Making Radio Relevant Again (WBB)...

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Making Radio Relevant Again (WBB)...

Postby mainah57 » Tue Nov 28, 2017 8:33 pm

Couple questions to ponder for the group (WBB-related)...

1) Is there a reason why they don't have Don Shields doing the ESPN3 commentary? I know some folks can take or leave Don, but it seems a little strange that we're continuing to have him do radio commentary (which is probably rarely listened to with more and more games being broadcast on ESPN...).

I've honestly been less than impressed with the ESPN3 commentators. They don't seem to really know much about the Maine team. I did enjoy the moment (anyone else catch this?) from the Harvard game when the ESPN3 commentator forgot to turn of her mic for the commercial break, and said, "WOW, Harvard is looking really BAD right now..." (or something similar) - honest mistake I suppose, but I did actually laugh out loud when it happened.

I also kind of rolled my eyes a little when one of the commentators asked, "So, do you think Blanca Millan talks to the refs in Spanish or in English???" :?

Is the decision of who does the ESPN3 commentary made by ESPN? Or by UMaine?

2) Part of the value that Don adds (IMO) is that he has some nice pre- and post- game interviews with the coaching staff. This is one thing I often feel I'm missing when I simply tune in via ESPN3. Don knows UMaine sports way more than whoever they have doing the commentary on any given evening. I would love to see the UMaine marketing staff post some of Don's audio interviews onto the website (after the games) for fans to listen to, similar to how they've historically posted highlight reels to YouTube after each game. Is there a reason this isn't done?

Overall, I think it may be worth some of the folks on the marketing side for UMaine doing a bit of a re-evaluation, given that the streaming of nearly all WBB games on ESPN3 has changed the landscape of the fan experience somewhat significantly.
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Re: Making Radio Relevant Again (WBB)...

Postby MaineBBFan99 » Tue Nov 28, 2017 8:48 pm

Interesting questions. Unfortunately, I can't speak to why Don doesn't provide commentary for the ESPN3 broadcasts of the women's games. A few verbal gaffes aside, I do think the ESPN3 commentators (Sandy Thomas and I forget the play by play announcer) have done a great job so far. With her 20+ years of coaching and the insight that she provides during color commentary, I reject the idea that Sandy Thomas doesn't really know much about the Maine team. All that having been said, I admit that I do miss the enthusiasm that Don brought (and continues to bring) to his broadcasts.
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Re: Making Radio Relevant Again (WBB)...

Postby mainah57 » Tue Nov 28, 2017 9:49 pm

I think her basketball knowledge is solid, but I still feel like Don has the most personal knowledge of the team - for instance, I really appreciate the fact that he takes the time to learn the correct pronunciation of each player's name (seems like a simple thing, but it hasn't necessarily been the case with the ESPN3 commentators).
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Re: Making Radio Relevant Again (WBB)...

Postby Blackbear28 » Wed Nov 29, 2017 4:51 am

Games broadcasted on ESPN3 are an ESPN production. ESPN decides who works on an ESPN production, not UMaine.
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Re: Making Radio Relevant Again (WBB)...

Postby Linguist » Wed Nov 29, 2017 7:41 am

Don Shields is occupied doing radio broadcasts of the Women's games, so therefore he is not available to do the online ESPN3 broadcasts.

Don Shields is hired by Learfield Sports and Black Bear Sports Properties to be the Announcer for Maine Women's basketball, ESPN hires talent for ESPN3 online broadcasts.

ESPN3 uses two people for their broadcasts, a play by play person along with an analyst. Don Shields does not work with an analyst.

The radio broadcast rights grant the radio teams interviews with the coach or an assistant coach from their respective teams. Those are not guaranteed for ESPN3 broadcasts (however they do happen, but are not guaranteed because ESPN3 often wants to cut postgame shows short so they can get viewers to the next game on their platform).

As for comments made by ESPN3 announcers, they do not "forget to turn their mic off". That is controlled by the director of the broadcast, and those at ESPN who are responsible for switching the audio to the commercials in breaks. It has nothing to do with on air talent. Someone behind the scenes made that mistake, not the on air people. (Most wait until they hear the commercials playing in their headsets before making comments, but it does happen before that and it can burn people on air).

But I think you answered your own questions with your comment in Question "I know some folks can take or leave Don". He's an acquired taste and probably ESPN officials can leave him instead of take him.

Don does know the players better, he's been part of the program for more than a decade, he travels with the team (ESPN3 announcers do not), he sees them in hotels, restaurants, on the bus, in airports. Radio play by play announcers get close to teams because you are always close to the coaches and players and staff, radio announcers get all of the inside information, ESPN3 announcers show up at the Cross Center a couple of hours early and do the game and leave. And they only do the home games.

So I don't think he could do the online broadcasts because of his other commitments.

We can debate Don's play by play abilities and what he brings to the broadcasts and the programs, but that is another topic entirely and it is 100% subjective.
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Re: Making Radio Relevant Again (WBB)...

Postby bcbc55 » Wed Nov 29, 2017 7:54 pm

I know Sandy Thomas as a real knowledgeable basketball person. Her experience as being the first lady high school basketball official to ref a state championship Maine high school game and the first to ref high school regular season boys games is very helpful.

