Sudden Death For Pro Football Weekly

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pro Football Weekly announced that it is ceasing publication after 46 years. In addition to the magazine, the PFW brand was also attached to a weekly TV series that aired on many regional sports networks. Two special issues of PFW will be published later this month.

Pro Football Weekly announced that it is ceasing publication after 46 years. In addition to the magazine, the PFW brand was also attached to a weekly TV series that aired on many regional sports networks. Two special issues of PFW will be published later this month.

The harsh reality of the newspaper industry in the 21st century is that the survival rate is not very favorable – whether you’re an employee of the paper, or the paper itself.

Just this week, we saw the Chicago Tribune sever ties with its entire photography unit, which consisted of just over two dozen people.

And at the end of the week, we saw one of America’s longest-running sports publications, Pro Football Weekly, announce that they have played their final down.

The publisher and editor of the magazine, Hub Arkush, wrote a goodbye message on PFW’s website on Friday, explaining that their attempt to “build a bridge for [us] from the rapidly deteriorating world of old media to the new, exploding market of digital media” was confounded because, “try as we might, we couldn’t get enough of you to pay what it cost us to deliver it.”

Arkush also shared what would be the penultimate post on the magazine’s website: a notice that Chicago-based bankruptcy trustee Tailwind Services LLC has assumed the assets of the publication, which was also based in the Windy City. A table also broke down the sad facts: liabilities totaling $8.5 million, or roughly 45 times as much as the assets listed.

Indeed, Arkush explained that he and all of his PFW colleagues “have worked at greatly reduced pay and, at times, no pay at all for a very long time and under the most difficult of circumstances and pressures to avoid this outcome.” He added that for “every single writer… the pay was always small, when it came at all, and yet they almost never complained and all that most of them ever wanted to know was what they could do to help.” He lauded the “commitment” of the PFW staffers as the publication neared its predictable but unfortunate end.

In recent years, despite its antiquated name, Pro Football Weekly was more of a brand than a publication. As the magazine continued, they also made a foray into the digital world, not just with new articles posted to its website, and a Facebook and Twitter account to promote them, but an iPhone app, as well.

“PFW” also lent its brand to a weekly radio show, which was carried by many terrestrial and Internet radio stations. That show actually came into my crosshairs late last year, when Arkush, who had co-hosted the show, had commented that Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano’s return to the team after successfully overcoming a cancer diagnosis would distract the team as it entered the playoffs. (It was the .750 record of interim head coach Bruce Arians, now with the Arizona Cardinals, that was largely responsible for the Colts’ successful 2012 campaign.)

Since the end of the recent NFL season, I couldn’t help but notice that regular “PFW” radio co-host Wayne Larrivee, best knwon as the radio voice of the Green Bay Packers, had been largely absent from the broadcast. On many weeks, Arkush would start the show with a message that Larrivee was “on assignment”, but in recent weeks, those messages fell by the wayside, leading many to believe that he had exited the show. No word on the future of the radio show, which actually posted a brand new episode this week.

Also in doubt is the future of the weekly television series that bore the publication’s name. Arkush also co-hosted this show, as well. The regular crew for the TV series consisted of Comcast SportsNet Chicago personality Pat Boyle as general host, with WMVP/”ESPN 1000″ Chicago midday host and NFL Network analyst Tom Waddle and WSCR/”670 The Score” Chicago personality and Bears Hall of Famer Dan Hampton also serving as co-hosts. It was just a few years ago that the television series would receive negative publicity for not one, but two things that Hampton said in the same show. During the Week 1 preview of the 2010 season, while breaking down the Dallas Cowboys’ season opener vs. the Washington Redskins, Hampton had opined that the Cowboys “think they are Clint Eastwood [but] they’re more of the Brokeback variety,” a reference to gay cowboys from the movie “Brokeback Mountain.” And in the final segment of that show, Hampton commented that in the season’s “kickoff” game between the Minnesota Vikings and the then-Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints, the Vikings would pull an upset by hitting New Orleans “like Katrina,” a reference to the devastating hurricane that ravaged the state of Louisiana five years earlier. Hampton would issue an apology for both remarks on the next show. (However, that would not stop Hampton from making a veiled reference to one of his foot-in-mouth comments on the very next show.)

