ADVERTISEMENT

As expected, WIVB-TV sports director John Murphy is leaving Channel 4 in July to work full time for the Buffalo Bills, team executives announced Tuesday.

"The John Murphy Show," a Bills-themed talk show, will debut on WGR-AM 550 from 7 to 9 p.m. July 26, the first day of open Bills Training Camp. It will air live from the camp at St. John Fisher College in Rochester. The two-hour show will air daily, broadcasting throughout the year from Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, said Marc Honan Sr., Bills vice president of broadcasting and marketing. Murphy will interview players and other guests, and host a local call-in segment.

"John is one of the most accomplished and respected sports personalities in the business," Honan said. "I know that our fans are really going to enjoy listening, reading and watching all of the great coverage John and our media team plan to produce."

Murphy, 56, has been the Buffalo Bills' play-by-play announcer since 2004. He will contribute to all of the team's media properties, including online, radio and television. Longtime Buffalo morning show producer Russ Burton will be the show's producer.

Murphy's last day at Channel 4 will be July 25.

Word has long been out that Murphy would be leaving Channel 4 for a position with the Bills. The delay was attributed, in part, to Murphy's contractual obligations at WIVB, according to sources close to station. Specifically, a noncompete clause could have prevented the veteran broadcaster from hosting a local sports radio show in the Buffalo market.

An agreement was reached last week that allowed Murphy to launch his radio show provided he stay on the air at Channel 4 through much of July, a sweeps month by which advertising rates can be determined.
"We've been working out details in the last several months with John, so he can start his career as an employee of the Buffalo Bills," said Chris Musial, Channe "He will be able to move on."

Channel 4 general manager and president.Murphy's departure follows the resignation of veteran sports anchor/reporter Paul Peck in May, who left to become a financial planner. The departures are seen by some as a result of low in morale among station employees, where the sports department was perceived as being treated like the "stepchild of the newsroom," sources said.

Management at Channel 4 have been tight-lipped about the Murphy departure up until now. Even so, the formal announcement was issued by the Bills.

In mid-May, Channel 4 hired Steve Vesey, former sports director at WETM in Elmira. Musial said, "We are still looking at a few others to fill the second sports position."

Murphy is said to be vacationing in Alaska. His three-week vacation will be followed by three weeks at the station.

In a prepared release, Murphy said, in part: "I have had the opportunity to be part of the Bills Radio Broadcast for 25 years, and I am looking forward to expanding my role with the team across all of their media properties. I would be remiss if I did not thank the great people at WIVB-TV for their support as I begin the next phase of my career."

Murphy previously hosted "One-on-One Sports" on WBEN Radio from 1985 to 1992. He was color analyst for the Bills Radio Network from 1984 to 89 and from 1994 to 2003.

Murphy was sports director for WKBW-TV from 1992 to 2007, and started at Channel 4 in March 2008. It is not unusual for sports reporters from print and television media to takes jobs with National Football League teams. Former Buffalo News Bills beat reporter Vic Carucci, who worked 12 years at NFL.com, last year accepted a job as senior editor for the Cleveland Browns. ?Carucci's varied duties include hosting "Cleveland Browns Daily," a radio program on Cleveland's ESPN affiliate that airs weekday nights.

***

The Buffalo Bills / Miami Dolphins Thursday night NFL Network game Nov. 15 the only cable network game for the Bills this season will be simulcast locally on WBBZ-TV.

Honan from the Bills explained: "When a game is on a cable network, whether it's ESPN or NFL, in the primary market there is also an over-the-air carrier."

WBBZ-TV General Manager and Vice President Bob Koshinski said the broadcast here has increased significance because the NFL Network is not carried by Time-Warner Cable, the region's major cable television provider. "So it will not be available to as many homes as an ESPN game would be," he said. "We entered a very aggressive bid, and we've been notified by the NFL Network that we are the winning station."

He said a two-hour pregame show will start at 6 p.m., produced at the station's studios in the Eastern Hills Mall. The game is scheduled to begin at 8:20 p.m. and a post-game show is planned.

"We want to get as many locker room interviews on as possible." said Koshinski. "This is a very exciting time. It reminds me of my early days with Empire Sports Network. Empire was the very first regional startup network to ever get an NFL preseason game back in 1992.

"We'll also be doing a post game show for every Bills game throughout the year," Koshinski said. "We'll go live from the studio with analysts and some former players. The minute the game is over, the fans can switch over." No talent has yet been hired for the sportscasts, according to Koshinski, who said their are many candidates under consideration

email: jkwiatkowski@buffnews.com