Screenshot: New Fox Sports graphics appear on MLB broadcast

New Fox Sports MLB Graphics 2014

Screenshot from RadioInsight via Twitter – @RadioInsight

Above is a screenshot, courtesy of RadioInsight, showing new graphics for a Fox Sports MLB broadcast. They are the same graphics Fox rolled out in February for NASCAR.

I think the graphics as shown during a NASCAR broadcast are more on the bland side — and judging from only this lone screenshot, they will probably be as bland when used for baseball (and presumably football, this fall). I also wonder what’s up with the “Fox Box” in the lower-left corner of the screen (ESPN’s score bug has been placed in the lower-right for a few years now).

The lower-left seems like an odd place for it. Talk about trying to reinvent the wheel when there’s no reason to. I’ll reserve full judgement on placement of the “Fox Box” and the graphics until seeing them in full use — with today being baseball’s opening day, these graphics will likely roll out on the rest of the regional Fox Sports channels that house local MLB games.

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Back in the game: Former Score host Mike North named starter at Fox Sports Radio

Mike North

Veteran sports radio host Mike North is back, full-time, reports ChicagolandRadioandMedia.com. North will co-host the Fox Sports Radio morning show “Fox Sports Daybreak,” 5 to 8 a.m. CT each weekday. The program airs nationally via syndication, though there is no Chicago outlet for his program or for Fox Sports Radio. Anyone caring to listen to his show can listen via iHeartRadio or at FoxSportsRadio.com.

This move is North’s first prominent radio role since leaving WSCR-AM (670 The Score) in the summer of 2008. Since leaving the Score, North has found ways to stay busy with various projects, including two full-time television morning show stints, one at Comcast Sports Net and the other at WBBM-TV (CBS 2 Chicago), with his former Score “Monsters of the Midday” co-host Dan Jiggetts. North has also been a regular weekend/part-time host at Fox Sports Radio.

Personally, I wasn’t much of a North fan for most of his second half of his run at the Score, primarily because by then, I think he became too comfortable, and perhaps, let his success get to his head. That said, I remember enough of him from his days as a midday solo host and his “Wise Guys” afternoon days with Doug Buffone, so I do understand the appeal he used to have.

The online hatred for Mike North has been intense, and I admit, I am guilty of that some 10 years ago, when I was younger and more immature. He didn’t kill babies or steal money from the Salvation Army bucket. At worst, he’s a guy who was loud and obnoxious who sometimes came across as a braggart. Various bits such as his “bookie priest,” “Fritzy’s night on the town” and “Caucasian Man” were more head-groaners than anything close to resembling comedy.

I think much of the angst against North was that by the time he and Jiggetts split as a team, his popularity slowly began to diminish. Despite his diminishing performance, he was still perceived as a golden jewel at the station, completely untouchable due to his pull with many advertisers. While not worthy of the malicious ridicule he often received — much of it from the ChicagoSportsFan.com message board — he did plenty to set himself up as a punching bag with some of his ridiculous segments and for his blatant refusal to adapt his on-air style long-after it was obvious that his approach was no longer appealing.

I’m happy for North. Despite any of the negatives associated with him as an on-air host, that shouldn’t disqualify him from getting another job somewhere else. I hope his time away from full-time radio has given him the opportunity to learn that in order to stay relevant in this medium, you have got to be willing to change with the times — even if that means allowing a program director, who you may or may not like, to actually coach or manage you.

At the end of the day, North’s gig is with Fox Sports Radio — remove the “Fox Sports” branding from it and you are left with a Clear Channel operated cluster of syndicated shows occupied by many B or C level personalities airing on a cluster of small to medium-size market stations throughout the United States.

I don’t mean to diminish the value of North’s new role. I hope he makes the most of it and takes it 100% seriously. However, the Fox Sports Radio morning show is nowhere close to being at the same level of prominence or relevance of ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike” — or of anything else currently airing on the Score.

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Larry Lujack passes

I’m sorry to hear about the passing of legendary radio disc jockey Larry Lujack. While I am too young to have ever heard his work on the air, I appreciate how he inspired so many of today’s radio personalities, not just in Chicago, but throughout the country. The kind words by many of those people in and outside of Chicago is quite the testament to his character and influence.

For a more appropriate reflection, I’ll direct you to Robert Feder, who has written an outstanding piece commemorating Lujack’s life and career.

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WGN Radio debuts a new logo [Updated]

WGN Radio Logo, December 2013
After stammering onto the WGN-AM (720) website this morning, I quickly noticed a new piece of artwork at the top. Is this going to be the new logo the station uses going forward?

