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ARE BROADCASTERS ROOT, ROOT, ROOTING FOR THE HOME TEAM?
Published August 19, 1998
Every radio and TV broadcaster for the 30 MLB teams "is either paid by the club he or she covers or is hired with that club's approval," according to Ted Rose, who examines the relationship between teams and their announcers in BRILL'S CONTENT magazine. Rose: "As a practical matter, these broadcasters are not independent journalists but conduits to the public for the team that directly or indirectly employs them. ... What viewers and listeners may not expect is that the boundaries for the ubiquitous on-air discussions are often set by the teams, not the broadcasters." Indians VP/PR Bob DiBiasio, on announcers being a part of the team's marketing strategy: "What better opportunity do you have to sell your image than when your (team is) playing? You have a three-hour window to present your product in the best way that you can" (CONTENT, 9/98). CONTROLLING INVENTORY: Astros Dir of Broadcasting Jamie Hildreth said the team helps decide what is discussed on- air: "I don't want to hear players' salaries discussed ... Let other people do that. Anything positive we can get out in front of the public, I prefer them to accentuate." Hildreth "believes fans aren't interested in negative comments, such as speculation" in the past that the team would move to VA. Hildreth: "I don't think they want to hear that goop. Maybe I am wrong. If they want that, they can pick up the papers and tune in to the talk shows." Marlins broadcaster Dave O'Brien, who is paid by the team, said he doesn't talk of the impending sale of the team. O'Brien: "I'll almost never mention it. Until the sale happens, I really don't think it's newsworthy." Yankees radio voice Michael Kay, who has covered the team as a beat reporter for both the N.Y. Post and Daily News, received a championship ring from the team in '96, and was "clearly uncomfortable about the post-season gift." Kay: "If I was covering the Yankees in '96 as a writer for the Post or News, I wouldn't get a ring" (BRILL'S CONTENT, 9/98 issue).