SYRACUSE -- There will be a new radio home for minor league baseball's Syracuse Chiefs this season: The Score 1260 (WSKO). The news was just announced this afternoon during On the Block with Brent Axe. Jason Benetti, who called the games last year, will return for his second season behind the mic.
According to a press release from the Syracuse Chiefs (full text below), Benetti will be joined in the broadcast booth by Kevin Brown, who currently serves as the sports director at Syracuse University-based NPR affiliate WAER.
The first broadcast for the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals will be a road game, April 7th at Buffalo.
"We look forward to working with [Chiefs GM] John Simone, Jason Benetti and the Chiefs in order to bring Central New York and Chiefs fans in-depth coverage of the team," said Axe, who, in addition to being the sports director at WSKO, is also the PA announcer at Alliance Bank Stadium.
Every game will be preceded by a 15-minute pre-game show, which will include out-of-town scores, highlights, and brief interviews "with newsmakers around the Chiefs and the game of baseball," a statement said.
This is the second local pro sports "coup" the Citadel-owned WSKO has pulled in less than a year: in May 2010, the station announced it would become the new home of Syracuse Crunch hockey, a deal that started with the current AHL season in October 2010.
In both cases, WSKO pulled the games away from Clear Channel's WHEN. At the time of the Crunch deal, it wasn't known (to the public, anyway), that WHEN's sports format would be wiped out in December as part of a multi-station format flip that would see "Power 106.9" moving to WHEN, in order to free up the FM signal for a simulcast of news/talker WSYR. This time around, it's not as much of a surprise -- with Clear Channel no longer running a sports format in Syracuse.
This isn't the first time Chiefs baseball was heard on 1260AM -- the team says games were aired when the station was known as WNSS in 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2007. When the station was WNDR, the team's games were heard during the 1940s, 1950s and the early 1990s.
CHIEFS GAMES TO BE BROADCAST ON ‘THE SCORE’ IN 2011
Jason Benetti & Kevin Brown to provide play-by-play coverage on 1260 WSKO
Syracuse, NY—The Syracuse Chiefs, Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, are pleased to announce a new partnership with Citadel Broadcasting which names The Score 1260 WSKO as the flagship radio station of Chiefs baseball for the 2011 season.
“The Chiefs are a major part of the fabric of this community and have been for more than a century. As the Voice of the Central New York Sports fan, our lineup at The Score is solidified with the addition of Chiefs baseball,” said The Score 1260 Sports Director Brent Axe. “We look forward to working with John Simone, Jason Benetti and the Chiefs in order to bring Central New York and Chiefs fans in-depth coverage of the team.”
“We are thrilled to be part of the immense growth of local coverage taking place at The Score,” Chiefs General Manager John Simone said. “We are confident that Chiefs fans will learn more about the team than ever before through this agreement.”
Coverage of Chiefs baseball will begin with a 15-minute pre-game show featuring highlights, out-of-town scores and conversations with newsmakers around the Chiefs and the game of baseball.
Jason Benetti will return for his second season as the lead play-by-play announcer and his fifth season overall with the Chiefs. The 27-year-old Benetti is also a play-by-play announcer for Time Warner Cable Sports in Syracuse. During the offseason, he is the radio play-by-play voice of High Point University basketball in North Carolina. He has previously worked for the Notre Dame, Georgia, Georgia Tech and Florida State radio networks as a studio host.
Benetti will be joined in the booth this season by Kevin Brown, the current Sports Director at WAER Radio in Syracuse. Brown, 21, spent last summer as a play-by-play announcer for the Mat-Su Miners of the Alaska Baseball League.
The Score 1260 is ‘The Voice of the Central New York Sports Fan.’ In addition to serving as the new flagship of the Chiefs, it is also the radio home of the American Hockey League’s Syracuse Crunch as well as local programming ‘On the Block’ with Brent Axe (M-F 2-6pm), ‘The Bud and the Manchild Show’ (M-F 10am-12pm), 'The Danny Parkins Show' (M-F 12-2pm) and ‘Syracuse SportsNight’ (M-Tu-W-F 6-7pm).