Alas, we don’t know if both “PFW” programs in either the television or radio mediums will be back on the air for the 2013 NFL season. There are plans to publish two special issues of the magazine, previewing the upcoming football season, as well as a fantasy football forecast, later this month – the proceeds of which will go directly to PFW’s creditors. But outside of those issues, the future of the publication is unclear. “The trustee [Tailwind] is now accepting bids on all of the Pro Football Weekly assets, and it is my greatest hope that someone with the necessary resources will come along and attempt to revive PFW,” Arkush wrote. He added that he would gladly cooperate in the return of the PFW brand, “but I’m afraid it is largely out of my control.”

Prior to this year’s NFL draft, Pro Football Weekly received a lot of buzz for Nolan Nawrocki’s scouting report of West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, who would eventually be taken by the New York Jets in the second round.

Who knew that it would be the last real signs of life for the publication, as it was in its death throes behind the scenes.

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Showtime Shows Warren Sapp The Door

Showtime will not be retaining Warren Sapp's services when "Inside The NFL" returns this fall. This development comes on the heels of news that NFL Network will likely part ways with Sapp when his contract expires this summer. Sapp recently filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

When the next season of “Inside The NFL” is underway, Warren Sapp will be on the outside looking in.

In a move anticipated back when he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy last month, Sapp has been dumped by Showtime’s seasonal weekly NFL digest. The news of his Showtime contract non-renewal was first reported by Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Sapp is an alumnus of the University of Miami). Jackson was also told that the other three “Inside The NFL” regulars, James Brown and Phil Simms from CBS (Showtime is a division of CBS) as well as NBC’s Cris Collinsworth, will all be returning when the show begins its fifth season on Showtime, and its 36th season overall – you may recall the series was waived back in 2008, when then-HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg cited changes in “the television landscape” as the reason for its dismissal.

This year at the Sports Emmy Awards, “Inside The NFL” was nominated for “outstanding weekly studio show,” while Brown and Collinsworth also earned “outstanding” host and analyst nods.

Not too shabby for a show that’s been canceled by HBO. So I guess you can call “Inside The NFL” the “Family Guy” of sports shows.

As we learned from Sapp’s bankruptcy report, Showtime paid him $45,000 annually during his four-year tenure with “Inside The NFL.” Right underneath that listing, on page 34 of the report, is a blurb that read, “Debtor’s employment contract with NFL Network ends on August 31, 2012, and unknown if contract will be renewed.”

What led to Sapp’s removal from “Inside The NFL” – his calling out former Saints player Jeremy Shockey in the team’s “Bountygate” ordeal – is likely what will also lead to his eventual departure from NFL Network, where he’s been an analyst since his retirement from the NFL. Following his labeling Shockey “the snitch,” Sapp finished out that week on “Total Access,” but with his Twitter handle at the time, @QBKilla, being stripped from his on-air chyrons. He would then be absent from NFLN’s air for the entire month of April, and then some. He would return to the network’s “Total Access” program on May 2 – the day Junior Seau died in what has been ruled a suicide. And as I recently reported, his NFLN chyrons now include his current Twitter handle, @WarrenSapp.

While Sapp will desperately be searching for a new source of income in an attempt to overcome his financial woes, he’ll most likely find ways to keep himself busy. In addition to finishing out his stint at NFLN, he’s also appearing on a celebrity dating show on Fox. Titled “The Choice” (not to be confused with an “American Idol” ripoff on another network whose name rhymes with “The Choice”), Sapp and a cast of celebs ranging from Dean Cain to Carmen Electra choose regular Joes and Janes who throw themselves at the celebs, begging to go on dates with them.

