. King’s SI career began in 1989 after stints at Newsday and the Cincinnati Enquirer. He also serves as a reporter for the Football Night in America studio show on NBC.

While there are 46 first-time winners among the state sportscasters and sportswriters of the year, there are seven who have won more than ten state awards, including Indiana University football and basketball play-by-play announcer Don Fischer, who has now won 24 Indiana Sportscaster of the Year Awards.

The three-day NSSA Awards Weekend will feature a welcome reception and dinner, issues forum, seminars, a golf tournament and tennis tournament, as well as the Awards Banquet and Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Information on the Weekend will be posted at nssafame.com as details are finalized.

State winners:



Rod Bramblett, Auburn/IMG Sports Network, Auburn (3)



Bo Mattingly, Sports Talk With Bo, Fayetteville (2)



Matt McConnell, Phoenix Coyotes TV/Fox Sports Arizona, Phoenix (1)



Ken Korach, Oakland A’s Radio/95.7 The Game, Oakland

 (1) *


Drew Goodman, 104.3 The Fan, Colorado Rockies TV/ROOT Sports, Denver (10)



Kevin Nathan, WVIT-TV, West Hartford (7)



Tim Brant, WJLA-TV, Washington (1)


Sean Greene, WDEL, Wilmington (1)



Dewayne Staats, Tampa Bay Rays TV/Fox Sports Florida/Sun Sports, St. Petersburg (1)



Wes Durham, Atlanta Falcons Radio/790 The Zone, Fox Sports Net, Atlanta (9)


Gary Rima, UNI Radio Network/Learfield, Cedar Falls (2)


Bob Behler, Bronco Sports Properties/Learfield, Boise (4)



John Wiedeman, Chicago Blackhawks Radio/WGN, Chicago (1)



Don Fischer, Indiana Hoosier Sports Network/Learfield, Bloomington (24)

Mike Knezevich, Regional Radio Sports Network, Mishawaka (4)


Wyatt Thompson, Kansas State Wildcat Sports Network/Learfield, Manhattan (2)



Kent Taylor, WAVE-TV, Louisville (1)



Doug Mouton, WWL-TV, New Orleans (1)


Dave Goucher, 98.5 The Sports Hub/Boston Bruins, Boston (1)


Mark Viviano, WJZ-TV, Baltimore (4)




Bob Lucy, Black Bear Sports Network/Learfield, Orono (1)



Dan Miller, Detroit Lions Radio Network/WXYT, WJBK-TV, Detroit (1)


Mike Grimm, Gopher Sports Network/Learfield, Minneapolis (3)



Mike Kelly, Missouri Tiger Sports Network/Learfield, Columbia (2)


Jim Ellis, Mississippi State Radio Network, Starkville (3)



Jason Walker, ESPN Radio, Helena (1)



David Glenn, The David Glenn Show, Raleigh (1)

Jeff Charles, Pirate/IMG Sports Network, Greenville (2)



Craig Keating, KMAV/KMSR Radio, Mayville (1)



Kevin Sjuts, KOLN/KGIN, Lincoln (1)


Bob Lipman, WTPL Radio/UNH Radio Network, Concord/Durham (4)



Matt Harmon, Shore Sports Network, Bayville (4)

Tom Williams, Prime Events, Ocean City (5)


Bob Brown, 101.7 The Team, Albuquerque (1)


Russ Langer, UNLV/IMG Sports Network/LV 51s Baseball, Las Vegas (9)



Ian Eagle, YES Network, New York City (1)



Tom Hamilton, Indians Radio Network/WTAM, Cleveland (6)



Dave Hunziker, OSU Cowboys Sports Network/Learfield, Stillwater (1)



Craig Birnbach, KATU-TV, Portland (1)

Dwight Jaynes, Comcast Sports Northwest, Portland (1)****


Tom McCarthy, Comcast Sports Net Philadelphia, Philadelphia (1)



Frank Carpano, WJAR-TV, Providence (13)



