NFL on Westwood One Sports
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The NFL on Westwood One Sports is the branding for Cumulus Broadcasting subsidiary Westwood One's radio coverage of the National Football League. The broadcast had been branded with the CBS Radio and (for one season) Dial Global marques; CBS Radio was the original Westwood One's parent company and Dial Global purchased the company in 2011. Dial Global has since reverted its name to Westwood One after merging with Cumulus Media Networks.
Westwood One's package includes the Sunday Night Football game, the Monday Night Football game, the Thanksgiving Day games, Thursday Night Football (beginning in 2006), any late-season Friday and Saturday night games, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, mid-season NFL International Series games (since 2009), the season-opening NFL Kickoff Game, all playoff games, the Super Bowl, and the Pro Bowl. These games are distributed throughout the United States and (through TSN Radio) Canada.
- 1 History of NFL games on Westwood One's predecessors
- 2 Coverage overview
- 2.1 Sunday doubleheader
- 2.2 Sunday Night Football
- 2.3 Monday Night Football
- 2.4 Thursday Night Football
- 2.5 Saturday Night Football
- 2.6 Playoff coverage
- 2.7 Other programming
- 3 Announcers
- 4 Availability
- 5 Notes
- 6 External links
History of NFL games on Westwood One's predecessors
While major networks such as Westwood One, CBS, NBC, and Mutual held exclusive rights to most national broadcasts of the NFL throughout the league's history, Dial Global's predecessor, Jones Radio Networks, had carried several years' worth of Sunday afternoon games nationwide. Beginning in 2002, Jones carried game broadcasts from the Sports USA Radio Network. After Dial Global's massive acquisition spree of other networks began in 2008, Jones came under the Dial Global banner and Sports USA ended its relationship with the network. In 2009, Dial Global instead switched to Compass Media Networks for its Sunday afternoon NFL coverage.
Relationship to CBS
Westwood One had a long-standing relationship with CBS Radio. CBS' parent company owned the network for approximately ten years (1998–2008) and, through the CBS Radio Network, maintained control of the production of certain programming, including NFL games, an arrangement that continued following Westwood One's acquisition by Dial Global through the end of the 2011 NFL season. CBS had likely been carrying NFL games since at least 1935, when George A. Richards, owner of WJR and the Detroit Lions, switched WJR's affiliation from NBC Blue to CBS; Richards had negotiated with NBC the previous season to carry the Lions' Thanksgiving contest that year and likely carried those games over to CBS when he switched WJR's network.
The theme music for The NFL on Westwood One from 2003 until the end of the 2012 season was "Posthumus Zone" by E.S. Posthumus, the same theme music used for the NFL on CBS television coverage (Westwood One's sports coverage had always used the appropriate CBS television theme for their sport where applicable). For the 2013 season onwards, a new radio-specific score was commissioned by the network.
Some personnel is shared between the two units; for instance, certain CBS play-by-play announcers (e.g. Don Criqui, Dick Enberg and Ian Eagle) call select Sunday afternoon games throughout the first several weeks of the season on CBS and then switch to Thursday and Saturday night games on Westwood One. Boomer Esiason, who is an analyst for CBS' The NFL Today, called color commentary on Westwood One's Monday Night Football (and would often advertise the latter on the former, as "the Monday night game on Westwood One"); conversely, Steve Tasker, a color commentator for CBS's Sunday afternoon coverage, served as an analyst on The NFL on Westwood One shows.
The coverage carried the CBS Radio Sports tag (both with and without "Westwood One") for many years before switching to Westwood One. The Mutual Broadcasting System, purchased by Westwood One in 1985, also aired NFL coverage for many years beginning in 1940, while NBC Radio, purchased by Westwood One in 1987, had exclusive NFL coverage in 1985–86. Westwood One now acknowledges the NBC Radio broadcasts as part of the entire history of the network's football coverage. Westwood One also served as the distributor for the Sports USA network's NFL games; as such, Westwood One employed Sports USA announcers for certain games covered by the former network, including Thanksgiving Day games, the opening Monday night doubleheader, and Wild Card Weekend, during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. This agreement was terminated in the 2011 offseason.
