Shocking news broke last night as Eric Crawford and Rick Bozich, a pair of names as synonymous with The Courier-Journal as any now, both announced they were leaving the paper to accept positions at WDRB.
Sports coverage was the ventilator keeping the C-J alive, and losing its two columnists right as it transitions into its new "pay for online content" era couldn't be a bigger blow.
As for WDRB - which is currently involved in a kerfuffle with Time-Warner that has left it unavailable to Insight customers - it's making the unheard of move of trying to become a sort of local ESPN. The station will be mixing on-air content with regular online columns and videos produced for the web. I couldn't be more intrigued by this.
The duo plans to complete their obligations to the C-J over the next two weeks and then start at WDRB at some point in early July.
Crawford took some time to explain the move on his personal site.
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?
The minute people heard I was moving to a television station, they assumed that I was doing it to be "on TV." I am a writer. That's what I do, and it's part of who I am. WDRB hired me to write. I wrote four columns a week for the newspaper, I will write four columns a week for WDRB.com. My kids just won't have a print copy of my column picture to draw mustaches on. I wrote blog entries for the newspaper, I will write them for WDRB.com. I did webcasts for the newspaper, I will do them for WDRB.com. I will travel like I did for the paper, write like I did for the newspaper, interact with readers like I did with the newspaper. And, yes, there will be on-air duties. But the driving goal behind this was to create a sports media effort bringing all of those things together that make the web such a forum for sports - writing, video, features, commentary.
So now the only thing more uncertain than U of L basketball's scholarship situation is the landscape of Louisville sports media. Whether it's good, bad or just different, the Courier-Journal will head into one of the most important local sports seasons in recent memory extremely crippled.
Obviously I'm sad to see this happen to the C-J because of my family ties to the paper, but beyond that, I'm saddened because I think Louisville still needs a predominant, objective voice. Fan sites like this one and Kentucky Sports Radio certainly have become an integral part of local sports coverage, but there has to be some balance, there has to be something beyond "my team lost and I'm upset" and "my team won and I'm happy."
Being able to come here to get Louisville sports news and opinions from a guy who is open about the fact that he wants to see the Cardinals succeed is great for U of L fans, but there has to be something resembling a system of checks and balances for the local climate to be healthy. At the risk of casting myself as a (minor) villain, my fear is that the C-J losing its voice will turn this into Pride Rock under the rule of Scar and his gang of hyenas. We may eat the antelope, but we have to respect the purpose they serve.
An interesting offseason just got that much more interestinger (contact me for resume information).