What happened to the unique “W” logo that WGN-AM (720) sported on their front-page Chicago Tribune spread early last month?

WGNRadio.com

The file they have uploaded on the existing website right now is just awkward. Why the slanted edges on a gray to dark gray gradient background floating in mid-air? Leaves me wondering if this specific art file is meant to sit on top of a new design template that could soon be going live, if not in the next few days then sometime after the New Year.

The new logo reads as “WGN 720″ even though the station has continued to identify itself on air as “720 WGN.” Also missing is the word “radio,” which has been included in their various logos in recent years (except for the ill-fated “News 720 WGN” used for a few months in late 2010).

The new logo is also being used on the station’s Twitter and Facebook pages, except with some color differences. The logo on the website has blue text on-top of a gradient gray background, while the logo on the station’s Twitter and Facebook pages shows white text resting on-top of a gradient blue background.

The blue logo looks somewhat better and may even look better on a new website design/template that better accommodates the blue background. As a stand-alone logo though, at first glance, it seems a bit odd. The “WGN 720″ text with the single lines above and below has potential though.

New WGN 720 logo

UPDATE – 12/20/13
Within the last 12 hours, WGN uploaded another alternation of their logo to their Facebook and Twitter pages. This one combines the classy looking “W” that was unveiled in a Chicago Tribune promtional spread on Nov. 2, with the logo unveiled just days ago. The large block “W” includes the banner plate above it with the included words “WGN 720.”

This logo variation, as shown below, is what I like the best and the one I hope will turn out to be their final and completed logo. I think this version is quite unique, classy and does a great job at properly identifying the station.

New WGN Radio Logo

 

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CNN wants its own ‘Shark Week:’ more attitude & bite, less vanilla

CNN Changes in 2014

Capital New York released an informative piece detailing how CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker hopes to reignite CNN with some significant on air changes expected in 2014.

Some highlights:

“We’re all regurgitating the same information. I want people to say, ‘You know what? That was interesting. I hadn’t thought of that,’” Zucker said. “The goal for the next six months, is that we need more shows and less newscasts.”

The 48-year-old Zucker initially faced internal resistance to his experiments beyond the realm of hard news, but he now has an irrefutable retort: The No. 1 show on CNN is now “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown,” a travel-adventure show featuring the bad-boy celebrity chef. Zucker said that inside CNN, his formula has finally been accepted “because people have seen the results.”

More series and films untethered to the news and produced by outside production companies will get runs in primetime: “Yes, there will be more and, yes, they will not just be on Sundays…,” he said. “I think it will expand past just the weekends, and so there’s a little piece of news for you… This is a primetime play. It’s too expensive to confine it to weekends.”

Zucker intends to place further emphasis on its digital mobile resources while also planning to re-brand “HLN” (Headline News), making it rely less on courtroom drama.

It seems like CNN wants to go the route of the Weather Channel or the History Channel — expand outside the traditional line of niche programming that initially gave them their prominence. The Weather Channel capitalizes on more weather related documentaries and specials, while breaking weather coverage involves the naming of winter storms and tracking potential tornadoes via the made for TV sounding TOR:CON Index.

In defending the need for change Zucker makes a solid point:

“… the overall cable news audience has not grown in the last 12 years, OK? So, all we’re doing is trading [audience] share. … We also want to broaden what people can expect from CNN.”

If CNN decides to index the severity of a specific breaking news event, perhaps they can borrow the color-coded terrorist threat scale previously used by U.S. Homeland Security.

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Best selection of radio Christmas music

Best Christmas music

It bothers me that so many young people who are connected to the world via their smart phones still chose to listen to whatever generic, “PPM friendly” Christmas station is available via terrestrial. In Chicago, everyone flocks to Clear Channel’s WLIT-FM (93.9). Many of these people probably aren’t aware of the better alternatives available and that they can utilize them via their smart phone, even while driving. Many of these free alternatives have far expanded playlist and are either commercial free or have limited commercials.

Below is a list of some of my favorite sources for Christmas music.

AccuRadio
AccuRadio has a variety of different Christmas channels via live stream. With dedicated channels for classic, jazz, children, country, etc., you’re sure to find a channel just right for you.

Sky.FM
My favorite might be the Sky.FM Christmas Channel. The playlist varies from new to classic. What makes this station very unique is the many different versions of songs that I have never heard of before. There is also a higher emphasis on the more relaxed type of Christmas songs, which is why I listen to Sky.FM’s channel the most.

