Call it a conundrum
By: David Selig
Posted: Jan. 16, 2010
Frederick County basketball fans hoping to hear live broadcasts of their favorite high schools’ games have been put largely on standby for the first half of the season.
In October, GamedayMagazine.com secured exclusive Internet broadcast rights to all games played at James Wood, Sherando and Millbrook that they decide to cover.
That agreement led Sportstalk1550.com to create a basketball schedule featuring all Handley home games.
So, play-by-play of Handley’s home doubleheaders against Millbrook (last Saturday) and Sherando (Tuesday) were streamed online free of charge.
But when the Colonels hosted doubleheaders against the Warriors and Pioneers last week, the games were not broadcast at all.
This Friday’s Handley at James Wood boys’ game was the first local one to be picked up this season by Gameday, which is available for a $139.99 annual subscription. Of the 35 games the site lists on its January schedule, only three of them feature Frederick County teams, and each of those are boys’ games.
Gameday President and Founder Andy Hayes said his broadcast schedule for February hasn’t been set yet, but he says it will feature more Frederick County games.
“We’re definitely ramping up,” Hayes said. “Our basketball coverage doesn’t really get going until we get done with all our Gameday football banquets. We’re doing games, but we’ll really be rolling it out big in about a week.”
Hayes said some of the games he planned to cover early in the season were knocked out by weather. He also said his site will feature a Northwestern District game of the week from this point forward.
As Hayes notes, the exclusive Internet agreement with the Frederick County Public Schools does not prevent other stations from carrying the same games on radio, or broadcasting games online when Gameday isn’t present.
But with Gameday not setting its schedule in stone early in the year, it would be difficult for other Web broadcasters to set up theirs without fear of Gameday coming in and blocking their coverage.
Dan Gloster, who calls games for Sportstalk1550.com, said he was a little disappointed to learn about restrictions on covering Frederick County games — “I thought that was kind of a bummer, to be honest with you,” he said — but he rolled with the punches and made sure to schedule those schools when they visited Handley.
Gloster — who will have called eight games by the end of January — said he typically doesn’t broadcast from Clarke County because of space limitations in the gym, but he has games featuring all five of the local public schools on his schedule by Feb. 9.
Gloster is limited to his station’s online stream for all night events, because the WMRE 1550 AM radio frequency only carries out to listeners during the day.
During football season, 98.3 KISS FM picked up Gloster and his crew’s coverage of five big local night games — which allowed them to call the same ones as Gameday — but Gloster said KISS is not interested in carrying basketball at this point.
It all adds up to an unfortunate set of circumstances for county hoops fans who can’t make it to the games and had previously grown accustomed to hearing them free on Sportstalk 610. (Late in 2008, the land holding 610’s radio towers was sold by Silver Lake Development Co. to make room for The Village at Orchard Ridge retirement community, and Sportstalk was moved up the dial to 1550.)
It should be said that Gameday had a stronger presence here during football season, and while some listeners may be turned off by the almost $12-per-month price tag for membership, a small portion of the money goes to the local schools if appropriate coupon codes are used.
But if Gameday isn’t delivering broadcasts of the biggest boys’ and girls’ games, then followers of the county teams will be left with dead air if they can’t attend and want to listen in.
And that will be a lose-lose for the Frederick County schools and their fans. As they say in radio land, stay tuned.
— David Selig is sports editor
at The Winchester Star
Actually, this was discussed previously on The Pub back in October ...