‘Jam’ debut something to build on
An official attendance number for Happy Valley Jam, the July 8 concert at Beaver Stadium, has not been announced by Penn State or promoters, but all involved probably should be happy with estimates of 30,000 that were shared and supported the night of the event.
A little more than 24,000 tickets were actually scanned at the stadium gates.
Even by counting band members, complimentary tickets, the media and no shows, finding a way to make the math reach 30,000 could be a challenge.
Still, it looked like a decent-sized crowd — especially once the sun went down, it got darker and fans were encouraged to squeeze down the sideline seating areas from other sections.
In general, the event seemed like a success.
There were issues with post-game traffic and trash in some parking lots. Plus, crowd movement in the stadium seemed tight at spots, especially if those present were less than a third of the stadium’s capacity.
How officials weigh all those factors against time and resources invested, as well as impact on the stadium surface, and make a decision about the future will be interesting.
New Fox voices
Apparently the “out” door at ESPN pretty consistently leads to the “in” door at Fox Sports.
Count NFL analysts Mark Schlereth and Ray Lewis as high profile recent examples, although they found their new homes by slightly different routes.
Schlereth was proactive with his move, somewhat of a surprise departure, while Lewis had already lost favor and opportunities at ESPN when he was signed by the rival sports network.
Schlereth was a valuable contributor, appearing on a variety of shows on both radio and TV.
During his 16-year tenure with ESPN he held multiple roles and enjoyed both highs and lows in terms of exposure and opportunity. He was a consistent, reliable contributor. He’ll bring credibility to Fox Sports.
Lewis joined ESPN immediately after his Hall of Fame career and found a prominent position in support of “Monday Night Football.” Getting his impact and personality to transfer from the field to the analyst’s role was not always easy, though.
Maybe ESPN’s oversized “MNF” crew did not allow him enough space or time to develop, but he did not become a must-hear or must-see analyst. That could change with Fox Sports.
Either way, both certainly come to their new positions with experience, thanks to ESPN, and with strong potential.
Departing NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., whose on-track career will end when this season ends, has been in contact with both Fox and NBC about working as a TV analyst as the next step of his career.
It’s doubtful his presence would translate into much of a viewership bump for either network, but his popularity would be valued by either network.
It’s easier to envision Fox making room for Earnhardt by possibly moving Darrell Waltrip but because neither network’s ratings are strong, a personnel change at NBC would not be beyond the realm of possibility either.
Earnhardt is making the move, wisely, after missing much of last season because of concussions and concussion-related symptoms. He knows he needs to get out of a car for his personal safety.
It’s also easy to believe his personality, and relative youth, would translate well to TV opportunities.
Play-by-play man Dan Shulman recently announced he would be leaving “Sunday Night Baseball” after this season.
It’s his decision, he’s not being nudged by ESPN officials, and he would continue to work postseason baseball games on ESPN Radio as well as a full slate of college basketball games on ESPN.
He told Sports Illustrated he was making the move to “strike a better balance between my personal life and my professional life.”
Legandary Jon Miller was the initial “Sunday Night Baseball” play-by-play man, working from 1990 to 2010. Shulman took over in 2011.
While former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow has enjoyed a solid couple of weeks as a baseball player after being promoted to a higher Single-A team in the New York Mets’ system, his long-term future probably remains on television.
He signed an extension with ESPN in the spring to serve as college football analyst on “SEC Nation,” the SEC Network’s traveling weekly pregame show.
And thanks to his performances on that show, his work on other ESPN college football shows and his work on “Good Morning America,” expect Tebow to be prominent with almost any ESPN-related college football coverage once his baseball season ends.
n This week’s MLB All-Star Game was watched by 9.4 million viewers on Fox, Fox Deportes and Fox Sports GO — pushing it 7 percent ahead of last year’s combined audience. Not surprisingly, Fox touted the event as the most-watched program of the summer.
n ESPN2 announced it would carry as stand-alone hour of “The Paul Finebaum Show” at 2 p.m. daily beginning Aug. 16. The TV-only hour of the show will run through December, giving ESPN2 an extra hour of college football programming and complementing the simulcast of Finebaum’s show that airs on ESPN Radio and the SEC Network.
Sampsell comments on TV and radio for the Mirror. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.