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Ken Carman: You Don’t Have to Watch NBA Finals if You Aren’t Doing National Show

“I can go to bed; no big deal.”

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Ken Carman

The NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets were not expected to attract particularly high ratings. According to preliminary overnight figures from Nielsen Media Research, Game 1 of the NBA Finals averaged 7.62 million viewers and had a 2.21 rating in the age 18-49 demographic. This number is significantly down from the 11.4 million viewers in the Celtics’ matchup against the Golden State Warriors last year.

Sunday night’s Game 2 ratings have yet to be released, but based on the conversation between Ken Carman and Anthony Lima on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland, basketball fans and media pundits should expect another report of low numbers.

“We all knew that there weren’t going to be as good ratings,” show co-host Ken Carman said. “The Heat do not generate the sense of outrage, [and] Denver does not generate the same type of passion as what LA and Boston do, clearly.”

Carman watched parts of the first two NBA Finals games, but opted to watch the morning recaps on YouTube instead of the game in its entirety. He surmises many basketball fans from around the country are doing similarly because of the ostensible lack of appeal – despite superstars Jimmy Butler and Nikola Jokić participating in the action.

If the Cleveland Cavaliers were in the NBA Finals, Carman acknowledged that he would be watching; however, his wife gave him a reason to turn it off when she asked him to watch an episode of Succession. Neglecting to watch the entirety of a professional sports league’s final championship round is a practice show co-host Anthony Lima regarded as something new to modern media consumption.

“There used to be a time where you couldn’t even really do a show if you didn’t watch the NBA Finals or the World Series,” Lima told Carman. “That was not an indictment of you because there have been World Series games I haven’t watched…The ratings of the NBA had all been up until we got to the NBA Finals and they have crashed.”

The Walt Disney Company recently reported its most-watched playoffs on ESPN platforms in the last 11 years, averaging nearly 5.8 million viewers on broadcasts. Year-over-year, viewership of the Western Conference Finals was up 17% from last year’s presentation, which was on TNT, and 44% higher than the last time ESPN televised the proceedings in 2021.

Despite the intriguing NBA Finals matchup and storylines associated with the action, the ratings indicate that many basketball fans are choosing not to watch the action because of the lack of tradition involved in the matchup. The Denver Nuggets have never won a championship in franchise history, let alone qualify for the NBA Finals, while the Miami Heat have not taken home the Larry O’Brien Trophy since 2013. The team, at that time, was led by the ‘Big Three’ of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, all of whom are expected to be named members of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

“You’re basically saying there’s nothing that game could have done that would have made you stick with it?,” Lima asked Carman. “Jokić had a run in the third quarter where he made every play on offense and then was coming up with fast breaks, dribbling coast to coast; then he made a couple of defensive plays. You look up at the box score [and it is], ‘Holy crap, he’s going to score 40 easily.’”

Nonetheless, Carman recognized that his radio show is a local program, and in turn needs to appeal to its audience. As a result, he felt like it was safe to watch Succession and then fall asleep, recognizing just how fundamental topic selection is in terms of captivating and retaining listeners.

“If it’s not one of the three teams in Cleveland – if the Cavs were still there, fine, that’s the job,” Carman expressed. “If it’s this, even though it’s the Finals and I have no national show to do tomorrow, I can go to bed, no big deal.”

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The Blitz 1170 in Tulsa to Cease Operations

“The company decided the sports format wasn’t working and they’re going to take the signal in another direction.”

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After just under three years in the format, Griffin Media is pulling the plug on The Blitz 1170 in Tulsa.

Social media posts from the station’s local hosts reveal that The Blitz will be moving away from its sports format on Wednesday, June 26th.

“There’s some news from our part of the world. Griffin Media has made the decision to eliminate The Blitz 1170 and those of us working there after June 26,” wrote morning host Rick Couri. “The company decided the sports format wasn’t working and they’re going to take the signal in another direction.

