News broke late last night about the decision by the Islanders to simulcast their television broadcasts on the radio next season. This means that the television announcing tandem of Howie Rose and Billy Jaffe will also be available on the radio.
For those of you who may not follow the day-to-day machinations of the Islanders, the radio "network" consisted of one station and that station was based in Smithtown, Long Island. Great for fans east of the Coliseum, but for those towards the city, or (gasp!), across the East River or Hudson River, fans there, including myself, is out of luck. Even for those further out on Long Island, the station (94.3 FM) does not have a long reach and conflicted with a station in the Bronx. So, on my way home from games, I could not listen to the post-game more than 15 minutes outside of the Coliseum on the Cross Island Parkway in Queens.
I am not sure if the FM station will air the broadcasts or if they will move elsewhere, but, after this move, knowing the indifference the Islanders organization towards the radio presentation of their team, I would expect them to move high up on the AM dial. The big hit will be for NHL GameCenter patrons and the games that are carried on Sirius XM for the satellite-listening public.
Here is the comprehensive post on the news by Greg Logan of Newsday: http://weblogs.newsday.com/sports/hockey/islanders/blog/2009/07/radio_voices_chris_king_and_st.html
Here is my reaction, which was posted as a Comment to Chris Botta's post on the story:
Both Steve Mears and Chris King were enjoyable listens. Unfortunately, I only got to listen to a little of their broadcast on game days because of the lack of range of their station (Cross Island Pkwy and in). Hockey radio play-by-play is one of the toughest things to do in sports broadcasting and he handled it with aplomb.
Mears got a great opportunity with the Islanders, considering his age, and he is ahead of the curve for broadcasters of his age and experience. He'll land on his feet quickly. I think Mears is a Pittsburgh guy, so it would be nice if he could land with the defending Cup champs.
As for Chris King, I identify a lot with him, as he was an everyman (computer engineer) who became a broadcaster. It gave me hope to one day make the jump from computers to broadcasting. King is a Long Island original, which makes this especially hard to take, and was with the Islanders since the dark days. He does not deserve this.
I also think Howie Rose is one of the best in the business and I like Billy Jaffe's analysis. But, as it has been said in this thread, radio broadcasting and TV broadcasting are two different things. You are appealing to a different audience with a different setup. Talking on picture would hurt the radio audience, just as over-analyzing the action on the ice would be superfluous on TV.
The Islanders TV and radio broadcasts have been a bright light in a difficult few years for the franchise. The New York area has been blessed with top-notch announcers for most of their teams. Cutting the original coverage in half hurts the fans, the brand, and, most importantly, the franchise.
In a time of shrinking media and shrinking travel budgets for traveling media, the Islanders should be on the offensive and provide more and varied coverage, as their team will quickly become worth watching (and listening to) again.
What's next? Stopping Newsday from having Greg Logan travel with the team?