Sports Radio News
Kuiper Calls On Experience
Sometime in the near future, San Francisco Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper might email team manager Bruce Bochy a photo of one of the two World Series rings the men have in common. It’s Kuiper’s way of reminding Bochy they’ve had some pretty good times.
“He’s one of those guys who has a way of making you feel better about yourself,” Bochy said recently in the Giants dugout during pregame batting practice. “After a long day where maybe you lost a tough game, maybe question yourself, he’s very positive in that respect.”
Over the next few days, as a television voice of the Giants, Kuiper will lead both hardcore and bandwagon fans through the last six games of the season as the Giants seek their third playoff appearance in the past five years. It’s been an up-and-down season for the orange and black. The team, which showed so much early promise, is now in a desperate race to secure a wild-card berth, and with it, a chance at October redemption.
Of course, the past two playoffs, in 2010 and 2012, led to World Series championships. You only need to glimpse the huge, diamond-studded ring Kuiper wears to see what the ultimate prize looks like.
When broadcasting, Kuiper, 64, may have feelings about the team’s chances in a particular game. But you won’t hear it in his voice.
“You can’t let that inflection in,” Kuiper said on a recent afternoon at AT&T Park as pregame activities hummed around him. Kuiper has developed a sense of knowing what goes on in major league baseball from 40 years in the game – 11 as a major leaguer and 29 in broadcasting. All his seasons behind the microphone – except for one with the Colorado Rockies – have been for the Giants. He’s witnessed both glory and struggle.
“I still think about the 2002 World Series,” Kuiper said. “I think about it all the time.”
In that series, the Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent-led Giants, managed by Sacramento native son Dusty Baker, had the Anaheim Angels three games to two and were six outs away from the championship. But they couldn’t close the deal. They lost the series in the seventh game, a heartbreaker for Giants’ fans.
“I hear broadcasters say, ‘Well, the great thing about broadcasting is you walk away from the game and that’s it.’ Maybe they do – I don’t,” Kuiper said.
He’s won nine local Emmy Awards for distinguished broadcasting and last year was nominated for the Ford Frick Hall of Fame Award in broadcasting (though he wasn’t selected).
Kuiper’s straightforward, Midwestern guilelessness has always been one of his charms and part of his modest legend. He grew up on a 300-acre dairy farm in Sturtevant, Wis., just outside of Racine. He and his brothers Jeff and Glen (both in Bay Area sports broadcasting as well) worked the fields in their youth with their father, Henry Kuiper, driving tractors, bailing hay and the like.
Kuiper had what he calls a “happy” career in the majors as a slick-fielding, solid-hitting second baseman with the Cleveland Indians and the Giants. He led the league in fielding percentage twice at Cleveland and was a career .271 hitter who famously finished with only one home run in 3,379 at-bats.
He retired as a player in 1985 and segued into a broadcasting career, though he had already been doing his own radio show since 1982.
Mainly the television play-by-play announcer on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, Kuiper also handles radio play-by-play duties when the Giants television broadcast is carried by NBC or ESPN and radio lead Jon Miller does the television play-by-play. Kuiper and all the Giants broadcasters team up on KNBR radio during the playoffs, when television broadcasts are taken by the national networks.
Giants radio voice Miller, who is in the Hall of Fame, has long been an admirer of Kuiper’s craft. “He’s just a very good professional broadcaster who really knows the game, and that what sets him apart,” Miller said. “For me, he’s one of the best. It’s (his) knowledge of the game but also the ability to let the game speak for itself and not try to become the show himself.”
When Kuiper first started playing professionally, he thought that after his career was over he’d go into coaching or managing, like most of the other guys of his era.
“About halfway through my career, I realized I wouldn’t be a good manager,” Kuiper said. “I wouldn’t be very good at telling guys what they don’t want to hear. I had a hard enough time with my kids, so I can imagine what it’s like dealing with 30- to 35-year-olds.”
The observation shows the subtle wit that regularly surfaces in Kuiper’s spare commentary. He serves up disarming honesty with sly humor and clever associations.
Kuiper casually coined a Giants marketing phrase in 2010 when he closed a particularly tight tense game with “Giants baseball – torture.”
After prolonged excitement or intensity, he’s prone to say: “I need a nap.”
His home run call, “He hits it high … he hits it deep … he hits it outta’ here!” has become one of the most dramatic in all of baseball.
Bochy said Kuiper is one of his favorite people involved with the team.
“He’s got a great way about him, a great personality, a great sense of humor, and he’s got knowledge of the game,” Bochy said. “He’ll stop by the office and we talk quite a bit about baseball. He sits behind me on the bus, and I’ll throw things at him all the time.”
