The estimated 200 listeners of The Underground’s webcast of Ohio State football games might have to turn to other means of media to cheer on the Buckeyes this season.
Steve Snapp, the OSU sports information director, told Aaron Stollar, director of the sports department at the Underground, to cease broadcasts of the games immediately. Stollar was told that WBNS – The Fan 1460 AM and 97.1 FM – has an exclusive $1.5 million deal for the rights to broadcast football games.
The Underground had been offering a completely free webcast of the games, while WBNS’s service charges a monthly fee through the athletic department’s Web site. Both Snapp and Director of Athletics Andy Geiger denied that there is a charge for the service, Stollar said.
Stollar admitted The Underground is technically in violation of the contract signed by WBNS, but that everyone at its station thought the games could still be broadcasted without a problem.
“I guess The Fan sees our 150-200 viewers a week as a threat,” Stollar said.
Scott Barthelmas, who announces OSU games along with Stollar every Saturday, calls the ordeal an “odd situation.”
“We’ve been doing this a long time, and the communication from the athletic department has not been clear,” he said.
Ruth Gerstner from Student Affairs said she was surprised the Underground had been allowed to broadcast games. She said anything other than the WBNS broadcast would be violating the contract made by the athletic department and WBNS, which holds exclusive rights to the games.
The athletic department gave The Underground $3,000 in August in order to ensure the broadcast capabilities of the station. The Underground broadcasts many Ohio State sports, including football.
In an article which appeared in the Oct. 3 issue of The Lantern, Snapp said it was important for students to hear a wide variety of games from the perspective of other OSU students. He also said Geiger wanted to assist the troubled organization so it could continue broadcasting games.
“Student affairs tells us to be more visible, and get our name out there and advertise, and then we get shut down,” Stollar said.
Barthelmas and Stollar both said they might be able to solve the issue and keep broadcasting the games on Saturdays, but they might need some help from Geiger, whom Stollar said is on their side.
Numerous phone calls to Snapp and Geiger were not returned.
“Nothing is final as of yet,” Stollar said. “This could still be worked out.”