Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mailbag - May edition

I got three different responses on the same subject including an old school letter with a stamp on it and everything so I thought I'd dive into one of the biggest single complaints I have received in the past nine years. The emails and letter below are pretty cut and dry in their criticism.

Jim writes:

There are many of us who watch your program every night and we would like to see more national sports highlights/coverage from other area's and less about the Braves and Falcons. Please remember the high percentage of viewers that have relocated to Myrtle Beach from the northeast, (Boston, NYC, Phil and Washington area we would like to see more Pro and college teams from these area's.)

Dan Ward writes:


I realize that you only have a very limited time (3 min +/-) for the sports segment of the 11PM news. As a result, the majority of the time available is and should be dedicated to local sports. However, when it comes to professional sports scores the only teams even mentioned are from Atlanta and Charlotte. In other words, 95% of the professional sports team scores are never mentioned.

Due to the nature of the people moving to this area over the past number of years, I believe that a great majority of your viewers are interested the teams other than the Braves, Falcons, Panthers, Thrashers, Hurricanes, Hawks and Bobcats.

With the very limited time available to you may I suggest that you run a banner containing all the available scores during your sports broadcast. This is done very successfully in a number of other cities I have lived in.

Thanks for your kind consideration.

These are valid criticisms, but I do want to point out one thing: the teams I highlighted in bold above are teams that we rarely, if EVER show highlights of. The only time we have showed Falcons highlights is to spotlight Lamar native John Abraham. The Falcons, Thrashers and Hawks are not part of our blood stream. To explain our steady diet of Braves highlights is quite simple: the Myrtle Beach Pelicans are the single "A" affiliate of the Atlanta Braves and we have seen the direct pipeline of Pelicans that are a key part of the Braves foundation at the major league level. We are an official affiliate of the Carolina Panthers, thus our dedication to giving them a steady diet on the show.

Dan's suggestion of a scoreboard is a good one. It used to be that we ran a scoreboard in the tease before sports at 11pm, but it was dropped. The overwhelming theory in this modern day and age is that there are numerous places you can get the national sports scores at your fingertips through the internet, your cell phone or places like Fox Sports or ESPN. The ironic part is that if we were to do the scoreboard idea that Dan suggested, we would most likely put local scores and SEC/ACC fare over the national sports that people crave.

I saved the best for last. I received this typed letter in my mailbox with the words "Consumer Complaint" written in the lower left hand corner:

Dear Sports Editor (I guess that's me)

Through the agony in the months since the World Series, baseball fans catching your offerings as part of nightly newscasts have suffered through golf (a game played in designer clothes) and auto racing (as much mechanics as sport).
So now we are back to the summer and baseball!
But what do we get? Golf and racing!!!
It is as if EVERY weekend race (and all the preliminaries leading up to it) are Super Bowls. And every piddling tournament (especially if we get one more shot of Tiger Woods) is The Masters!
So even on a Sunday evening when old guys out here without a cable are hurting, we get more golf, more racing and maybe two minutes of the Atlanta Braves. What about the American League (and certified Yankee haters?) What about the slump of Ortiz that was over before we heard about it? What managers are on the block?
If you operation intends to serve the public, and not just two special elite groups who have had their way all year long, then it is incumbent on you to put some things on the back burner and recognize what season it is!

Regards, Roy Haymond.

This is such a well written letter. I really enjoyed reading it even if it's a slam on me and Hags to a certain extent. Here are the facts: I'll start with baseball and then address golf and NASCAR. Coming off a show where I just had five different baseball elements, I can say that we are showing plenty of baseball not just the kind of baseball that Roy and some of our transplant fans don't want. A steady diet of Pelicans and Braves to go along with USC, Clemson and CCU baseball are our bread and butter during this time of year.
In regards to golf and NASCAR. Golf is a $1 billion dollar industry to the Grand Strand. That's not an inflated number. While there is no PGA Tour event here, golf is what defines the Grand Strand. I always feel that we can do more coverage of the local golf scene and we do our best to try and get a pulse on what's going on locally on the golf scene. In addition, that industry and the people who play have a high interest on what happens on the PGA Tour. NASCAR was born and bred in the South and I have seen enough passionate fans in our viewing area to know that we will always have a big chunk of audience interested in the week to week grind of Sprint Cup racing. The fact that Darlington Raceway is in our backyard and hosts the elite of motorsports is proof that we have to make a commitment to NASCAR coverage. 7.8 million people watched the Dodge Challenger 500 earlier this month at Darlington. It is the single biggest sporting event on our soil when it comes to the Myrtle Beach/Florence market bar none.

So that leads me to the mission statement so to speak. We don't have a sports handbook, but we really follow a gameplan when it comes to covering sports:

LAYER ONE: The Foundation

High School Sports, Coastal Carolina, South Carolina, Clemson, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans

You can probably count on your hand the number of times in a year that we don't have one of these elements in a sportscast on a given day. These are things that you can not get on ESPN, Fox Sports, CNN, etc.

LAYER TWO: NASCAR, Braves, Panthers, Bobcats, locals in the pros, golf scene

I wish that some of our local stars moved on to places that our transplants want to see. If Jerome Simpson was a Patriots wide receiver, you'd see a lot more Pats highlights on our news. If Tyler Thigpen was traded to the New York Jets, the Gang Green on the Strand would be ecstatic. We're always looking out to see if one of our local products does something at the pro level.

LAYER THREE: Local features, national sports

This week I was able to show a couple of national stories. Jon Lester's no-hitter with the Red Sox and the Manchester United/Chelsea Champions League Final in Moscow. Reality is that we did about 25 seconds on each of these stories, but that's the landscape in 2008. I get 2:45 Monday through Friday and we try to span the local landscape and everything else to get to as many communities and keep as many fans happy as we can.

I've given up a long time ago in trying to keep everyone happy. In the sports office, Hags and I are like a sports talk show talking about all the national things that this one particular niche craves, but we know that local sports is our #1 priority. Hags does a great job on the weekend of finding the balance to show the big national sports games that people are talking about (the Cavs/Celtics game 7 for example). Hags has the luxury of a little more time on the weekends and can craft that into his show.

I had a brainstorm of doing the "Transplant highlight of the night" where people would log on to our website and pick the game they want to see that night on the 11pm news. If I thought we'd get a few hundred votes every night, I would do that and it would probably be real fun.

I do appreciate the input as always and will continue to answer emails as they come my way.