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SiriusXM NFL Radio Turns 10

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A 24-hour channel devoted solely to pro football? On satellite radio?

What was Sirius thinking?

Not even the people launching the station could be sure where it was headed. And a decade later, their dedicated listeners range from Robert Kraft to Mike Shanahan to Sean Payton. And from players on all 32 teams to truck drivers traveling the length and width of the nation.

“We were ahead of everybody,” says Gil Brandt, the former Cowboys personnel director, current NFL draft consultant — and co-host of the very first program on Sirius NFL Radio on Aug. 2, 2004. “I marvel at it. I go into the grocery store or barber shop now, and even women are telling me, ‘You said this and this and this’ on the air.

“The allure is amazing.”

The NFL’s allure seems limitless, and Channel 88 on SiriusXM — the companies merged in 2008 — has built its impressive resume on it. When Steve Cohen, the current senior vice president of sports programming, and Brandt first went on the air 10 years ago, Sirius had 500,000 subscribers. A year later, another 1 million had signed up. By 2008, SiriusXM had 18.5 million subscribers.

Now, that number has reached 26 million.

NFL Radio isn’t responsible for all of that, not by a long shot with Howard Stern and Oprah Winfrey among SiriusXM personalities. But it’s among satellite radio’s leaders in caller participation and, within the NFL itself, it’s become must listening.

“SiriusXM NFL Radio attracts fans of all ages with their insight from former players and coaches and some of the most respected NFL insiders in the industry,” Patriots owner Kraft says. “I am a regular listener. I try to listen to financial reporting and timely global news when I can, but most often, I tune in to … Channel 88. It gives me the pulse of what’s going on in my favorite sport seven days a week, 365 days a year.”

Cohen actually consulted with Kraft before taking on the challenge of building the channel. Cohen’s vision for it was to have professional broadcasters team with former NFL players or executives.

“Here was the hardest thing: hiring people,” Cohen says. “They couldn’t pronounce the name and hadn’t heard of this company.”

Yet he attracted Hall of Fame running back John Riggins and future Hall of Famers Shannon Sharpe and Cris Carter to become hosts, although they no longer are on the channel. Brandt brought considerable cachet because of his wealth of inside knowledge and endless array of anecdotes.

Former Jets personnel director Pat Kirwan also signed up immediately, and he’s become perhaps the station’s most popular voice because of his skill at explaining everything from the intricacies of the zone blitz to the dynamics of the salary cap.

“When I first started, I had no radio experience, had done some TV, but I knew enough about football to talk,” says Kirwan, who has partnered with former NFL players Tim Ryan and, now, Jim Miller. “And I had a lot of notions from TV that it was not addressing the needs of the fans who wanted to grow. The football guy felt there has been more than what these announcers are telling us, because TV appeals to a general audience.”

NFL Radio wanted to appeal to everyone who follows the sport. It came up with some unique ways to do so.

Not only has SiriusXM been broadcasting all regular-season and playoff games live throughout its deal with the league, which runs through 2015, but Channel 88 has brought listeners live to the combine, the draft, and to each of the 32 training camps during the summer.

The camp trips are among the favorite endeavors for NFL Radio’s staff (55 and counting), although they got off to a rocky start.

“The training camp tour started out small, three cities, and soon it became every team every summer,” says Adam Schein, Cohen’s first hire — at age 26. “You’d fly from Seattle to Denver to the Redskins’ camp in three days. Fly to Chicago and then drive to Bourbonnais, Illinois, or to Terre Haute, Indiana, and Nashville, and Georgetown, Kentucky. You go to Saints camp in Jackson, Mississippi, and the humidity smacks you right in the face.

“We were not staying at the Ritz Carlton, either, but that was something that made it so great — it increased the bonding with the guys.”

Cohen offers a reminder that there are far more days on the calendar without any pro football games. Yet, as his boss notes, the thirst for the NFL must be quenched.

“Having every NFL game is a very significant part of what we offer,” says SiriusXM President Scott Greenstein, “but I can’t emphasize enough how important it is having SiriusXM NFL Radio on the air all day, every day, 12 months a year, feeding the appetite of NFL fans.”

