There is an old familiar adage: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
Based on the many gaffes committed by Los Angeles media in covering the eighth-seeded Kings’ magical run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year – from using the logo of the NBA franchise in Sacramento, to an anchor maiming the names of two popular Kings players and then some – perhaps it would best be wise for KTLK-AM to act as if the Kings didn’t even qualify for the postseason.
However, KTLK-AM has been the flagship radio station of the Kings since 2006. And the sobering reality is, at least on their website, they are acting as if the Kings didn’t even qualify for the postseason.
A major stick tap (as the hockey bloggers refer to a “hat tip”) to SoCal Media Watch, who alerted us to this bitter irony on Wednesday, the first game of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals, in which the Kings faced off against the New Jersey Devils. And with an overtime goal scored and assisted, respectively, by two of Liz Habib’s favorite Kings players, Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty, the Kings seized the home ice advantage from the Devils (who, for what it’s worth, are the sixth-seeded team in the Eastern Conference this season). Game 2 is scheduled for tonight in Jersey.
So, after a thrilling overtime win by the Kings, let’s see what the Kings’ flagship radio station is saying on their website about the local NHL franchise whose games they carry. Granted, there is a widget on the front page of their website, “Fox Sports LA News,” but you have to scroll all the way down to the bottom to see it. And even still, any Kings-related items would eventually be knocked off in favor of news related to the Dodgers, or as was the case on Friday afternoon, the NBA. So let’s see if there’s any love for the Kings on the meat and potatoes of the KTLK-AM website. “Romney Wins GOP Nomination,” reads one of the rotating headlines on the station’s featured news frame. KTLK runs a progressive talk format, so it’s not necessarily a shock to find political news items on the station’s website. “Win tickets to Stephanie Miller’s Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour.” She’s the syndicated morning radio host based at KTLK; you might remember her from that syndicated late-night talk show she hosted for five minutes. “Gitmo prisoners forced to listen to Sesame Street music.” Okay, well, based on the lack of sports items here, provided you’re not turned off by a typo in the headline of that last item, you’re going to look for Kings news on the KTLK website. And why not, they’ve been airing Kings games for seven years.
By going under the “news” menu and clicking “sports,” you’re taken to the “KTLK-AM Sports News” page. And they list the sports on the page alphabetically: auto racing, baseball, college football, college basketball, golf, NBA basketball, NFL football and tennis.
Did you notice something a bit amiss with that list? If you guessed that “college basketball” should come before “college football” on that alphabetized list, well, that’s valid, but there’s a bigger issue: nowhere on the list of sports on the “KTLK-AM Sports News” page is a section for hockey news. And the fact that KTLK-AM airs hockey play-by-play, while their website is void of hockey news on their own “Sports News” page is an anomaly.
But wait. There’s hope yet. Look under the “on air” menu, and you’ll find that the second item listed under “program schedule” is “sports schedule.” Surely, KTLK holds their sports broadcasting contracts in high regard if they’ve got the sports schedule prominently listed on the menu before the Stephanie Miller page, right?
Wrong. The most recent item on the “sports schedule” page is the schedule for the week of… April 9. Listings for three games from the first round series against the Canucks, plus a Galaxy (major league soccer) game. This tells you either one of two things: that KTLK had such little faith in the Kings, that they didn’t bother to update their sports schedule page, assuming that they would be eliminated by the end of the month of April; or the station hired a new webmaster and he hasn’t a clue how to update the sports schedule page. And right underneath that “recent” schedule is the one for the week of… March 26! That’s right, the schedule for the week of April 2 never saw the light of day! And even more embarrassing is the fact that the schedule for the week of March 26 was posted, according to the page, on March 27 – and yes, there was a Kings game scheduled for March 26. Oops.
Forget about the Kings for a minute. How would you feel if you were the LA Galaxy? They’ve played months of games that haven’t been listed on the station’s sports schedule, either. (Oh, and there’s not even a “soccer” category on their “sports news” page. Double whammy.)
“Inept” doesn’t even begin to describe this situation.
So after checking the two dedicated sports pages on the website, the last resort is to use the “search” function on the station’s website. A search for the word “Kings” gives you this message: “Page not found. The page you are requesting has been moved or is no longer available. You may use the menu below to help find the page you were looking for.” You are then served with a dozen links for “news,” “info” and “photos” – one of which is titled “sports gallery.”
