Tuesday, August 09, 2005

More on Cards/KTRS/KMOX

Thanks to Mike Anderson publishing a mention of my blog on his stlmedia.net website, I've gotten more feedback than usual on my thoughts. Obviously, not everybody sees the Cardinals move to KTRS in the same light that I do. For instance:

Having worked at both stations (as you have) and now working public relations, it is my humble belief the Cardinals have, for the price of a bench-riding utility infielder, made a big PR blunder. Lost in the legitimate talk about signal strength is the fact the Cardinals have tossed away a half-century of tradition, and baseball is about tradition, above all else. God knows KMOX has its warts, but the Cardinals have decided to associate themselves with a minor league, poorly managed mess of a radio station that has been characterized throughout its existence by nonsensical, scattershot programming decisions and overall management incompetence. In short, a legacy of failure. Congratulations Cardinals!! Let's hear it for your new radio partner.

This person makes some cogent points. But, are the Cardinals really throwing away their entire tradition, and the feelings that their fans have for the team, by switching radio stations? They're not abandoning radio altogether. KTRS has certainly struggled with it's own self-image...and therefore it's programming... but I'm sure the Cardinals know that. The appointment of Bobby Lawrence as "uber-manager" is, no doubt, intended to deal with those issues.

Sure, KMOX was somewhat responsible for the fans that the team acquired over the years from outside the St. Louis area, but aren't there other methods (TV, satellite, internet, and the 100-plus station radio network) for maintaining that relationship from here on? I think Infinity overestimated KMOX's necessity in the Cardinals' marketing strategy and paid for it in the end. Younger fans, the ones the Cardinals really need to cultivate, are the people who will find baseball interesting and attractive through the use of the newer, and possibly hipper, mass media.

Another response:

Running with the local guys? Tom, the first thing that apparently has happened in the wake of the KTRS-Cards nuptials was the importing of Bobby Lawrence to oversee Tim Dorsey and all of KTRS. So, Cincinnatian Bill DeWitt of the Cardinals hooks up with (one-time) Cincinnatian Bobby Lawrence to move the team to KTRS. I fully agree with the gist of your post, Tom; it would indeed be terrific if local ownership were to return to the fore in radio. But in the Cards-KTRS case, I'm just not certain that that has happened. A bit too much Queen City involvement for me to buy off on that notion.

I understand your concerns about Bobby Lawrence. I could be wrong, but I see Lawrence as a supervisor of the Cardinals' interests in this relationship, more than an actual day-to-day manager at the station.

The main point I was trying to make was that the local team(Cardinals), and local broadcasters(Dorsey Group owners and managers), and not a "mega" broadcasting corporation, will be calling the shots on how the station handles programming and promotion of the team. That control, and the mix of Cardinals vs. regular programming, was always ultimately out-of-town at KMOX because they bought the rights to the broadcasts and chose how much of a role baseball played in their daily schedule. Certainly, as owners, the Cardinals will ensure that a much larger part of the daily/weekly schedule at KTRS is devoted to the team than what they had at KMOX.

Nobody will know for sure if what the Cardinals did was right until about this time next year. By then, if anyone really misses the "good ol' KMOX days", we'll be hearing plenty from them. My guess is that not many will be saying anything because so many serious fans watch TV anyway. The network radio coverage will be sufficient, if not improved. The "wow" factor of hearing baseball on KMOX in Sioux Falls and Cobbler's Knob will be gone. But that's about it. Ask the Blues if their marketing effort wasn't more effective after moving to KTRS a few years back. They've practically had a never-ending infomercial on that station for the last four years.

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