An expansion in coverage area, new streaming technology and archived broadcasts will be added to the already popular staples such as the “End Zone” show the station debuted a year ago.
Among the changes WEIS (990 AM, 100.5 FM) has planned is adding area teams Piedmont, Collinsville and Gaston to the broadcast rotation of the five Cherokee County schools. Games of the week will now have a 30-minute pre-game show, special guests at halftime, and a new post-game wrap up that leads directly into a statewide scoreboard show broadcast out of Birmingham.
“This year, we hope to take things to an even broader level, another dimension to springboard from the debut year we had last year,” WEIS radio station owner Jerry Baker said. “We hope this year will be even greater.”
Both Baker and WEIS radio sports director Kurt Duryea said listening response was tremendous last year, especially with the addition of the “End Zone” show – a 6 p.m. Thursday night program hosted by Duryea and Nolen Sanford from The Gridiron restaurant in Centre.
The show featured weekly “Impact Players” as chosen by area high school football coaches, “Blast from the Past” which interviewed former area players and coaches, and the SEC roundtable with Sanford and local newspaper editors Shannon Fagan of The Herald and Scott Wright of The Post giving their picks on college football games within the Southeastern Conference. The trio was pitted against a mystery sixth-grader throughout the season, who turned out to be Sand Rock 11-year-old Carson Carver.
The show returns for its second season with some tweaks.
“This year, we won’t be adding an anonymous sixth grader, so we’ve got to figure out who the nemesis is going to be,” Duryea said. “We haven’t figured that out yet, but the other segments we’re keeping.
“We’re going to start off with the “Impact Players” as chosen by the coaches. Then, we’re going to do a “Blast from the Past” segment. The third-quarter segment is kind of open. We’ve got some interesting things we’re going to do there, with the possibility of bringing in some recruiting people from Auburn and Alabama, just some different ideas to highlight the third quarter of the show.”
Duryea said a possibility for a guest picker(s) on the SEC roundtable segment is former area coaches.
“The banter is fun, to say the least, but when you add the element like the anonymous sixth grader last year, it certainly highlights the sensation well,” Duryea said.
Baker said he’s still working on getting a local restaurant to host the “End Zone” show, as well as sponsors for it.
“We think it was a great success at The Gridiron last year,” he said. “This year, wherever it’s hosted, we hope it will have even more great success because of the groundwork we laid last year.
“We hope the businesses in the county will be interested in not only listening, but being a part of it. We’re going to have a great opportunity for our businesses out there. Our marketing people will be on the street coming up in a few short days. We hope that it will be good for those businesses who participate.”
Another one of WEIS radio’s staple shows from last fall will return, the Bobby Joe Johnson show.
The legendary coach shared his thoughts on the week’s high school games with Duryea on Friday mornings from 7:15 until 7:45 a.m.
“Coach Johnson brings so much depth and knowledge of football,” Baker said. “He has all those years of experience. He can talk about it from a coaching standpoint. He can talk about it from a spectator standpoint. He knows the trends. He knows these teams, and he knows the game. He can enlighten you from about every dimension of football.”
Duryea said “there is no one better to break down high school games than Coach Bobby Joe Johnson.”
“Folks listen to Coach Johnson,” he said. “I love to pitch him the questions and just watch him hit those questions out of the park. He’s a joy to talk with and a pleasure to listen to.”
To help make listeners’ experience more convenient, games of the week and the “End Zone” shows will now be archived. That way, if someone misses them, they’ll have the opportunity to listen to them whenever they choose on the WEIS radio website (www.weis990am.com).
The website also features streaming technology, which Baker said has been available for “a few years now.” He said they plan on enhancing the website’s streaming features for the upcoming season.
“We hope the enhancements we have planned the public will appreciate, and we think they will,” Baker said. “One of the enhancements we’ll have is an iPhone application, and we’ll have a Droid app. Listeners will be able to download those apps and listen to those games anywhere they go.”
WEIS radio’s coverage of the 2012 football season begins on Aug. 23 with Cedar Bluff’s fall jamboree that also features Gaylesville, Sand Rock and Spring Garden.
“We want to have a game day of sorts at the jamboree,” Baker said. “Kurt and Nolen will be there interviewing coaches. Our intent will be to highlight what’s going on and preview the season.
“The jamboree is scheduled to be at the newly-renovated stadium at Cedar Bluff. That will help showcase their new digs over there. We’re excited for them having that.”
The station’s regular season coverage begins on Aug. 30 with Gaylesville at Cedar Bluff, followed by Cherokee County at Piedmont on Aug. 31.
Other tentative games of the week include Gaston at Sand Rock (Sept. 7), Valley Head at Spring Garden (Sept. 14), Section at Sand Rock (Sept. 21), Leeds at Piedmont (Sept. 27), Coosa Christian at Gaylesville (Sept. 28), Collinsville at Cedar Bluff (Oct. 5), Spring Garden at Collinsville (Oct. 12), Munford at Cherokee County (Oct. 19), Hokes Bluff at Cherokee County (Oct. 26), and Cedar Bluff at Sand Rock (Nov. 2).