Jeff McCarragher, College of Charleston Sports Network, Charleston (1)



Rod Fisher, KGFX Radio, Pierre (2)


Mike Keith, Tennessee Titans Radio Network, Nashville (11)

Joe Fisher, Vanderbilt/IMG Sports Network, Nashville (1)


Bill Brown, Astros TV Network, Houston (1)


Dana Greene, ABC 4, Salt Lake City (2)


Bill Roth, Virginia Tech/IMG Sports Network, Blacksburg (11)


Mike McCune, WCAX-TV, Burlington (1)


Brock Huard, ESPN 710, Seattle (1)


Brian Anderson, Brewers TV Network, Milwaukee (1)


Keith Morehouse, WSAZ-TV, Huntington (4)


Reece Monaco, KFBC Radio, Cheyenne (4)



Mike Emrick, NBC (1)



Marv Albert, NY Knicks/Rangers, NBC, TNT, YES Network, CBS



Mark McCarter, Huntsville Times/AL.com, Huntsville (4)


Robbie Neiswanger, Arkansas News Bureau, Fayetteville (1)


Kent Somers, Arizona Republic, Phoenix (2)




Helene Elliott, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles (1)



Mike Klis, Denver Post, Denver (2)




Dom Amore, Hartford Courant, Hartford (3)


Mike Harris, Washington Times, Washington (1)


Andy Walter, Delaware State News, Dover (3)



Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Times, St. Petersburg (1)




Steve Hummer, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Atlanta (5)



Steve Batterson, Quad City Times, Davenport (3)


Brian Murphy, Idaho Statesman, Boise (5)


Bruce Miles, Daily Herald, Arlington Heights (1)



Bob Kravitz, Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis (2)






Tom Keegan, Lawrence Journal-World, Lawrence (2)



Jennie Rees, Courier-Journal, Louisville (2)



Les East, Advocate, Baton Rouge (1)



Kevin Paul Dupont, Boston Globe, Boston (2)


Dan Connolly, Baltimore Sun, Baltimore (1)

David Ginsburg, Associated Press, Baltimore (2)


Pete Warner, Bangor Daily News, Bangor (8)


Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, Detroit (1)



Chip Scoggins, Star Tribune, Minneapolis (1)




Dave Matter, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis (1)



Scott Walters, Columbus Commercial Dispatch, Columbus (1)


Mike Scherting, Billings Gazette, Billings (1)**


Sammy Batten, Fayetteville Observer, Fayetteville (3)




Tom Mix The Forum, Fargo (1)


Dirk Chatelain, Omaha World Herald, Omaha (2)


Allen Lessels, Union Leader, Manchester (11)


Sam Carchidi, Inquirer, Cherry Hill (1)

Scott Stump, Shore Sports Network, Toms River (1)


Mark Smith, Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque (1)***


Todd Dewey, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Las Vegas (1)



Mike Vaccaro, New York Post, New York (2)



Hal McCoy, Dayton Daily News & Fox Sports Ohio, Dayton (14)


Jimmie Tramel, Tulsa World, Tulsa (1)




John Canzano, The Oregonian, Portland (4)



Jim Salisbury, Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, Philadelphia (1)


Paul Kenyon, Providence Journal, Providence (1)


Josh Kendall, The State, Columbia (1)



James Cimburek, Yankton Press and Dakotan, Yankton (1)



Jim Wyatt, The Tennessean, Nashville (6)



Randy Galloway, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Ft. Worth (5)


Dirk Facer, Deseret News, Salt Lake City (4)



David Teel, Newport News Daily Press, Newport News (7)


Anna Grearson, Times-Argus, Barre/Montpelier (2)


Larry Stone, Seattle Times, Seattle (2)


Tom Silverstein, Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee (2)


Chuck McGill, Daily Mail, Charleston (2)


Jack Nowlin, Casper Star-Tribune, Casper (2)




Peter King, Sports Illustrated (3)



Rick Reilly, Sports Illustrated, ESPN

* – also won in NV (2001)

** – also won in ND (1997)

*** – also won once as sportscaster (1984)

**** – also won 5 times as sportswriter (1975, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2004)








Happy New Year: Frozen, but back in saddle and ready to go for 2014

Happy New Year to all from the Sherman Report.