He’ll also probably be going on a book tour to promote “Sapp Attack,” a new memoir, of which excerpts appeared in a review of the book by the Tampa Bay Times’ Gary Shelton.

As for that side project of his that we blew the lid off of – “The Judge Sapp Show”? The website of the firm that paid people to be in the audience of the show has announced that taping has just about wrapped up. And I’ve come to find out that when the shows, which were taped in late April, see the light of day, it will be via the YouTube channel of NOC (“Network Of Champions”), as opposed to a broadcast television outlet.

But who knows. If the “Judge Sapp” web pilot takes off – or, if you prefer, “goes viral” – it could potentially lead to a major distribution deal.

Lord knows Warren Sapp could use it, now that both of his television revenue streams are all but adjourned.

Warren Sapp Will Not Be Resurrected On NFL Network

NFL sources are saying that Warren Sapp's employment at NFL Network is "likely over." He's been absent from NFLN's airwaves for the previous two weeks, after he named former Saints player Jeremy Shockey as the "snitch" in the team's "Bountygate" scandal. This pre-recorded appearance, replayed on Wednesday's "Total Access," appears to be the last time Sapp graces the network's airwaves.

It certainly isn’t a very happy Easter for Warren Carlos Sapp.

After the NFL Network analyst declared on March 21 via Twitter that the “snitch” in the New Orleans Saints “Bountygate” scandal was former tight end Jeremy Shockey, he was absent from NFLN’s airwaves. He did finish out that week, with his last appearance on the network (in pre-recorded form) on the Saturday “week in review” edition of “Total Access” of that week. Since March 22, his Twitter handle at the time, @QBKilla, had been removed from his on-air chryons. Since then, he changed his Twitter handle to @WarrenSapp.

Now, news has emerged from the Boston Globe’s Greg Bedard that, per league sources, Sapp’s March 24 appearance on NFL Network should be his last, as his tenure there “is likely over.” (You have to scroll all the way down to read the blurb… talk about burying the lede.)

This on the heels of Sapp filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Florida.

As an NFL Network observer, I should point out that, in the previous two weeks, Sapp’s likeness was seen (albeit briefly) in promos for “Total Access” – though, it looks like they’re going to have to update those promos now. Also, during a segment on Wednesday’s “Total Access” setting up a debate as to which position New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning – who led the team to a second Super Bowl this past February – should appear in this year’s installment of the “Top 100 Players” after being overlooked from last year’s edition, NFL Network played video clips from last year of analysts reacting to the snub – including Sapp.

“He’s ranked lower in quarterback rating than Kyle Orton and Jay Cutler,” Sapp argued on June 12. “David Garrard is higher than [Manning] in the quarterback rating… When you’re a quarterback of a ball club, and you’re name is Manning, you don’t give the ball away more than any other quarterback in the league.”

Sapp wasn’t identified on the replayed piece. In fact, if you listen closely and compare Wednesday’s replay (at 1:10) to the original June 12 clip (at 3:39), another panelist’s calling Warren’s name – right when Sapp said “… in the league” – was edited out of the piece when it was recycled on Wednesday.

You don’t have to be Zapruder to figure out that NFLN is in the process of washing their hands completely of the former “QBKilla”.

(And note that when the show returned live after playing the June 12 clip, Lindsay Rhodes responded, “I’m sure he could have gone in a totally different direction with all of that” – can’t confirm if that was a dig at Sapp or not.)

Anyway, it appears that that will be Sapp’s final appearance on NFL Network’s airwaves. And when you factor in his final official appearance back on March 24, his final two appearances on NFLN have both been Memorex.

Bedard notes via a source that “Sapp’s next on-air appearance has not been determined.” So it looks like he’s as good as done over there.

Sapp still appears on many video segments on the website – to date, the only one the league-run network has scrubbed was the one from their library of videos was from March 21, when Rich Eisen asked Sapp to elaborate on his tweet insisting that Shockey was a “snitch.”

