Welcome to the Pittsburgh Media Report, a regular feature on City of Champions. Read the previous edition.
Before I get started, thanks for all the well-wishes regarding last week’s post.
On with the show…
Pensblog co-editor Derek Rocco fired off a series of interesting tweets during Friday night’s Penguins game that got me thinking. Rocco, a.k.a. @TPBDerek, said that he thought listening to Paul Steigerwald and Bob Errey perform their broadcast duties on Root Sports could warp naive fans’ view of the team.
I for one am concerned that as time goes on the damage Paul Steigerwald and Bob Errey do to young and new hockey fans may be irreversible
— TPB Derek (@TPBderek) January 11, 2014
I agree with this, at least to some degree. Steigerwald and Errey are the voices of the Penguins for most people, despite Hockey Hall of Famer Mike Lange still doing his thing on the radio alongside analyst Phil Bourque. Considering the Pens’ remarkable local TV ratings, Root Sports dictates the agenda when it comes to game broadcasts.
It’s evident Steigerwald and Errey gloss over the Penguins’ errors more than their radio counterparts, and part of that difference may be attributed to Root Sports management. Since the brand change from FSN Pittsburgh to Root, it feels like the broadcasts are more partisan than they used to be.
Not that we should expect a team’s media partners to function completely objectively, but the primary job of any broadcaster is to report the action accurately. There’s never any doubt that Lange is playing it straight, a reputation he’s earned in four decades of expert work. His legendary status was built on much more than fun catch phrases, which any longtime listener would be able to tell you.
Steigerwald’s call is (usually) competent, but his delivery has a little too much marketing sheen for my taste. The Penguins and their stars are plenty good enough to let their play stand on its own merit, a fact the Root broadcast doesn’t jive with. (This is not to impeach the work of reporter Dan Potash, host Rob King and studio analyst Jay Caufield, all of whom I hold in high regard.)
For that matter, I don’t share Rocco’s views on Errey. Can he get carried away defending or lauding the Pens? Yes, but he’s entertaining while doing it. I can forgive a lot of ills if a broadcaster makes me laugh. Also, I think Errey’s ability to describe why certain things happen on the ice is very good, which is essentially why has the job.
Nevertheless, Root’s rooting tendencies do have an affect on all of us, even if we believe ourselves impervious to outside influences. It’s easier to get along than disagree, so some newer Penguins fans probably think the hockey world revolves around the flightless fowl more than it actually does.
That mentality is good for the franchise’s health and its continued growth in popularity, but it doesn’t make for better hockey fans. As much as that may bother some of us, it’s a trade the Penguins and Root are willing to make.