Dan Caesar and the baseball broadcast kerfuffle

Dan Caesar, who clearly dislikes everything about KTRS, has written a series of mind-numbing columns in the Post, telling us what a horrible, horrible thing it would be if KMOX were to lose the broadcast rights to Cardinal baseball games.

Dan told us first that he just wasn't fond of the idea. Then he brought into the argument the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth of some Cardinal fans who were bereft at the thought of the games being on any radio station other than their beloved KMOX. I get the concept of loyalty and I respect it. But comes a time when the hard, cold realities of business have to nudge their evil way to the front of the line.

Then ol' Dan brought us the unhappiness of the long-distance fans who wouldn't be able to hear the games because of the limited nighttime reach of KTRS. Please re-read the last sentence in the previous paragraph. All through these stories ran the intimation that The Great Man, Bob Hyland (deceased former GM of KMOX), would never have let this awful, awful thing happen.

Then, last week, Dan brought us the words and wisdom of Hyland's son (by his first marriage) and of Bob Costas, both of whom agreed that a move to another station, with a buy-in by the Cards of KTRS, was probably the right thing to do.

Heresy! Burn the bastards who dare say this terrible thing! Whoops, can't, because both of them are, in one way or another, the issue of The Great Man.

This week, Caesar brings more tear-jerking memories into play, quoting Hyland's son and daughter by his second marriage. And both of them are against the move. And we get more of the "dad would never have let this happen" drivel.

All of Caesar's arguments and invocations of The Great Man are bullshit.

Bob Hyland was a megalomaniac (and, no, it doesn't take a doctor to diagnose that).

He had, at best, marginal people skills and ran the stations using "the beatings will continue until the attitude improves" school of management. He was inclined to hire away the best talents from other radio stations and then "rathole" them or fire them after a few months, putting the taint of dismissal from CBS on them.

If you disagreed with him, you were gone. If he woke up one day and heard three words you said that were strung together in a way that displeased him at that moment, you were gone. Of course, if you pleased him, you were golden and there for as long as Hyland didn't get a headache when he thought of you.

And KTRS' Tim Dorsey, as the article implies, is just like him. I'm not so sure that's a good thing. Or even useful these days.

Hyland, to his credit, did have some great ideas and was smart enough to put them into play, making KMOX a powerhouse in the market. And he was a magnificent salesman and kept his personal PR machine tuned and running at 150% efficiency. That was why (and continues to be why, 13 years after his death) no one will speak to these issues.

Bob Hyland would never have been able to survive in the New World of Corporate Radio. For all his years, Hyland stood firm against the dictums of CBS/NY because he was able to deliver revenue and ratings in what the Big Guys in the Big Apple considered a dismal little swamp of a radio market nestled amongst all those damned rivers.

Enter Mel Karmazin, though, and all bets are off. Ask anyone who's worked at KMOX since CBS Radio became Infinity Broadcasting.

Baseball has changed so dramaticlly in the last ten or so years that it's almost unrecognizable. Players are paid gazillions of dollars to play a freakin' game. And as a result, ticket prices are in the stratosphere and concession and souvenir costs take the cost of admission for a family of four to a game into outer space.

For that kind of money you better put on a good show.

That's why a new venue is necessary (and the new stadium is an entertainment venue, not just a ball park, make no mistake) and that's why the Cards should invest in KTRS and use it as a premier marketing tool. The radio station also adds to the value of the Cardinal's portfolio, if and when the owners decide to sell the package.

Please, please: you must understand that baseball is no longer a Holy Thing...it's a business. And Great Men no longer run radio stations...businessmen do.

The best baseball I ever saw was in Richmond VA, at a run down 12,000 seat ballpark called Parker Field. Beer and hot dogs were a buck each, we had the San Diego Chicken in a few times a season for entertainment, and the AAA players worked their asses off for less than twenty-five grand a year, believing that hard work and practice would get them to the Big Show.

But life does go on, doesn't it?