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Personality Profile: Chris Dimino

Jason Barrett

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Welcome to the first installment of our “Personality Profile” and this week’s featured guest is Atlanta Sports Radio Personality Chris Dimino. Over the past 20+ years, Chris has become a household name in the Atlanta market where he’s hosted morning and afternoon drive, mid-days and even Pre/Post-Game shows. He truly has a love and passion for his craft that is felt in every word he utters and he’s someone who puts his heart and soul into his profession.

I had the privilege to manage Chris while running 590 The Fan in St. Louis and the one thing I always admired was how hard he worked to provide a well prepared and thought provoking talk show. His approach isn’t built on delivering ratings or trying to please his corporate bosses. Instead he focuses on providing a product that the audience can enjoy and appreciate while also hoping to satisfy his own personal tastes and interests.

dimino680It’s that type of attitude and mentality which has led him to multiple stints working for 790 The Zone and 680 The Fan, two stations who have competed against one another for the better part of two decades. When you listen to Chris on the air, you’ll quickly discover that he comes across as prepared, honest, convincing and connected. He’s not interested in putting out a fake persona to get your attention. Instead he’s genuine and looking to provide you with something interesting that you can’t get anywhere else. He appreciates his audience and allows them into his world plus he spends time developing important relationships and isn’t afraid to admit when he’s wrong or made a mistake. Simply put with Chris, “what you see is what you get”.

I recently swapped some e-mails with Chris to pick his brain on how he goes about preparing, creating and navigating through each show and I think you’ll find his answers to be very interesting. Enjoy!

Q: What do you read, watch and listen to in order to help you prepare your daily talk show?

A: The night before I make sure I have “Headlines” – scores and stories I’ll need. Not much changes after 11pm in that regard. I’ll also try to get local reaction to any big story the night before online. A beat writer or columnist usually has a different perspective than national guys. Locally on gameday’s there are game reactions, quotes and audio to use and on the morning of a show, I’m a creature of habit. One TV will be on SportsCenter, another is on the MLB or NFL Network or if it’s the NBA post-season that could be on too.

On the internet I burn through ESPN, CNNSI, SPORTSLINE and MLB quickly. I have an idea of what I’m looking for. DEADSPIN and AthlonSports.com can also give you great material. 90% I’ll never use so lately I’ve tried to find different perspectives on bigger stories.

Q: How many topics do you try to introduce over the course of a 3-4 hour show?

A: 3 or 4. Recycled but hopefully fresher because of different perspectives in the room. I like quick “relatable” hits. Off-shoot stuff. Personality driven and absurd stuff that wouldn’t on first blush be “topics” but needs to be mentioned in a way that can tie into a local angle or bring a lighter moment. For example it can be a movie I’ve seen or want to see. Relatable “dad” stuff that is brought up to enhance relationship listening.

Q: How do you determine what matters most to yourself and your audience each day?

A: Am i personally fired up about it? Am I disgusted, happy or even confused by the story? Then can it be easily relatable to convey any or all of those feelings? Reading the headline isn’t that. It’s how it effects you and the listener. And it doesn’t have to be earth shattering on the surface. Just interesting as either a statement or opening question for engagement.

diminosmoltzQ: What’s the #1 thing you’re hoping to accomplish when conducting an interview with a guest?

A: I’ve always seen it as different types of guests require different approaches. Here’s what I mean.

Straight Info Interview – “How will the CFB committee pick 4 teams?” – “The TV ratings for the World Cup means what?” – in this setting I’m looking for an answer, not an opinion. Most like a Q & A.

Conversation interview – the goal is to get the guest to say something they haven’t said anywhere yet, take what is said and be thinking of how that moves the discussion among the hosts and keeps the listeners moving forward and entertains those who wouldn’t have thought that guest would go in the direction you just took them. This style of interview should NEVER feel like a Q & A.

An interview with someone who’s premise, stance or opinion you disagree with – Tell them up front where I stand and be ready for a counter. I have done this with the likes of the NCAA President and Conference Commisioners, writers and coaches. Usually good back and forth dialogue becomes key. Sometimes it’s confrontational but hopefully we have an agree to disagree tone to the conversation.

Q: How much value do you place on callers being a part of your show? Why do or don’t they matter to you?

A: It depends on the subject. I like a few more than a lot of hosts. Too much “agreement” isn’t a great thing. A counter point of view or something I haven’t thought of has the value I seek.

dimino790Q: How critical do you think it is to have a presence in the social media space? How active are you in it?

A: I do it because I like the release. It allows me to get to stuff that I sometimes won’t get to during the show. I love observational humor or another point of view and it’s great practice to do it on Twitter in short bursts. To express an emotion or point of view in 140 characters is a challenge worth taking. Also I enjoy using it to to link to others work whether it’s video or something written. I do something called the Starting 5 everyday and maybe it’s as much for me as anyone else but it helps.

Q: When using audio in your show, how do you determine what gets used and how it gets presented?

A: I love this question because its trickier than most people think. The RIGHT type of audio can be tremendous. The best is not having to set up the premise of discussion as much if you have the right kind of sound. I love it coming into segments because it helps you build momentum. I try to avoid throwing away sound because it can be as important as creating good stuff. I also think well placed drops – self effacing movie lines, famous speeches or underbed music can make a difference when used right. That can often be the best homerun you can hit.

Q: What’s the one area of sports radio today that you believe is sub-par and needs to be improved?

A: Theater of the mind. Creating the stories “angle” and conveying relatability without it being pablum. Also we can be much better at TEASING, TEASING, TEASING!

diminofieldQ: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given as it relates to your broadcasting career?

