Backbone of `SI' staff, Reilly leaves for ESPN, $2M a year

October 26, 2007|By RAY FRAGER

Contemplating the sports media landscape while recalling that Bruce Springsteen's "57 Channels (And Nothin' On)" was written before the days of Versus and Fox Soccer Channel:

So maybe if my column ran in the back of The Sun sports section I'd get a big salary? Rick Reilly, whose back-page column has long been a staple of Sports Illustrated, is leaving the magazine for ESPN, it was announced earlier this week. He will write for ESPN The Magazine and espn.com and appear on various ESPN programs, starting in June.

This comes on the heels of SI's announcement that former ESPNer Dan Patrick is joining the magazine, which also will simulcast his syndicated radio show at SI.com.

Reilly will be paid a reported $2 million a year. Hey, for that kind of money, I'd produce a whole column on a single topic - or least devote more than three or four paragraphs to each subject.

But not yet.

Fox offered to put Joe Torre into the World Series booth with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, the New York Daily News reported, but Torre declined. Speaking of Torre - perhaps you heard something about his leaving his job as New York Yankees manager - USA Today reported he ranks highly as a potential commercial pitchman. A marketing consulting agency that interviews consumers to rate celebrities for commercial viability said Torre is as likable as Naomi Judd and Jennifer Lopez, as well-known as Bob Costas and Angie Harmon and a bit more trustworthy than Jack Nicholson and LL Cool J.

You just have to wonder how high up on the trust scale Nicholson ranks.

In case you missed this item in my blog (baltimoresun.com/mediumwell) last week - not that I'll yell at you for not reading, because I know you're busy - Orioles radio broadcasts produced encouraging numbers for WHFS.

The Arbitron ratings for July through September show Orioles games on WHFS (105.7 FM) performed better in two key demographics than they did last summer on WBAL (1090 AM), though WBAL still had the bigger overall audience. During the time period when most games aired (7 p.m. to midnight on weekdays), WHFS drew a 4.2 percent share of the audience aged 25 to 54 and 3.3 percent of the 18-34 group. In 2006, WBAL got 2.8 percent and 0.6 percent in those two, respectively. In overall (age 12 and older) audience, WHFS' 3.9 percent was short of WBAL's 4.6 percent.

By adding the Orioles, WHFS nearly quadrupled its 12-plus rating from summer 2006.

And now you see what happens when I use a ratings item. Another one appears.

Nationally, Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Fox beat NBC's Sunday Night Football, with the Boston Red Sox-Cleveland Indians drawing a 10.5 rating to an 8.3 for the Pittsburgh Steelers-Denver Broncos. That was reversed in Baltimore, where football beat baseball, 10.6-9.8. With such a tight margin here, perhaps it was because Baltimore viewers tuned out the ALCS when the Red Sox pulled away and tuned in to see the Steelers lose.

Perhaps you didn't notice, but the NBA season begins next week. TNT tips off with a doubleheader Tuesday, preceded by an hourlong preview show at 7 p.m. Reggie Miller is assuming a full-time game analyst role, working with Marv Albert and Mike Fratello.

ESPN's season starts Wednesday night at 8 with a doubleheader. Jeff Van Gundy, such a pleasant surprise when he broadcasted the playoffs last season, joins the network, paired with Mike Breen. ESPN also has added Jalen Rose and Rick Carlisle to its NBA studio shows.

With no Ravens this week, you can still find a hometown favorite to root for - Kimmie Meissner in Skate America on Sunday at 4 p.m. on NBC (WBAL/Channel 11, WRC/Channel 4).

ray.frager@baltsun.com

Top-rated

Highest-rated sports programming for Baltimore for Oct. 17-23 (ratings measure the percentage of television households watching a program):

Program Date Ch. Rating

Ravens-Bills 10/21 13 21.3

Bears-Eagles 10/21 45 14.4

Colts-Jaguars 10/22 ESPN 11.6

Steelers-Broncos 10/21 11 10.6

ALCS 10/21 45 9.8

NFL post-game 10/21 45 9.5

NFL pre-game-a 10/21 11 8.4

ALCS 10/18 45 8.1

Cards-Redskins 10/21 45 5.2

Maryland-U.Va 10/20 ESPN2 5.1

a-8 to 8:30 p.m.

[ Nielsen ratings courtesy of WBAL-TV]

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