Baseball fans across America are happy that Major League Baseball resumes its 2020 season this week with a reduced 60-game schedule, rather than the typical 162 games. Just as happy to hear “Play Ball” are members of the behind-the-scene, game-day television production crew, including camera operators and other technicians, who produce telecasts aired on Fox Sports San Diego.
On any given day at Petco Park, between 30 and 40 people work as off-camera, TV crew members for San Diego Padres game coverage. Many of them have endured major-league-level income losses in the wake of baseball’s four-month shutdown from the coronavirus pandemic.
That’s because the livelihoods of many TV production professionals are contingent upon playing baseball games. They work as independent contractors who are paid on a per-game basis. No games have meant losing tens of thousands of dollars in income. Some have reportedly dipped into life savings and retirement accounts and survived on loans from family members. Others have survived on unemployment benefits.
“It has been very difficult, not just for me, but our whole industry took a big hit,” said Carlos Castro, an audio technician. “All of the technicians have been affected. I know it’s been hard on everyone but our industry took it especially hard.”
“Financially, I have taken a huge hit,” said Mark Gleason, a camera operator. “The majority of my work comes from baseball. Personally, I love baseball. Not only was my job taken from me, but the game I love was taken away.”
In 2019, Gleason said he worked 105 baseball games, including 79 Padre games at Petco for Fox Sports, seven Los Angeles Angels games in Anaheim for Fox Sports West, 10 MLB post-season games for TBS and 10 games for ESPN in various locations, including in Cleveland for the MLB Home Run Derby and All-Star Game and in San Bernardo, Calif. for Little League regional playoff games.
With no fans in the stands on Monday, July 20, the Padres will play an exhibition game at Petco Park vs. the Los Angeles Angels. The 6:10 p.m. game is scheduled to be televised locally. The Padres will open the shortened 2020 regular season with a four-game home series this Friday, July 24, against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Petco Park.
Now, with the layoff to end, TV crew members say they are ready to again deliver baseball games to TV viewers.
“I’m over-the-moon excited to return to Petco and work MLB Padres baseball,” said Victor Swircz, a fiber technician and camera operator. “I hope that it would have been sooner, but that was out of our control. The schedule looks very similar to what a normal regular season schedule would be, just with less games.”
“I’m excited to make money again,” said Tony Kendall, a replay operator. “Normally, there are about 20 people inside the TV trucks, which obviously will be a concern with social distancing.”
“I’m very excited,” said Castro, an audio technician. “I love what I do and I love the people I work with. I can’t wait.”
“The crew becomes our second family during a normal six-month baseball season. We’ve all missed that camaraderie during these past four months caused by the pandemic,” said Steve Dolan, statistician with 20 years of experience, the past four seasons for Fox Sports San Diego.
“It won’t be the same without fans, but we will still deliver the same high quality Emmy-award winning show because that’s what we do,” said Gleason, a camera operator. “My normal camera position is the left-field camera underneath the video board. I can’t wait to get the chance to run it again. I truly love my job. The fact that my office is major league baseball stadiums around the country is amazing.”
In related news, the ballclub recently released its 2020 TV and radio broadcast schedule. Details are available at www.padres.com/schedule.
Don Orsillo and Mark Grant will return to handle announcing duties for all Padres telecasts on Fox Sports. Mark Sweeney will also appear in the booth to call select games alongside Orsillo throughout the season. With top priority being placed on COVID-19 safety protocols this season, Orsillo and Grant will call all home and road games from their usual television booth inside Petco Park.
All 30 regular season home games also will be televised in Spanish on Fox Deportes San Diego. Eduardo Ortega will return to celebrate his 34th season with the ballclub and 40th year in broadcasting, along with former Padres catcher Carlos Hernandez. Select games will also be available in Las Vegas on Cox.
“Padres Live” pre-game and post-game shows also will return, bookending every home and road telecast. Mike Pomeranz will host the half-hour show, while Sweeney, Tony Gwynn, Jr., and Bob Scanlan will join the show to offer expert analysis.
On the radio, all 60 regular season Padres games will air live in both English and Spanish in 2020. English broadcasts with Ted Leitner and Jesse Agler can be found on KWFN 97.3-FM, “The Fan.”97.3 The Fan, with Tony Gwynn Jr. providing analysis for select games. Spanish radio broadcasts can be found on the Padres’ Spanish flagship station XEMO-AM La Poderosa 860.
Scott Ferrall, Tony Bruno to Host Shows on The Mightier 1090
The schedule for weekday talk-show hosts on re-launched sports talk radio station XEPRS 1090-AM is becoming clearer, following the latest programming announcement from Bill Hagen, the station’s operator.
Hagen said sports radio personality Scott Ferrall will host two shows per day, including “Ferrall Coast to Coast” from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and “Ferrall On The Bench” from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Previous lineup announcements include local personality Scott Kaplan from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and a 9 p.m.-midnight evening talk-show show anchored by longtime nationally syndicated host Tony Bruno, formerly with ESPN Radio, Fox Sports Radio and Sporting News Radio.