Hopefully, Sapp lands on his feet soon, especially with his financial situation. The next likely landing spot would be ESPN – and as I just speculated as I broke down the unofficial 2012 NFL schedule that was leaked last week, a Buccaneers/Raiders “Monday Night Football” broadcast on ESPN (scheduled for September 9) would be an ideal spot for Sapp to cut his teeth at the Worldwide Leader (Sapp spent his entire NFL career with those two franchises).

Or, I don’t know, maybe he can find work as a journalist.

Tiki Barber Follows Failed NFL Comeback With Failed Television Comeback

Desperate and destitute, Tiki Barber will be making a television comeback this weekend, after his former team, the New York Giants, play in the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers. But it appears that fate has had the last laugh on Tiki Barber.

What a tumultuous last year it’s been for Tiki Barber.

Or five.

You may recall when the second-round draft-picked running back, who spent his entire football career with the New York Giants, decided to pull a Jim Brown and embark on an exciting new career in television at the conclusion of the 2006 NFL season.

Quite frankly, Tiki fell flat as a media figure. He had actually started dabbling with a television career, auditioning on Fox News Channel during his final season with the Giants. Hard to believe, as many as four networks actually competed for the free-agent TV talent’s services, with NBC becoming the eventual winner – or shall I say, eventual loser. What started as a giant (no pun intended) role on “The Today Show” effectively turned into a demotion as a studio-host-cum-roving-early-game-correspondent on “Football Night In America.” Apparently, NBC had seen enough when they unceremoniously dumped him in the summer of 2010. You know, kinda like how Tiki unceremoniously dumped his eight-months-pregnant-with-twins wife for an NBC intern just months earlier.

Around that time, the former grid great who made O.J. Simpson look like a ladies’ man admitted he was financially unable to pay his divorce settlement with his newly-estranged ex-wife.

He was flat broke – just like his flat television career.

WWTD: What would Tiki do?

Four years removed from the game of football, and probably putting on a hell of a lot more than the ten pounds the traditional camera puts on, Tiki Barber decided to unretire.

Teams such as the Steelers, the Dolphins, and even the Buccaneers – who have been signing the paychecks of his twin brother Ronde for the last fifteen years (and probably has had a brighter media career than Tiki, at this point) – gave him a look.

But there would be no takers.

Which meant no new revenue stream.

Which meant no money to put toward his former wife.

Or the wedding with his future wife.

To say Tiki Barber is at a point of desperation is an understatement. Even Shelley Long has no sympathy for Tiki Barber.

How desperate is Tiki Barber, you may ask? Well, he just signed on to be a talking head for SNY, the regional sports network which is mostly owned by the New York Mets – the baseball franchise involved in Bernie Madoff’s infamous Ponzi scheme.

When you have to resort to a Madoff victim for extra cash, clearly, you have hit rock bottom.

Anyway, Barber’s television comeback will start with the Giants/49ers postgame program on SNY, which begins after the final snap in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday night.

Said Barber of the hire: “I am looking forward to providing my insights.” Translation: “I am looking forward to providing a spectacular honeymoon suite for Traci Lynn Johnson.”

“Hopefully it will be after a Giants win.” Translation 1: “… because the more appearances I make on television, the more opportunities there are for a Giant pay day!” Translation 2: “Hopefully, the Giants will lose because I can’t wait to rip them again.”

You may recall back in the summer of 2007, back when Tiki Barber’s floundering TV career was in its fledgling stage, when during the halftime show of a “Sunday Night Football” preseason game between the Giants and Baltimore Ravens, one of the first games Big Blue played since his departure, he questioned quarterback Eli Manning’s leadership, calling it “comical.”

And all Manning did was lead the Tiki-free Giants to a Super Bowl victory.

Salt, meet wound.