Chiefs games were first heard on 1260’s frequency during the 1947 Governors’ Cup Championship season when Leo Bolley and Herm Carneill called the games for WNDR. WNDR also aired the team’s games in 1952-1953 and 1991-1993. More recently, 1260 WNSS was the flagship for Chiefs baseball in 2002-2003 and 2006-2007.
Citadel Broadcasting and The Score will be the exclusive home of live Chiefs baseball games starting with the 2011 season opener on April 7 at Buffalo. All games will also be streamed live online at SyracuseChiefs.com.
Ticket packages for the 2011 season, the third of the Washington Nationals era, are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 315-474-7833, online at SyracuseChiefs.com, or in person at the Alliance Bank Stadium ticket office from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm on weekdays during the offseason.
Thanks to Brent Axe for passing along the press release from the Syracuse Chiefs. If you've got news happening at your station, email us at email@example.com or use the Contact Form.
Good to see another score for WSKO. Except for the major network feed, it may as well be the WHEN of a couple years ago. That might make a slick ad campaign... "remember WHEN?" ..
Another score for WSKO would be to get on WNTQ-HD2. I realize that adoption of HD Radio by consumers is still very low, but being on 93.1 HD2 would provide WSKO with far wider coverage than ESPN 97.7, which still is just a translator.
If I were John Simone I would ask for it. Most of his Chiefs games are on at night and the nighttime 1260 signal is quite directional.
That's the problem, in my opinion. HD Radio adoption is low. Just ran a check of prices on Google. On the plus side, the Insignia portable tuner at Best Buy, which I bought at $50 when it was practically newly released, is now only $30 -- but it certainly has its limitations (like having a battery that can only be recharged via a USB cable, which I haven't seen in months). Also saw a JVC tuner designed for in-car installation for just $20, though the reviews looked very questionable. Most of the "better" HD Radio systems for car or home use are still carrying triple-digit price tags.
The biggest problem with HD Radio, in my humble opinion, is that iBiquity is the sole owner of the technology, and they want to collect licensing fees every which way they possibly can. They double-dip on the broadcaster end by charging stations directly for the right to broadcast in HD, and they charge equipment manufacturers licensing fees to put the technology in transmission equipment. Then, iBiquity also licenses out the technology to receive HD Radio, a cost which is then passed along to consumers -- who, by and large, simply can't justify paying THAT much more for a radio.
As a result, consumers are slow to adopt the technology. I don't know ANYONE who works outside of broadcasting who owns an HD radio. Plenty of friends and relatives with iPods and iPhones, but no HD Radios. Broadcasters know this too. With many broadcasters looking to keep costs down, it's hard to blame them for being reluctant to spend anywhere from $11,000 to $25,000 to simulcast the "main" station in HD, then pay an extra $1,000 (or more) for each subchannel, when there just aren't that many listeners equipped with HD Radio.
I remember reading an article in the national trades within the past year or so where Galaxy CEO Ed Levine discussed some of the ways his company's revenues outpaced some of the other players in the industry. Aside from having lots of NTR, he specifically mentioned that he hasn't bothered with HD Radio, basically implying it wouldn't return the investment.
I think the situation could be better if iBiquity gave away the receiver technology for free. Let people get their hands on HD Radio receivers for the same price they can get any other radio. Get HD radio in ALL makes and models of ALL new cars, not just select models -- few people will go out of their way to get a specific car just because it has HD Radio. Once you get HD Radio into the hands of "the masses," then there will be more demand for HD programming. Once there's demand, broadcasters will be more willing to spend the money to satisfy that demand. That's where iBiquity then makes its money. Give it to the listeners for free, THEN when you've proven it's worth something, THAT's when you make your money from broadcasters.
Obviously, the broadcast license fees are a one-time-only fee. So what happens to iBiquty when every station has HD? THEN iBiquity turns around and starts charging receiver manufacturers a licensing fee again. Once the listeners are already hooked, they'll be more willing to pay.
And to an extent, I think the FCC could do more to help everyone adopt HD Radio. While I certainly can't see the FCC "forcing" everyone to go digital as they did with TV, it would help if broadcasters could increase their HD signals. When I bought the Insignia portable HD tuner, I tried listening to some local HD Radio, but noticed the HD signals are so much weaker than the analog signals, that the signals would often cut out, and didn't really "reach" too far. If HD Radio signals could be stronger and more reliable, that could also encourage more listeners to get on board.