In fact, I enjoyed reffing with her when she was on Eastern Maine IAABO Board 111.

Her coaching career from being an assistant coach at UMAINE for the womn's team under Trish Roberts and her career as a head college coach in Indiana makes here more than qualified to be the color commentator for ESPN3's Maine's women home games.

She is as qualified and does a good a job as any Color Analyst in Maine Radio/TV currently doing that job today.

I really enjoy her work for the Maine women's home games as she is right on target. Much harder to do it and be accurate when the person can watch the game then just listening to it on the radio where the listener has to take the word of the color commentator as far as accuracy is concerned.

I speak from experience when I did both for WABI radio/TV when they covered the Eastern Maine Tournament on radio for D<C and B and on TV for the A tournament. You really have to be on your basketball toes when it is being broadcast live on TV/Streamed compared to the radio.

On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest I would give Sandy a NINE.....................................TEEN.

JMO.
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Re: Making Radio Relevant Again (WBB)...

Postby mainah57 » Thu Nov 30, 2017 9:28 am

Linguist wrote:Don Shields is occupied doing radio broadcasts of the Women's games, so therefore he is not available to do the online ESPN3 broadcasts.

Understood, but I guess my point is that, do enough people really still listen to the games on the radio if they are now almost all being broadcast on ESPN3? Maybe they do - I'm not sure (would be curious to see the numbers).

Just wondering if there may come a point (a few seasons down the line, perhaps), where it would make more sense for Don to do the play-by-plays that accompany the TV broadcast (with a color commentator like Sandy still present as well) *instead of* his current radio-only gig for WBB. I think his style (extremely energetic, etc.) is specifically tailored to his radio audience, where it keeps things interesting even when you can't see exactly what is going on. I feel confident that Don could adjust that style a bit if he were to ever move from radio to TV.

Linguist wrote: The radio broadcast rights grant the radio teams interviews with the coach or an assistant coach from their respective teams. Those are not guaranteed for ESPN3 broadcasts (however they do happen, but are not guaranteed because ESPN3 often wants to cut postgame shows short so they can get viewers to the next game on their platform).


Understand that as well, but I'm curious why the interviews Don does do don't get posted online somewhere afterwards (e.g. on the website, or linked to the recap articles)? They seem to be something he (on behalf of Learfield Sports) is able to uniquely provide, since, as you mention, these same types of interviews are not always guaranteed for the ESPN3 broadcasts.

Linguist wrote: As for comments made by ESPN3 announcers, they do not "forget to turn their mic off". That is controlled by the director of the broadcast, and those at ESPN who are responsible for switching the audio to the commercials in breaks. It has nothing to do with on air talent. Someone behind the scenes made that mistake, not the on air people. (Most wait until they hear the commercials playing in their headsets before making comments, but it does happen before that and it can burn people on air).


OK, fair point. I do still think there is some level of control by the on-air folks (e.g. err on the side of not saying anything that you wouldn't want broadcast), but I'm sure it's happened to most folks in that position at some point in their careers (Don included, I'm sure). I actually found the Harvard comment to be amusing in the context of that awesome game (Harvard fans may have felt otherwise ;) ).

Perhaps my original post was a bit too harsh regarding the ESPN commentators. It may just boil down to a matter of preference (e.g. Don's more personal, quirky style and close knowledge of the team vs. the more official-but-sometimes-farther-removed style of the ESPN commentators). I would be curious to see the radio numbers though, as I imagine that the streaming must be cannibalizing some of that radio audience and would be curious if any adjustments end up getting made in the coming seasons as a result.
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Re: Making Radio Relevant Again (WBB)...

Postby bcbc55 » Thu Nov 30, 2017 4:56 pm

Big difference doing radio and TV (having done both) and Streaming online which is just a small TV.

No pressure in Radio as listeners do not know what you are seeing in radio broadcasts, but they can see what you are talking about on TV/streaming.

I know Don and he is pro-UMaine women's basketball team in his broadcasts whereas Bryan Stackpole and Sandy Thomas are more neutral being on ESPN3.

It all depends upon what you like, "Different strokes for different folks" or "What floats your boat may not float my boat".

"Bingo" is more emotional and excited cheering on the bears while Sandy is less emotional, more knowledgeable about basketball and does not show any bias.

Without a color commentator it is really hard to really know what is going on basketball wise, basketball strategies being employed and offenses and defenses being played by the teams.

Don does a great job considering all the hats he has to wear during his radio broadcasts.
Last edited by bcbc55 on Thu Nov 30, 2017 10:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Making Radio Relevant Again (WBB)...

Postby Sean Stackhouse » Thu Nov 30, 2017 8:05 pm

Bryan Stackpole. aka Other Stack. :)
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Re: Making Radio Relevant Again (WBB)...

Postby bcbc55 » Thu Nov 30, 2017 10:48 pm

Sean Stackhouse wrote:Bryan Stackpole. aka Other Stack. :)


Sean: Thanks for the corrections, I went back and corrected them. Got House and Pole mixed up. But there are such things as "houses on poles" in the tropics.
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