Although Dial Global's broadcasts continued to carry CBS branding and personalities through 2012, it was initially unclear whether or not this would continue in 2013. CBS is currently working with Cumulus Media Networks in distributing its own nationwide sports radio network, while Dial Global is distributing NBC's national sports network. Several of Dial Global's announcers (Kevin Harlan, Boomer Esiason, Dan Fouts, and Ian Eagle) are employed by CBS and Esiason is a contributor to CBS Sports Radio. The situation was mooted in August 2013, just weeks before the 2013 season started, when Cumulus agreed to acquire Dial Global's network assets; Townsquare Media, which had previously been in the same corporate structure as Dial Global, will acquire 53 of Cumulus's stations as part of the trade. Thus, CBS Sports' radio operations will once again be under the same management as the NFL package.
Each week, The NFL on Westwood One features two games from the Sunday afternoon lineup, with one beginning at 1:00 pm and one at 4:25 pm. Westwood One markets these games as "tripleheaders" when also including the Sunday Night Football broadcasts.
During the 2013 season, due to the rescheduling of the San Diego Chargers–Oakland Raiders Week 5 game to 8:25 pm PDT, the network had obtained the rights to broadcast that game nationally, forming a quadrupleheader. The "quadrupleheader" process would continue on Week 8 of the 2014 season and during Weeks 4, 7 and 8 of the 2015 and 2016 seasons, all of which are due to the network carrying the NFL International Series games in England on those weeks (all with 9:30 am EST (2:30 pm local time) start times).
Westwood One employs two separate broadcast teams for the Sunday doubleheader.
NFL Films narrator Scott Graham hosts all studio segments for the Sunday games on Westwood One, having taken this position once previous host Tommy Tighe moved to ESPN Radio. In addition to his studio duties, Graham would also provide play-by-play on certain games. In such cases, either Jason Horowitz replaces him in the studio or Graham does the studio segments on-site.
Sadak, Lee, and McCarthy return to their roles from 2015. Sadak returns for a second year while Lee is in his third year and McCarthy his fifth. Lee substitutes for McCarthy in early season games he misses due to commitments with the Philadelphia Phillies, for whom McCarthy is the television play-by-play announcer (similar considerations were made for his predecessor in that role, Harry Kalas, who had the same conflicts) as well as any week McCarthy is assigned to call a game for CBS television.
Holmgren and Taylor are both first year analysts. Holmgren, the former Super Bowl winning head coach, replaces former lineman Ross Tucker on Lee and McCarthy's team while Taylor, a multi-time former Pro Bowler, replaces Mark Malone, the former Steelers quarterback and ESPN analyst who had been part of Westwood One's coverage for seven seasons.
Sunday Night Football
Westwood One's coverage of Sunday Night Football begins with their weekly recap show, NFL Sunday. The show beings at 7:30 p.m every Sunday night on most affiliates (in cases where a market is getting the late game, the show is joined in progress), with Scott Graham hosting. The show consists of highlights and statistics from the previous games of the day as well as a preview of the upcoming Sunday night game live from the stadium. Graham then anchors the normal Sunday Night Football pregame show until kickoff. Graham has hosted NFL Sunday since he joined the network, replacing Tommy Tighe as he did as studio host; he hosted in 2009 with Jason Horowitz, who replaced Dave Lamont who departed for a college football play-by-play position at ESPN. Brent Musburger was the original studio host for the network and was eventually replaced by Greg Gumbel who in turn was replaced by Tighe.
For the 2006 season, NBC co-produced NFL Sunday and turned it into an abbreviated radio version of its Football Night in America TV pregame, complete with the John Williams-composed NBC Sunday Night Football theme song. Al Trautwig started the season as host of the show, but was replaced by Graham in the middle of the season. The format of NBC NFL Sunday (as the show was called) was slightly different from the format the show used before and after. In addition to the usual format one of the analysts from Football Night in America would appear every week to offer analysis of the game ahead.
The play-by-play role for CBS Radio Sports' coverage of Sunday Night Football was originally filled by Jack Buck, who called the initial Sunday night games in 1987. Jim Nantz took over for Buck, who was already calling Monday Night Football for the network, the following season and announced games until 1990 when he was moved to television. Nantz was replaced by Howard David for 1991 and continued through 1995, after which he replaced the retiring Buck on Monday Night Football. Brad Sham was hired away from his job with the Dallas Cowboys to replace David for the 1996 season, and he stayed for that season and the following season before deciding to rejoin the Cowboys. Former NBC television announcer Joel Meyers then took over and stayed until the 2005 season when he was replaced by Sunday doubleheader voice Dave Sims, who had been his primary substitute. Sims remained in this role until the end of the 2012 season, when he traded places with Sunday doubleheader voice Kevin Kugler.
