Mariners Analysis

Monday, August 11, 2008

Thoughts on Shannon Drayer

"No reporter has spent more time with the Mariners the past 4 years than Shannon Drayer."

In a somewhat surprising move, the radio reporter for KOMO Shannon Drayer was fired last week and it hasn't gone unnoticed in the blogger world. From a purely financial perspective, (it's obviously nothing against Drayer's work) the move makes some sense. The radio station has lost millions on the deal and is simply looking at staunching the bleeding.

As a fan, of course I think it stinks. KOMO signed up for the deal with the Mariners and has now chosen to downgrade their coverage in a move to save a few dollars. Not good PR for sure.

However, as a blogger and Mariner fan I have to admit- I have long wondered what Drayer did that made her worth whatever they were paying her.

Let me try to explain.

KOMO has been paying Drayer's salary (let's say $100k) and travel expenses (~$50-75k?) for years. Now these are totally made up numbers, but just for fun we can guestimate the station was probably paying close to $150-200k a year by the time all the accounting stuff is added in for Drayer's time. What did it get for that money?

A blog that is updated infrequently- check
A radio reporter who gets a few minutes on air before and after a game- check

That about cover it?

I can't think of a single media person who is paid to follow the team and produces less content or analysis. As a member of the radio station reporting on the team, I don't expect a young reporter to be ripping on the M's. Don't get me wrong, I understand the context of her job. Follow the players, pick good stories and entertain the fans.

That's it.

Be entertaining.

But was she? For hardcore fans, I don't see how you can give her a passing grade. Her stuff may have been great, but there's no way the quantity justified the expense. And to the casual fan? Was her two minute update on Raul's batting practice session all that entertaining? Again, I say no. She's not a beat writer. She doesn't have deadlines for tomorrows story. She covers the players, says a few things on air and watches the game. Then she goes on the air for a couple more minutes and then joins Hickey, Baker etc... in the clubhouse.

(Just to be clear, my skepticism of the job was not personally directed at Drayer; more at the way the station chose to user her reporting skills.)

She would occasionally mention hot topics but just as often gave "AP Wire" type of updates. She could have said things on the radio like "... the fans online were really debating Raul's defense after last nights game..." or "...Vidro in the DH spot is raising eyebrows around the league..." more often and still be wearing a reporters hat. She is not making the news, not offering analysis, but is reporting on the team while being entertaining. But either she or the station refused to increase the quantity or entertainment factor of the reports, so what are we left with?

Was it worth listening to 20 minutes of commercials to get to the two minute update that stood a 50/50 chance of a rehash of the lineup or injury report? Not for me.

Would I listen to 20 minutes of commercials to hear a roundtable of Derek at USS Mariner, Jeff at LL and some random ex-Mariner analyst? Sure. That content works for me.

All the access granted as a team reporter didn't feel like "insider information" to me. What did I learn from Drayer? Where was the insight?

The station invested quite a bit of money to send a reporter all around the country and interview players. However, it seemed to struggle with taking the information gathered and presenting it in a compelling, interesting fashion to keep readers and listeners interested.

If of course wish Shannon the best, and hope she lands on her feet perhaps at KIRO.

However, if it's going to be the same limited output as at KOMO, I'd prefer they went in a different direction. She may have spent more time with the team than any reporter the past four years, but I'm not sure I learned enough to justify the expense.

To put it another way, Derek and Dave at USS Mariner get paid zero and have increased my knowledge of the team tremendously. Drayer was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars over a similar time span and increased my knowledge of the team a negligible amount.

Not a fair comparison I know, but covering baseball is a business and I wasn't going out of my way to hear or read Drayer's reports. I couldn't have been the only one.