It’s hard to tell if Barber is more bitter than desperate. The Giants had made the playoffs for half of the ten seasons Barber suited up with them, and four of those five playoff appearances were one-and-dones; Barber’s personal postseason record is 2-5, with the two lone wins coming in the Super Bowl also-ran 2000-01 postseason. Since Tiki took his ball and went home, the Giants’ postseason record is 6-1, and with a victory in San Francisco on Sunday, they’ll be sniffing another Lombardi trophy.

Again: salt, meet wound.

At the cusp of a scurried, post-lockout 2011 preseason, when all 32 teams finalized their rosters, Barber’s agent, Mark Lepselter, said he was “flabbergasted that Tiki has not had an opportunity with any team.”

I’m flabbergasted that Mark Lepselter wasn’t very flabbergasted by his client’s Anne Frank comparison, enough that Lepselter still represents him.

And now, a network in which the Mets have a 65% ownership in has rewarded the fallen football star, who had experienced an even greater fall than Humpty Dumpty on television, with a stint on their NFC Championship game postgame show.

Could you imagine if David Einhorn had successfully became a minority owner of the Mets? That idea probably would have been sacked in a second.

Perhaps it’s poetic justice, with Tiki Barber abandoning his wife of eleven years while she was carrying two twin daughters in the latter half of their third trimester, that he now has to resort to odd jobs in television in the wake of a TV career that has collapsed worse than that playoff game in San Francisco.

Submitted for your approval: His appearances on the revival of the PBS series, “The Electric Company.” I’m sure if he were alive, even George Carlin (the raunchy comedian who doubled as “Mr. Conductor” on “Shining Time Station”) would think that’s a questionable move.

Now, he’s making his second go-round on non-public television with the conclusion of the NFC Championship Game featuring his former team. Sounds like an installment of “Prankster Planet,” if you ask me.

By the way, just to give you an idea of just how bad things have gotten for Tiki Barber: Earlier this month, while at a New York City courthouse for a divorce proceeding conference, he was reportedly “rushed by a dozen court staffers in the waiting area.” And according to a court source, Tiki was reprotedly “loving it.”

Tiki will be lucky if he gets as much attention this Sunday night on SNY.

Tiki Barber’s fall from grace has been, to say the least, just flabbergasting.

WWTD(F$): What would Tiki do (for money)?

To Faze WFAN, ESPN Radio Needs An FM Signal (And, Yes, The Mets, Too)

2012 is a make-or-break year for ESPN Radio (whose personalities include Mike Golic, pictured) to acquire an FM signal for their New York radio station, if they really want to wish WFAN an unhappy 25th anniversary.

July 1 of this year will mark the 25th anniversary of WFAN in New York. At the time, it was the first 24-hours-a-day sports radio station in the country. Today, in a radio landscape where radio companies like CBS Radio – WFAN’s eventual owner in the 1990’s – are putting more and more of their stock in stations with an all-sports format, specifically on the FM band, WFAN remains virtually in a class by itself in New York. That’s because no other area radio station has really given them a run for their money in the format. There was AM 620 in the late 1990’s, which carried the national sports network One-On-One Sports, which later became Sporting News Radio (and is now known as Yahoo! Sports Radio); these days, AM 620 consists largely of brokered ethnic programming, so don’t let the call letters they have had for over ten years – WSNR – fool you.

Enter AM 1050, which would ditch a format, ironically, consisting largely of brokered ethnic programming, in favor of “1050 ESPN Radio” on September 2, 2001. (Yes, roughly a week before 9/11.) The bigger footnote of irony here is that AM 1050 was exactly where WFAN had initially launched its sports format on July 1, 1987. Fifteen months later, WFAN would vacate the 1050 signal in favor of the stronger AM 660, which was being sold to Emmis by General Electric, which was selling its radio division known as NBC Radio – including the legendary 66 WNBC. (Here’s a refresher on how to say the call letters properly, featuring former WNBC alumnus Howard Stern.) AM 1050 would obtain the WEPN calls in 2003; the station had been operated by ESPN parent company ABC/Disney under a local marketing agreement with the station’s format owner during the first two years of its sports format.

