LATEST NEWS

Chicago news: Blackhawks radio team gets payoff in playoffs

An excerpt from my latest Chicago Tribune column.

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John Wiedeman didn’t say much Wednesday.  It wasn’t because he didn’t have anything to say.

The radio voice of the Blackhawks on WGN-720 knew it was imperative to rest his vocal chords after calling the longest game in franchise history Tuesday night.

“I definitely felt it last night after the game,” Wiedeman said. “I was pounding the water to put out the fire in my throat.”

Wiedeman, though, wouldn’t have it any other way. The playoffs always are the payoff for him and his partner, former Blackhawk center Troy Murray. Their TV counterparts, Pat Foley and Eddie Olczyk, get more fanfare and play to larger audiences during the regular season. However, only the first round of the playoffs air on local TV. NBC and NBCSN take over from there. That means … Continue Reading

Future is here: AP to use computers to write game stories for college baseball; bigger sports are ‘next wave’

An excerpt from my latest column for Poynter:

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On the surface, this lede hardly is memorable:

“North Carolina grabbed the lead in the top of the 10th inning as a wild pitch by Clark Labitan allowed Colin Moran to score the go-ahead run. The Tar Heels held on to defeat Virginia Tech 9-8.”

Jim Murray, it is not, but dig a bit deeper and the significance of this lede comes into clear focus. It wasn’t written by a reporter who covered a game. Instead, it was composed by a computer.

Later this month, the Associated Press will be churning out similar computer-generated ledes and stories on college baseball in a new deal with the NCAA. The pact calls for AP to employ “automation technology” to cover college sports beyond big-time football and basketball, including those at the Division II … Continue Reading

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Sports media beat: Kenny Albert’s grueling schedule during NHL playoffs; Netflix and sports; more Bill Simmons

Spanning the globe to give you the constant variety of sports media.

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Richard Sandomir of the New York Times on Kenny Albert’s exhausting broadcast schedule during the NHL playoffs.

When Kenny Albert discusses the travel schedule behind his calling 27 N.H.L. playoff games since April 15, he is matter-of-fact, not boastful. His itineraries are as familiar to him as goaltenders’ saves.

First, there were 11 games in 11 days (including two Fox Sports 1 baseball broadcasts). After four days off, there was a stretch of 13 games in 14 days.

Heading into Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Rangers and the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday, Albert will have experienced a fairly light load, by his standards: five games in eight days.

“Amazingly, I feel pretty good,” Albert, 47, said Wednesday in a telephone interview from

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Chicago news: Blackhawks radio team gets payoff in playoffs

An excerpt from my latest Chicago Tribune column.

******

John Wiedeman didn’t say much Wednesday.  It wasn’t because he didn’t have anything to say.

The radio voice of the Blackhawks on WGN-720 knew it was imperative to rest his vocal chords after calling the longest game in franchise history Tuesday night.

“I definitely felt it last night after the game,” Wiedeman said. “I was pounding the water to put out the fire in my throat.”

Wiedeman, though, wouldn’t have it any other way. The playoffs always are the payoff for him and his partner, former Blackhawk center Troy Murray. Their TV counterparts, Pat Foley and Eddie Olczyk, get more fanfare and play to larger audiences during the regular season. However, only the first round of the playoffs air on local TV. NBC and NBCSN take over from there. That means … Continue Reading

The core of Dick Ebersol’s success: Building relationships

Dick Ebersol was one of the most accessible executives in any realm, sports or otherwise, during his tenure as head of NBC Sports. He knew the importance of the media. However, more than that, he genuinely liked to talk to anyone who was interested in the business.

Ebersol, though, has taken a decidedly low profile since leaving the spotlight. He feels it is someone else’s turn.

That’s why it is great to see Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal run a package of stories on Ebersol in advance of him being awarded its Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2015 Sports Business Awards.

John Ourand did a profile of Ebersol that gets to the core of his success: Building relationships. Everyone has a story about dealing with Ebersol. Here’s mine:

In August, 2008, I took a buyout from the Chicago Tribune. … Continue Reading

Farewell, Dave: Great sports moments on Letterman; Ted Williams and Billy Martin

Joe Delessio of Sports on Earth compiled a top 10 list of memorable sports moments with David Letterman.

You’ll need to read the story to find out Delessio’s choice for No. 1. However, No. 9 brought back a lot of memories.

This one didn’t make Delessio’s list, but during his appearance, Joe Garagiola brought out a surprise guest: Ted Williams.

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Chicago news: Konerko book celebrates career with White Sox

With the White Sox retiring Paul Konerko’s number Saturday, the team’s tribute book figures to be a hot seller.

“14” is a glossy book featuring photos and stories from Konerko’s career on the South Side. The introduction of “14,” edited by senior vice-president of communications Scott Reifert, says the team was inundated with fans requests for a book after his emotional final weekend at U.S. Cellular Field.

“After 16 seasons, he considered every fan a friend. So this publication is a farewell to a friend,” the book says.

The photos, many of them taken by team photographer Ron Vesely, capture Konerko during various points of his 16-year career with the Sox. There’s even a shot of Konerko, hardly known for his speed, running the bases for an inside-the-park homer.

The book includes a nice two-page spread with thank-you tweets from … Continue Reading

Kevin Blackistone joins Washington Post

Nice addition. Congratulations to Kevin.

From the Post sports editor Matt Vita:

 We are very excited to announce that Kevin Blackistone, a veteran journalist and educator, will be writing regular commentary for the Sports section on topics ranging from our local sports teams to the relationship between sports and major social issues. He’ll also be a contributor to Post TV.

Kevin has a long and distinguished career in journalism and is currently a commentator for ESPN and a regular panelist on ESPN’s popular weekday show, “Around the Horn.” He’s worked as a reporter for the Boston Globe and Dallas Morning News, where he covered national and regional economics for the business section before being named a sports columnist. In addition to his television work for ESPN, Kevin also has written in the digital arena, for AOL Fanhouse, the Daily

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Sports media beat: Reason for ESPN’s abrupt announcement on Simmons; Deflategate writer on keeping mouth shut about source

Spanning the globe to provide the constant variety of sport media…

I know there has to be a reason for the abrupt timing of ESPN announcing that Bill Simmons is done at the network last Friday. James Andrew Miller, who knows all things ESPN, details for Vanity Fair how it was Simmons’ interview with Dan Patrick that set everything in motion.

 The chief reason there was an abrupt announcement last week and that a drama-free, buddy-buddy ending didn’t happen is painfully simple, and simply painful: it was all because of Simmons’s latest appearance on the Dan Patrick Show, and his seemingly gratuitous slam at N.F.L. commissioner Goodell. He had performed a similar routine last fall, calling Goodell a “liar” on his own podcast, and earned a three-week suspension. Once was forgiven; twice was Bugs Bunny declaring, “Of course, you know:

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ESPN moves: Scott Van Pelt to be solo host of SportsCenter; Mike & Mike move to New York

ESPN is busy this week. The network announced several moves.

–Scott Van Pelt will be the solo anchor for ESPN’s weeknight editions of “SportsCenter” at 11 p.m. As a result of the move, Van Pelt will give up his “SVP & Russillo” midday radio show.

“It was going to take something remarkable for me to consider a day that didn’t include radio, and this would qualify,” said Van Pelt, who joined ESPN in 2001. “To be allowed and empowered to bring some of the sensibility of radio to this space is fantastic.”

–The “Mike & Mike” show, which is heard locally on WMVP, will be moving to New York next February. The network says the move will enable the morning show to tap into more entertainment and pop culture aspects. Members of ABC’s “Good Morning America” also will make appearances on … Continue Reading