The renowned sports writer Joe Posnaski, who’s currently a national columnist for NBC Sports, has occasionally written about Kuiper, who he calls “my favorite athlete.” In one column about Kuiper the ballplayer, Posnaski wrote: “He presented this wonderful illusion that if you wanted something enough, if you cared enough, you could achieve it. It’s about the greatest gift anyone can give a kid.”
Kuiper would be the first to say he’s gotten some breaks over the years, but he’s also made the best of his situations.
“Midway through my (playing) career, I had a gentlemen by the name of Ray Keppen approach me about doing a radio show in Cleveland,” Kuiper said. “It was a five-minute show, and the station WELW was so small that in order to hear it you had to be in your car driving by the station.”
He was paid $10 for each installment. “But the experience was that for three years, I talked into a microphone, and for three years I wrote a five-minute script for every show,” Kuiper said.
Frank Robinson was Kuiper’s manager in his first full major-league season in Cleveland, and the famously no-nonsense Hall of Famer became a great supporter of the scrappy second baseman. When Robinson went on to manage the Giants, he had the team acquire Kuiper to be a backup infielder and pinch hitter.
In San Francisco, Kuiper was asked to take over ballplayer Joe Morgan’s radio show.
“I’m not afraid of the microphone, and I inherited a pretty decent voice from my dad,” he remembered thinking at the time. He was up for giving “it a shot, and the Giants did.”
Kuiper did color commentary part time in 1986, and after that year, his boss told him he’d be the play-by-play guy the next year. (The play-by-play announcer describes the live events in real time, while the color person brings expert analysis, statistical information and insight. Each has its own art and craft.)
“I said, ‘I’m really kinda happy doing this color stuff,’ but he said, ‘No. You’re gonna do it,’ and that’s how we ended the conversation.”
It didn’t go well at first as Kuiper learned on the job. “It was bad,” he said. “But we had we really good fans who were forgiving enough, understanding enough, and they said, ‘Let’s give this guy a chance, he’s got a chance to get better.’ And after the ’87 season, I started to feel more comfortable.”
Working in radio allowed Kupier to develop his chops and begin to understand what the medium required. “On radio, you’re really describing the game as if you’re sitting next to blind person, and you’re telling them what’s going on,” Kuiper said.
For much of Kuiper’s television career, he’s been joined at the hip with fellow broadcaster (and former Giants teammate) Mike Krukow, who joined the broadcasts full time in 1994.
Sports Illustrated described Kuiper and Krukow as the “the best broadcasting team in baseball,” and the Sporting News said much the same. This spring, the website Awful Announcing, which covers broadcasting and sports media, ranked “Kruk and Kuip” as the No. 1 broadcasting duo in baseball.
In July, Krukow revealed he was suffering from inclusion body myositis, which results in a progressive weakening of muscles in the thigh, muscles that lift the front of the foot and muscles in the wrists and fingers. There’s no cure and little understanding of what causes it. Krukow now uses a cane and will likely need a walker or motorized scooter at some point.
“He’s never in a bad mood,” Kuiper said of his partner. “We talk on the phone all the time. If I treated him any different, he’d be upset, and I’m not going to treat him any different. I’ll do whatever I can for him, but I’m not going to treat him any different.”
Krukow calls Kuiper his best friend. “I was lucky to play with him – I saw what type of teammate he was, the way he maneuvered in the clubhouse,” Krukow said. “He was a very strong asset to any club he was on.”
Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt said Kuiper has always held the respect of the players because of his experience with the game. “He’s a player and he understands how hard and grueling a season can be and how frustrating it can be,” Affeldt said.
By the end of September, it’s been a long season, whether you’re a broadcaster or a player. The broadcasters just aren’t as physically beat up.
“It’s a book!” Kuiper said. “Some years after three chapters you want to throw it out. Lately for the Giants, the last six or seven years, it hasn’t been like that at all.”
September reminds Kuiper of his 1974 debut in the majors, and the memories come back to him easily. He was playing AAA, the highest level of the minor leagues, for the Oklahoma 89ers and having a very good year with 175 hits in 125 games. He knew he had a good chance to get called up to the major leagues when teams expanded their rosters the last month of the season, and he did.
In his mind, he’d already been playing for the Milwaukee Braves for years, since he was a kid throwing a ball against the barn while listening to games on the radio.
“But now this was reality, and I walked into Cleveland Municipal Stadium, the place held 85,000 people, and … it took literally took my breath away because this is what you lived for and dreamed of.”