The ratings battle between WFAN and WEPN was anything but, especially in the beginning. In the most recent PPM’s for the New York market, WFAN has been outrating WEPN by about a 2-to-1 margin – though WEPN should be given credit for coming a long way from the sub-1.0 numbers they started out with. Over the years, WFAN has not only been buoyed by a better signal than WEPN, but by more attractive live sports programming deals, as well. New York Mets radio broadcasts on WFAN was grandfathered from their previous existence as country WHN. Also, they assumed Knicks and Rangers radio play-by-play with the sale of WNBC in 1987. WFAN has also been the radio home of the New York football Giants for years. WEPN’s first major sports play-by-play package was with New York Islanders hockey. Over the years, they have established themselves as the radio home of the New York Jets (previously, CBS Radio owned the rights, and games were carried on the now-defunct “92.3 K-Rock” – which had the aforementioned Stern in morning drive for years – and shared with WFAN, as well). In the mid-2000’s, they also acquired Knicks and Rangers radio rights from its rival (it helps when they play their home games in the same building where your studio is located); WFAN filled the voids by obtaining radio broadcasts of the New Jersey Nets (soon to be Brooklyn Nets) and the New Jersey Devils. (For what it’s worth, these days, the flagship station of the Islanders games is the radio station operated by Hofstra University – yes, an NHL franchise’s play-by-play on college radio… how the mighty have fallen.) And a major part of this equation could be ending this year, and it involves the area sports team that has yet to be mentioned in this paragraph, but is possibly more successful than all of the other area sports franchises combined: the New York Yankees. Their games are currently heard on WCBS-AM – sister station of WFAN. Upon the Yankees’ contract expiring at the end of 2011, both parties extended their broadcast contract – but only for one more year. Coincidentally, 2012 is the final year of the Mets’ current radio deal with WFAN. In recent years, the Mets have not only been a perennial losing franchise, having made the postseason only once in the last decade, but they have even experienced historic late-season collapses which resulted in missing the playoffs. Then, there is that whole Madoff thing. Given all that, it is being heavily speculated that WFAN will simply let their contract with the Mets expire, opting for a new contract with the Yankees, effective 2013. The early favorite to land the Mets radio rights at that point, naturally, would be the other sports radio station in New York, WEPN. Or, when you consider the team’s financial situation, perhaps they can always sign a deal with Hofstra’s radio station… or, for that matter, AM 620. The baseball play-by-play scene on local radio will be one to watch this fall.

Until then, there will be something else worth keeping tabs on if you follow sports radio in New York: whether or not WEPN will migrate from the AM band at 1050, to FM. For the second time in as many years, a major FM signal is up for sale. Last summer, Emmis – you may recall, they had sold WFAN just two decades ago – in an attempt to avoid possible bankruptcy, had put 101.9 FM in New York for sale, as well as two FM stations in Chicago. ESPN was said to be in the running for the trio of stations (the ESPN Radio station in Chicago is also on the AM dial), but they were ultimately sold to Merlin Media, an upstart group led by radio veteran Randy Michaels. That was the first radio station sale in Market No. 1 since 2009, when classical station WQXR was sold by The New York Times Company (following GE’s footsteps of getting out of the radio business back in 1988) as part of a three-way deal with Univision, which obtained the old radio frequency of WQXR, and new York Public Radio, which continues to operate WQXR’s content on Univision’s previous radio dial position.

