They get a scant two minutes at the end of the news, and most are asked to do the “odd jobs” around the station. So you tell me…how great is job security for your local sports anchor on TV?
Cleveland – In the name of progress, the world sees new dinosaurs at every turn.
When I speak of dinosaurs, I mean things like the pay telephone, once a common sight on nearly every street corner of the United States, but now have become very hard to locate.
That’s without mentioning the rotary dial phone you may have seen in a past lifetime.
Pay phones have joined things like 8-track tapes and home delivery of milk. In a sports context, dinosaurs you can name are baseball’s Montreal Expos, basketball’s Cincinnati Royals, hockey’s Cleveland Barons and football’s Los Angeles Rams. They are gone and are not coming back!
That also may be said in the near future of local television sports anchors.
I don’t know about the TV market in which you live, but in Northeast Ohio, it’s like watching the guy who used to wear the sandwich signboards (another dinosaur) telling us “the end is near” for the local TV sports anchor.
I say this with all respect to those who have the courage to go in front of the TV camera day after day.
But I can see a news director boldly deciding that his station can do without a sports anchor’s salary and benefits package in exchange for the two minutes of air time to sports on each broadcast.
TV guys have always complained about their lack of air time but today that air time could be easily given back to the news team for another house fire or story on the recovery of a lost puppy.
A very unscientific study of mine of newscasts on stations in the Cleveland market area over the past few months, tells me one thing.
A news director could very easily pull the plug on the sports guy and hand them to the crack news team that might not know if the ball in play is blown up or stuffed to cut the budget and the general public would not know the difference.
A common weekday sports segment will include a story on an Indians game with video highlights followed by what seems to be the daily Browns story any time of the year and a third story with video, of course, to fill the time allotment.
Anything with video for a local television station is gold. Have video and you chance of getting on are very good. You will see an endless string of game winning RBI singles along with the final out of a game to get the sports segment into high gear.
And if the Browns do anything, and I mean anything, they get into the show. I can guess that the average viewer will see more stories on the Browns off the field than on the field. It’s heart warming that the Browns players chipped in to volunteer to paint the house of a U.S. military veteran. But it would have been a far better story if the painting had been done by some school kids. You have to remember, this is the Browns.
If you have two minutes of air time, there are much better ways to go out and find quality video that you can air.
There are two times the local sports anchor steps outside the box. One is for Friday high school football which gets extended coverage especially on stations with a 10 p.m. newscast. Stations that carry Jay Leno and David Letterman exclude those stations from going long with high school football.
The other belong to stations which carry a 30-minute weekend sports wrap-up but depending on the season, the shows are dominated by Browns, Indians and Cavaliers stories. Well enough, but it’s not much you don’t know already.
Considering these factors, the professional moves of Cleveland TV sports guys have taken an interesting twist.
The top guy at the NBC affiliate has long been the radio voice of the Browns but he recently added the duties of being co-anchor of the station’s 7 p.m. news show to go with his 6 p.m. sports segment.
The No. 2 guy at the station does the Tribe pre-game show on the cable outlet for the Indians, which is shot at the same studio of the NBC affiliate.
The sports director at the ABC affiliate now has added a four-hour radio show late in the morning on Cleveland’s new FM sports station. That station’s No. 2 guy has long been a host of a cable golf show that is far wider exposure than the two minutes he gets in his time following local news and weather. And he can be heard as a fill-in on that same FM sports station.
The Fox and CBS sports guys don’t have regular radio gigs but both are regular guests on the FM sports station to keep their names in the front of the sports public.
And the former TV guy on the Fox station recently gave up doing both TV and radio to concentrate on his AM sports radio show that runs five mornings a week for four hours at a clip.
In short, I think the local TV sports anchors see the time coming and none wants to be on the wrong end of the news at a station where the news director pulled the plug and killed the sports segment and their job in one move.
Time will tell.
In TV, you stay around as long as you bring in revenue. I’m not so sure the future will be the same as the first 60 years of local TV, especially for the guy we have known as the local TV sports anchor.