No, it’s not Howard Stern, the SiriusXM star once heard on CBS Radio classic rocker WNCX/98.5.
If you’re just rejoining us from a vacation under a rock, we’re talking about “King James”…Akron superstar basketball player LeBron James, who announced last week that he would be rejoining his close-to-hometown Cleveland Cavaliers four years after the infamous ESPN-televised “Decision”.
And just about anything with a transmitter, a printing press or a presence right here online has been LeBron Central since even before Thursday, when word of a beefed up police presence and possible “Decision 2.0” made a side street near LeBron’s Bath Township mansion nearly busier than the Montrose shopping area nearby.
We already chronicled that in our last item, but after that…word spread rather quickly on Friday morning, when Sports Illustrated published an “as told to” essay by LeBron saying he would return to Northeast Ohio to play for the Cavaliers.
We were unable to follow the LeBron Tsunami Wave through the local media as it happened, but the folks at snarky sports blog Deadspin did the heavy lifting for us.
Deadspin shared video and audio of how local stations reacted to the news. (Yes, “The Return” is an international story, so it makes perfect sense that a national sports blog would be covering Northeast Ohio media.)
First up is audio from Good Karma sports WKNR/850 “ESPN Cleveland”, where co-host Aaron Goldhammer is without the vacationing Tony Rizzo on “The Really Big Show”. In case you want to see video, we’ve embedded that version posted on WKNR’s website.
Deadspin did not share the reaction on Cleveland’s other sports radio station, CBS Radio sports WKRK/92.3 “The Fan”, perhaps because it couldn’t be embedded in the post.
And “92.3 The Fan” was actually right in the middle of this story, particularly as the World of Twitter tracked a plane owned by Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert.
As it turns out, “The Fan” weekender Joe Lull was even more correct than anyone realized, when tweeting that Gilbert was on his plane headed to South Florida.
Gilbert responded, saying he was enjoying his backyard instead of an aerial view. But the Cavs owner was in fact heading for the airport for his secret meeting with “King James”.
Boarding that plane, he knew that someone (Lull) knew it was going somewhere in Florida.
But as reported by Detroit Free Press columnist (and Cumulus WJR/760 Detroit afternoon host) Mitch Albom (“ALBOM!”), Gilbert learned while aboard the plane that Lull’s report prompted thousands of Twitter users to turn to FlightAware and actually track the plane’s route to Florida.
Then someone on board yelled the media had discovered his plane was en route, and a new airport had to be quickly found.
Gilbert realized nothing was going to be easy.
That new airport was found as well – tracking for N505UP wasn’t turned off until the next day – where Associated Press Miami-based sportswriter Tim Reynolds took the now-infamous picture of the Gilbert plane that we shared in the previous item.
Another “Fan” staffer made the TV News Big Time, as update anchor Anthony Lima – who delivered first word to the station’s listeners on 92.3’s “Baskin and Phelps”, was interviewed by CBS’ Dean Reynolds for “The CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley”.
(And since all the above, including WKRK, are owned by CBS…”Holy corporate synergy, Batman!”)
On the TV side as well, ABC’s “World News with Diane Sawyer” actually led with the Story of LeBron, featuring a short clip of Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 “NewsChannel 5” meteorologist Mark Johnson wearing his “Forgiven” T-shirt on the news set. (Our screenshot is from a Twitter post by a NewsChannel 5 staffer.) Semi-corporate synergy, as WEWS is not owned by its network.
Back to Deadspin, where the post states:
…in a twist of fate, three of Cleveland’s TV stations and its major news radio station WTAM were all at commercial when the news broke.
We’ll use WEWS’ own online video of Leon Bibb’s announcement:
Here’s Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC’s video, with Maureen Kyle and John Anderson. (We’re linking it, because we can’t get “autoplay” turned off in the embedded version.)
Raycom CBS affiliate WOIO/19’s “19 Action News at Noon” with Harry Boomer:
We can’t find the announcement video on Tribune Fox affiliate WJW/8 “Fox 8 News”” website, but the Deadspin post does have it – with Jennifer Jones, Gabe Spiegel and P.J. Ziegler.
The Cavaliers Radio Network affiliate in LeBron’s hometown, Rubber City Radio talk WAKR/1590 Akron, posted this audio of the news as it broke during the station’s midday “Jasen Sokol Show”:
TV coverage-wise, WKYC led the way in the LeBron Sweepstakes… blowing out afternoon programming for the All-LeBron Show, and sending the soap opera “Days Of Our Lives” into late-night DVR land.
WEWS started its “NewsChannel 5” afternoon broadcast an hour earlier at 4 PM, in what would surely be the quickest decision ever made in a TV newsroom – continuing coverage of a hometown sports hero vs. the low-rated in-house video clip show “RightThisMinute”.
WJW and WOIO already start their evening news at 4 PM…