Editor in Chief
If there’s something strange in your Lobo football neighborhood
Who you gonna call?
If there’s something weird
And it don’t look good
Who you gonna call?
Well Lobo fans, you’ve got just as good of a chance reaching Bill Murray, Harold Ramis or Dan Akroyd as anyone else if you want to talk about today’s Lobo football game — or any other in 2019.
Enchantment Sports has learned that KKOB Radio will not have fan call-in shows after University of New Mexico football games this season — and there are no immediate plans to have them after men’s basketball games either.
In addition, the extended pre-game football show will not be nearly as extended, either. The show has been sliced in half to one hour.
The decisions were made by Outfront Media Sports Inc., which became UNM’s multi- media partner after the school and Learfield IMG didn’t renew their ties.
Outfront has media rights to Lobo sports.
“I’m disappointed there is no longer an opportunity for fans to call in after games,” Scott Stiegler, former host of the call-in shows for football and men’s basketball from 2007-2018, told Enchantment Sports.
“I think it’s an important part of the fans’ interaction and engagement with the programs.”
The Lobos play host to Sam Houston State in their season opener at 4 p.m., today (Aug. 31) at University Stadium.
The call-in shows had been part of Lobo game broadcasts for decades. But much is changing under Outfront, and many deals are still being negotiated. In fact, on Wednesday the Albuquerque Journal reported that even the contracts for the play-by-play announcers for the football games will be working while their contracts are being finalized.
Also, Lobo Talk, an interview radio show each Wednesday with head football coach Bob Davie, will no longer be conducted in front of a live crowd at a local establishment, as had always been the case. Davie was prerecorded for this past week’s show, and word is that will be the plan each week.
There’s no word if there will be an applause button available where it is recorded, creating the cheesy atmosphere of the old show.
Davie’s pregame interview, which aired today shortly before kickoff was, of course, prerecorded. Just not on game day.
When asked about which Lobo quarterback would start, Davie said that he still had two days to decide that — since the interview was recorded on Thursday.
So much for game-day insight, Lobo fans.
Neither UNM athletic director Eddie Nuñez nor KKOB general manager Jeff Barry returned messages from Enchantment Sports about the changes in radio broadcasts.
Joe O’Neill, president of sports radio station KQTM (101.7), started the shows — “The Extra Point” following UNM football games, and “The Overtime Show” after men’s basketball games — when he was director of sports marketing for KKOB in the 1990s.
“The beauty of those shows, was because of the proximity to the final result, you really got to experience the true emotion of Lobo fans — the high and the lows,” O’Neill told Enchantment Sports.
“But we are so deep into our partnership with New Mexico United, and their regular season runs until Oct. 19 and hopefully into November for the playoffs. So it’s not even an option right now. Down the road, sure, I would look at it. But we couldn’t do it for football season.”
Thus, without a call-in show, the tens of fans listening will no longer be able to hear eloquent callers like Rudy and Lance inform us about how horrific Mountain West Conference officials are, and how there is a conspiracy against the Lobos — while trying to shield the UNM programs from anyone who dares give a non-Everyone’s-A-Lobo take.
Callers in the latter category, have given New Mexico athletic directors and coaches fits for two decades.
Hmm. So, icing the call-in shows couldn’t possibly have been something that UNM suggested to its new media partner, right?
Na. After all, Davie’s football team is coming off a couple of “tremendous” seasons and is predicted to finish on top of the Mountain West Conference.
Or at least in the top 12.
Now, without the voice of the fans, it’s up to play-by-play announcer Robert Portnoy to spin all Lobo games — win or lose — through his cherry-and-silver color glasses, telling fans exactly what they should be thinking about the games.
Saves a lot of time, energy and thought process, after all.
As for those who want to proclaim their love, spew their hate or even simply give an honest opinion, it looks like it’s back to mommy’s basement and the fan message boards.
Mark Smith has worked in New Mexico sports media for more than four decades, and is one of the most decorated sports journalists in state history. Smith has won more than 30 combined awards in print, television and radio. He is the editor in chief of Enchantment Sports. Contact him at mark.enchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com.