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ON THE RADIO.
April 5, 2002
by Bill Hogan

 

 
 

With the premiere of MTV on August 1, 1981, "Video Killed the Radio Star".

When the YES network made its debut in March 2002, it may have been the best thing to happen to radio in over twenty years.

 
 

In the Yankee Entertainment and Sports (YES) network, George Steinbrenner has found another way to squeeze a nickel out of his fans. Or, more accurately, a buck-eighty-five a month. That is, if you already have cable or satellite TV.

Thatís what the executives at YES want to charge for the privilege of watching the Bronx Bombers this summer. They want YES to be included in your basic cable package. They want Cablevision to up the basic cable rates to cover the charge and look like the evil doers.

The real kick in the pants for Yankee fans is that these gluttons havenít figured out the bigger picture. Not everybody has cable service to begin with. Look around the rooftops in the New York metropolitan area and youíll find many, many antennas searching the airwaves for local television signals, you dopes!

So a buck-eighty-five doesnít sound like much. But you have to be paying thirty plus dollars a month already to subscribe to basic cable, you arrogant, ignorant, greedy you-know-whats!

Pardon my fan rant (or as I like to call it - a frant). Iím not even a Yankee fan and this issue burns me up. As it should all baseball fans. You never know which team will be next to jump on the all-pay-per-view money train.

Just what America needs Ė another 24-hour sports channel. With what do these geniusí plan to fill the hundreds of hours of dead air time each month when the Yankees arenít playing?

A "Pride of the Yankees" marathon is good for about two days. How about a(nother) talk show - they can assemble four or five ex-players and a really hot sports anchor and call it "The Worst Damn Sports Show on the Worst Damn Network Ė Period".

Maybe they can get Bob Vila to sign on for "This Old House That Ruth Built". He can spend an entire season documenting the renovation of the stadium urinals.

Or a Martha Stewart fashion show called "Pretty In Pinstripes". Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada could be semi-regulars modeling the latest in Yankee day-game-wear.

Iím sure some eager YES board member has mentioned the revenue potential of starting a late night segment called YSN Ė the Yankee Shopping Network. Where you can purchase the Chuck Knoblock matching jock strap and sweat socks set for three E-Z payments of a buck-eighty-five.

If youíre chuckling at Yankee fans right now because of this dilemma remember Braves fans, TBS is a cable station.

I have a simple solution for every fan that is unwilling or unable to pay a premium to watch their team play:

Radio.

Since Quin Ryan first called the play-by-play for WGN in Chicago on April 14, 1925 at the Cubs-Pirates game, baseball has been brought to the masses over your local AM dial.

Check all your old junk drawers and Iíll bet you find a transistor radio. If not, theyíre about six dollars at K-mart.

Then tune in to the local station that carries your team and go outside and play catch with your kids while you listen to the action. Or take a walk or mow the lawn.

Radio announcers know you canít see whatís going on. So they are more into the game, more descriptive and more informative. We all know what Wrigley Field looks like, let your imagination do the rest.

How many television announcers really tell you whatís going on? All you get is "Oh, My!" and "Did you see that?" Well if youíre in the kitchen getting a beer, no, you didnít see that and you didnít hear about it either.

Half an inning can go by and all youíve heard is some ex-playerís amusing anecdote about the time he short-sheeted Boog Powellís bed on a road trip to Kansas City.

My Uncle George recently reminisced about a time when he could leave his home in Brooklyn, walk up the block to the market, pick up a quart of milk and return without missing a single pitch of the Dodgers game. Because the streets were filled with fans listening to the game on radio. Food for thought.

In 1981, video killed the radio star. In 2002, maybe radio can kill the notion that if you want to be a die-hard baseball fan, youíre going to have to pay.

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