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.
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.