Monday, June 29, 2015

Off-Target: Mile High Sports Radio Misses June 29th Re-launch

On a day, June 29th, loyal listeners of Mile High Sports Radio were to end their lent without their beloved live and local sports talk shows that began on May 21st, but their wait only continues.  A day that was supposed to be an early fireworks preamble for the 4th of July has turned into a rainy, windy day where the show is delayed further.  Like the inevitable Troy Tulowitzki mid-summer injury, it appears Mile High Sports Radio absence is still indefinite and will require some more time.

I understand, a station has to go through all the necessary paperwork through the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to make a change.  However, this is the 3rd station for Mile High Sports Radio in less than two years, so they have the experience to know these things take time and should have given themselves a bigger window or clearer paperwork processing to get things done.  Keep in mind June 1st was the initial re-launch date but that got missed and so today's June 29th was targeted to allow a day far enough out to get all their ducks in a row, but obviously some are off course.

I am sure it's like comparing apples to orangs for some, but I will use a personal situation that has some similarities.  My work will most likely change locations within the next few months, but we are already implementing a plan of action and started discussion on how we will get everything set up, get paperwork taken care of and do everything we need over the course of a weekend and an extra day or two.  The impact to clients would be no more than a day or two, but the goal is to have everything set up over the weekend so we can be back to work at a new location Monday after being done at the old location on Friday.  I am sure there will be snags, but if I told any of our client base that we would be off-line for over 40 days and they wouldn't get what they paid for or expected, they would find a new business to work with. 

I appreciate the direct conversations I have had on this matter with many at Mile High Sports.  I am sure the station president and his staff are pretty frustrated and the on-air talent is chewing at the bit to get their shows back on-air, but the complete silence both literally and figuratively is maddening for the loyal listeners and sponsors.  I have pound my fist on the table repeatedly to at least have an update via their website or social media repeatedly.  The only thing that has come about since May 21st is the Listen Now sign changing to 1340AM Under Construction from the old MHSR Under Construction on the website and a picture of the re-modeled studio.  Here is a message that would suffice with a date stamp on it, each time:

June 29th: Our target date for the re-launch of Mile High Sports Radio was today.  Unfortunately, there are still things we are working on both on our end and beyond our control that does now allow us to begin our new programming until those items are taken care of.

We appreciate the continued patience of all our loyal listeners and sponsors.  We will keep you up to date with what is going on and provide as much information as we can.  We look forward to our re-launch and you being a part of it.  We have some exciting things coming to our listeners that have stuck with us through this all, so stay tuned.

Simple, clean and gives some information without damning them to the mighty voices from behind the curtain (aka the FCC).  Of course, I have never worked with the FCC and am sure a group that fines people for saying some of the dumbest things and makes them so vague that call-in/humorous terrestrial radio like 105.9 FM Alice and others probably have multiple complaints due to these FCC violations.  But I digress, this is about the delay of Mile High Sports Radio.  Right now, we are in a wait and see mode. 

I can tell you these things:
  • MHSR will operate under 1340AM and are working on acquiring the rights to broadcast on FM, with a target roughly a month or so after AM goes live
  • MHSR will have some line-up shake-ups
  • AM signals strength decrease at night, read up on it but it's due to interference issues with other signals, so we may not see a show past 8 p.m. on Mile High Sports Radio (at least until they get back on-air)
  • They are chomping at the bit to get on-air and you can sense their frustration from top to bottom
  • Listeners are frustrated as well but most likely will be giving Mile High Sports another chance
  • They will be on-air before Broncos training camp kicks off since it would be considered a sin if they weren't on to cover the one team Denver cares most about
Let's hope the delay for MHSR leads to a re-launch that is truly worth the wait and this dud becomes a firework show that pops and brings long-time listeners and sponsors back and brings some new guys on board with them. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Will Mile High Sports Return on June 29th?

It has been a month (actually 32 days but who is counting?) since Mile High Sports Radio went off the air.  On that date, May 21st, the Radio tab of their website provided this message:

"Mile High Sports Radio is making changes!

In the coming days, we will be announcing where you’ll be able to find all of your favorite shows. The new version of MHSR will be bigger and better than ever!
We appreciate the support of our loyal listeners and sponsors, and look forward to continuing to provide Colorado sports fans with the best live and local sports talk in Denver.
Stay tuned!"

