Putting Lipstick on a Pig
Wednesday September 24th 2008, 9:18 pm

No, this post isn’t about self-proclaimed “hockey mom” and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. It just seemed like an appropriate way to describe today’s announcement from the Hartford Wolf Pack exulting their new partnership with WTIC-AM/WTIC-FM, who will provide radio broadcasts of the Pack’s games for the coming season.

The new agreement replaces one that previously existed between the club and 1410 ESPN radio, who regularly preempted Wolf Pack games in favor of UCONN basketball, Yankees broadcasts, or the occasional tiddlywinks tournament.  I’m happy to report that such disrespect is a thing of the past. Because under this new partnership “All of the Wolf Pack’s regular season and playoff games will air…” Hallelujah!

But wait, there’s a catch. The sentence continues “…on 96.5 WTIC-FM’s HD 2 channel…”  HD 2?

Raise your hand if you have an HD radio.

Go on, don’t be shy.

Right. That’s what I suspected.

Never fear, Pack games will still be streamed online, at www.wtic.com. And you’ll still have the opportunity to catch the occasional Wolf Pack game over the air, since “select games will be carried live on the 50,000-watt AM powerhouse, WTIC NewsTalk 1080.” I’m curious if “select” amounts to more or less games than could previously be heard on 1410. I’m guessing less. But hey, I’m a pessimist. A pessimist who enjoyed being able to catch a bit of the pre-game show on my way home from work, even down here, a hundred miles from Hartford.

But there is good news! All 2,500 or so Wolf Pack season ticket holders (and I’m being extremely generous) are eligible to receive a free HD car radio, installation included. Thank goodness the already-established fanbase will continue to have the ability to hear the games in their car (while they’re sitting in the XL Center, watching them.) It’s a shame no one else will. Especially when you consider that the franchise has already seen interest and attendance decline each year since the season after their Calder Cup win in 2000.

So count me amongst the folks who’ll miss tuning in to Bob Crawford’s post game breakdown on my way home from games.

Then again, given Northland AEG’s new policy of refusing to sell individual tickets by phone — forcing fans who can’t commit to a ticket package to pay ridiculous Ticketmaster fees (it cost us $39 to purchase two $10 opening night tickets) or line up at the box office on game day — the chances are we’ll be going to less of them this season anyway.

Here’s hoping rumors of B2 Networks demise as the AHL’s online video broadcast partner prove true, and that Neulion, the company responsible for the NHL’s higher quality online broadcasts, do in fact replace them.  Cause it could certainly save us some gas money.

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Filed under: Hartford Wolf Pack

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