John Dockery was the initial color commentator for Sunday Night Football, serving under Buck and Nantz. Beginning in 1990 and continuing until 1997, Dockery split the color commentator duties with Pat Haden. Dockery would work the first half of the season while Haden called games with Skip Caray, Gary Bender, and Verne Lundquist on Turner Network Television, and Haden would replace Dockery alongside Nantz and David for the games that ESPN would carry on television. Haden left Westwood One after the 1997 season to take over the position as lead analyst on Notre Dame's television broadcasts.
Other color commentators include Bob Trumpy, who served as Sunday Night Football analyst from 2000–2004 and again from 2006–2007; John Riggins, who was the color man for the 2005 season; Jim Fassel, who was 2008's analyst; and current analyst James Lofton, who replaced Fassel in 2009 after he left for a head coaching job in the United Football League.
Monday Night Football
The Monday Night Football broadcast on Westwood One features its lead broadcast team, as the network has long considered Monday night to be its flagship NFL broadcast, even as the NFL now considers the Sunday night game (since 2006 when NBC launched their Sunday night television package) its marquee "game of the week". As such, the team occupying this position stays together to call important playoff games and the Super Bowl.
Buck and Stram (1978–1985; 1987–1995)
For many years (beginning in 1978), the CBS Radio/Westwood One coverage of Monday Night Football was anchored by Jack Buck on play-by-play, with former Kansas City Chiefs coach Hank Stram alongside him in the color position. They stayed paired together for nearly every major game covered by the network from 1978 until Super Bowl XIX in January 1985. Since Westwood One now regards NBC Radio's coverage of Monday Night Football as part of its broadcast history Stram and Buck were regarded as temporarily replaced by Don Criqui and Bob Trumpy for the two years NBC Radio held the contract. Buck and Stram returned to the booth at the beginning of the 1987 season and stayed there until the end of the 1995 season, with Super Bowl XXX in January 1996 marking their final game as a broadcast team after sixteen total seasons on radio.
During their time as Monday Night Football lead broadcast team both Buck and Stram worked on the television side as well. Stram had served as a color commentator on The NFL on CBS prior to joining Buck on the radio and continued to do so from 1978 until CBS lost the rights to the NFL in 1993. Buck rejoined the CBS television coverage as a play-by-play man in 1982 (after having called games for the network from 1964 to 1974) and remained there until 1987. The duo worked together as a television broadcast team in 1982, 1983, and 1985.
David, Millen and Esiason (1996–2001)
To replace the departing Buck and Stram for 1996, Westwood One promoted Howard David from the Sunday Night Football broadcast and moved Matt Millen, who at the time was a color commentator for Fox and a contributor to the Westwood One Monday night pregame show, into the booth alongside him. Beginning in 1998 and continuing until 2001, David served as the play-by-play voice of the New York Jets for WFAN and later WABC, and would require a substitute when the Jets played on Monday night or in the playoffs. An example of the latter came in the 1998 NFC Championship Game; John Rooney substituted for an absent David in Minneapolis for Westwood One as he called that year's AFC Championship Game for WFAN from Denver.
Boomer Esiason joined David and Millen for the 2000 season after being fired by ABC from the Monday Night Football telecast. It was the last season in the booth for Millen as he departed to take a position as President of the Detroit Lions, a job which he received great criticism in and was eventually fired from in 2008.
In 2001, David and Esiason were joined by CBS Sports' veteran reporter Lesley Visser, who became the first woman to be an analyst on an NFL broadcast. Visser had previously become the first female sportscaster to preside over the Vince Lombardi Trophy presentation, while covering Super Bowl XXVI for CBS television in 1992. The pairing only lasted the one season, as Visser decided to leave the booth to focus on her reporting for both CBS and HBO. It was also David's last season calling games for Westwood One until his 2009 return, as he became a full-time sports talk show host in Miami and the voice of the Miami Dolphins beginning in 2002.
