Bettman's Radio Show Provides Unique Opportunity To Speak Directly To Fans
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman each Thursday "takes to the airwaves for 'The NHL Hour,' the only call-in show hosted by the commissioner of a major sports league, broadcast on the NHL's satellite radio channel and streamed live on the Internet," according to the N.Y. DAILY NEWS's Jesse Spector, who spent a day in studio as Bettman hosted a show. When calls come in during the program, Bettman, "never glancing at notes," has "responses for everyone, including a detailed explanation of the role of fiber optics in presenting out-of-market games on the leaguewide television package." Bettman during a commercial break said, "We don't screen the calls -- the standard I use is who's been holding the longest. We take any call." He added the callers "couldn't be nicer or more supportive, because the people who call are obviously fans of the game, who are passionate about the game, and are thrilled to have an opportunity to talk about the game." Spector noted Bettman "has his critics, of course, but even those callers who might have a bone to pick get the same even-keeled answers and can see his point by the time they hang up." It is the "opposite of the shout-until-your-throat-bleeds style that has made Mike Francesa the king of sports talk radio" in N.Y., but it is a "far more productive approach for a league commissioner." The show also "features an interview segment with weekly visits from hockey personalities," but for most of the show Bettman is "answering questions." With CBA negotiations "set for next year, the commissioner will be able to make the league's case by taking to the airwaves, with experience already accumulated behind the mike to help him shape public opinion." Spector: "It is an element of the NHL labor story that will bear watching -- and listening" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/3).