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Houston Radio Is Football Heavy

Jason Barrett

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When George Costanza was looking for a job, he said that he might like to be a color commentator for baseball to which Jerry Seinfeld responded, “Well, they tend to give those jobs to ex-ballplayers and people that are, you know, in broadcasting.” While this may not have seemed fair to George, it is accurate. Former athletes hold numerous positions of note in sports media, but recently a number of former NFL players have begun to not just join Houston sports media, but dominated it like their days on the field. The Koch/Kalu mid mornings show on 790 KBME is the number one sports show in the market.

In the case of the Houston sports radio landscape, a city that probably can handle two such stations but has four, the success of these former players is as much owed to their insight as their personalities. Here’s a breakdown.

Ted Johnson

Show: Triple Threat, 610 KILT afternoon drive
Former Team(s): New England Patriots
Position: Linebacker
Houston Tie: Grew up here.

Johnson grew up in Houston and made his fame as a member of the three-time champion New England Patriots. He also speaks out on concussions in the NFL as someone who has suffered issues since his days in the NFL. Johnson adds an insightful voice to a show that features veteran Rich Lord and our own Sean Pendergast. Three-man shows are not always easy to blend, but Johnson picks his spots and his experience with a dynasty is unique. Johnson cut his teeth on nighttime shows and post game call-in shows and it has paid off. When it comes to life inside the locker room, particularly one with such a storied history and winning culture, Johnson is unrivaled in the market.

ND Kalu

Show: In the Trenches, 790 KBME mid mornings
Former Team(s): Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Houston Texans
Position: Defensive Lineman
Houston Tie: Rice grad

As half of the most popular show on sports radio at the moment, ND Kalu brings a wealth of intelligence and natural chemistry match with his on-air partner, Greg Koch. It is certainly possible that the duo is better together than they would be separately, but there is no question Kalu has an interesting take on pro football. The fact that their show is exclusively football based makes it easier on them, but Kalu is good on air and I imagine he would be comfortable discussing about anything sports related.

Greg Koch
Show: In the Trenches, 790 KBME mid mornings
Former Team(s): Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings
Position: Offensive Line
Houston Tie: Native

The regular Uncle Greg segments of the show are without a doubt some of the most entertaining segments on any radio show, nevermind the behind the curtain look it provides for what NFL players do in their off time. Koch is engaging and funny. He is also opinionated and outspoken. That combination makes for a damn good radio host, former player or otherwise.

Seth Payne

Show: Mad Radio, 610 KILT lunchtime
Former Team(s): Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars
Position: Defensive Line
Houston Tie: Former Texans who settled here post playing career.

What makes Payne so successful on radio isn’t necessarily his intimate knowledge of football, but his everyman honesty when it comes to sports in general. He has something that is difficult for anyone on air to accomplish and nearly impossible to cultivate: the sense he is at ease with being himself. It helps that he is also just as engaging on social media, a key component of all forms of media these days. He and co-host Mike Meltzer have one of the more underrated shows on Houston sports radio right now.

Sean Salisbury

Show: Prime Cut, 1560 KGOW afternoon drive
Former Team(s): Seattle Seahawks, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings, Houston Oilers, San Diego Chargers
Position: Quarterback
Houston Tie: Brief stint with the Oilers.

When Pendergast left 1560 for 610, it left a complicated void next to John Granato, a guy that grew in popularity first at 610 and later at 1560 with Lance Zierlein. It appears he has met his match in Salisbury, one of numerous former journeymen quarterbacks who have found post-football success in broadcast media. Salisbury ended up with the flagship for Yahoo! sports radio after doing a show with former host and now Texans commentator John Harris. Salisbury’s knowledge of the game is impeccable and his attitude brash without being bombastic, which fits nicely with Granato’s sarcastic, dry sense of humor.