WLRA-FM
WLRA-FM, the Lewis University student-run station. From Thanksgiving to New Years Day each year, the station runs 24/7 commercial free Christmas music. Their playlist includes a mix of modern and classic songs. Promotional messages are played a handful of times each hour promoting the United Way of Will County. The station stream is available on popular radio apps such as iHeartRadio and Tune In Radio, via the WLRA mobile app or via the Lewis University website. Of course, for anyone in the Romeoville/Joliet area, you can listen on the dial on 88.1 FM.

SiriusXM
SiriusXM has their own collection of fun Christmas channels, as well. Much like AccuRadio, SiriusXM has a selection of dedicated Christmas channels. These are also commercial free.

Google Play Music All Access and Spotify
Of course you can’t go wrong with full customization and the open-ended exploration provided by any of the music streaming services.

Please, people. If you have a smart phone or are by a computer all-day, spare yourself from the typical terrestrial garbage of a WLIT or any other Christmas radio station plagued with an abundance of commercials and a limited playlist.

By no means is the above list the end-all for good Christmas music listening. If you know of any other options worth considering, please share it by posting a comment below.

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Cumulus drops Geraldo from syndication: Potential opening for Mike Huckabee?

According to a report by Inside Radio, Cumulus Media is pulling the plug on Geraldo Rivera’s (semi) syndicated program. Rivera airs on a handful of Cumulus stations, including WABC-AM (New York), KABC-AM (Los Angeles) and WOKI-FM (Knoxville, TN) from 8 to 11 a.m. CT.

Come January 2014, Rivera’s show will be heard as a local program in the New York City market exclusively on WABC.

While Cumulus has not announced a replacement for Rivera’s remaining stations, I’m wondering if Cumulus moves Mike Huckabee’s syndicated program to that slot since his current 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. CT show runs head-to-head against Rush Limbaugh. With Limbaugh staying put on most of his Cumulus news/talk affiliates, how much exposure does the Huckabee currently get? He would get more exposure on Cumulus stations in the 8 to 11 a.m. CT slot.

At the moment, this story has no implication on WLS-AM (890), the Cumulus news/talk station in Chicago. Assuming Cumulus does decide to replace Rivera with another syndicated talker, it’s not unreasonable to wonder if that person ends up on WLS sometime in 2014.

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Stoney on LeafGuard

The LeafGuard commercial airing on WLS-AM (890) is a bit far-fetched. Steve Stone, who’s voicing the commercial, talks about  use of the product and how it saves him the added chore of having to clean his gutters.

Can anyone in their right mind picture Steve Stone, of all people, cleaning his gutters?

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Milt Rosenberg back on WGN, joins Garry Meier

Milt Rosenberg was back on WGN-AM (720) yesterday, marking his first time on the station since his final Extension 720 program on Dec. 20 last year. Rosenberg was on Garry Meier’s afternoon show to discuss the JFK assassination 50 years later, as well as his on-going podcast via MiltRosenberg.com.

The podcast launched on May 16, is guest-driven, as Extension 720 was, minus live callers. New podcasts are typically posted once or twice each week.

I had been thinking Rosenberg might be another great WGN comeback story, ala Kathy and Judy, Steve Cochran and Rick Kogan. Somewhat curious as to why that may not have happened, even if Rosenberg were to do only one night a week.

The Rosenberg and Meier discussion is podcasted on the WGN website…

 

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SiriusXM P.O.T.U.S. channel leaves me wanting more

Politico’s Dylan Byers reports that NBC News journalist and MSNBC host Chuck Todd will soon have his own weekly Saturday show on the SiriusXM P.O.T.U.S. channel. The new program, Unscripted with Chuck Todd, will allow the host to discuss key political issues at greater depth, minus the restraints that come with television.

While I’m pleased by this, the addition of one weekend show doesn’t solve the programming hole P.O.T.U.S. has Monday through Friday once the sun goes down. Once Julie Mason’s live Press Pool broadcast concludes at 5 p.m. CT, it’s all repeat programming of either Mason or the Michael Smerconish Program from earlier in the day until Tim Farley’s Morning Briefing the next day.

I suppose it’s fair to assume P.O.T.U.S. isn’t the most profitable channel for SiriusXM, so going with repeat programming near the end of the day saves a lot of money that they may not make back. By 8 or 9 p.m. though, a Smerconish show from 12 hours ago is sometimes dated if the topic he’s discussing has newer details. I do love the idea of Smerconish’s long-form discussion and think a similar style program live in the evenings would be the perfect fit.

The sole reason I signed up for SirusXM this past summer was for their P.O.T.U.S. channel. I enjoy the free-flow of political conversation that is absent from the stench of partisan agenda. I wish we had more non-partisan political programs options via podcasting or on terrestrial radio.

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