A: It’s 5 guys sitting around a bar. Never lose sight of that. You can tell someone in your “group” they’re crazy because the relationship is sound. That should be your relationship with your fellow hosts and listeners. For me “off the record” is sacred. You can say “more” if you’re willing to go back to locker room and own up to it. Lastly and it’s one i strongly feel now. I want to be right but I don’t need to be. It’s ok to say you were wrong if you miss.

Q: What’s the one accomplishment in your career that you’re most proud of?

A: Relationship building. I’ve never burned anyone. I’ve been in meetings with owners, coaches, general managers and players and I’ve always respected their job while not forgetting mine.

Chris Dimino is part of “The Rude Awakening” on 680 The Fan in Atlanta. You can learn more about the show by clicking here. You can also follow him on Twitter @ChrisDimino.

Sports Radio News

Jonathan Zaslow No Longer With WQAM

An attempt to reach out to Zaslow for comment went unanswered.

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WQAM midday host Jonathan Zaslow is no longer with WQAM in Miami.

The radio station has removed his show from the website and references to him and his normal 10a-2p ET midday timeslot program have been scrubbed from the station website.

Zaslow tweeted at 5:19p ET confirming the news.

Whether or not this has any effect on his involvement with the Miami Heat broadcasts is unknown as of now.

Barry Jackson, a veteran journalist with the Miami Herald, reports that 790 The Ticket morning hosts Brendan Tobin and Leroy Hoard will move to that 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. WQAM slot during the week of Oct. 3.

In more station movement, Joe Rose’s WQAM morning show with Zach Krantz now will be simulcast on The Ticket, replacing the Tobin/Hoard program. Audacy, which owns both WQAM and The Ticket, also simulcast Marc Hochman’s and Channing Crowder’s afternoon show.

Zaslow had been with 790 the Ticket since 2004. He was transitioned from Audacy-owned 790 to sister station AM 560 Sports WQAM last October. During his tenure he has worked with a number of established local voices including Joy Taylor, Amber Wilson, Brett Romberg, and Brendan Tobin amongst others.

WQAM has gone thru a number of changes, including a rebranding effort to call the station “560 The Joe”. That ended last year with the station returning to the AM 560 Sports WQAM brand listeners were more familiar with. What they have planned next in Zaslow’s timeslot is unclear but local listeners will likely get some answers next week.

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Sports Radio News

Vanessa Richardson Named Houston Rockets Sideline Reporter, Paul Gallant to Host Solo on ESPN 97.5

Vanessa Richardson will be on the sidelines for the Houston Rockets and Paul Gallant will host solo show on ESPN 97.5.

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Vanessa and Gallant

Changes are taking place in Houston sports media. First, the Houston Rockets will have a new television sideline reporter this season, and she’s a familiar name to Houston sports fans.

Vanessa Richardson, the now former co-host of ESPN 97.5’s Vanessa and Gallant, revealed that she will be on the sidelines for the NBA franchise covering the team for AT&T SportsNet Southwest.

She tweeted the news saying, “Elated to be the new Houston Rockets sideline reporter! I can’t wait to travel the country & share the stories of this dynamic team during 80+ games on AT&T SportsNet Southwest. I’ll continue to fill-in as a host/reporter for Astros broadcasts as well.”

Richardson’s co-host, Paul Gallant, tweeted that with Richardson leaving the show for the Rockets sideline gig, Vanessa and Gallant will become the Paul Gallant Show. The solo show led by Gallant begins Monday September 26th.

“We’re excited to have Paul host his own show”, said Todd Farquharson, General Manager of ESPN 97.5 & 92.5.  “He’s super creative, energetic, and likeable.  He’ll get the audience involved and have fun.”

Paul commented, “You know what I’ve always loved about sports talk radio?  That it’s interactive.  Whether through a phone call, text message, tweet or on Twitch, it’s the best place for sports fans to come together and celebrate…or vent.  And that’s what The Paul Gallant Show is going to be…Houston’s platform to talk about its teams. THE most interactive sports talk show in Houston.”

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Sports Radio News

Ken Carman: Al Michaels ‘Feels Untethered’ On Amazon Prime Video

“The thing that stuck out was Kirk Herbstreit ripping the elf,” said Carman. “Don’t be ripping Brownie the Elf, man.”

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The Cleveland Browns defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers during Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime Video. 92.3 The Fan morning host Ken Carman applauded Al Michaels for his performance during the presentation.

“Al Michaels feels untethered for the first time. He’s not network television anymore and he can say whatever he wants. We interviewed him on the pregame show and I was nervous,” Carman said.

“He’s a legend,” co-host Anthony Lima added.

During the final play of the game, the Steelers fumbled a lateral into the endzone which the Browns recovered to make the final score 29-17. Michaels said “that may be meaningful to some of you. And you know who I mean”, alluding to people who had placed wagers on the game.

Carman, who hosts two-hours of pre-game coverage on the Browns Radio Network, continued to discuss how nervous he was interviewing Michaels. He also discussed how impressive Amazon’s behind-the-scenes production was, pointing out the only football broadcast with more cameras is the Super Bowl. More than 400 people work behind the scenes for Amazon Prime Video.

“The thing that stuck out was Kirk Herbstreit ripping the elf,” said Carman. “Don’t be ripping Brownie the Elf, man.”

Carman later said people angry that Michaels misspoke by saying the Pro Football Hall of Fame is “down I-71” instead of I-77 were unreasonable, and joked “Al Michaels hasn’t been on a highway in 20 years”.

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