At that moment Kuiper had one thought: “I don’t know how long I’m going to be here, but dammit, I’m going to have the best time of my life.” He went 11 for 22 after he was called up.
As Kuiper got up to chat with his friend Bochy standing near the batting cage, he looked back.
“My last year in the big leagues, I went 3 for 5,” he said. “I have to have had the greatest first year and the greatest last year ever.”
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Sports Radio News
Chase McCabe Named Director of Operations & Sports Programming at Cromwell
“Our owner, Bud Walters, opened the door for me almost 12 years ago as an intern and I’m honored to continue to be a key member of the Nashville leadership team.”
Congratulations are in order for Chase McCabe. He is adding a new title to his already full plate at Cromwell Media in Nashville. He has been promoted to Director of Operations & Sports Programming at the company.
“I’m very fortunate to have been to be able to grow into this opportunity under one roof,” McCabe said in a press release. “Our owner, Bud Walters, opened the door for me almost 12 years ago as an intern and I’m honored to continue to be a key member of the Nashville leadership team. I am forever grateful, but none of this could have happened without the great group of people we have here at Cromwell Media.”
McCabe has spent his whole career with 102.5 The Game and its sister station, now called 94.9 The Fan. He was named Program Director and Brand Manager of the stations in January of last year. He has maintained an on-air presence as well. He hosts Chase & Michelle weekdays at 9 AM on The Game.
In his new role, Chase McCabe becomes the number two man in Cromwell’s Nashville building. Shawn Fort was recently named the cluster’s general manager.
“Chase and I have developed a great working relationship in the two and half years since I’ve joined Cromwell Media,” Fort said. “We share similar visions on how to create compelling sports programming all while driving revenue growth. I’m excited to have Chase as my right-hand man as we move forward together with this new chapter of leadership at Cromwell Media Nashville.”
Sports Radio News
Mark Schlereth: People Outside of Denver Aren’t Paying Attention to NBA Finals
“There was not one group of people – they’re all in there together – that was paying attention to the NBA Finals.”
The Denver Nuggets took to the National Basketball Association’s largest stage on Thursday night as they defeated the Miami Heat for the organization’s first-ever NBA Finals victory. Early reports reveal that the game had a 2.21 demographic rating between people ages 18-49, attracting a total of 7.62 million viewers on ABC. The figure is considerably lower than the audience for Game 1 between the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors last year – which averaged 11.9 million figures across ABC and ESPN2. Ratings for the alternate NBA in Stephen A’s World broadcast Thursday night on ESPN2 have not yet been released by Nielsen Media Research.
Sports fans in the Denver market have felt as if the play of the Nuggets was largely being neglected by the national media throughout these playoffs. Now that the team is the last one standing in the Western Conference, there is no one else to focus on and their play is beginning to be realized by basketball fans throughout the country. It is a narrative that Denver Sports 104.3 The Fan’s Mark Schlereth and Mike Evans felt was especially obvious by watching the press conferences after the game. The duo was able to deduce as such through the questions posed to Nuggets players and head coach Michael Malone by members of the media cohort.
“The national media – it’s like, ‘Oh, wow. We’re just kind of becoming aware of how these guys play,’ and they keep asking the Nuggets about their unselfishness and how everybody is willing to share the ball,” Evans said. “Nikola Jokić [is] being asked about not taking a lot of shots, and they’re all just kind of shrugging their shoulders like, ‘Yeah, this is who we are. We’ve been doing this for a long time.’
Schlereth was curious to find out the ratings from the game last night because he watched the game from a sports bar in Chicago. He is away from Denver, Colo. to help his son’s family move there for the summer and surmises there were about 50 people in the bar with him. What he noticed was that their interest was fixated elsewhere.
“I’m the only person that was watching the Nuggets,” Schlereth said. “There was not one group of people – they’re all in there together – that was paying attention to the NBA Finals.”
“Their loss,” Evans pithily replied.
Denver ranks 19th on Nielsen Media Research’s metropolitan market size list, but the Nuggets have been a contending team for the last five seasons. Most media analysts expect diminished ratings for the NBA Finals this year because of the lack of a storied franchise, even with the Miami Heat as the team’s opponent.
Sports Radio News
Nielsen Releases List of Markets Where Most People Use AM Radio
“In a recent survey, Nielsen Media Research found that AM radio still reaches over 82.3 million Americans on a monthly basis”
Amid concerns regarding the future of AM radio, Nielsen Media Research has unveiled a list of 141 markets where at least 20% of consumers regularly listen to programming on the medium. The list is reflective of the percentage of monthly total radio listening being funneled to AM as opposed to total radio listening as a whole. The top three markets are all in the Great Lakes region, and Westwood One has found large proportions of these listeners are derived from the upper Midwest.
