Negative Buffalo Media All About The Ratings

Written by JOE LOGAN on 4/16/2010 4:20 PM

For those who are new to Buffalo or did not grow up here, it is easy to see the rampant negativity that spews over majestic landscapes of Western New York. For those who have lived here all their lives it maybe harder to see since it has evolved over time.

It really all started back in 1993 when Winey Guy Radio hired "The Coach" Chuck Dickerson. Dickerson obviously had a chip on his shoulder against Marv Levy because he had just fired Dickerson. That led to four years of Dickerson tearing apart Levy and the Bills organization in general.

A by-product of that was huge ratings for WGR. So even after Levy stepped down Dickerson kept demonizing everything Bills and soon his counterparts were copying his negative act.

One problem Dickerson had was that he hated the Buffalo Sabres and hated hockey in general. In 2004 WGR was trying to get gain exclusive rights to broadcast Sabres games. Dickerson was the poster child for the anti-Sabres squad and they cut him loose. No problem because he had groomed members of the demonization squad in Mike Schopp and The Bulldog who replaced him.

Also grooming himself as a Buffalo Demonizor was Jerry Sullivan. At least he has been consistent in that he rips not only the Bills but the city as a whole. (Yes, he wrote a positive article on the Sabres today so I guess every squirrel catches a worm once in a while.

Sullivan (no relation to Buffalo News editor Margaret Sullivan) was even ripping the Bills during their Superbowl years and couldn't utter a complete sentence without talking about how much better Basketball was as a sport!!

Not much has changed for him. He continues to take advantage of the fact that Bills fans wear their emotions on their sleeves. Following a loss or the announcement of some bad news Sullivan knows that it's easy to bend an ear by saying "I'm with you buddy. Wilson is an idiot, the Bills are moving to Toronto, come with me and let's cry on each other's shoulder." Sullivan is the first person to take even something positive and extract some negative aspect to it just to make sure that we as fans won't become overly optimistic and ruin his entire schtick.

Sullivan, Schopp and the Bulldog understand that negativity produces ratings. WGR recently won the Marconi award for the sports format domain which is usually given to those who dominate their local market, which WGR does. (WBEN gets double the ratings and has a mostly news format) I don't expect them to become less negative any time soon.

So that's the history and it explains why all you hear from Buffalo radio is how bad the Bills management, how the Sabres can only mess things up, and why Buffalo is the laughing stock of both leagues.

There are some newcomers to the market like WECK radio who hired Brad Riter in March of 2008. Riter was fired in September of 2007 from WGR after not showing up for work.

Riter is constantly on the attack when it comes to our local sports teams. He is especially good and giving all of the reasons why coaches and players shouldn't come here. The fact that all of his negativity is only getting him a .5 share compared to WGR's 5 share isn't stopping Riter from his diatribes against the Bills and the city in general. He seems to be getting worse. Moreover he seems like he is trying to imitate Schopp by imitating his fast, halting way of speaking. A friend of mine said that he thinks Riter was dumped upside down in garbage cans too much in high school and is making up for it by doing what he does now on the radio.

I do think times are changing. It used to be when Sullivan would write a negative article he would get almost 100% buy in based on the comments under the article. More recently you see more and more people challenging him and mocking his all-negative style. Moreover there are some positive forces stepping up on the streaming Internet channels. Coach Sal holds live streaming call in shows on Ustream and has a very loyal following. He is optimistic, but he tells it like it is and isn't afraid to criticize. But the difference for him is that he is not constantly talking about every single negative thing (real or perceived) as they are doing on the radio. Other outlets like Patrick Moran's Buffalo Sports Daily also tend not to focus and regurgitate everything negative. He doesn't avoid it, but it's not the central theme of the site.

However more importantly is the impression I am getting that there is a shift in sentiment. People are really getting sick of the negative radio scene and are starting to attack it. Everyone knows about the problems we have had in the past with our sports teams. All cities have their problems more or less. Do we really have to focus on them at nauseum? I would bet that if WECK replaced Riter with Coach Sal their ratings would grow right away.

What can we focus on instead of everything bad about the Bills? How about the fact that the Bills pretty much cleaned house. It's a new beginning for the Bills this year. We have a coach who took his team to the playoffs both seasons he was in the league. How about the fact that we have two outstanding young guards and a defense that kept the Bills in most of the games last year. How about the fact that we have the best goalie on the planet right here and he loves Buffalo!

Ryan Miller was one of the folks who refused to reflect negatively on the Sabres when they let Briere and Drury go. Yes, that was a bad situation but he was ready to move on and he was optimistic. "One or two players doesn't make our team. If they don't want to be here let them go. I wish them well. This is our team and I like us," he said.

I also like the fact that Jim Kelly is taking a more active role in promoting not only the Bills but Buffalo as a great place to be. He and his wife Jill could live anywhere but they chose to live here. Several former professional athletes who played for the Bills and Sabres still reside here as well as some who didn't play here like Marcel Dionne.

One of the reasons for starting this site was to promote PPP (The Power of Positive Pursuasion). I think if there is one thing that we can do to help turn the tide with the Bills and to help push the Sabres to their first Stanley Cup is to expect it to happen. Our goal is to make it so that when your watching the Bills and they are in the fourth quarter with one minute on the clock and down by four that you believe that they WILL get that touchdown and not expect some mysterious force from the gods above will put the hex on us. If the Sabres are in overtime in the seventh game of the Stanley Cup playoffs against the Bruins you will be thinking that we WILL win and you won't turn off the game because you know the Sabres will do something to mess it up

Hang in there folks. Enjoy the ride and let the others jump on the wagon after we are champions....




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