The note clearly states that in the coming days they would be announcing something.  Last I checked, days is usually within a week and not over a month with no word or update.  I had the Owl Post carry an email to me (yes I just went Harry Potter) that was shared with the station on-air talent.  In that e-mail, dated June 4, 2015, the radio launch date was targeted to be June 29th on AM1340.  Two and a half weeks later the station is still mum on changes publicly.  I know there is a lot of behind the scenes stuff that can't be shared, but no news is not better than simply providing some simple updates without giving any information that is private and not for public consumption would be a good thing.  Not providing listeners and some sponsors information can be worse than providing information that is not certain yet, as evident by the questioning and disappointment I have seen voiced from listeners and on-air talent alike.

Mile High Sports Radio provided the most live and local shows, but to keep the consumers in the dark is not the correct way to keep their loyalty.  It is unfortunate things have gone down like this, since Mile High Sports had found the right mixture of a radio line-up before suddenly going off-air with little to no notice.

Danny and Cello Mayhem Mafia had grown in masses from their old 9-11 am to 2-4 pm to 4-6 pm drive home to 7-9 a.m. drive-to-work changes over the last couple years and had listeners choosing to have their ears bleed listening to the awful radio on 104.3 FM The Fan with Mike Evans and Nate Lundy that is only saved by Vic Lombardi's greatness.  If Vic wasn't in, I for one, wouldn't even tune-in to The Fan.  Yes, us less cerebral group has grown even to the bewilderment of a blogger whose own site has made an eerily similar disappearance since MHSR went off-air.

Then from 9 a.m. to Noon, Brandon Spano had molded his craft into a very solid show after me having some initial issues with his daytime slot he had really come into his own.  Additionally, his website BSNDENVER has blown up and became a very solid read with some talented writers covering Denver sports.  It also was nice having a local option during the late morning, since both 105.5 FM ESPN and The Fan are national syndication during that timeframe.

The Geezers two hours of power between Gil Whiteley from Noon-1 pm and Old Timers Irv and Joe from 1-2 pm allowed the old listeners an old friend to keep the two hours they were awake in between naps.  I would tune in to get a change of pace from the much more solid shows that Cecil Lammey provides on ESPN and Sandy Clough and Scott Hastings on The Fan during that timeframe.

The 2-4 timeframe brought on The Big Show.  Between the group of them, they were good sports fodder when I couldn't get into what was going on in the other shows.  They had more of my time than when they first started out.

From 4-6 p.m. I was torn.  I have always been an Eric Goodman fan but he has rarely been partnered with the right co-host.  After years of pulling dead weight, Zac Fogg showed to be a very good sidekick and actually had me switching back and forth between MHSR and Denver radio gold in 105.5 ESPN's Nate Kreckman.  Side note: If you listen to 104.3 The Fan from 3-6 p.m. you might as well do meth to kill your brain since that is what Big Al and D-Mac do to it.

After 6 p.m. the abyss of Denver Sports Radio has only been saved occasionally by ESPN Denver when they allow guys like Drew Spevak, Rob Wagner and others to be on-air in the evening.  You can listen to cut up versions of that meth like show as well after 6 p.m.

After 6 p.m. Mile High Sports  gave you a 1-hour lap dance of the genius of Renaud Notaro (even when he had foul mouthed, over egotistical scooter boy, Colin Daniels, on-air and I hope I didn't exceed his quota of commas in this blog).  After Renaud, you got an hour of CU history with the unlistenable Don Brenner before he handed off to one of the best and most underutilized shows in Last Call with Benjamin Allbright and Joe Morgan.  These two are entertaining, knowledgeable and a good late night fix like Taco Bell was for you in college. 

Unfortunately, this talented line-up and sports entertainment has been off-air for a month with little to no information provided by the station.  Instead we are left to wonder, will we actually hear Mile High Sports back on-air on June 29th or will the station's silence continue?

Friday, June 5, 2015

Mile High Sports Radio to Return June 29th

For those that read that headline, your math skills are correct, that is exactly four weeks later than Mile High Sports Radio (MHSR) contingent had initially reported of June 1st when they went off-air on May 21st.  The roughly 10 days off-air (June 1st target) will instead become 40 days with the "set" June 29, 2015 date.  The significance of 40 days is not ignored on this Christian and please note this is not a religious blog post, just an observance and tie-in.  From Genesis 7:12 where God destroyed the Earth with water (Is Colorado dealing with similar anger with this rainfall since later April/early May?) for 40 days to Moses being on Mount Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights to the observance of Lent from Ash Wednesday to Easter, the number 40 is prevalent throughout the Bible.  Maybe it is solely a coincidence, but I find it fitting that sponsors, hosts and the listeners that keep Mile High Sports Radio relevant in a crowded sports marketplace will have to do without their MHSR sports talk for 40 days and 40 nights.

