Friday, June 19, 2009

What's the Score?

Who’s in Omaha?

What a difference four years make. Four years ago when The University of Texas at Austin last made it to the College World Series in Omaha and many years before that, it was automatic for all local television newsrooms to send a crew. It was in the budget. I mean, UT always went to the College World Series year after year. Put it
in the budget and plan on it.

In four short years times have changed. Now, it appears that only KEYE TV (CBS) sports director Bob Ballou, News 8’s (Time-Warner) Lesley McCaslin and Mike Berman, and Austin American-Statesman reporters Kirk Bohls and Alan Trubow are there, at least so far.

News 8 is making the biggest commitment. “We have a news crew, our satellite truck and 2 sports members… Lesley McCaslin and Mike Berman, says Kevin Benz, News 8 news director and acting manager. “Mike and Lesley have been there since before the first game, [and] our news crew and sat
truck were there yesterday.”

“No one commits to Texas sports like we do,” Benz adds.

It was automatic for KEYE too. “Pretty simple decision,” says Suzanne Black, KEYE’s news director. “The College World Series is important to the Longhorns and the Longhorns are important to Austin. We thought this was a good opportunity to support the home-town team. And logistically, it worked out that we could work with our Nexstar sister station from Fayetteville.” Arkansas was in the hunt until this week.

Noticeably absent are the #1, #2, and #3 TV stations, based on the May sweeps. NewsMcNabb got no response from #1 KVUE (ABC). Michael Fabac, KXAN (NBC) news director, did respond. “I will respectfully decline offering our competitive plans,” Fabac said. KXAN TV was #2. Sports Director Roger Wallace is anchoring coverage from here in Austin. There was no response from #3 KTBC, but that is not unusual.

Why haven’t the other stations been there from the beginning? It goes back to a comment made by KEYE’s Black. “Logistically, it worked out that we could work with our Nexstar sister station from Fayetteville.” It’s about money. In other words, KEYE could share the costs with another station. This sort of mutual back-scratching always helps the bottom line.

Championships, tournaments, and bowl games are budgeted just like the political conventions used to be. My educated guess is that the sports departments who are not represented in Omaha either did not budget for full coverage or (more likely) saw their budgets slashed. Budget meetings with your out-of-town owners are never fun, even four years ago and more.

So, News 8, KEYE TV, and the Austin American-Statesman ( shine for Longhorn fans. All of this does not mean that the other sportscasters will not show up should the Longhorns make it to the championship bracket. In fact, they probably will. It is worth shining a spot light on those who were there at the beginning.

© Jim McNabb, 2009

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