Buffalo-Niagara Falls leads the list with 56% of its audience tuning into AM radio in a month. It is a figure that makes sense based on the variety of AM stations, including leading news talk outlet WBEN and leading sports outlet WGR. The city of Chicago is ranked second, complete with 670 The Score, WGN and WLS. Nearby Milwaukee, Wis. ranks third on the list, another city with various AM stations such as WTMJ and WISN.
In a recent survey, Nielsen Media Research found that AM radio still reaches over 82.3 million Americans on a monthly basis – a measurement that equates to one-third of AM/FM radio listeners as a whole. Fifty-seven percent of the audience listens to stations in the news and/or talk format, utilizing the public service the outlets provide to learn of breaking news and other concerns.
There is a wide variety in market size represented throughout the list, but a trend of markets with undulating topographies tends to have larger shares of AM listeners because of the challenges the landscape presents to FM signals.
The full list compiled by Nielsen Media Research can be found below:
|Metro market rank||Market name||Percentage of radio audience that listens to AM radio|
|59||Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY||56%|
|3||Chicago, IL [PPM]||48%|
|43||Milwaukee-Racine, WI [PPM]||48%|
|253||Grand Forks, ND-MN||45%|
|39||San Jose, CA [PPM]||43%|
|33||Cincinnati, OH [PPM]||42%|
|11||Seattle-Tacoma, WA [PPM]||42%|
|187||St. Cloud, MN||41%|
|75||Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA||39%|
|4||San Francisco, CA [PPM]||39%|
|244||Sioux City, IA||38%|
|25||San Antonio, TX [PPM]||38%|
|7||Atlanta, GA [PPM]||38%|
|176||Wausau-Stevens Pt (Centrl WI), WI||36%|
|114||Johnson City-Kingspt-Brstl, TN-VA||36%|
|27||Salt Lake City-Ogden-Provo [PPM]||36%|
|202||Cedar Rapids, IA||35%|
|34||Kansas City, KS-MO [PPM]||35%|
|71||Des Moines, IA||34%|
|73||Metro Fairfield County, CT||33%|
|231||Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA||32%|
|13||Phoenix, AZ [PPM]||32%|
|12||Miami-Ft Lauderdale-Hollywood [PPM]||32%|
|9||Philadelphia, PA [PPM]||32%|
|28||Sacramento, CA [PPM]||32%|
|15||Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN [PPM]||31%|
|2||Los Angeles, CA [PPM]||31%|
|5||Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX [PPM]||31%|
|68||Grand Rapids, MI||31%|
|223||Eau Claire, WI||30%|
|20||Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island) [PPM]||30%|
|14||Detroit, MI [PPM]||29%|
|30||Orlando, FL [PPM]||29%|
|10||Boston, MA [PPM]||29%|
|189||Bryan-College Station, TX||29%|
|18||Denver-Boulder, CO [PPM]||28%|
|41||Hudson Valley, NY||28%|
|17||Tampa-St Petersburg-Clearwater [PPM]||28%|
|116||Ft. Wayne, IN||27%|
|35||Cleveland, OH [PPM]||27%|
|22||Portland, OR [PPM]||27%|
|183||Green Bay, WI||27%|
|6||Houston-Galveston, TX [PPM]||26%|
|54||Hartford-New Britain-Middletown [PPM]||26%|
|175||Sioux Falls, SD||25%|
|180||Lima-Van Wert, OH||25%|
|1||New York, NY [PPM]||25%|
|119||Corpus Christi, TX||25%|
|237||Grand Island-Kearney-Hastngs, NE||25%|
|51||Memphis, TN [PPM]||25%|
|151||Ann Arbor, MI||24%|
|208||Las Cruces-Deming, NM||24%|
|178||Traverse City-Petoskey, MI||24%|
|87||Colorado Springs, CO||24%|
|126||New Haven, CT||22%|
|79||Wilkes Barre-Scranton, PA||22%|
|29||Austin, TX [PPM]||22%|
|24||St. Louis, MO [PPM]||22%|
|23||Baltimore, MD [PPM]||22%|
|77||Baton Rouge, LA||21%|
|205||Santa Barbara, CA||21%|
|50||New Orleans, LA||20%|
|19||San Diego, CA [PPM]||20%|
|32||Las Vegas, NV [PPM]||20%|
|37||Raleigh-Durham, NC [PPM]||20%|