The Times West Virginian

Breaking News

Bob Herzel

July 13, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: Remembering another battle over radio rights

MORGANTOWN — The more things change, the more they … yada, yada, yada.

You know the axiom, and nowhere is it more true than in the radio aspect of the current Tier 3 controversy that West Virginia University and West Virginia Radio Corp. have been embroiled in over the school’s statewide network broadcast rights.

See, the $86-million deal WVU agreed to with IMG College on Thursday, which transfers its radio rights from John Raese’s company to IMG Audio is not the first time West Virginia Radio Corp. or Morgantown station WAJR lost the rights to the network, and the circumstances and reaction was the same.

You have to go back to 1960 and to a young man in the process of beginning a Hall of Fame broadcasting career.

His name is Jay Randolph, son of the former U.S. Sen. Jennings Randolph.

At the time Jay Randolph was working at WHAR in Clarksburg, doing high school football and Babe Ruth League baseball games.

“I came up with the idea along with a fellow named Frank Gregg, who was the sales manager of the station,” Randolph recalled from a hospital bed where he is currently battling some blood clots. “We’d done the state high school tournament a couple of years and done the state Catholic tournament down in Huntington.

“I said, ‘Why don’t we bid on the Mountaineer games. WAJR has had them all this time and (Jack) Fleming is a terrific broadcaster. I understand they don’t pay much for them. I really couldn’t find out what exactly they paid,” Randolph said.

“I got hold of Red Brown, who was the athletic director, and said, ‘Red, we would like to bid on the broadcast rights for Mountaineer football and basketball. I’m wondering how exactly we do that … by letter or come up and have a meeting?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never been involved in anything like that. WAJR has had it all these years,” was Brown’s answer, according to Randolph.

“I said, ‘You have to remember, West Virginia is a state university, and these figures should be made public. It should be public knowledge what they are paying.’”

It wasn’t much different than what transpired as discovery became available during the current negotiations.

“Round about, I found out they were getting barely nothing,” Randolph recalled.

That is pretty much what came out as the media tried to learn what West Virginia Radio Corp. was paying for the rights at present and when it became public that the rights were free, they countered with this on their MetroNews website.

“Under the current arrangement, West Virginia Radio Corp. pays no rights fees — that much is accurate — but instead it absorbs costs for on-site and studio production, satellite distribution, equipment, engineering, voice talent, etc., as well as providing WVU with free advertising slots on 13 stations statewide.

“The company valued the complete package at $563,985 for the past year. (Unbilled commercial airtime, even when calculated at a less-expensive contract rate, accounted for $298,000. The Daily Mail article vaguely glossed over this as “a small amount of free advertising.”)

One suspects even that is greatly undervalued as to what the rights went for as part of the IMG deal.

Randolph wound up being allowed to bid and wrested the rights away for $30,000.

Owning the rights and doing something with them was something, the state having grown accustomed to the former rights owners and announcer they employed by the name of Jack Fleming, who would go on to become one of the most famous football voices in history through his work with West Virginia and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“We got lucky. We got a real good sponsor. We were able to get Pepsi-Cola. I went to their headquarters and talked them into it,” Randolph said of the financial aspects of the deal.

Artistically, it was another matter.

“During those two years a lot of people we saying they missed Fleming, and I can understand that. Fleming was fabulous,” Randolph said.

And then there was a matter of the football team.

“The year we went 0-8-2 under Gene Corum everyone blamed me,” Randolph said with a laugh.

He held the rights for two years, rebid $35,000 to keep them and was outbid by the previous rights holders.

The one thing I am so very proud of is that I did get the rights up to where they should have been in radio,” Randolph said. “It was great fun. I was just a fledgling broadcaster who at that time hadn’t done anything big enough for anyone to watch.”

Randolph went on to establish himself as a national broadcaster, doing PGA golf, college football, St. Louis Cardinals baseball and so many other assignments.

“It’s a long way from Babe Ruth League baseball to the Olympics and the Breeders Cup,”he said.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Jackie Robinson’s impact extends beyond baseball

    It is Jackie Robinson Day as I sit here writing this today, and I feel as though I am doing it in a world gone mad.
    Every player in Major League Baseball wore No. 42 on Tuesday in honor of Jackie Robinson, the man who took racism’s best shot and integrated the game that was known then as the National Pastime even though it was as white a Ku Klux Klan robe.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

  • WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI

    There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Garrison still proving he can carry the ball

    The running back raves from the West Virginia coaching this spring have been directly mostly toward Wendell Smallwood, and rest assured he earned every one of them with his versatility, but it was a reborn running back who well may have taken the biggest jump up the depth chart.

    April 14, 2014

  • WVU baseball drops seventh straight game

    One’s athletic skills are tested on a daily basis but every so often other aspects of an athlete’s makeup are tested, often far more important aspects in the game of life.

    April 14, 2014

  • Gold-Blue Game answers few questions at quarterback

    Dana Holgorsen finds himself in a quarterback quandary.
    He’s looking to have one quarterback and has five of them as spring practice ends, and nothing about the spring session has done anything to straighten out the situation.

    April 13, 2014

  • Moore ‘back at home’ under center

    There are a couple of ways to look at what Logan Moore did this spring after being moved back to quarterback and given a chance to compete for what is a wide open job, as wide open at the end of the spring as it was coming in.
    The first is to say that he didn’t wow Dana Holgorsen to the point that he’s willing to say he’s the leader going into summer drills, but that would be shortsighted considering from where Moore came.

    April 13, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads