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.
Show: Triple Threat, 610 KILT afternoon drive
Former Team(s): New England Patriots
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.
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.
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.
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.
Show: Prime Cut, 1560 KGOW afternoon drive
Former Team(s): Seattle Seahawks, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings, Houston Oilers, San Diego Chargers
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
Parker Hillis Named Brand Manager of Sports Radio 610
Goodbye snow and hello heat! Parker Hillis is headed to Houston. Audacy has announced that he will be the new brand manager for Sports Radio 610.
“Parker is a rising star,” Sarah Frazier, Senior Vice President and Market Manager of Audacy in Houston, said in a press release. “He has impressed us since day one with his innovative ideas, focus on talent coaching and work ethic. We’re thrilled to have him join our Audacy team.”
Hillis comes to the market from Denver. He has spent the last three years with Bonneville’s 104.3 The Fan. He started as the station’s executive producer before rising to APD earlier this year.
In announcing his exit from The Fan on his Facebook page, Hillis thanked Fan PD Raj Sharan for preparing him for this opportunity.
“His leadership and guidance set the stage for me to continue to grow and develop in this industry, one that I absolutely love,” Hillis wrote. “This is a special place, one that I am honored to have been a part of and so sad to leave.”
Sports Radio 610 began the process to find a new brand manager in February when Armen Williams announced he was leaving the role. Williams also came to Houston from Denver. He started his own business outside the radio industry.
“I’m excited to join the Sports Radio 610 team in Houston,” said Hillis. “The opportunity to direct and grow an already incredible Audacy brand is truly an honor.”
Dave Rothenberg Can’t Stand Hearing Kenny Albert Mispronounce ‘Raleigh’
“I would think a true professional, like somebody that cares about their craft, would get that kind of feedback and welcome it.”
Dave Rothenberg has a tiny bone to pick with Kenny Albert, and it’s over the way Kenny pronounces the Carolina Hurricanes’ home city.
Talking on his show on ESPN New York on Tuesday, Rothenberg, who spent three years working in Raleigh on 99.9 The Fan, said he wished someone would get in Albert’s ear and correct the way he’s been saying it adding that it has made him wish one of the top play-by-play voices in hockey wouldn’t be on the call for the playoff series between the Canes and New York Rangers.
“I would think a true professional, like somebody that cares about their craft, would get that kind of feedback and welcome it,” Rothenberg said.
Albert has been pronouncing the city’s name as “RAW-lee”. It is properly pronounced “RAH-lee”.
Co-host Rick DiPietro and the rest of the show crew thought Albert would take offense to the correction, especially since it’s such a minor thing, but Rothenberg thought that was ridiculous.
“See, no one can deal with tough love anymore,” Rothenberg said.
The New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes series shifts back to Raleigh on Thursday for Game 5. The series is tied 2-2.
NBC Sports Names Al Michaels To Emeritus Role
The partnership will keep Michaels on for the Olympics and NBC’s NFL playoff coverage.
NBC Sports, which had been the home of Al Michaels since 2006, will still feature the veteran broadcaster despite Michaels’ moving to Amazon for Thursday Night Football.
The network announced that Michaels will still be a part of NBC Sports’ high-profile broadcasting properties including the Olympics and NFL Playoffs. Michaels’ last broadcast with the network had been Super Bowl LVI in February, his eleventh Super Bowl.
NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua said in a statement, “Revered by viewers and colleagues, Al has been the soundtrack for many of the greatest moments in sports television history. We are thrilled that he’s staying in the family and raising the stature of our events for years to come.”
“I’m looking forward to continuing my longtime NBC relationship while also launching the Thursday Night Football package on Amazon this fall. A special thanks to NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua and the folks at NBCUniversal for their help in making this happen,” Michaels said.
Michaels moved to Amazon Prime Video this season for their Thursday Night Football package. He will be paired with ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit. This season will mark his 37th NFL play-by-play campaign in primetime.
Following another historic broadcasting moment in which Michaels deftly demonstrated his expertise and versatility, he became just the second sportscaster in history to receive a News Emmy nomination for his coverage of the San Francisco earthquake during the 1989 World Series.
In addition to the 11 Super Bowls, Michaels has worked nine Olympics and called eight World Series.
In December 2020, Michaels was honored with the 2021 Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Michaels is one of only five distinguished broadcasters to be recognized with the baseball honor and the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Award (Dick Enberg, Lindsey Nelson, Jack Buck, and Curt Gowdy).
One of television’s most respected journalists, Michaels has covered more major sports events than any sportscaster, including 20 years as the play-by-play voice of Monday Night Football. He is the only commentator to call the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals and host the Stanley Cup Final for network television. In addition, Michaels called the classic 1985 championship boxing match between Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns and “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler.
Among his many accolades, Michaels has captured eight Emmy Awards – seven for Outstanding Sports Personality – Play-by-Play and one in 2011 for the Lifetime Achievement Award, and has three times (1980, 1983 and 1986) received the NSSA Award from the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association; he was inducted into the NSSA Hall of Fame in 1998. Michaels was named Sportscaster of the Year in 1996 by the American Sportscasters Association, and, in 1991, he was named Sportscaster of the Year by the Washington Journalism Review.