After a two-week break for the holiday, I’m refreshed and ready to go for 2014. Well, sort of.

The temperature says it is 54 degrees at Sherman Report. That’s inside my office, where I have some heat issues.

Outside in Chicago, the nasty thermometer says -15. This is stupid cold. Then again, I’m the stupid one for choosing to live here.

I could be in Los Angeles, where I spent New Year’s Day at the Rose Bowl with my brother, Steve (left), and two boys, Matt and Sam. It truly was a bucket-list experience for this longtime sportswriter. Of all the events I have covered through the years, I never did the big game in Pasadena.

For a child of the Midwest, the Rose Bowl always represented the pinnacle for the Big Ten, even if their teams got hammered in most years. So to finally be there in person and witness the spectacle made for a highly memorable day. And Michigan State actually won, meaning the Big Ten is 1-0 when I attend Rose Bowls.

As you can see I wore a short-sleeve shirt for the big game. Now I’m wearing long underwear while working inside in my office. I’ve lost nearly 90 degrees since Wednesday.

School has been cancelled for the kids today, but Sherman Report marches on in all weather conditions. Please check back shortly for the first posts of 2014.

Happy New Year to all.


Podcasting: Yours truly on Sports Media Weekly; ESPN’s BCS plans, NBC’s Olympics plans, and farewell to Keith Thibault

Many thanks to Keith Thibault and Ken Fang for having me on this week.

Here’s a link to the podcast and the rundown from Ken:

*The FCC announcing it is looking into eliminating sports blackouts and how it could or could not affect the National Football League.

*ESPN unveiling its six channel “Megacast” for the BCS National Championship Game.

*NBC telling the world of its coverage plans for the 2014 Sochi Olympics and the amount of hours both online and on television.

*ESPN’s Outside the Lines winning a prestigious award despite being buried on Sunday mornings and on weekday afternoons.

*Also the lack of promotion for the new ESPN book “League of Denial” while Colin Cowherd’s book has become a bestseller.


Also, earlier this week, Keith announced that he will shut down his Sports Media Journal blog on Jan. 1. He works a full-time job in broadcasting and doesn’t feel he has the time required to devote to the site.

Keith said he was taken aback by the heart-felt response he got from people in the business. It really shouldn’t have been a surprise.

Keith is a classy guy who set out to report on sports media in a straightforward way. He was fair, and that’s all anyone can ask for in this world.

Personally, I always appreciated all the support I have received from Keith and Ken. While I look forward to continue to work with Ken, I will miss having Keith with us.

Best of luck, Keith. Hope to see you down the road.



The year in sports media: Incomplete for Fox Sports 1; Up for Olbermann, down for Beadle

My latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana University reviews the year in sports media. It never was dull.


Wow, that was fast. At this time a year ago, we had no idea Manti Te’o was mourning a fake girlfriend; that Keith Olbermann would be in again at ESPN and Michelle Beadle out at NBC; and that a new sports cable network would trot out an 81-year-old Regis Philbin as an example of new and innovative programming.

Yes, 2013 has been quite a year for sports media. Some ups, more than a few downs, and many in-betweens. Here’s my review.

Fox Sports 1: Easily, the biggest story of the year in sports media, and it figures to have an effect on the landscape for many years to come. As you would expect, Fox came out blazing for its new sports cable operation with a big promotion campaign, promising a fun alternative to that stale bunch in Bristol. Some of the new stuff looks promising (Canadaian import anchors Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole) and some was just puzzling. (Regis in a scattershot afternoon show?)

However, given ESPN’s 35-year head start, Fox Sports 1 faces quite a climb. Not surprisingly, early ratings lag far, far behind.

