Sports talk radio- mainly local Philadelphia sports talk radio- has long been one of my biggest guilty pleasures in life. Historically, sports talk in the 70s and 80s sprung from its earlier roots of game day play-by-play broadcasts. Eventually it evolved into niche programming on the AM dial, or existed in tandem with either news radio or general talk programming. The advent of round the clock cable TV news from ESPN and CNN began to pull in an eventual greater demand for 24 hour audio sports news and fan talk, especially in huge metropolitan sports media markets like Philadelphia and New York. These days, downloadable music, satellite subscription programming, and of course, Internet radio have severely diminished the popularity of FM major market music radio. Otherwise, sports talk remains a highly innovative programming format on both the AM and FM bands, on the ‘Net, and on mobile devices such as the iPhone. Two of my favorite indispensable apps (both available from the iTunes Store) are CBS Local Audio Roadshow and, ESPN-affiliated The 97.5 Fanatic.
Both products possess key enhancements and extensions for a sports program format that operates across the dual bands of AM and FM. This is significant in terms of greater sponsored program flexiblity. During a press conference on AM devoted to hiring or firing a new coach, signing or trading a player, etc. the FM side might simultaneously carry regular talk show chit chat and one of those broadcasts can stream via the app. The same is true during a game day play-by-play, although broadcast rights usually preclude streaming audio play-by-play over an app without purchase of a special paid package, i.e. NFL network MLB.com, etc.
The CBS app works more like a traditional mobile ‘Net radio player, as it furnishes the listener with not just Philly WIP 610, but a roster of several other sports talk venues from the big major cities such as Boston, Chicago, Washington, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and of course WFAN NY. The latter is also very cool because some on air talent such as Jody McDonald cross over to both cities, and, the NY metro outlet sometimes offers some content geared towards Rutgers fans like myself. Previously WIP was available as a single selection via AOL Radio or Flycast ‘Net radio apps. In contrast, “97.5 The Fanatic” is a strictly standalone app that, while being part of the larger ESPN “mothership”, is devoted solely to the Philly sports scene.
So which app is better? I love them both. I especially enjoy going on a Philly or Rutgers road trip and having the ability to access local sports talk anywhere in the country. And actually, local isn’t so local anymore, as quite often fans of Philly teams from all over the world call in to the talk shows from whatever locale is picking up the stream, either via computer or mobile device. Apart from the apps themselves, whenver I’m near an actual radio I tend to like the on-air talent of ESPN Fanatic heavy hitters like Mike Missanelli and Tony Bruno during the week, but prefer the more solidly local angle of WIP on weekends. The Fanatic app seems to have addressed this lately with more locals such as “Harry Mayes ’til Midnight”.
Both apps carry nice interactive features in which fans can post rants or “sound-offs” on an audio bulletin board. The CBS app has a polls sections. The Fanatic overall seems more fully featured with a conspicuous direct call in button, an archived video and audio programming section, and Twitter and Facebook buttons. But ‘IP still carries the distinction of being the earliest venue for Philadelphia sports talk whereas The Fanatic has the weight of ESPN “The Worldwide Leader” behind it thus, allowing them to sometimes attract more nationally renown guests.
Both apps are FREE downloads from the iTunes store. If you are a hardcore Philly sports fan, get them both. If you are a sports fan living outside the Greater Philadelphia area get the CBS app if it covers your particular city. Or take a look/see if one of the national ESPN radio apps is something you might enjoy. Have fun! Play ball!