While we and Mile High Sports Radio deal with this lent, the extended delay is for a multitude of reasons, and rather than keeping their studio talent in limbo, they wanted to give them a set date.  It is nice to hear this instead of the it could be any day now stuff that was being reported after June 1st came and went.  It was reported to be that many on-air talent got calls the night before or the day of the station being off-air on May 21st and had waited to hear anything until a follow up e-mail on May 29th saying they were waiting on an impending FCC approval and thus showing that the June 1st date was not going to be hit.  They remained in limbo until the e-mail that was sent out last night, June 4, 2015.  In that e-mail the Mile High Sports Radio team was provided with the following information:

-Re-launch Date is set to be Monday June 29th to ensure everything is set up and there is not another snafu of saying next week or anytime or soon
-Signal will be AM1340 until an FM translator is given FFC approval and can be put on-air.  The station president spins it as follows:

"In nine of the top-20 markets, the highest-rated all sports radio station is on AM, so the short time when we are on AM-only shouldn't be an issue. The fact that we will be on a consistent signal, one that is heard equally well in all part of town, will be a huge step for MHSR. And the addition of the FM in the coming weeks will provide us with another boost."

(NOTE: I look at this as polishing a turd.  Many of those areas probably don't have two other local sports radio stations.  After listening to Mile High Sports on AM1510 or 93.7 FM, I always chose the FM signal.  It was cleaner, it had a better sound quality.  I tuned into 1340 AM this morning and just shook my head at the sound quality of it.  While the signal was strong both up north near 104th and Highway 2 and down south near Cherry Creek, it was not the sound quality radio listeners have come to expect.  That FM signal is going to have to come quickly for me to stay tuned in long.)

-The off-air time will allow them a makeover of the station from interior changes to make the on-air talent more comfortable to the mass public from makeover of the things listeners and sponsors will hear and see over the airs and on their website

I have to agree with the statement made in the e-mail, "While there is never a good time to be off the air, June is certainly the easiest month to miss; it's the slowest time on the local sports calendar."  However, I look to changes that 105.5 FM ESPN Denver made from moving from 87.7 FM years ago to 102.3 FM to then fully 105.5 FM ESPN and the change from all AM that The Fan made of 950 AM to 104.3 FM years ago where they provided you adequate on-air time to let you know of these changes and updated their websites and let you know for days or even weeks of the switch.  Heck, I remember a full week of hearing 950 AM play that they had switched to 104.3 The Fan.  Similar changes for 106.7 KBPI from 105.9 and KS107.5 from KS104.3 are other transitions I remember growing up that you were informed and this was before you were able to give a ton of information online about it since the internet wasn't in the palm of your hand for those latter moves.  So I take umbrage with the idea any time off-air is smart business and acceptable for listeners and that instead of making a transition and giving fans notice on-air, you just go silent and people are completely left in the dark.  The fact MHSR has social media and a website that people can go to in order to get the information they need and they have not kept listeners update is weak, bush-league or whatever other negative connotation you may want to use for not getting information out.  Today's modern radio game is an even bigger battle to stay on-air and relevant with podcasts, music streams, phones being used as music player, satellite radio, online streaming and many other options and to go silent is a good way to lose out to someone/something else and potentially die off.

Additional frustration comes from this being the second time in less than fifteen months that Mile High Sports took a hiatus on-air because the station they operated on was sold off from under them by 4K's LLLP.  Mile High Sports radio has operated under 4K's LLLP which is owned by none other than a Merilatt Family contingent of Gregory, Jeffrey and James.  So, MHS President James Merilatt was part of selling his radio station's signal off and rather than getting the ducks in a row ahead of the switch, his Mile High Sports Radio team is left waiting.  I understand the reason for the sale, 4Ks LLLP is making nearly $325,000 as indicated by 
Radio Insight.    Still, a plan should have been in place like the ones highlighted above.

The long-time listeners will slowly come back but even they may find other options they choose to look elsewhere.  I won't lie, after the first change that came with being off-air or fuzzy air and the constant line-up changes and losing some quality on-air talent my radio isn't locked onto Mile High Sports but looks elsewhere often.  Additionally my online streaming has decreased because of it.  Even if your heart is in a good place, sometimes your mind tells you enough is enough and maybe that's what I have been going through with regards to Mile High Sports.  I know from talking to other listeners that I am not alone. 