“This will likely bring my 42 year career of being on the air in Tulsa to an end, I don’t see a lot of other options for several reasons. I will still be broadcasting Tulsa University and Union football and who knows what else might come along. Until then I want to say thank you to everyone who has listened along the way and those incredible people I’ve worked with. It’s been quite an adventure with many amazing opportunities and experiences to be forever grateful for.”

The station featured Couri in mornings, followed by The Dan Patrick Show and The Rich Eisen Show. Afternoon drive was helmed by Colby Daniels and Program Director Jeremie “Pop” Polin from 3-6 PM. Daniels shared a similar post on social media as Couri.

The Blitz 1170 will be changing formats in a couple weeks. While I’m very sad about this news, I’m more thankful for having this opportunity and establishing friendships that will continue beyond the airwaves. I’m proud of this entire team and can’t say enough positive things about everyone I had the privilege to work with. I appreciate all the listeners supporting the Blitz every day,” Daniels wrote. “Some followed me to this signal and others welcomed me to Tulsa radio with open arms. You all have a special place in my heart.

“I feel like I’m at a major crossroads in my broadcasting career and I don’t know what my next step will be. I know I have so much more to offer but will have to carefully weigh whatever options emerge. It’s rare in this business to be given the opportunity to finish out the last 2 weeks. Our final show will be June 26th so let’s have fun doing what we love until then.”

According to a report from RadioInsight, the station recently changed its call letters to KOTV-AM, to replicate the same branding used by the company’s TV outlet in the market.

Griffin Media has yet to announce plans for the station after flipping away from the sports format on June 26th.

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ESPN LA 710 to Broadcast USC Athletics

“We’re excited to collaborate with ESPN LA 710 AM to advance the USC Athletics brand and connect with fans across the Greater Los Angeles media market.”

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The University of Southern California and ESPN LA 710 have agreed to a deal that will expand their broadcast partnership starting in the 2024 season. ESPN LA 710 will be the flagship station for USC Trojans football and men’s basketball games throughout the season in addition to adding women’s basketball games on the airwaves as well. Beginning in the fall, listeners will be able to hear all of the games on 710 AM, the ESPN LA Trojans Radio Network, in addition to within the USC Trojans Game Day app, the USC Trojans website and the ESPN LA app.

As USC prepares to move to the Big Ten Conference for the season, games will continue to air on the USC Trojans Media Network, which includes affiliates KSZL Barstow 1230 AM, KJJZ-HD3 102.7 Thousand Palms, KSHP Las Vegas 1400 AM and 107.1 FM and the Hawaiian Sports Radio Network on KGU 95.1 FM and 760 AM. Spanish language broadcasts of USC Football will be available on the ESPN LA app and USC Trojans app as well. The USC Trojans Media Network will also air basketball games as new men’s head coach Eric Musselman starts his tenure at the university and the women’s team welcomes transfer forward Kiki Iriafen from Stanford.

“We’re excited to collaborate with ESPN LA 710 AM to advance the USC Athletics brand and connect with fans across the Greater Los Angeles media market,” Jen Cohen, director of athletics at the University of Southern California, said in a statement. “As we move into a new era of Trojan Athletics, identifying partners who can help us provide our student-athletes with the platform to make their mark on collegiate athletics and reach new generations of supporters is critical. From the addition of play-by-play coverage for our women’s basketball program and Spanish-language coverage for football, to the reach and brand equity established by ESPN Radio in Los Angeles, we’re confident this partnership will help us achieve our goals.”

Outside of live game broadcasts for USC football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball, ESPN LA 710 will also air a new weekly program titled Trojans Live. The show will be broadcast on ESPN LA 710 AM from 6 to 7 p.m. EST starting on Monday, Aug. 26 and running through Monday, Dec. 9. ESPN LA 710 previously broadcast USC Trojans Athletics from 2006 to 2019 and is also the flagship home of the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles FC.

