It May Just Work Out After All, KFAN




It was announced in April that the Minnesota Wild Radio Network would be heading to the local Sports Talk Radio juggernaut KFAN (which will be transmitting from the lovely confines of the FM dial starting Monday, replacing KTLK on 100.3) for a three year tenure. Since its inception, The Wild had been on the Good Neighbor, WCCO, but it was time to move to a more "visible" station. It was widely promoted on KFAN airwaves as another feather in the cap, and that this new marriage would enhance The Wild's identity on the 50,000 watt monstrosity.

So the trumpeting of enhanced promotion and discussion of Wild Hockey on the radio is great for business right?

Well, maybe. KFAN is home of the Minnesota Vikings Radio Network, and to anyone whose listened to the soon-to-be-former-AM1130 knows damn well that The Purple are the predominant topic on nearly every piece of station programming. Makes sense, considering The Vikings are the undisputed heavyweight champ in terms of the local sports scene- its just a trickle down effect from the 24/7/365 attention paid to the National Football League.

So color me skeptical about this. See, during the work day I have my radio tuned to these very same airwaves (thank you for the redundant playlists in every genre FM Radio, and 1500ESPN's broadcast which is apparently driven by hamsters in wheels,) so if anyone can attest to the saturation of football talk from hour to hour, its this guy. Remember, KFAN had the Timberwolves' radio rights, I can recall little time devoted to that team- sure there would be a segment here and there, but it is something that raises an eyebrow.
But where the problem arises, from my point of view, is the sensabilities of the respective hosts:
- The Power Trip Morning Show features Mike Morris, who is a former NFL long snapper.
- Paul Allen is the Vikings Radio Play by Play voice, and Friday Co-Host Paul Charchian is well-known for his involvement with Fantasy Football.
- "The Common Man" Dan Cole's show is more of a variety/nonsense affair, even though Producer Brandon Mileski is the Head Coach of the Coon Rapids' Boys Hockey Team.
- Dan Barreiro's drive-time show is a bit of everything including politics and sports, but Barreiro himself is more of a Basketball guy than anything.

They just aren't "hockey guys"; and for the most part, none of the other radio personalities in town aren't either. Plain and simple, The Vikings drive conversation on the radio not just because they are topical (and one game a week lends itself to the sometimes tedious dissection of even the slightest minutia of every game) but because the hosts themselves have some sort of investment in the team as well. Its kind of ominous really; even though the Wild games will be heard on KFAN airwaves, they are playing the role of Little Mac and The Vikings and NFL are, well, Mike Tyson.



But I had an epiphany today.

KFAN and Fox Sports North have partnered up, so the last hour of Paul Allen's show is now seen live on Fox Sports North's website. The crux of the matter is that the Minnesota Twins have been the emphasis of this union, and Twins/FSNorth personalities have been frequent guests on Allen's show. The Twins almost exclusively air their games on FSNorth (save the National Telecasts) and the scuttlebutt is that The Wild will be doing the same; so is this FSNorth/KFAN partnership the formula for a constant source of Wild Hockey discussion? Kevin Gorg is already a frequent guest, as is Anthony LaPanta; both of which also work Wild broadcasts- maybe use the same concept but change the lineup a little bit, making it more topical? Why wouldn't KFAN and FSNorth do this- you are, after all, in the business of marketing your own product.

If so, then it's an oasis amongst the (seemingly) nonstop Vikes talk that rules the radio airwaves. And that's all I can hope for.

5 comments:

  1. They're a sports radio channel and they're carrying the games. It's a flat-out disgrace if they don't have an hour long show M-F devoted to hockey in general (specializing in Wild hockey, of course). There is plenty to drive it --you do telephone interviews with the 50 or so beat writers around the league, retired players, MN born players, GMs, etc. If you can't fill an hour per night doing that during the season then you just aren't trying.

    Probably Gorg as host, at least until Bruno retires from playing. . . . Russo as regular sit-in for Gorg. Do it from on the road even, and interview whatever player(s) the road team has with a MN flava, and the other guys broadcast team, etc.

    I mean, this ain't rocket science fellas. The formula is well understood and you don't need to reinvent the wheel.

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  2. If you do something like that Geo, I'd have to believe Russo would be the best option for a host. Gorg has a hockey mind and interesting takes but it feels like he doesn't have the connections in and out that a guy like Russo does. Maybe I'm wrong but when Gorg sits in for PA or someone there aren't as many (or any) hockey guests than when Russo has sat in for someone on 1500.

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  3. Russo might be interested the way the newspaper world is going too. He hasn't come right out and said it, but I get the sense he might not be a true full time employee for Strib these days. If you look at the number of road trips he didn't take last year, and in season breaks, and looks like he's taking a long break right now. . .

    But I'd definitely agree Russo's "connections", e-rolodex, and ability to get just about anyone in the hockey world on the phone, are no doubt higher than Gorg's. And if you don't do the show on game-nights, the number of nights you do it are fewer too. So schedule it for 7pm local, say, on any non-game night, M-F.

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  4. Oh, and bring in some college hockey too, and all those connections, centered but not limited to the Gophs, St. Cloud, Mankato, Duluth, Bemidji, etc. Heck, every couple weeks review the high school scene as well. And the Aeros and AHL too on a similar schedule (10-15 mins every couple weeks). Maybe you rotate every other Friday between a HS segment and an AHL segment.

    Again, as long as you've got the right host in the chair, this show WILL succeed.

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  5. Well I believe KFAN is going to broadcast from the X on game days so that will be helpful. Having a 7 pm show on other days wouldn't be a bad idea.

    As far as the college, HS and AHL go, I don't know how much that differs from "Beyond the Pond," which already airs on Saturdays. Throw in the fact that Gophers hockey is on the competition (ESPN 1500) starting this season and it's hard to see them being discussed more than necessary.

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