Sep 26, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; The Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets listen to the National Anthem before the game at Nationwide Arena. The Hurricanes won the game 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Media Responsibility In Branding of Columbus Blue Jackets

Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports


When you think of Detroit, you think of the Red Wings. When you think of Chicago, you think of the Blackhawks. With this franchise only being 13 years old, the Blue Jackets aren’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when you mention Columbus. Will Columbus ever be known as a hockey city? Of course. But they can’t do it alone. As passionate as the fan base is for the Columbus Blue Jackets, the franchise is still very young. Its culture, its brand is still forming. And the media plays a large role in that.

When I say media, I’m speaking mainly about 97.1 the fan. From 12:00 noon to 7pm, our city’s local coverage talks about…football. They talk and talk and talk and talk and talk. It doesn’t even have to be football season. In the middle of summer, with baseball is in full swing, they venture into more and more football segments.

Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Last Friday, October, 4th, the station’s premier radio show, The Common Man and Company, broadcasted from the Nationwide Arena district in downtown. The day was looked at as Hockey day in Columbus, fans of the team counting down the hours until puck drop. Instead of dedicating the show, a mere 3 hours, to hockey, they instead drifted back and forth, focusing on…what else, football.

Enough is enough.

Thousands upon thousands of listeners tune in every day to 97.1 the fan. They are exposed to a culture of negligence. Game day or not, the radio personalities spew football talk. They claim that football brings in more ratings, that the phones ring off the lines when they’re talking Buckeye or NFL football. Perhaps that’s because they never give hockey the time of day. (Let alone soccer. I feel sorry for Crew fans).

97.1 the fan has a unique opportunity, a particular responsibility to grow the Columbus Blue Jackets brand. When you neglect your professional team in leu of football, you aren’t just just speaking to the listeners in your city, but rather the rest of the hockey world. You’re saying what they already think: that we don’t care about the Blue Jackets in Columbus. Everyone else in the hockey world thinks we are irrelevant. And our media feeds into that.

Nobody expects them to devote a whole day to the Jackets. Football is popular, I get it. But when you have a daily program dedicated to the Buckeyes and not one for the Jackets, that radiates throughout the NHL. A weekly coaches show once a week doesn’t cut it. Their lack of hockey talk, or even a go-to hockey expert, says everything by ultimately saying nothing.

Tags: Columbus Blue Jackets

  • John Evans

    Solid article!

    Working at a radio station in Virginia drove me nuts at how much coverage the NFL and NBA got and hockey was usually more of a punchline.

    If you’re upset that there’s no daily hockey show… maybe you should start one?

    • Tyler West

      Thanks for the comment.
      I understand football is very popular in Columbus. But when it’s wednesday and you’re talking South Carolina football (yesterday on Bishop and Rothman).

  • Dennis Kelley II

    Winning breeds attention. It’s why the Buckeyes get so much press here. Every year, they have a chance to win the big one. Once the Jackets are in the playoffs every year and are competing for the Cup, you’ll see change. But, it all starts with winning.
    The past two days, I HAVE heard Bobrovsky and Calvert doing the “Hey this is so and so and I like listening to 97.1 The Fan”. It’s a start ;).

    • Tyler West

      Thanks for the comment.
      Yeah, I see where you’re coming from. Winning does breed attention. Having said that, however, they do seem to talk plenty of Browns. ;)

  • RedStorm45

    “97.1 the fan has a unique opportunity, a particular responsibility to grow the Columbus Blue Jackets brand.”

    Not really. They can carry whatever they want to on the station. There is no responsibility of the hosts throughout the day to talk Jackets. They want to get ratings to boost ad sales. If you don’t like 97.1, there are plenty of local hockey podcasts, 95.5, etc. It’s the same reasoning that ESPN stopped carrying hockey broadcasts – they could make more money broadcasting other sports in their eyes.

    They do have the Blue Jackets Buzz (or Slap Shots? I don’t know the title) one or twice a week. Not sure if Richards is doing his coach’s call-in show anymore.