Albert and Esiason (2002–2009)
For the 2002 season Westwood One chose veteran broadcaster Marv Albert, who had last called NFL games for NBC in 1997 and was best known for his NBA broadcasting for NBC, TNT, and (at the time) the New York Knicks. Esiason stayed on to be his color commentator. Since Esiason also joined The NFL Today broadcast team for the 2002 season and CBS (at the time) traveled to the site of the AFC Championship Game, Albert and Esiason became the exclusive voices of the game. To accomplish this Esiason would call the end of each half with a wireless microphone so he could save time to go to the field level set CBS used for these games. Esiason has also done this in years CBS has carried the Super Bowl, but has not done this for the AFC Championship game since the 2005 game in Denver as CBS has not traveled to the AFC Championship since.
Beginning in 2007, Westwood One has employed a series of substitute analysts for Monday Night Football. This was a change necessitated by the premiere of the Boomer and Carton morning show on the network's flagship station, New York's WFAN, which saw Esiason and Craig Carton take over the station's morning show following Don Imus' firing and a job which, when combined with his CBS duties, has Esiason in New York six days a week. Esiason employs a private jet service to get him to and from Monday night games, but for certain games that require significant travel (e.g. west coast games or games held outside the U.S.) he is unable to return to New York in enough time to rest and be ready for the start of Boomer and Carton at 6:00 am, thus requiring a fill-in analyst for those games.
Initially, Albert called the game with a rotating series of guest analysts on weeks that Esiason was unavailable. Beginning in 2009, Westwood One appointed Kevin Harlan and Warren Moon to serve as the backup broadcast team, with Harlan substituting for Albert on games he was unable to make due to other commitments and Moon substituting for Esiason.
The pairing ended following the 2009 NFL season, with Albert's last call being Super Bowl XLIV in Miami. On June 4, 2010, Albert announced that he was leaving Westwood One to focus on his NBA broadcasting duties for TNT and the YES Network. In 2011, he returned to calling NFL games for CBS television.
Harlan and Esiason (2010–present)
On June 29, 2010, it was announced that Kevin Harlan would be succeeding Albert as Westwood One's primary play-by-play voice for Monday Night Football, with Esiason continuing as color commentator. In 2010, Randy Cross served as Esiason's substitute for select games, while Wayne Larrivee filled in on play-by-play when Harlan was unavailable. The following year, Dan Fouts replaced Cross as substitute analyst and stayed until 2014 when Kurt Warner replaced him.
For the opening-week Monday night doubleheader, the primary team usually splits up to cover the two games. In 2014, for example, Esiason joined Ian Eagle to call the early game while Harlan teamed with James Lofton on the broadcast of the late game.
In 2016, for the first time since being employed by the network, Esiason did not call the opening game of the season as it took place in Denver. Regular substitute Kurt Warner filled in for Esiason. During Week 7 of the same season neither Harlan or Esiason was available for the Monday Night game, Kevin Kugler filled in for Harlan as he was calling the International Series game in London, England for NFL Network, with Kurt Warner also filling in for Esiason (despite Kugler and Warner, the latter filling in for James Lofton, calling the Sunday Night Football game the previous night). For the Week 11 Monday Night game (Texans-Raiders) being played in Mexico City, Armando Quintero and Benny Ricardo (both Mexican-Americans) called the game instead of Harlan and Esiason/Warner. Kugler and Warner would again call the Week 16 Monday Night game (Lions-Cowboys), with Kugler filling in for Harlan as the latter called the Christmas Night game (Broncos-Chiefs) in Kansas City (Harlan's hometown) with Lofton.
Pregame and halftime show host
The Monday Night Football pregame and halftime shows are conducted differently from usual pregames, as there is no other game action to recap. Jim Gray presides over both the pregame and halftime shows, which are more feature driven and often feature guest commentators such as Tom Brady and Larry Fitzgerald, who contributes to the pregame show weekly with predictions and commentary. In addition to the Monday night games, Gray also hosts the studio shows for the Thursday opening game and the Super Bowl. For the Monday Night game held in Mexico during Week 11 of the 2016 season, Scott Graham co-hosted the pregame and halftime shows with Gray.