Eh, why not. Maybe there’s a photo of Kopitar scoring the game-winning overtime goal from Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Nope. Actually, let me rephrase that: Hell nope.
The first photo displayed on the station’s “sports highlights” gallery is of Mark Ingram winning the Heisman Trophy. In 2009.
Ensuing photos show random mistresses of Tiger Woods, in light of that nasty marital spat with his wife Elin – in 2009.
Keep clicking, and you’ll find a boatload of photos from the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies from the 2009 World Series. Both teams returned to their respective league championship series the following year; other than that, neither team has yet to even sniff the World Series since then, which kinda gives you an idea of just how dated these “sports highlights” are.
Or just how clueless the webmaster of KTLKAM1150.com is. Look, if you’re a talk radio station, and your hosts are going to be jabbering about Obama and Romney during this election year, of course, you’re going to have relevant content on your station’s website. But suppose your station has to cut away from the political talk for a few hours to carry sports, and honor a contract to carry a certain team’s games all year. If that team goes all the way to the championship round, wouldn’t you want to recognize that team prominently on your station’s website? Wouldn’t it be a better idea to throw up a shot of Anze Kopitar thwarting Martin Brodeur in overtime of the first game of the Stanley Cup Finals, rather than a file photo of the Muppets attached to the Gitmo torture story?
By comparison, the Devils’ current flagship station is New York’s WFAN. And predictably, the premier sports radio station in the country has a section on their website dedicated to the Eastern Conference champions. But even WABC, a talk station that was the previous New York radio home of the Devils, gives away tickets to Devils games on their website!
(And speaking of WABC – as in WABC-TV – how does this happen? Did they not get the memo that the Devils are in the Stanley Cup Finals, and the Islanders are once again watching them, just like they’ve been for the last thirty years?)
What’s interesting is that a sister station of KTLK-AM, alternative rock station KYSR “98.7 FM”, appears to be more enthusiastic about the Kings being in the Stanley Cup Finals than the Kings’ own flagship station. On 98.7’s website, you’ll find a link to their “Locker Room” page, which has a ton of Kings items, including an image of Kopitar’s game-winning goal from Game 1 – and yes, a chance to win tickets to the Kings’ home games for the Stanley Cup Finals. Not only that, 98.7 has vowed that, in lieu of commercial breaks, they will simulcast coverage of the Kings/Devils Stanley Cup Finals games from sister station KTLK-AM.
“Our listeners are so excited about the LA Kings’ success so far,” says KYSR PD Julie Pilat. “And we are in the business of giving our listeners what they want. They want to hear their favorite alternative music and stay close to what’s happening in the Stanley Cup Finals. They can do both now with 98.7 FM.”
Someone appoint Julie Pilat the program director of KTLK-AM, please.
Seriously, how bizarre is it that a rock station is going more gaga about the Los Angeles Kings than the station in SoCal that actually carries Kings games on the radio? You can argue that the demographics for the average alternative radio listener and the average hockey fan go hand-in-hand. But you’d be hard-pressed to find not only news about the Kings’ Stanley Cup Finals run on the KTLK website, you can’t even find the start times of the games on the KTLK website!
Which is what makes this KTLK-KYSR sporadic Stanley Cup simulcast arrangement very interesting. Could it be a possible audition for Kings games to be heard year-round on 98.7 FM? Last year, the Kings re-upped with KTLK to carry their games into the 2013-14 season. I would think they’d have to honor that first. But before it expires, you have to wonder if the Kings will express interest in their games being heard on FM, now that they’ve had a taste of it in their Stanley Cup run. And if the Kings emerge this year as the victors of Lord Stanley’s Cup, they might throw a little weight around sooner than that. If you’re followed the radio trades in recent years, if it isn’t news of an AM sports radio station migrating to FM, it’s a team moving its play-by-play from AM to FM. And a rock station doubling as the radio play-by-play home of an NHL franchise is not unorthodox: Pittsburgh’s “105.9 The X” has been airing Penguins games since 2006 – and that station, like KYSR and KTLK-AM, is owned by Clear Channel.
Win or lose, though, the Kings have every right to request KYSR be their new radio home in L.A.
It would certainly beat being treated like mere peasants on the website of their current radio flagship.