The 50,000-watt station, with a transmitter in Rosarito, Baja California, is expected to return to the airwaves by the end of summer, Hagen told the Times of San Diego.
“We’re still on track for this summer, but we’ve been five months at this and I never thought we would be where we are,” Hagen said. “It’s taken longer than I expected. We’re getting closer, but Covid has caused massive changes nationwide in sports radio, which had nothing to do with us. I’m still waiting for a couple of other things to fall into line.”
Weekday morning and weekend talk-show hosts have yet to be listed on the station’s website.
XEPRS, to be rebranded as “The Mightier 1090,” has been off the air since April 2019, after a dispute over leasing fees for the Tijuana-based signal transmitter. The Mighty 1090, a fixture in the market since its founding in 2003, was operated by Broadcast Company of the Americas, which is now out of business.
Hagen, owner of Out The Window Advertising, based in Flagstaff, AZ, has secured a five-year lease of the 1090-AM frequency from Andreas Bichara Assad of Interamericana de Radio in Rosarito, the Mexico-based signal tower operator.
Ferrall has hosted radio talk shows for the past 20 years. “Ferrall on the Bench” debuted on CBS Sports Radio in 2013, following shows with Howard Stern on SiriusXM since 2006. Prior to joining Stern, Ferrall hosted programs on WFAN and WNEW-FM New York and WQAM Miami. Earlier this year, Ferrall left CBS Sports Radio to join SportsGrid Radio Network to host shows focusing on sports wagering.
“We couldn’t be happier to bring Ferrall back to Southern California’s radio airways and are very excited that we will be his West Coast flagship station,” said Hagen. “The addition of Ferrall was another big and important step for us.”
Bruno has hosted sports talk shows since the 1990s. He helped launch Fox Sports Radio in Los Angles in 2000. In 2015, Bruno announced his retirement from terrestrial radio. In 2019, he reemerged with stations in Philadelphia. He’s also currently heard weekdays, noon to 3 p.m., on Sirius XM.
“Adding Bruno to the relaunch of this historic radio station was a true no-brainer,” said Hagen. “Tony helped invent the entire sports radio genre, and it is only fitting that an icon like Tony is on an icon like The Mightier 1090-AM.”
Kaplan spent 16 years at 1090-AM when it was known as The Mighty 1090.
In another announcement, XEPRS said it will use a cloud-based automation and live production tools provided by SportsGrid. A statement said the technology platform integrates a suite of automated live production tools and monitoring software utilizing a cloud-based virtual infrastructure. SportsGrid’s Radio production services will stream The Mightier 1090 audio feed through a low-latency IP connection from the cloud to the station’s transmitter, broadcasting the powerful signal to hundreds of thousands of listeners in Southern California.
“The SportsGrid Radio team is thrilled to be an integral part of the re-launch of this iconic Southern California 50,000 watt clear-channel station,” said Michael Cardano, SportsGrid VP of radio. “The insightful technological outlook and leadership of Bill Hagen, combined with the familiar voice and local market understanding of Scott Kaplan, will undoubtedly allow San Diego’s renowned 1090-AM to regain its prominent position in the So-Cal marketplace.”
San Diego SPJ Chapter Announces 2021-2021 Board of Directors
The San Diego professional chapter of Society of Professional Journalists has announced its 2020-2021 board of directors.
Recently elected to the board for two-year terms were: Jill Castellano, investigative data reporter, inewsource; Kendra Sitton, editor, San Diego Uptown News and Downtown News, San Diego Community Newspaper Group; and Jared Whitlock, freelance journalist.
The trio will join the following 2020-2021 executive committee members: Tom Jones, chapter president, executive investigative producer, NBC 7 San Diego; Andrew Bowen, chapter VP, reporter, KPBS; Bianca Bruno, chapter secretary, reporter, Courthouse News; Arthur Santana, chapter treasurer, associate professor of journalism, San Diego State University.
Other SPJ board members for 2020-2021 include: Kelly Davis, senior editor, The Appeal; Matthew Halgren, attorney, Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, LLP; Lisa Halverstadt, reporter, Voice of San Diego; Elizabeth Marie Himchak, editor, Rancho Bernardo News and Poway News Chieftain; Andrew Kleske, outreach editor, The San Diego Union-Tribune; Lauren Mapp, reporter, The San Diego Union-Tribune.
SPJ board members also reelected for two-year terms were Jones, Kleske, Bowen and Davis. Jones said an announcement for the SPJ 2020 Journalist of the Year is expected in the next few weeks. “As you can imagine, COVID-19 threw a wrench in our gears so we are coming up with a way to announce this award, and other awards from our (writing) contest,” he said.
San Diego AMA To Discuss Personal Branding
The American Marketing Association San Diego chapter will present a free webinar titled “Amplifying Your Personal Brand in Times of Uncertainty” from 10 to 11 a.m. Wednesday, July 22, over the Zoom online meeting platform.
The webinar, presented by Allison Nunes, director of global events with Linkedin, will cover tips and tricks on how to tell your professional story, making the most of the LinkedIn network, gaining insights and knowledge from your news feed, job seeker tips and brand building and thought leadership. For registration information, visit sdama.org.
Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.