But ultimately, the people who are getting hurt the most are the in-studio/on-air talent.  These hosts have to pay for their on-air time.   This is usually done by billing a sponsor for their radio "spots" of either advertisements or sponsorship of segments.  They will lose out on a large majority of that income.  Some of the sponsors may pull the plug on their relationships with hosts because of something the hosts have no control of and for the most part were unable to give due notice about the changes and hiatus.

It is nice to finally be out of the dark as a long-time supporter of Mile High Sports radio, but still the way this change was handled left many people at the station in the dark for the past three weeks with little to tell the sponsors that keep money in their pocket.  It is nice they have a plan and date they can give but there is still three weeks to go to try to hold onto relationships with listeners and more important for themselves sponsors.  What this also does is make a potential future sponsor question whether it is worth the issues they have seen come from the dealings of Mile High Sports Radio.   I wish the best for the re-launch of Mile High Sports Radio and hope that some of the guys I have interacted with on-air for awhile keep their sponsors and their shows and the station are the better for this break, but I am concerned about this break.

This situation feels similar to the stories of friends I have known that took a break from their significant other and once they tried to get back together they found out all the stuff that bothered them before was even worse now.  While their time apart was to improve their bond, it had the opposite effect and changed them into someone that was even worse than before and showed why there was issues before and why a break was needed.  Hopefully Mile High Sports Radio comes back "bigger and better than ever" but they are going to have to prove to listeners, sponsors and even their on-air talent that they used this hiatus to improve and make things stronger.   I keep in touch with on-air guys and listeners and no one is happy from that contingent.  I am sure the sponsors are feeling the same way.

So I will depart this blog with this suggestion to Mile High Sports Radio.  Mile High Sports Radio; the on-air talent is not happy and has a lot of relationships to repair that is due to mishandling this situations, so make it right to them and the people they have to please by doing things the right way.  MAKE THIS CHANGE A HUGE DEAL and let the masses know about it daily.    Put together a huge party the weekend before the launch of June 29th.  Invite sponsors, potential future sponsors and long-time listeners to a party where you serve food and drinks and let the on-air talent and everyone mingle.  Play it up on social media by giving an update a couple times a day talking about it so people see it for three weeks straight with giveaways.  Put it on your site on the front page of
Mile High Sports at the top about the changes and where you are moving to (not just the radio page).  Repair relationships you broke and make it a big deal for the people that keep your talent on-air; the sponsors that foot the bill for their air time and the listeners that give business to you and those sponsors by listening to those people on-air.   Turn this situation from a negative to a big positive by doing things beyond aesthetics in-studio and on your site but get your on-air talent (lead singer), sponsors (kick ass drummer and bass) and listeners (lead guitarists) on a personal level and repair those relationships to bring the band back together and booking Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium rather than the local county fair by leaving someone out.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

12 Days & No Mile High Sports Radio..

Mile High Sports Radio target day of a June 1st re-launch after 10 days off-air came and went.  Listeners, sponsors and the on-air talent are now on Day 12.  Fortunately some of the more well known on-air guys are toeing the company line and talking about a bigger and better Mile High Sports coming around, but the people that should be on the front of this should be President James Merilatt and Station Manager Josh Pennock.  Mile High Sports Radio should have a twice a day update and a social media account like Twitter should do the same.  We shouldn't have to wait for a host to respond back to "Where the hell is Mile High Sports?  It's June 1st and no info?!" 

I am assuming the following were the main issues heading into this transition that I am sure Mile High Sports is trying to work through:
  • Signal Strength: The old stations of 93.7 FM and 1510 AM were both average signals that took years to get up to snuff.  After not being able to stay at home there with a contract situation ending and no renegotiation, Mile High Sports had to switch to 94.1 FM and eventually add 1550 AM.  The station had issues from going down constantly to battling 94.1 FM-Boulder and the weak signals strengths across much of the Denver area where things would go from clear to scratchy noise just around a corner.  The station had fixed many of the scratchy signal issues that it had to deal with since its inception, only to once again have to change signals.  I am not sure about the reasoning whether it be contract ran out or what, but I assume no matter what they were seeking a better signal that they wouldn't have to try to improve through FCC compliance on a quarterly basis.  Which brings us to:
  • The FCC-The FCC doesn't just hand out violations but controls improvements and changes to what you tune in to your radio dial.  This is never a quick process and I am assuming paperwork and the back and forth they are dealing with is taking more time than they had hoped.  It's never easy to plan out what another company will do for you. 
Based off the responses from the on-air talent, it appears that they aren't sure exactly where they will be either and when they will get started, still waiting to get the go ahead.  Long time sponsors of many shows are probably having to eat money or question whether to support the on-air guys that depend on their sponsorship in order to pay for their air time.  Fans of the Colorado Rapids don't have their usually scheduled programming on Mile High Sports.  As a listener from the inception of Mile High Sports and a long-time fan of some of their longer running talent (Danny & Cello, Eric Goodman and occasionally the Geezer Power Hour) as well as some of the new guns, like Joe Morgan and Benjamin Allbright, I am solely trying to be a big voice for fellow listeners and voice our frustrations, while also trying to keep them in the loop.