Fox, though, didn’t get into this as a short-term play. It signaled its intentions by boldly stealing away golf’s U.S. Open from NBC/ESPN, beginning in 2015. Expect more to come from the network. This story is only beginning to be told.

Olbermann: The presence of Fox Sports 1 proved beneficial to Keith Olbermann. He became a prime ESPN counterpunch to the new network. Old is new, and you can come home again. Despite “napalming” those bridges with his messy exit many years ago, Olbermann found his way back with a lively and compelling new show on ESPN2.

Michelle Beadle: Things looked promising for the big hire for NBC Sports Network with the debut of a new show, “The Crossover,” during Super Bowl week. The first attempt with a partner was a disaster, and Beadle going solo also didn’t work. The show was cancelled in September, and she looks done at NBC SN.

Deadspin: The edgy site produced the scoop of the year with the Manti Te’o story. It beat ESPN to the punch by working the nuances of social media. The story also raised questions about whether reporters should have done more to verify if Te’o’s late girlfriend actually existed.

While the “80-percent” source quote (alleging Te’o was in on the conspiracy) was a major flaw in its initial story, landing me on the site’s enemy list for my critique, Deadspin, for better or worse, showed how a non-traditional outlet can become a player for big news in the new media age.

Jason Collins: Sports Illustrated, though, still is capable of delivering. Its coverage of Jason Collins’ coming out as the first gay player in a major professional sport not only dominated the news cycle for several days, it also showed the magazine making a more dramatic shift to digital by releasing the package initially at SI.com.

League of Denial: The groundbreaking work on concussions by brothers Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru became a source of controversy for ESPN. The network abruptly decided to pull out of a PBS “Frontline” documentary based on the book, which portrayed the NFL going to great lengths to deny that there is a problem. ESPN president John Skipper cited a lack of editorial control, but the lingering and damaging sentiment is that the network caved to pressure from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Regardless of what ESPN says, perception is reality for many people in this case.

World Series: Despite a stellar match-up between Boston and St. Louis, and several terrific finishes, the Red Sox’s victory in six games failed to break a 9 rating (8.9), let alone get into double digits. The ratings showed the continuing decline in appeal for baseball’s biggest October games. Meanwhile, baseball fails to address the prime factor; mind-numbing slow games that seem to go on forever.

Tim McCarver: He ended his long run as the lead analyst for Major League Baseball for several networks with this year’s World Series. He went out with class with some understated comments in his final telecast.

NFL Ratings: The league has ratings for preseason games that rival some for baseball’s postseason. Despite all the significant concerns about the concussion issue, viewers are able to compartmentalize, as they continue to tune into the games in huge numbers.

Super Bowl: The lights went out in New Orleans and for CBS. It wasn’t the best moment for either, as CBS was pounded for the lack of a true sideline reporter to cover the news. A few weeks later, Tracy Wolfson showed the value of sideline reporters when she covered Kevin Ware’s horrifying broken leg in the Louisville-Duke game.

NBC Sports Network: On the plus side, ratings are strong and growing for the NHL, and its coverage of the Premier League has received high praise. However, the Beadle show was a big disappointment, and the network still lacks a strong studio presence, especially after 7 p.m. NBC SN needs to do its version of “SportsCenter.”

FiveThirtyEight: ESPN made a big hire by snaring Nate Silver. He currently is developing a new version of FiveThirtyEight that will cover many areas, including sports.

Jason Whitlock: Speaking of big hires and going home again, ESPN bought Whitlock back into the fold. He is helping to develop a new ESPN.com site geared toward African-American sports fans.

It didn’t take long for Whitlock to get in hot water at ESPN. The network gave him a public rebuke after he slammed Sports Illustrated’s Thayer Evans for his reporting in the Oklahoma State investigation.

Bleacher Report: The site has undergone a major transformation since being purchased by Turner in 2012. With high profile hires of Mike Freeman and Howard Beck, it appears to be veering into a site that will compete with ESPN.com, Yahoo! Sports and the rest.

