Friday, January 29, 2010

Wild Play Game of Hard to Get on Local Airwaves

A funny thing happened to me tonight as I drove home from a meeting and flipped through the AM radio dial: with the numbers 8, 3, and 0 lit up on my radio face plate, the distinctive sounds of a hockey game in progress were evident immediately.

It struck me as a WCCO anomaly as I’m accustomed to Gopher anything or Presidential politics, among other things, taking precedence on the radio “home” of the Minnesota Wild. But if the dulcet tones of Bob Kurtz’s play-by-play was not evidence enough, Tom Reid’s description of a shot being taken from “…that point position…” proved beyond a reasonable doubt that I was, indeed, listening to the Wild versus the Colorado Avalanche on 50,000 watt radio. By the way, I’ll give a dollar for every watt to the person who successfully removes that phrase from Reid’s on-air lexicon.

24 hours prior, I made a premeditated attempt to catch a few minutes of Minnesota’s 5-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings on my drive home from my son’s hockey practice. To my dismay—from both a political and fanatical perspective—I was treated to President Obama’s State of the Union address.

Don’t get me wrong, any speech by the President of the United States, particularly this one, carries great weight and needs to be made available to the masses through all forms of media available. However, in addition to the multiple broadcast and cable television outlets and the internet, the President’s voice could be heard loud and clear on no less than 18 AM radio stations that night.

I’ll grant you that a few of those stations were audible from great distances via the “Skywave Effect” such as Cincinnati’s WLW (700), Chicago’s WGN (720) and WBBM (780), and Denver’s KOA (850). But all four were crystal-clear as compared to the signal from both of the Wild’s FM outlets; BOB 106.1 and LaMera 107.5. Of course, to be fair, I was listening from the distant locale of…………..White Bear Lake!!!

What I’m trying to say is that if the Wild/Red wings game had been on WCCO there would not have been one person disenfranchised by one less radio station carrying the address. Furthermore, the Minnesota Wild franchise has long needed to quit allowing it to be treated like the red-headed stepchild and sign a broadcast agreement with a radio station which values the Wild as the asset that it truly is.

KSTP (AM 1500) would also provide the Wild with a 50K watt flagship station which already pays close attention to hockey courtesy of StarTribune beat writer Michael Russo's weekly "Russo Radio" appearances. This is unlike a certain "sports radio" station which is already in full-fledged NFL draft coverage and has hitched its wagon to what may not even be the best basketball team in the state.

My passion as a hockey fan who never feels his favorite sport gets its just due may have me a tad over-sensitive about this subject and that's . . . OK.

But it has been a thorn in my side for years with this team and I feel it’s time for the Wild and team Vice-President, Broadcasting and Communications, Bill Robertson to let go of this inferiority complex they suffer from and come to grips with the fact that they are “good enough . . . smart enough . . . and, doggone it, people like” them.

The team deserves much better and, most importantly, so do the fans.

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