The Detroit Sports Media: A List of Ten

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The Detroit Sports Media: A List of Ten
(Photo by Domenic Centofanti/Getty Images)

In Detroit, there are several forms of media that is used to create this list. 

The Detroit newspapers (News and Free Press) used to be the focal point of sports media.

However, recently, the two Detroit newspapers decided to only publish a full paper about three days a week, including the weekend and a shortened non-delivered version the rest of the days. 

Therefore, the other two forms of media—radio and TV are the epicenter of the sports world in Detroit. 

The radio is mainly 97.1 the Ticket (www.971theticket.com), which is the flagship station for the Red Wings, Tigers, and Lions.  When two games are on at the same time, they have another station AM 1270 WXYT to cover the other game. 

The main form of TV coverage is Fox Sports Detroit.  They cover the Red Wings, Tigers, and Pistons since the Lions are on the major networks if they are not blacked out at home. 

FSD also has FSD+ in case two teams are playing at the same time.  The local TV networks are also a place of quality reporting. 

There a lot more than what this list can hold, but these are probably the best known of the bunch.

 

1. Ernie Harwell, George Kell, and Al Kaline.

There is currently no one person who can hold this position. 

Ernie Harwell is one of the greatest ever to call a baseball game. 

Even at 91, he still maintains a column at the News in which he offers his encyclopedic knowledge of the history of baseball.   He did the NBC coverage of the 1951 Pennant aka "Shot Heard Around the World," and served as the radio voice of the Tigers from 1960 to 1991 then 1994 to 1998 on TV and finally 1999 to 2002.  

The other two at No. 1 are George Kell and Al Kaline. 

They made it to Cooperstown for their play on the field for the Detroit Tigers. However, their TV call of Tigers games earned them sainthood in Detroit. 

George Kell started first as the play by play voice in 1959, and Al Kaline joined him in 1975 and they worked together until 1996. 

These three brought the experience of being there as experts when they made an opinion, and their classic voices were what many in Detroit heard next to their parents and significant others during the spring and summer.

Sadly, George Kell passed away in March of this year.

2. George Blaha. 

The voice of the Pistons since 1976.

Since he is still calling Pistons games and MSU football, he is still in the No. 2 slot.  

He incorporates such a knowledge of terminology in his play-by-play that you don't even need to watch his Pistons telecast on FS Detroit or the TV coverage of the Spartans. 

You just listen to him and you will know what is going on.   

3. Mickey Redmond. 

The color commentator for the Detroit Red Wings broadcast on FS Detroit. 

He played for the Montreal Canadians during two of their Stanley Cup championship years, and then joined the Red Wings and became the first to score 50 goals in a season in franchise history.  

He has been a TV voice of the Wings for 23 years. 

His unique brand of sayings makes him endearing to Wings' fans as well as an opinionated style, which includes never hesitating to express his displeasure for a bad call—even if it is in favor of the Wings.   

4. Terry Foster and Mike Valenti. 

Terry Foster is a Detroit News sports columnist and a former Pistons beat writer. 

Mike Valenti is a transplanted New Yorker who calls the Celtics and NY Giants  his favorite teams outside of Detroit, which means he brings the NY style of sports talk. 

Valenti is also a Spartan grad, so this past football season he was in rare form as he tore up the Wolverine fan base that their "little brother" throttled them in Ann Arbor.

Their brand of no holds barred sports talk make them the top rated afternoon radio show in Detroit. 

Sports is their main topic, however they will hit other issues such as the best place to buy a burger in the D.

5. Karsch and Anderson. 

They are the early afternoon show on 97.1 The Ticket. 

Doug Karsch is also the host of Wolverine Magazine on FS Detroit and the sideline reporter for the radio broadcast of Michigan football games. 

Scott "The Gator" Anderson is a Spartan grad who is the best in Detroit when it comes to imitating sports personalities. 

He does dead on imitations of Jim Leyland, Larry Brown, and Gunter Cunningham to name a few. 

Karsch is endearing to the local fans for his yearly attempts to build a temporary ice rink in his backyard. 

Gator made himself a legend recently when he agreed to "shoot the boot" if the Lions drafted Stafford.  Shooting the boot is drinking a beer out of a shoe for those who don't know.

On Friday, May 1st, he froze one of his running shoes and, on-the-air, drank a beer out of it. 

If the act itself wasn't funny enough, the three belches that followed left many lucky they were not driving when it happened.

6.  Pat "The Book" Caputo. 

He is a a former Tigers beat writer and current sportswriter for the Oakland Press. 

It is the newspaper for Oakland County, which is the biggest county in the Detroit Area. 

He also has a show on the Ticket, which follows the Valenti and Foster show. 

Normally, due to Tigers or Wings games, the show will get bumped. However, he does bring a wealth of knowledge to the airwaves. 

Due to his distinctive voice, Gator and Valenti have developed imitations of him which are used quite regularly, especially when they don't agree with him.

7.   Bernie Smilovitz. 

He is one of the best of the local news network sports anchors. 

He has been at Channel Four on and off since 1986. 

He brings a style to going over the sports the way it should be, funny—yes, but not over the top like ESPN has gotten to be lately. 

He is always ready to show the highlights as well as some other clips which he titles "Weekend at Bernie's."

8. Dan Miller, Jim Brandstatter and Tony Ortiz. 

These three are the radio voices of the Detroit Lions. 

They earned their place for doing a great job on the air even when the team went 0-16 last season. 

Miller does the play-by-play and a sports anchor for local network Fox Two. 

Brandstatter is the color commentator and also the color commentator for the Michigan Football radio broadcasts, and played football for Bo Schembechler. 

Ortiz is the sideline reporter and does the sports updates for the early morning to mid-afternoon on the Ticket. 

Last season he was also "hired" by Karsch and Anderson to ask the female sideline reporters of the national TV broadcasts various questions.

9. Mitch Albom is probably the most well known columnist in the Detroit Sports media market. 

He has been writing in Detroit since 1985, and is the most decorated columnist probably in the history of the Detroit newspapers.   

He has published books about Bo Schembechler, the Fab Five, as well as collections of his columns.  However, his other books: "Tuesdays With Morrie", "The Five People You Meet in Heaven," and "For One More Day" made him part of the Oprah universe. 

He lost a great deal of respect from the local fans when in 2005, he falsely reported that some former players of the MSU basketball team were in attendance for the Saturday Final Four game against North Carolina. 

He also lost more respect in 2008 during the early stages of the Red Wings Stanley Cup run, when he called out the fans in a column for not attending in large enough numbers. 

This was when the economic problems were really getting bad, so the comments were not taken well.  

As good as he has been, he has become too big for the market in Detroit.

10. Rob Parker is the bad boy of the Detroit sports media. 

Last year he lost his job as sportswriter for the Detroit News when he asked, then Lions coach, Rod Marinelli if he wished his daughter married a better defensive coordinator during the press conference after the Lions lost to the Saints.  

He was already in hot water for falsely naming a Spartan football player as someone involved in a fight at MSU that injured a member of the men's ice hockey team. 

He recently landed a job as the Channel Four website sports columnist.  Only time will tell if he puts his foot in his mouth again.

 

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