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Charm City Sports Media Gets Weird

I can’t remember the last time — probably because it hasn’t happened before — that two major sports media announcements happened here on the same day. Today was such a day, but the announcements served less to offer clarity than to obscure it.

First, as I detailed in my latest Examiner.com piece, news came out that 1370 AM would become Mobtown‘s third all-sports radio station. For now they’re airing syndicated Fox Sports content along with a local show hosted by Jerry Coleman from 3-6 pm.

Not to be outdone, tonight Nasty Nestor Aparicio announced that he has partnered with Brian Billick — yep — to launch “WNST Sports Media, which is for the moment as nebulous a concept as it sounds.

It’s impossible to judge either of these ventures before they’ve actually begun, so I’ll hold off on that. What I will say, though, is that both 1370 AM and Nestor/Billick had better be very, very careful about how they allocate resources, and formulate their strategy. I can easily envision a scenario where both of these ideas drop dead before it’s even time to talk about Jake Arrieta as a September callup.

That said, they face very different challenges.

Radio being what it is, the folks at 1370 need to quickly establish themselves as better than the other guys (WNST and WJFK). They need to sign the best local hosts they can find and tap the vein of people who want Baltimore sports in-depth, all the time, all across the area. If they can do that they’ll win. If they can’t do it, all the signal strength in the world won’t matter.

The web being what it is, Nestor and Billick need to realize what it takes to build a successful New Media venture. I could write a term paper about that, but in brief the most important things are:

1. Understand that the ultimate goal should be to create a community of passionate, involved users. Not readers, not hits, not page views, but users. In order to do that, they’ll have to relinquish control of the “message” and be patient, responsive, and transparent (that most of all) at every turn.

2. Understand what people want from the web. That means as little advertising as possible (including no spam) and a focus on real value (which includes understanding what real value is, and not trying to manufacture or impose it). It has to start with great content, but it also means listening. Not saying they’ll listen, but actually listening.

They’ll also need to understand that success is a long-term proposition. A year at least, realistically two or three. Provided, of course, that they start out by defining “success” the right way.

Much remains to be seen about both of these ventures, but it’s an interesting time for Baltimore sports fans. Not the least of the reasons being that we are — literally — the people who will seal their fates one way or the other.

5 comments to Charm City Sports Media Gets Weird

  • ryan97ou

    am i the only one who finds it ironic that WNST is starting a web venute when their website might be the worst designed thing i have ever seen. I can’t find anything on there…other than ford ads.

    looking forward to see what they do though…

  • dan the man

    If it’s one thing NST doesn’t do, it’s listen. (read: Drew Forrester). They’re good at harping, though. Except guys like Haynie and Long, who are saints among sinners over there. I like that Nestor thinks he knows one damn thing about the internet, but one look at their website tells us he just doesn’t get it. It’s like whoever he hired to design the thing went straight to the HTMLGoodies archives circa 1998 and whipped up some tables and called it a day. With all the ads on there, you’d think they’d have enough money to create something, I dunno, more 21st century. Nestor gives me the vibe of a guy that, at 40, still thinks he’s young enough to go to the club and he’s oblivious to all the kids that are looking at him like he’s creepy. It’s that, but with the internet.

    And then there’s this from Nestor:

    “Brian Billick is the most recognizable sports figure in this city, behind Cal Ripken.”

    Sure, he’s recognizable, but he’s also largely disliked. And I would recognize Jim Palmer, Ray Lewis, or Nick Markakis quicker than I would Brian Billick.

  • Greg

    I’ve never listened to any Orioles radio other than WBAL, what station is Nestor on? What station is WJFK? Is that the one with Anita Marks? Obviously I’m not much of a radio guy.

    Why should I listen to Nestor when I think Dave Johnson and Ken Wyman provide exactly what I need to hear about my team: the Orioles are awful but here’s why and here’s what’s in store and here’s something to feel good about. I like Orioles apologists, and on WBAL I can get that.

    I’m afraid that if I listened to anyone on WNST it would be like listening to a bunch of PO’d old school fans who feel cheated by the team and bitch and moan about how bad they are and that’s it. I’ve never heard anything remotely positive about Nestor. He’s like some sort of outspoken sports anarchist and that’s someone I’m not so sure I can be on board with. I’m not that free-wheeling or crazy.

  • Brendan

    Oh man. Billick’s going to learn to hate this gig.

    Didn’t he get fired? Am I the only one who thinks this will be sort of awkward? At least the call-in part will be.

    If they stink, his show will take a “well here’s what they should have done” tone. Which will be sad, because he’s not just a sports guy, he’s the fired coach-guy still hanging on.

    If they’re good, listners will call in claiming how great the new coach is? And maybe how the Ravens are better off without Billick? That’s just awkward.

    It’s taking all of the objectivity out of the sports talk. At least the Ravens talk, because he’s still very much a part of the current team. Maybe he’ll have some great O’s insight.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    wnst’s website looks like it was designed by and eight year old boy. i stopped going there fearing a seizure.