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Radio Sport Cops Public Backlash

Tuesday 1 November 2011, 5:05PM

By Margot Butcher

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Radio Sport is alienating its core listeners, say public
Radio Sport is alienating its core listeners, say public Credit: Margot Butcher

Over 1000 listeners have joined an online protest www.ipetitions.com/petition/radiosport/ against Radio Sport's unpopular move to axe one of New Zealand's great summer traditions.

Radio Sport spokesman Dallas Gurney has claimed the station's decision to drop its team of live commentators at first-class matches around the country -  in favour of a studio-based person giving "score updates", read from a computer by someone not watching the games - was not only a cost-cutting move, but would deliver a "cleaner" format to listeners.


That's a line New Zealanders clearly aren't buying.

The groundswell has indicated that, from next week when the new season's Plunket Shield begins, New Zealanders will no longer have a reason to tune into Radio Sport - cricket's official radio broadcaster - if the exclusive commentary service is ditched. The cheaper alternative, more talkback, is clearly not in favour.

As Scott Duncan commented, "Shameful. The sound of domestic cricket on the wireless is the soundtrack to our summers. 'What exactly is Radio Sport for then?' I find myself asking..."

Fellow listener Tony Stuart summed up the mood: "Cricket commentaries on the radio have been part of my life for over 50 years. Come on RadioSport; you run the risk of a huge listener and advertiser backlash in this proposal proceeds. The Wonderful Days of Summer are something to cherish."

An army of current and former New Zealand cricketers, including Martin Crowe, Scott Styris, Danny Morrison, Chris Pringle, Iain O'Brien, Bryan Young and Rod Latham, have thrown their support behind the online petition, backed by a number of leading sports journalists. They see the loss of the service as detrimental to our national summer sport's most intricate and traditional form. Plunket Shield cricket is the feeder competition for New Zealand's test team.

Former Blackcap Kerry Walmsley commented "Our up-and-coming cricketers need a vehicle outside of the internet, Twitter, Facebook and whatever else to stay connected to the game if they can't get down to the park. Listening about how a player manages getting through the nineties, listening about the way a bowler tries to construct a plan to dismiss a batsman is what I remember as a young cricketer growing up."

In addition to joining the online petition at www.ipetitions.com/petition/radiosport/, New Zealanders can protest the loss of the iconic Kiwi summer soundtrack direct to Radio Sport's director of Sport, Matt Hunt, at matt@radiosport.co.nz