MMQB: In order to entice Peter King to stay on, Sports Illustrated gave him his own branded NFL site. Following in the footsteps of Bill Simmons’ Grantland, this could be a trend of big-names in the business getting their own sites.

Amy Trask: The former CEO of the Oakland Raiders became the first woman to be an analyst on a pregame show, joining CBS Sports Network’s new, “The Other Pregame Show.” She quickly excelled with her candor.

Verne Lundquist: The veteran CBS announcer celebrated his 50th year in the business. As a present, he got to call the incredible finish to the Alabama-Auburn game. Another one for Lundquist’s vast highlight package.

Nine for IX: ESPN highlighted women sports with a series of documentaries during the summer. A film on the struggle of women sportswriters, “Let Them Wear Towels,” should be shown in every sports journalism class from this moment forward. Hopefully, ESPN will continue this series in 2014.

Farewell: Pat Summerall and Ken Venturi died within days of each other. Both men spent years together covering golf for CBS.

Summerall arguably was the voice of sports for his generation. Nobody did play-by-play on more Super Bowls, and he excelled on golf and tennis.

Summerall succeeded because of two main assets: A wonderful deep voice that punctuated his wonderful sense of brevity. He didn’t overwhelm a telecast. Rather, he melted into it, providing the ideal sound track to accompany the hum of the venue and the pulse of the action taking place down below. Many thanks, Pat, for a job well done.


Romenesko: For the ultimate insights and updates on media

If you’ve paid close attention to my site lately (and who hasn’t?), I have an ad in the right rail linking to JimRomenesko.com.

It’s truly an honor to have Romenesko’s presence on my site. Many of you already know what he does. The mere mention of “Romenesko” connotes a complete report on the media and then some. Quite simply, it is the place where journalists get their news.

If you look at his site, there’s an ad for Sherman Report on it. Needless to say, I’m thrilled. I’m certainly getting the better end of this deal.

Thanks, Jim.



Jerry Reinsdorf on Jim Corno: ‘He truly changed sports on TV’

My Chicago Tribune obit on Jim Corno, one of the good guys, make that great, who had a profound impact on how you watch sports not only in Chicago, but in the entire country.

From the story.


Few sports fans knew his name and even fewer would be able to identify a picture of him. Yet White Sox and Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf noted nobody had more of an impact on the Chicago sports fan over the last 30 years more than Jim Corno.

“He truly changed sports on TV in Chicago,” Reinsdorf said.

Corno, the president of Comcast SportsNet Chicago, died Tuesday after a long battle with cancer. He was 66.

Born April 5, 1947, Corno ushered in an era that saw sports on television migrate from free over-the-networks such as WGN-Ch. 9 to major regional sports outlets on cable that can provide exhaustive coverage of the local teams. When he signed on to run Reinsdorf’s new pay-TV venture, SportsVision, in 1984, it had 13,000 subscribers. Now CSN Chicago can be seen in nearly 5 million homes.

Corno was a visionary, lauded for making SportsVision the first 24/7 regional operation in the country in 1987. He helped bring the Cubs to what was then Fox Sports Net in 1998, marking the team’s initial venture into cable. Then with the 2004 formation of CSN, which the Cubs, White Sox, Bulls and Blackhawks own jointly along with Comcast, he made sure all the entities worked together to develop a network that has produced high ratings and profits for the respective teams.

Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz called Corno “a perfectionist.”

“He always wanted to make the telecast the best it can be,” Reinsdorf said. “He wanted to get to HD early on, and it wasn’t cheap. But even if you made less money in the short term, he felt it was important for the quality to be there. He always had the viewer’s best interests at heart.”

Reinsdorf recalled when CSN was formed, the teams all wanted Corno to lead the network. They were bracing for a fight, believing Philadelphia-based Comcast would push for someone else.

“They came in and said, ‘We have the one guy who we want to run it,’” Reinsdorf said. “We’re thinking, ‘Here we go.’ And they say, ‘Jim Corno.’”


Jim Corno, 1947-2013: Profound impact on regional sports TV programming in Chicago and beyond

No matter where you are, when you watch your favorite team on your regional sports network, you should think of Jim Corno.

