Like the NFL players he used to cover for his radio show, Jerry Coleman considers himself to be locked out. Let go by WVIE (1370-AM) last week when the station switched to a news/talk format, Coleman is looking for a new gig in the Baltimore-Washington area and is optimistic he will be covering an NFL team in 2011.
"I love covering the Ravens," Coleman said in a phone interview Thursday. "I want that to continue in some capacity and I have spoken with people about that. I hope to be back there when they're playing again."
In September 2008, WVIE announced that it was switching to a sports talk format as an affiliate of FOX Sports Radio, and the station hired Coleman as its sports director and asked him to host a show, of course. But after nearly three years of sports talk, station management decided to pull the plug and switched formats again, leaving Coleman and fellow hosts Rob Long and Stan "The Fan" Charles without a radio signal.
"The NFL lockout has killed sports talk radio across the board, make no mistake about it," Coleman said. "We're in a recession. People don't want to hear about people making hundreds of thousands of dollars up to millions of dollars going up against billionaires when they're being laid off. Now I feel their pain firsthand. I certainly don't want to hear about the labor dispute. I think it has had a significant impact [on sports talk ratings]."
Coleman saw the writing on the wall. "It wasn't a total surprise," he said. "Once we switched to news in the morning, I had an inclination. But I thought we would stick with it longer." Now the decision to switch formats -- "a ratings and revenue situation," as he put it -- leaves the market with just two local sports-only stations. The Fan (105.7-FM) and WNST (1570-AM). WBAL (1090-AM) has some sports content and is the home of the Orioles and Ravens.
He said he has fielded offers from local and regional stations. "Regional is a cute way of saying D.C.," he said. And he wants to remain in the area, preferably covering the Ravens and the Orioles.
Coleman has received well-wishes from fans on Facebook and Twitter, and said fellow media and sports figures such as Ravens coach John Harbaugh and former Oriole Brady Anderson have reached out to him. Coleman's give-and-takes with Harbaugh have highlighted quite a few post-practice press conferences, and the coach took time out of his offseason schedule to email Coleman.
"Harbaugh was shocked the station changed formats, but he said in the email that he understands that's the nature of the business," Coleman said. "He said it's kind of like his profession in a way."
Stay tuned to find out where Coleman signs as a free agent.
(Blogger's note: A reader pointed out that I didn't include the ESPN station (1300-AM). I meant to say local sports talk stations instead because we do have the national ESPN station. I made the fix.)