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KFAN’s Paul Allen takes sports blogging up a notch

Paul Allen

Paul Allen

Sports has always been a big seller for the media. Leave out national and international events like the Super Bowl and the Olympics, and sports still figures prominently in the finances of local media outlets.

A successful season by local teams, especially a playoff run, sells newspapers and drives up TV and radio ratings. In the new media era we’re living in, sports are an avenue that holds the promise of additional dollars for in-depth coverage – witness the Star Tribune’s pay service, “Vikings Premium.”

That’s why it’s a bit puzzling that local broadcast outlets haven’t moved more aggressively to capitalize on sports coverage. The local TV stations mostly fill the sports sections of their websites with text versions of their broadcast sports stories, along with video clips.

Even the two all-sports radio stations – KFAN and 1500ESPN – fail to maximize online the established personalities that so ably fill their airwaves with compelling content throughout the day. Their websites are mostly a collection of news-of-the-weird stories and videos, photo galleries of young hotties and podcasts of previously aired broadcast programming.

A notable exception is the KFAN show page of Paul Allen, radio voice of the Vikings. “P.A.” blogs frequently and really shares himself with the audience. His musings are frank and often emotional. He’s building on the deep connection established with fans who have listened to him for countless hours over the years.

That’s a model that other broadcast outlets and personalities would do well to emulate. The Twin Cities are blessed with a great roster of sports broadcast talent, most of them familiar fixtures for years. They’ve already got a natural following on the air; it wouldn’t be difficult to bring that following into the online world with original commentary and content for the Web.

I’m watching with interest an experiment along these lines by the Fox TV affiliate in Louisville, Ky. Last month, WDRB hired away two longtime sports columnists from the local newspaper, the Louisville Courier-Journal. The station touted the hires of Rick Bozich and Eric Crawford as a step in establishing itself as the leader in news, weather and sports information in its market.

Crawford and Bozich had combined for more than 50 years at the newspaper. Their hire is the equivalent of Dan Barreiro and Patrick Reusse jumping ship to Fox 9 here. But Barreiro and Reusse already jumped long ago – to radio, Barreiro to KFAN and Reusse to 1500ESPN. That’s been the route in this market, with Strib sportswriter Judd Zulgad also landing at 1500ESPN along with Pioneer Press scribe Joe Soucheray.

Those guys are great on the radio. I’m on record as saying that Barreiro is the best radio talk-show host in the market, sports or otherwise. But none of these former sportswriters is turning out a lot of content for their stations beyond their broadcast talk. And none of the local TV stations has attempted to take their multimedia sports content to the next level.No doubt the broadcast outlets have been looking at ways to further monetize their sports coverage.  Whichever station – radio or TV – can find a way to take things to the next level will get a foothold in the shifting media landscape.

Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Jim Camery on 06/18/2012 - 10:47 am.

    Not sure who was the leader

    PA probably brings more insight and actual reporting than any of the ESPN1500 guys (even Reusse), but he was hardly the first or most prolific. KSTP is inbred. In general, both sites are still horsecrap – lots of bikinis, rewrites of what I read at breakfast, crappy navigation and layout. Mackey can do a good job when its more of a “here’s the recent trends” and not just a game recap.

  2. Submitted by Thomas Morris on 06/18/2012 - 07:29 pm.

    Are you serious?

    Reinan’s report is bordering on being incompetent. Try reading some of the content on Phil Mackey always uses intensive statistical analysis when writing his articles. Last month, he wrote an excellent piece stating why it’s time to play Trevor Plouffe everyday. (Look at what has happened since … Uncanny, to say the least) Mackey shows what happens when you mix stats and the eye of observation when following the team. Now, if that’s not taking sports coverage to the next level, I’m not sure what is. Don’t embarrass yourself next time, Reinan. We, the readers, know better …

  3. Submitted by Mark Rittmann on 06/19/2012 - 01:14 am.

    I think you missed the point, Thomas.

    This isn’t about extending Sports coverage, it’s about extending the personality brand, using blogs to extend the face value of a commentator.

    PA is not simply a sports commentator, although his radio gig is mostly sports. Sports are simply the starting point.

    The point about the lack of coordinated blogs is not about more sports coverage, it’s about extending the presence of the commentator.

    Check out the author’s field, it is “marketing”, not sports. his point is valid, and the charge of “bordering incompetence” Misses the point, PA’s blog has very little to do with sports, by design.

  4. Submitted by Adam Minter on 06/19/2012 - 01:29 am.

    genuinely interesting

    It’s funny, in what’s supposed to be the post-blogging twitter age, PA is writing one of the most genuinely interesting sports blogs that I can recall. The observations on sports are really good, obviously but what makes the read so interesting, and so curious, is how personal he can become at times. It’s what keeps me coming back, I suppose, in the same way that people don’t read Bill Simmons only because the sports writing is so good, but because they feel it with him. I’m not sure why more sportswriters don’t pick up on that.

  5. Submitted by Kevin Watterson on 06/19/2012 - 07:17 am.

    I prefer KSTP to KFAN, but regardless, this article is so offensively uninformed that MinnPost should be embarrassed for having posted it and, I presume, paid someone to write it. Follow their Vikings coverage during minicamp or pretty much all of their Twins coverage and tell me KSTP doesn’t produce web content. It’s such a pathetic article that it begs for some follow up on what exactly this guy was thinking.

  6. Submitted by Ken Fortuna on 06/19/2012 - 01:39 pm.

    Real writing

    I enjoy reading some of the material on ESPN1500, most notably what Soucheray and Reusse write. They posses genuine talent and a great ability to communicate. I find the rest of their “content” to be amateurish drivel. Mackey, in particular, seems incapable of stringing multiple sentences together. Their Vikings coverage is generic, and Judd Zulgad has slipped tremendously since his days at the StarTribune, where an editor undoubtedly covered up his work. The “reporting” on is no better, but it is less self-aggrandizing and pretentious. What the “experts” here fail to understand is that the only reason to visit either of their lame sites is to get some measure of personality. Paul Allen delivers some real emotion in what he writes, even if I don’t always agree. The outraged replies above sound like they were written by ESPN1500 staff. I will loyally listen to Soucheray and Reusse, but won’t bother with the rest of the KFAN-lite hosts on 1500.

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