By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
The Cowboys' four-year contract with Infinity-owned KLUV 98.7 FM expires at the end of this season. Always searching for improvements (i.e., profits), team owner Jerry Jones has scoured the local landscape looking for a partner (i.e., sucker) to trump KLUV's ridiculous $8 million-a-year payment. With no takers because of an industry-wide downturn in sports rights fees, the Cowboys pondered radical alternatives such as satellite, taking their radio production in-house or even buying their own radio station.
For the immediate future, however, Jones went back to KLUV and will this week, according to several industry sources, sign a one-year $2.5 million deal for the 2006 season.
Veterans like Parcells and Larry Allen may not be back on the field next season. But oldies-but-goodies like Brad Sham and Kristi Scales will be back on the air. Cowboys radio broadcasts in '06 will likely sound very similar to '05. And that's a good thing. Pre- and post-game host Wally Lynn is both informative and entertaining, play-by-play legend Brad Sham has called 27 Cowboys seasons and sidekick Babe Laufenberg is a unique blend of color and clarity. Scales is exactly what today's sideline reporters aren't: heavier on substance than sex appeal. (Don't get Buzz wrong; Kristi ain't bad to look at either.) Add to that foundation the honest, edgy opinions of former stars Charlie Waters and Drew Pearson, and KLUV's parabolic microphones that deliver every hit and spit in 3-D sound, and the broadcasts of America's Team in America's No. 5 media market should again be among the NFL's best.
After next season, however, there are no guarantees. The innovative Jones, who had the cojones to fire Tom Landry and change the Cowboys' flagship station from KRLD 1080 AM to KVIL 103.7 FM in 1991, might soon have his own radio station. (Though Jerry's execs are telling him a radio undertaking would be the worst idea since The Dallas Morning News' CueCat.)
So enjoy next season, venerable Cowboys radio listeners. It just might be your team's last Rock Around the Clock.