CHICAGO – This Friday Bill Hazen Productions will produce and distribute the 1,000th edition of Today in Conference USA. This special edition of the program will mark a major milestone for the conference's flagship radio sportscast, which has been in continuous production by BHP throughout each athletic year since 2010.
Originally known as the Conference USA Daily Update, the short-form sportscast was first heard exclusively through the Internet. BHP assumed production of the program on February 1st, 2010, focusing on improving the show's content and production values.
Late in the Spring, BHP proposed a plan to expand beyond the Internet and syndicate the program to radio stations within the C-USA footprint. The proposal also recommended the name of the program be changed to Today in Conference USA.
WIXC Radio in Titusville, Florida, then under the operational leadership of broadcast veteran Ken Allen, was the first radio station to clear the program. Commonly-owned WHOO in Orlando soon followed. WRVC Radio in Huntington hopped on board one day later. The program signed on with eleven radio stations for its first year, and the syndicated network has grown steadily since then. Many stations carry the program more than once a day, and each program can be heard directly through www.conferenceusa.com and www.billhazenproductions.com.
“This is where it all started,” said Bill Hazen. “I had been developing and producing programs for minor league teams and sports leagues, but I wanted to take the concepts we had and apply them to collegiate sports broadcasting. Conference USA made that possible with Today in Conference USA. Our other programming has all been built on that foundation, so this program is very special for us.
“We believed at the time that the economics of radio broadcasting were beginning to change,” Hazen said. “We felt that a number of stations would seriously consider a third-party independent regional short-form program with local ties through the individual conference schools. That concept has proven to be correct.”
“It was something that began as a file posted on our website every day,” remembered C-USA Assistant Commissioner Russ Anderson in a College Sports Weekly interview. “We've really enjoyed watching it grow. It has given us tremendous exposure. Now it's something that's out in a lot of our markets and people can hear it in their car when they're driving to work.”
The original idea for C-USA syndicated radio programming came during the 1990's, when Conference USA was based in Chicago. While most of the media attention was on television resources, Hazen was impressed with the conference's radio assets.
“I had good friends at the conference in Rex Lardner, Russ Anderson, Brian Teter and Erika Amstadt Hirschfield,” Hazen remembered. “We would get together for lunch and toss around ideas for enhancing conference exposure. I brought the idea forward at one of those lunches.
“The technology wasn't quite there then...certainly not where it is today. But now the job can be done very well here in Chicago, even though the conference is based in Dallas.”
Today, BHP produces four regularly-scheduled programs. Talking Conference USA Football/Basketball is a 15-minute weekly show which takes listeners inside each sport in season. Listeners hear firsthand from coaches, players and administrators throughout the conference. A special segment, Conference USA by the Numbers, tells fascinating and unique stories about C-USA teams through statistical analysis. The segment is unique in broadcasting.
BHP also produces two nationally-syndicated programs, College Sports Weekly and StadiumsUSA Radio (produced in conjunction with the StadiumsUSA web site). In total, programming produced by Bill Hazen Productions now airs on 175 radio stations throughout America each week.