For the rest of the story visit the Miami Herald where it was published

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Scott Zolak: Tom Brady Should Retire And Go To Fox Right Now

“When I hear Tom Brady say how he has more to prove, what exactly, what is it?!”

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Whenever Tom Brady decides to actually quit playing in the NFL for good, we now know what his next chapter will be.

News broke Tuesday that Brady has signed a contract to become the new lead analyst for FOX’s top NFL broadcast booth. The deal, according to reports, is for 10 years, $375 million.

Scott Zolak and Marc Bertrand came back from commercial break on Tuesday after having just talked about Brady’s move when they heard the official financial figures involved in the deal.

Zolak said there’s no question Brady should quit sooner rather than later.

“When I hear Tom Brady say how he has more to prove, what exactly, what is it?!” he said. “Like those numbers? Come on!”

Bertrand took the conversation in a different direction saying that this mega-contract is setting Brady up to eventually be a sports team owner.

“Ownership of something will be in play,” he said. “With his connections, as he’s starting to spread out…There’s something else coming on top of this after this. This is step one of the process. This guy’s got a plan.”

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Bob Heussler Reflects On WFAN Career

“I will be in the rotation a little bit. It’s not like I’m going to completely disappear.”

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Another longtime voice at WFAN is stepping away from the microphone. This time, it is Bob Heussler cutting down his work schedule. He won’t be gone completely from the station though.

Heussler, who has been at the station since 1993 and is affectionately known to listeners as “Mr. Met,” will no longer be a full-time voice on WFAN’s airwaves. His last day as a full-timer will be May 12th.

“This is my last week as a full-timer,” he said on Tiki & Tierney. “I will be in the rotation a little bit. It’s not like I’m going to completely disappear. I’ll pick up a part-time shift here or there. But for all intents and purposes, Brandon, this is it as far as an everyday presence is concerned.”

Heussler reflected on being an original listener of WFAN when it went live in 1987. He said he’s always been an avid radio listener and been passionate about the industry. Getting to work at WFAN was at the top of his career achievements list.

“Arriving at The Fan was a huge moment for me,” he said. “I told some people recently that I am one of those people who was listening on July 1, 1987 when The Fan went on the air.”

Heussler also talked about the evolution of the role update anchors play. With how fast news travels nowadays, the role has changed.

“Back then, and certainly at the beginning in 1987, the updates were the key to the works early on,” he said.

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Nate Kreckman: If Tom Brady Gets $375 Million, How Much Would Peyton Manning Get?

“Everybody knows that Peyton Manning would be better than Brady at that role.”

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady made headlines yet again on Tuesday. He signed a 10-year deal to become an analyst with FOX Sports whenever he decides to retire.

On Altitude Sports Radio 92.5 in Denver, Nate Kreckman and Andy Lindahl reacted to the news of Brady’s $375 million contract and wondered what someone like Peyton Manning would earn if he pursued a full-time career in broadcasting.

“Everybody knows that Peyton Manning would be better than Brady at that role,” Kreckman said. “It’s because he’s an inherently more charismatic and entertaining individual.”

Lindahl said it would become like a normal quarterback negotiation at that point. If Brady is making $37.5 million per season, Manning could start by asking for $40 million. Kreckman countered saying that Manning could make $50 million per season if a network really wanted him.

Whether or not that is a valid point, we will likely never know. ESPN has given Peyton Manning and his Omaha Productions a serious commitment and ultimate flexibility with the ManningCast. It would be hard to imagine Peyton giving that up to become part of a traditional television booth.

Lindahl added that the amount Brady will make is still just a surreal figure.

“I just am shocked, I am shocked, that we’re talking about $37.5 million for a guy to call games,” he said. “That’s not hedging a bet at all. That’s just saying, ‘We’re all in.'”

The duo wondered what would happen if things didn’t work out with Brady in the booth. There are legends of various sports working as analysts, but not all of them are good at the job. There certainly have been guys in NFL broadcast booths who didn’t succeed. Tom Brady will get plenty of time to get it right.

“Could he be any worse than Wayne Gretzky? I don’t think TNT’s getting rid of Wayne Gretzky,” Lindahl said. “Why? Because he’s Wayne Gretzky.”

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