SYRACUSE -- Play-by-play broadcasts of Syracuse Crunch hockey will have a new home starting this fall. The team has signed a deal with Citadel Broadcasting's The Score 1260 (WSKO), ending a long-lasting partnership with Clear Channel's Sportsradio 620 WHEN.
The announcement was made shortly after 2:00 this afternoon during On the Block with Brent Axe. The Score 1260 will carry all 80 of the Crunch's regular season games for 2010-2011, along with any post-season action the team may see.
This isn't the only big change for the Crunch during this off-season: before the regular season had ended, the AHL club ended its affilation with the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets, signing a new deal to affiliate with the Anaheim Ducks. There are also some changes among the coaching staff, which are still being worked out.
A press release issued by the Syracuse Crunch did not mention Joe Brown's name or include any quotes from Brown -- but he is still listed as Broadcaster on the Crunch website's Front Office staff page. Brown joined the team last year after former longtime broadcaster Bob McElligott took a job with the Blue Jackets.
The press release also lists the three locally-produced shows offered by WSKO; ironically, all four local hosts formerly did their shows on WHEN, giving them something in common with the Syracuse Crunch.
Damn! I was hoping that it would be aired on FM instead of AM! I was hoping that the new ESPN affiliate would pick up the games instead of this station, so that it could be heard on FM. That's too bad.
There's no denying the audio quality is better on FM than AM, but it looks like this is still an upgrade as far as the Syracuse Crunch are concerned. According to FCC records, WHEN broadcasts at 5kW during the day, but that's sliced down to 1kW at sunset. On the other hand, WSKO's licensed to run at 5kW around the clock. In the end, people who had trouble picking up 620 at night (when most Crunch games happen) should have better reception from 1260.
I can think of a few different possible reasons as to why ESPN Radio didn't pick up the Crunch, but all those reasons would be purely speculation. Since the details behind negotiations like these are typically kept private, there isn't much sense in opening up the floor to debating theories we'll never be able to prove or disprove.
Exactly, we'll probably never know, and I have to trust that Ed must have taken a look at the situation early on and decided to pass. But now that Citadel has it, I still am of the opinion that they should at least put the games on 105.9, just for the better clarity and a bigger footprint. And since it's a talk formatted one, at least from a sporting kind of angle, it could fit right in, and might do better than what's currently aired. I wasn't aware that the station formally known back in the day as the old WNDR was allowed to do 5kw all the time;I assumed it went down like the big 'HEN at 1kw. I learned something new tonight LOL.
Maybe Citadel would consider getting their HD 2 channels up and running on WXTL and WAQX and have the SCORE 1260 programming on one of them. This would be a way to have the Crunch games and other local programming on a FM frequency with better audio.
@dave1261 - I have to keep reminding myself that Citadel now has a talk station which could potentially serve as an "overflow" or simulcast outlet for sports. However, that all depends on whether WXTL's syndication contracts would permit WXTL to pre-empt those talk shows to run a sports simulcast. In some cases, shows strictly forbid pre-emption. In other cases, a show can be pre-empted but the station has to "make good" on commercials the syndicator would have aired during the show, which can turn into a logistical headache.
You may have also seen others posting comments on this website and elsewhere, complaining about the way WSYR frequently pre-empts its weeknight lineup to carry Yankees baseball. WSYR does this to accomodate both the Syracuse Chiefs (on WHEN) and the Yankees when they both play at the same time, but at the expense of fans of Sean Hannity and/or Michael Savage, who feel cheated out of their shows. It's possible Citadel doesn't want to disrupt the schedule on 105.9, especially since the talk format is still pretty new. Or maybe WXTL will simulcast the Crunch games... there's still several months to go before hockey starts up again and things could change before then.
@sportsmedianut - Excellent idea. I thought it was a great idea for Clear Channel to simulcast WSYR on WPHR-HD2, and I wish we saw more of this in Syracuse. All of NYC's biggest news/talk stations are offered as HD subchannels on FM stations. It would be nice if CC replaced one of it's "canned" niche music formats to put WHEN on one of the other HD2s, or if they put it on an HD3.
Recently, Galaxy CEO Ed Levine was quoted by "Taylor on Radio-Info" as saying he was able to avoid layoffs or other massive cuts because he's avoided HD Radio on his stations. I don't know how much the encoders or licensing costs, but based on Levine's comments, I assume broadcasting in HD isn't cheap. This could be why Citadel -- which is still working through Chapter 11 -- is holding off too.
Please, no more sports pre-empting talk radio, there's enough of that in the market now. Not that I'd miss 105.9's evening lineup, but there's always the chance they'll pick up something I want to hear if they decide they're doing well enough to go after more than just Citadel's own shows.
It's interesting to learn that WHEN powers down at night, that may be another reason they stick us with the Yankees on WSYR. Hopefully WSKO can go after the Chiefs games next year and solve this problem, but I guess will have to wait and see (and in the meantime continue to download MP3s of Savage from TRN, commercial free).
I'm sure Levine will pick up some other out of town team to carry because it's relatively cheap to air their games in this market or something like that.