This year, there may be one – possibly two – FM signals up for grabs. Family Stations, owner of 94.7 FM, recently filed to change their license status from non-commercial to commercial; such a move is usually a precursor to the station being sold. In 2011, Family Stations sold two FM stations in two top-ten radio markets, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., which were sold, respectively, to Merlin Media and CBS Radio; the end result in these sales will be the creation of new 24-hour all-news FM stations in their respective markets – for Merlin Media, that would mean three of its four stations would be operating an all-news format. (The President of Family Stations is Harold E. Camping, who gained notoriety for predicting two “raptures” in 2011 that never happened; he has since suffered a stroke.) The other New York City radio station that could be on the market is 107.5 FM, which has been owned by Inner City Broadcasting for over 35 years. (Side note: In the early 1950’s, 107.5 first signed on the air as WEVD – which were the same call letters that AM 1050 possessed up until 2003.) Recently, though, Inner City has been overwhelmed with financial problems (though they didn’t do business with Bernie Madoff like the Mets have). In fact, this week, there will be a hearing related to the auction of a subsidiary of Inner City. Of Inner City Broadcasting’s radio stations, only their San Francisco station may be put up for sale. But with enough time – and enough cash – you might see Inner City change their tune and agree to sell their FM station in New York. I could easily see a scenario where ESPN, should they not end up getting 94.7 FM from Family Stations, make an aggressive pitch to Inner City for 107.5. ESPN has seen major opportunities pass them by to obtain an FM signal in New York; they’ll be determined not to lose out again – especially if they plan to become the new radio home of the Mets come 2013.

Sports talk has flourished on the FM band in recent years. CBS Radio had dethroned WEEI in Boston not long after launching “98.5 FM The Sports Hub”, and seeks similar success in markets such as Pittsburgh and Cleveland. But what has been a blessing for CBS in these markets has been a curse in Philadelphia: CBS’ WIP has seen their audience erode with the emergence of “97.5 FM The Fanatic” and hopes to stop the bleeding with a simulcast of WIP launched on 94.1 FM last fall. It should be noted that, of the four ESPN owned-and-operated radio stations – all in top-five radio markets with the exception of San Francisco – only their Dallas property is on the FM dial. Usually, that station is competitive with the other two competing sports stations in the Metroplex – both of which also have presences on FM. (Though KESN, the radio home of the Texas Rangers, saw their ratings cut in half with the end of the baseball season.) True, both all-sports radio stations in New York are on the AM dial, with WFAN being the 50,000-watt blowtorch. In fact, it was the directional signal issues on AM 1050 (that still exist today; WEPN simulcasts on an AM station in central New Jersey, and for awhile, also simulcast on an FM station in Eastern Long Island) that partly led to Emmis pulling the trigger on a deal to bring WFAN to the stronger signal on AM 660 two dozen years ago. And WEPN has improved their performance, not only in the radio rights department, but with their on-air talent, as well: Yankees television play-by-play man Michael Kay, who had been with the station practically since its inception, now has popular New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica as a lead-in. But if ESPN Radio really wants to up the ante against “the sports leader” – as WFAN promotes itself on the air – they’ll pursue an FM signal for WEPN, then perhaps follow that up with a deal with the Mets. Even as unappealing as the Mets have been since the start of the 21st century, an allegiance with the team could translate into instant revenue for WEPN – especially if they’re broadcasting on FM.

Like the broadcast rights to a baseball franchise, the opportunities to own an FM station are few and far between, especially in New York. The difference is, it might appear as if the Mets might be giving their radio rights away – especially if their performance in 2012 is execrable.

But right now, there’s two strikes (sales) against ESPN Radio in New York, and the bases could be loaded.

A perfect opportunity to hit a home run – and perhaps spoil WFAN’s 25th anniversary.

(You are also encouraged to read another perspective of a possible 94.7 FM sale by RadioInsight.com‘s Lance Venta. He projects that the three area regional sports networks could also make a play for the frequency. Those three networks, incidentally, all have WFAN personalities either appearing on or have their shows simulcast on them: MSG (“Boomer & Carton”), SNY/Sportsnet New York (Chris Carlin et al.), and YES Network (“Mike’d Up”/Mike Francesa). And let’s not forget the slim possibility of CBS, even though they’re maxed out on local ownership properties – 3 AM stations, 3 FM stations and 2 TV stations with the recent acquisition of a station on Long Island – somehow gunning for 94.7 FM, perhaps, for a simulcast of WFAN, or one of their two all-news stations which are also on the AM dial.)