Credit to the Houston Press who originally published this article

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Danny Balis Joins 97.1 The Freak

“I feel kind of nervous because I haven’t done this in a long time. I thought this may not ever happen to me again, to do radio with people I’ve known for a very, very long time.”

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Longtime Sportsradio 96.7/1310 The Ticket producer Danny Balis is joining 97.1 The Freak in Dallas.

Balis was introduced Monday as the newest member of The Downbeat cast, which already features Mike Rhyner, Mike Sirois, and Michael Gruber.

“He was the one I want, and I get what I want here,” Rhyner said during Monday’s announcement.

“I’m excited,” said Balis. “I feel kind of nervous because I haven’t done this in a long time. I thought this may not ever happen to me again, to do radio with people I’ve known for a very, very long time.”

Balis left The Ticket in May, citing an interest in focusing on other areas of his life outside of radio. He served as a producer at the station for 22 years before stepping aside. At the time, he said “The room for growth for me up here is not going to open up until all you knuckleheads retire,” the 54-year-old joked.

In addition to his work with The Freak, Balis continues to co-own the Twilite Lounge in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

97.1 The Freak launched in October, and features a “broad-based, personality driven format” that features several former Dallas sports radio personalities including Rhyner, and Ben and Skin among others.

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Shan & RJ: We Have Questions About Jerry Jones But Washington Post Report Isn’t One of Them

“We all have some skeletons in our closet, but to throw the weight of the word racist on anyone, you’re gonna have to come with more than that.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones found himself in the headlines last week ahead of the team’s Thanksgiving Day game, but it was largely seen as something that didn’t need to be dragged out into the spotlight, and 105.3 The Fan hosts Shan and RJ agreed.

The Washington Post last week published a photo from 1957 showing a 14-year-old Jones among a crowd of onlookers as white students tried to block the path of some Black students attempting to enter his North Little Rock, Arkansas high school.

The piece focused on Jones, who is the Cowboys general manager, never hiring a Black head coach in the entire time he’s owned the franchise.

On Monday, Shan Shariff said it seemed a bit much to use that photo and article to paint Jones as some sort of racist.

“There’s certainly a bunch of stories out there that we know on and off the record about Jerry Jones that makes me question his morals,” he said. “We all have some skeletons in our closet, but to throw the weight of the word racist on anyone, you’re gonna have to come with more than that.”

Cowboys insider Bobby Belt, who was filling in for co-host RJ Choppy on Shan & RJ, said Jones has likely evolved like a lot of people do over time. He didn’t think it was fair to necessarily say Jones was racist.

“I’m not gonna speak for anyone else but I don’t believe he’s racist,” Belt said. “I think there are enough people who have dealt with him who are African American who would tell you they don’t think he’s racist. But it’s still not a thing that you can just write off to ‘Oh I was just standing there.'”

Jones admitted to the Post that his football coach at the time told him and other players not to get involved or be among the crowd for that moment, but he went anyway.

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DiPietro & Rothenberg: NFL TV Partners Should Schedule Jets and Giants at Opposite Times

Jordan Bondurant

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For the first time in a long time, both the New York Giants and the New York Jets are factors in the NFL playoff picture. After years of both franchises occupying the bottom portions of the league standings, fans in New York and the surrounding area have a reason to believe. On DiPietro & Rothenberg on ESPN New York, Dave Rothenberg said he thinks the league should put both teams in more marquee windows.

“When you start to think about flexing games, you start to think about you know what, the Giants and Jets should be flexed into better time slots,” he said.

Co-host Rick DiPietro said it sucks now that both teams are playing well, fans are essentially forced to flip back and forth between games.

“It’s awful. It really is,” he said. “I wouldn’t say that it ruins the Sunday because that would be hard. But it’s not my favorite.”

Still, it’s not lost on Rothenberg that football fans in the city now have something to cheer for NFL wise as the last chunk of the regular season approaches.

“When was the last time the Jets and Giants in December had meaningful football games?” Rothenberg asked. “Years and years and years.”

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