Look, I totally appreciate what two guys from Northglenn High School have done in keeping a long running successful local sports magazine (celebrated 150 magazine covers this week) and radio station going through some lean years money wise and battling podcasts, satellite and the local music and sports scene.  They have been the voice of reason (Sorry Sandy Clough but Joe Williams was the initial voice of reason in town and is at MHS) and have changed the script that has become the monotonous, factless bore that D-Mac and Big Al have become as the staple of 104.3 The Fan and kept a bunch of talent on air unlike ESPN Denver with only two being displayed proudly on their website in Cecil Lammey and Nate Kreckman (though Drew Spevak and Raj Sharan are talented young voices as well).

They may have more local shows and talent that has gone to bigger and better things, but the two things Mile High Sports could learn from those two stations is how to keep their listeners informed and how to stay on-air.  We are all waiting to hear what's next Mile High Sports but right now we can't even find a clue on it.  So, quit messing with your loyal listeners, inform us all of what things you are dealing with and do so before they eventually take their listening pleasure elsewhere.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Mile High Sports Remains Silent...

Mile High Sports went off-air on May 21st with a "target" date of June 1st being set and stated by many of the station's on-air talent.  Unfortunately, many loyal listeners have been in this situation with the station before and felt like Tommy Boy "I could shit in a box and guarantee it, but it's still just a guaranteed piece of shit!"

Myself and many fans of the station have stuck around through thick and thin because the format of the station is live and local with the callers being regular contributors and having a voice.  Additionally, the station seems to be the breeding ground for some very talented voices that have gone on to bigger things often.  Joel Klatt, Nate Kreckman, Peter Burns are amongst this alumni and some current talent that appear to have that level of moving up in their blood (my money is on Benjamin Allbright).  The talent is a different model than any of the other stations, they pay for their air-time often through sponsors.  I have to say that those sponsors are probably as irate as the on-air talent and loyal listeners because they invest money to hear their product being talked about, but when there is no one to talk to with being off-air or less people to talk to with listeners deciding to stick with 105.5 ESPN or 104.3 The Fan after being put through the gauntlet of changing call letters/radio dial, down air time, fuzzy signal and other snafus Mile High Sports has had in recent memory.

I turned on my car and again gave Mile High Sports the benefit of the doubt and scanned my radio dial and then looked to their website and other media outlets to see if I may have skipped it in commercial break.  Nope, the best I got was an old message from May 21st only displayed on their radio web site (not even main website) and others wondering where they were.  I often would forego listening to Howard Stern in the morning to catch Morning Mayhem with Danny William and Cello Romano and often skipped the thing I pay for in order to listen to Mile High Sports newer shows and fairly recent line-up changes, but I am finally saying why bother?

Why bother following a radio station that puts their on-air talent, sponsors and listeners through the ringer with all the issues mentioned before?  If Mile High Sports seriously wants to keep all of our interest, they would do the little things like update their website, social media pages and give some up to date information at least once a day.  We can't even know what station to tune-in to over a week and a half after Mile High Sports went off-air?!  It simply would take paying someone like myself peanuts in order to keep people in the loop.  Instead it is quiet and no news is not good news.  For a station that is built around criticizing the sports teams in-town, why can they not look at themselves in the mirror and say hey sorry, we have dropped the ball here?  We have heard the higher ups at Mile High Sports dog John Fox, The Monforts, the way the Nuggets are ran, talent/depth issues for every team, etc. and how they need to address these issues instead of ducking away from them, but are doing the same thing themselves.  Time to step up and let your listeners, sponsors and others know what is going on or like I myself did with the Rockies mess and Avalanche after two lockouts and inept talent evaluation, I'll take my attention to other things, like another station.