Steve Tasker serves as the sideline reporter for Monday Night Football. John Dockery served as sideline reporter from 1999 to 2007. From 2008–2012, there was no official sideine reporter for Monday Night Football.
In 2005, Westwood One carried an alternate Spanish-language feed featuring Clemson Smith-Muniz as play-by-play host and David Crommett as commentator. Those broadcasts have moved to United Stations Radio Networks.
Thursday Night Football
In addition to its Sunday and Monday night coverage, Westwood One also is the radio home for Thursday Night Football. Westwood One and its predecessors have always aired Thursday games in the past, but until 2006 those games were usually limited to Thanksgiving, rarely scheduled midweek games, and the season opening game beginning in 2002.
When Thursday Night Football was added to the NFL schedule permanently, Westwood One created a specific broadcast team to cover it. From 2006 until 2008, Dick Enberg was the play-by-play man. Sam Wyche was the initial color analyst, and Dennis Green replaced him after the 2006 season.
Since 2009, Ian Eagle has been the voice of Thursday Night Football for Westwood One. After Dennis Green left to take the head coaching position with the United Football League's California Redwoods in 2008, Fox television analyst Trent Green replaced him and stayed on until the end of the 2013 season when Mike Mayock took over. For 2016, Eagle's primary analyst is Tony Boselli. Boomer Esiason will often join this team as color commentator if he is unable to call the Monday night game and/or if the Thursday broadcast is close enough to New York to allow him to get back in time for his morning show duties.
Saturday Night Football
When the NFL expanded its weekly games into Thursday nights on a regular basis, a package of Saturday night games was added as part of it and the entire broadcast package was titled Run to the Playoffs. As Westwood One had already had rights to the late season Saturday afternoon tripleheaders through 2005, the network retained its rights when the Saturday action was reduced to one game.
For the first two seasons, where three Saturday Night Football games were broadcast, Westwood One carried a separate broadcast team for those games. Joel Meyers called the games the first year while Don Criqui called them the second. When the Saturday night action was reduced to one game, Marv Albert called the lone Saturday game with a guest commentator. Kevin Kugler called the 2011 Saturday night game. There have been no Saturday night games scheduled since then.
For the first two rounds of the playoffs, often the regular broadcast teams are mixed, due to Boomer Esiason's unavailability. During the wild card and divisional weekends, there are four games, therefore four separate crews are needed. Some of the other established crews call the less-popular games. For instance, in 2007, Dick Enberg and Dennis Green (from the Thursday night crew) called one of the wild card games, and Marv Albert called games alongside Jim Fassel from the Sunday doubleheader team. In 2009, the teams were even more mixed – for example, Marv Albert called an opening round game with Dennis Green and a divisional playoff game with Warren Moon.
Typically, the first time the main crews are together comes during Conference Championship weekend, since Boomer Esiason has commitments with The NFL Today. When he joined the CBS studio show, the crew traveled to the site of the AFC Championship Game every year; this meant the Monday night crew would be exclusively responsible for calling the game. CBS has not chosen to travel to the sites of the AFC Championship Game from 2006–2015, so Esiason stays behind in New York with the NFL Today panel. In the first of those two seasons Marv Albert called the 2007 game in Indianapolis alongside Sam Wyche.
In 2008, neither Albert nor Esiason was available on championship weekend, so Dave Sims and Bob Trumpy moved to the AFC Championship Game in New England while Bill Rosinski took Albert's place alongside Jim Fassel for the NFC Championship Game in Green Bay. For 2009, Albert returned to the booth for Championship Sunday, calling the NFC Championship Game alongside Fassel with Dave Sims and Dennis Green responsible for the AFC Championship Game. The 2010 Conference Championship Games saw Kevin Harlan and Warren Moon call the AFC Championship Game while Sims and James Lofton called the NFC championship Game.
The broadcast teams have stayed together throughout the playoffs; this was made simpler with the addition of a permanent backup analyst for Monday Night Football.
For 2016, Harlan and Esiason called the AFC Championship Game, as CBS will be traveling to the 2016 AFC Championship Game in Denver for the first time since 2006, allowing Esiason to work both his NFL Today and radio duties on-site. While Kevin Kugler and James Lofton will be calling the NFC Championship game.