Corno, the president of Comcast SportsNet Chicago who died Tuesday at the age of 66, was a true pioneer in local sports TV. When he joined SportsVision in Chicago in 1984, it was a struggling pay network that reached few homes. He transformed the station into a huge outlet that eventually became the template for regional sports networks throughout the country.

White Sox and Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf knew how much Corno meant to him. He summed up his impact on sports TV:

“How do you best remember someone like Jim Corno?  The average fan may not immediately recognize Jim’s name, but I think perhaps no one else in this city has done more over the past four decades to impact the Chicago sports landscape.

“No matter the situation, Jim always thought about the sports fan first.  Whether the game was baseball, basketball or hockey, Jim’s focus and obsession was always on how to improve the experience for the viewer sitting at home, watching and rooting for his or her favorite Chicago team.  Jim thought that way because Jim was that Chicago fan, sitting on his own couch or in the television studio celebrating the key victories and mourning the tough losses.

“Jim was a tremendous businessman and partner, with his prescient understanding of sports television often guiding our decisions and direction over the years.  Much more importantly, he was a proud Chicagoan, donating countless hours to important causes like the March of Dimes.  Jim was a terrific father, grandfather and husband, a mentor to many in the industry, a father-figure to staff at Comcast SportsNet Chicago, and also a dear, close friend.  This is a deep personal loss to me and for many in the Chicago sports world.  We all will miss our friend.”

In an email, Blackhawks president John McDonough said, “Really sad day. He was the best consensus builder, unifier I’ve ever met….I loved the guy.”


Jeff Nuich, Corno’s long-time PR man at CSN Chicago, wrote a moving tribute that assessed the totality of his career.

SportsVision started off as a pay-TV service featuring only live pro games featuring the White Sox, Blackhawks, Bulls and the now-defunct Sting, but Jim knew for his network to grow, he had to have it available to everyone on basic cable. Through tough negotiations with countless affiliates, he made it happen. Subscriber growth was small at the start – only 13,000 total, but it was his vision to make it grow. He wanted everyone who can possibly receive his network to be given the chance to watch it. Once he got them to watch it, he wanted to make sure they came back the next night.

With the massive popularity of local sports stars such as Michael Jordan, Denis Savard and Carlton Fisk airing on SportsVision throughout the year, it was Jim’s goal to begin programming his channel like a broadcast TV station. Again, he made that happen too. SportsVision became the first regional sports network in the country to go 24/7.

As SportsVision evolved into SportsChannel in the late 1980s, Jim also created another first for a regional sports network as “The SportsChannel Report” became the first all-local sports news show airing seven nights a week…not to mention he made a very smart move of bringing the ground-breaking “Sports Writers on TV” along for the ride as well.

Nuich also wrote about Corno’s personal side.

Here’s another anecdote about Jim’s character. Over the past few weeks, the Blackhawks were gracious enough to want to bring the Stanley Cup to Jim’s house so he can have the opportunity to not only see it one last time, but to share that special moment with his family.

Jim, however, had another idea.

Instead of having the Cup brought to his home, he and his family had the Cup brought to the Cancer Center at Edward Hospital in Naperville, where he had been receiving treatments for over the past year. He wanted to give the other cancer patients and caregivers on site that moment of happiness to their lives. That’s just one small example of the kind of man Jim Corno was to the very end.


Indeed, Corno was a people person. Every year, he and Jeff made a point of going out to lunch with me. No agenda. Just to talk business and laugh at some old stories. I’m going to miss those lunches.

Corno had been ill for a while. Yet when I needed some assistance on a story during the summer, Nuich said, “Jim would be happy to talk to you.”

Jim’s voice was a bit thinner than I recalled, but you could sense the passion for the business still was there. As always, he was incredibly helpful in steering me in the right direction.

Like Reinsdorf said, Corno was a true friend to the sports fan in Chicago and beyond.

Thanks for everything, Jim.