by John Kincade
Listeners to sports radio all over the country have been hearing about “Radio Row” on their favorite stations for close to 30 years. It began in the hotel of the lobby of the media hotel with Radio stations having tables set up in a side conference room broadcasting back to as few as ten cities. It was only the major markets, most national outlets and the participating teams local broadcast stations. Then the NFL saw the opportunity to advance this into something bigger. They set it up at the Media Center in the host city and it grew to over 100 stations by the late 90’s. It peaked to over 150 stations in the mid 2000’s and became more of a circus that about football.
Television and Movie stars learned they had free publicity waiting for them and all they needed to do was show up. Stations love sitting down with stars, comedians and retired athletes to get a few minutes of air time. It took on a life of its own and became a fixture every season. Let me take you behind the scenes;
This will be my 17th Radio Row. In all honesty, I haven’t missed going to do my show from one of them for a long time. I’m thrilled to be there because the Eagles are in the game. If your local team is playing, a radio station needs boots on the ground. For a Rams-Patriots Super Bowl nobody in Philadelphia truly cared enough to have round the clock “breaking it down” coverage.
The key is to find balance. A show on Radio Row has the chance to sound different, looser, less organized. That can be a great thing for the listeners but a difficult course to navigate. You are live on the air and a publicist walks by wanting your attention as they offer you an unscheduled chance to jump in with Terry Bradshaw. Your focus is challenged the entire time. There are people walking around, sometimes brushing right up against your table. It’s my nightmare.
The ad agencies learned that attaching big name sports analysts and TV stars to product promotion was a winning combination. What the problem was is that the guests are obsessed with promoting who is paying them to do these interviews and the stations couldn’t care less. We want to talk about the game and they want to get paid. It’s a lethal combination that makes many of the conversations feel rushed or surface level interesting.
The value of Radio Row has diminished and the audience back home is more interested in hearing from one of their favorite shows and being taken behind the scenes. Less promotional interviews and more of the activities we experienced cause many interesting discussions. We packed our bags but we are most interested in taking you along with us. We will focus on the game itself and all the mayhem that the invasion of Phoenix by Eagles fans brings. We hope you will enjoy our coverage and we will get through this endless countdown towards Sunday at 6:30pm!