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Bob Fescoe: Charles Barkley is Irreplaceable

“How many people want to do that as well, just kind of walk away and say, ‘You know what? I put in my time and I am done here, and now I have the ability to walk away…'”

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Bob Fescoe
Courtesy: 610 Sports Radio

Charles Barkley announced that he would be retiring from television following the 2024-25 season on Saturday night. The TNT Sports analyst revealed the news during a postgame show on NBA TV after Game 4 of the NBA Finals, in which the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Boston Celtics to remain standing in the best-of-seven series. Within his discourse, Barkley emphasized that he made the decision himself and that next year would be his last no matter what happens.

Moreover, he stated that he has talked with other networks who have approached him as reports indicate that Warner Bros. Discovery could be losing broadcasting rights for the NBA following next season. Bob Fescoe and Josh Klingler played the audio of Barkley’s retirement announcement on 610 Sports Radio during the Fescoe in the Morning program on Monday.

Barkley emphasized that he would pass the baton to either Jamal Crawford, Vince Carter or Steve Smith when he retires from television next year. For the last 24 years, Barkley has been a member of Inside the NBA, the award-winning studio program hosted by Ernie Johnson with analysts Kenny “The Jet” Smith and Shaquille O’Neal. There were rumors about Barkley leaving Warner Bros. Discovery to take a role with the LIV Golf Tour; however, he decided to cut off those talks and stated that he would finish his television career with the Turner Sports division.

The NBA is now reportedly in the process of formalizing new media rights contracts with The Walt Disney Company (ESPN/ABC), NBCUniversal and Amazon’s Prime Video said to be worth a collective $7.6 billion. Throughout the process, Barkley has been interviewed several times across different media platforms and expressed his feelings on the matter, including questioning the rationale of Warner Bros. Discovery chief executive officer and president David Zaslav.

“I feel like he’s just tired of being asked about it,’” Klingler said. “He’s like, ‘You know what? I don’t care where it goes – I’m done.’”

Fescoe questioned if anyone could blame Barkley for what he has decided to do, especially receiving firsthand knowledge on how everything is playing out. Over the last several months, Inside the NBA has been a topic of discussion, part of which has presumably been about its future on television. If Barkley follows through with his decision, it would mark the end of the studio program as currently constructed, and Fescoe believes that Barkley has ultimately had enough of dealing with the speculation and ambiguity.

“How many people want to do that as well, just kind of walk away and say, ‘You know what? I put in my time and I am done here, and now I have the ability to walk away,’” Fescoe questioned, “and not many people work for the love of the job anymore, right, and it seems like what they’ve gone through and what they’ve been drug through with all of this rights fee stuff is management getting in the way of them doing what they love doing.”

Part of Fescoe’s logic pertaining to why Barkley has decided to move on from television after next year is that he could be reading the writing on the wall. In mentioning that he has spoken with other networks, Fescoe presumed that ESPN would have Barkley work more hours and that he would not be interested in doing that. Barkley is a sports media professional Fescoe considers to be irreplaceable, much like his co-host Josh Klingler, who is leaving the show on 610 Sports Radio next month.

“Greg Olsen, I guess, is considered replaceable at FOX by Tom Brady, and they just move analysts out and bring guys in all the time, but there are some people that are not replaceable,” Fescoe said, “and if you’re going to keep that Inside the NBA show, you can keep it in name, but if you don’t have Charles Barkley, no offense to anybody else up there, it’s just not the same type of show and it’s just not going to be as good as if Charles Barkley is there.”

Klingler is not sure that Barkley will end up retiring and believes that he will be back in some capacity. Additionally, he mentioned that it could be a means of putting TNT on the hot seat by putting pressure on the company to retain broadcast rights to the league. Fescoe replied by articulating that it could be Barkley putting ESPN on the hot seat to make him a lucrative contract offer and consider signing with the network.

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