Westwood One, in addition to its game coverage and highlight show on Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays, offers to affiliate stations four different NFL-related programs during the season leading up to the Super Bowl. The first to premiere is Fantasy Football Forecast, originally an hour-long weekly program hosted by Kevin Kugler and James Lofton regarding fantasy leagues. This program premieres in late August and runs until the final week of the season and is now a two-minute feature hosted by Jason Horowitz.
A second program, NFL Insider, runs from the beginning of the season through to the Super Bowl, is a program hosted by Sunday doubleheader analysts Mark Malone and Dan Reeves and CBS television's Steve Tasker, where the hosts provide analysis of the week, present highlights of the previous week's action, and interview players and coaches.
Boomer Esiason hosts an NFL preview show every week (appropriately called NFL Preview), where he and Scott Graham analyze each game in depth and provide information about what players and other factors will play roles in the upcoming week. This program runs through Super Bowl Sunday and is thirty minutes in length, but runs for an hour leading into the Super Bowl.
For the Conference Championship games and the Super Bowl, most affiliate radio stations of the participating teams' networks must accept the feed from Westwood One. Only the flagship stations (in both English and other languages) can transmit the team's local radio broadcast, although the local broadcasts are also available on Sirius Satellite Radio and NFL Game Pass. An exception is made for the Green Bay Packers because they technically have flagships in two separate cities, WTAQ-FM/AM and WIXX (FM) in Green Bay and WTMJ in Milwaukee; the latter station has produced Packers radio broadcasts for many years. If the local Dial Global affiliate is not the same as the corresponding affiliate of the team, the Westwood One station retains broadcast rights and the team's station must switch to alternate programming (for example, KSPN in Los Angeles aired an alternate feed of ESPN Radio on January 20, 2008 when the San Diego Chargers played in the AFC Championship Game, as exclusive rights belonged to KLAC, the Chargers' L.A. flagship. The same situation occurred in 2011 with WAPL as part of the Packers example above; although that station is licensed to Appleton south of Green Bay, the station transmits from the same site as WIXX, but as it is an 'out-of-market' station according to NFL rules, carried the Westwood One call rather than the Packers home call during the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl XLI).
For all other weeks, within 75 miles of a team's stadium, only stations the team or its flagship station contracts with can carry those games, regardless if the team is home or away. Thus, any competing station that carries Westwood One broadcasts cannot air those games- for instance, any time the New York Jets are playing on Sunday or Monday nights, their games do not air on New York City's Westwood One affiliate, WFAN, as exclusive rights to the game broadcast lie with the Jets' flagship WEPN-FM (In the case of the Sunday doubleheaders, most stations can opt for an alternate national broadcast from the Sports USA Radio Network or, beginning in 2009, Compass Media Networks.) This rule applies to Toronto, Canada whenever the Buffalo Bills play nationally. (However, in the case of Toronto, the same station affiliates with both the Bills radio network and Dial Global, which means the only difference is which broadcast team the station uses). For a time, the rule applied to the Los Angeles market, but it was relaxed in 2008 and all national radio broadcasts are now available in that market on KLAC (Dial Global) and KFWB (Sports USA Radio).
The NFL on Westwood One was not available on the NFL Game Pass (formerly Audio Pass) subscription service, though the network's prime time and playoff broadcasts became available beginning in the 2009 NFL season as a result of a new broadcast contract. All prime time and playoff broadcasts are carried on Sirius XM NFL Radio and on TuneIn's newly launched Premium service. While games cannot be streamed on internet radio by affiliates (per NFL rules), several stations break this rule. Due to this, they can be heard on devices such as smartphones, tablets and video game consoles via apps including TuneIn.
In December 2008, it was reported that the NFL was considering leaving Westwood One for a rival service (ESPN Radio, Sports USA, and Sporting News Radio being the contenders), or possibly splitting rights for prime-time, Thanksgiving, and postseason games between two or more networks. However, on March 12, 2009 it was announced that Westwood One had signed a two-year extension with the NFL. The league then announced on December 22, 2010 that Westwood One's contract has been extended through 2014. The two sides have since agreed to an extension through the 2017 season.
Current terrestrial affiliates
This is an incomplete list of NFL on Westwood One Sports terrestrial affiliates across the United States. Programming is subject to local blackouts and other station programming.
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