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How Do You Solve A Problem Like New Original Radio Content?

06/18/12
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Sabres Hockey Hotline went live on WGR 550 for the first time today from 10AM to noon. Host Kevin Sylvester took caller questions, had Cody McCormick on to chat, read off some tweets, talked to Kevin Snow (Sabres.com’s lead writer) about the draft, commented on a tweet I lobbed out there, and dished about a couple of players for the opening episode. I’m not a radio industry guy, but I felt there was room for improvement and the Internet is nothing if not good for unsolicited advice, so I’m going to make with some!

Hit the break for my impression of the show and suggestions for future content!

I thought today’s premiere was a bit slow going, being the first episode and all. The show has “hotline” in the title, so you knew listener calls would happen. Nothing new on sports talk radio. That Sylvester also read some tweets was expected, too – Twitter has redefined sports coverage like it has everything else and is especially useful in talk radio (Nick Mendola used it extensively during the short existence of WECK). I enjoyed Cody McCormick’s spot, although his quip about being a tough team to play against caught me off guard (quite the opposite perception around the league and its fanbases, Cody). I also liked Kevin Snow’s appearance to talk about draft prospects because I’m a sucker for prospect talk.

My favorite part of the show, and something I’d love to see more of, is when Sylvester offered his opinion on the Zach Parise situation. He opined that Parise isn’t the kind of guy who really carries the play on ice as much as he should for the impending cost he’ll have on his next team’s salary cap. He made the comparison to Kovalchuk, who imposes that kind of will. I loved hearing his thoughts and analysis on the situation, and would be very happy to hear those kinds of talking points in the future.

Back to the slow going bit, I feel like a lot of the time Sylvester spent on disclaimers and explanations about the new show will be better spent on content now that he’s got all the mumbo jumbo out of the way. Part of that will include Darcy Regier’s spot on the show tomorrow. What kind of other content can we look forward to? As we’ve already seen, or heard, players and staffers will be regular guests. None of us know what upcoming guest lists look like outside of tomorrow’s appearance by the general manager, but listeners would be well served to hear a variety of voices on the show.

With the draft coming up, having Kris Baker from Sabres Prospects on to report on top-ranked skaters or draft trends around the league would be worth the listen. Maybe featuring Cam Charron of Backhand Shelf or Gabriel Desjardins formerly of Behind The Net to talk about the rise in advanced analytics and player evaluation, especially with free agency around the corner (a local connection would be Derek Jedamski of The Hosers). Sabres centerman Cody Hodgson and prospect Dan Catenacci are clients of his, so bringing Gary Roberts on the show to talk about his training ethos would be really interesting. These ideas may be a bit hardcore for the casual sports fan that tunes into sports talk radio, but for the diehard fan, those are intriguing guests worth tuning into hear (IMO).

For the casual fan, I can/t think of anything that’d be more interesting than having former players come on when they’re in town to play their old team. Or having current players on to dish about memorable plays in their careers, recent or otherwise. There’s room for fluff in shows like this and I’d welcome a good balance of it with interesting, thought-provoking stuff.

And, for the love of all things merciful, please don’t do the Audio Vault thing and chop shows up into segments (As I’m just now seeing, too late). Make entire episodes downloadable as podcasts for the convenience of everyone interested.

Following up today’s press conference (which may or may not be over by the time you read this) with Darcy Regier and Kevin Devine, I’ll for sure be listening to at the very least Regier’s segment on the Hotline tomorrow.

What do you guys and gals think? Are you optimistic about the show? What did you or didn’t you like after the show’s premiere? What would you like to see in the future?

For a good read about Sabres Hockey Hotline and team-sponsored media, with just a dash of nostalgia, check out “Will Team-Sponsored Radio Work In Buffalo?” by Dave Davis at the Sabres Observer.

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