For the better part of the last decade, “Bulldog” Bob Fescoe has been entertaining Kansas City sports radio listeners on a daily basis. Having worked for both of the market’s top sports radio stations (610 Sports & 810 WHB), Bob has gained valuable insight into what the Kansas City sports fan cares about and his passion, hard work and commitment to the local community have played a strong role in helping him achieve success with his current show “Fescoe In The Morning“.
On a national level, Talkers Magazine has recognized his program for the past two years as one of the nation’s Top 100 most important sports talk shows. For 2012 and 2013 he was ranked 69th overall and that recognition by fellow sports media professionals further demonstrates how respected his brand has become in the Kansas City market.
I first crossed paths with Bob 8 years ago while programming SportsTalk 950 (now 97.5 The Fanatic) in Philadelphia. I was looking for a morning show at the time and I brought Bob in for an audition opposite former NY Jets QB Ray Lucas. I remember coming away impressed by what he did on the air that day especially considering he and Ray hadn’t met until the day of the show. Unfortunately, the call for the opening wouldn’t come his way as I’d end up leaving Philadelphia for St. Louis and putting the morning show search into the hands of the next Program Director Gregg Henson.
While the situation in Philadelphia didn’t materialize, Bob had gained my respect and attention and once I settled in at my new job in St. Louis and had an opening become available, I made him an offer to come join me at 590 The Fan. Bob accepted and was eager to take on the challenge of doing mornings opposite Tim McKernan but unfortunately all of us were thrust into an impossible situation due to poor company finances and as a result, the whole show would be dismantled in less than a year and leave tension high and everyone involved with the show confused and frustrated.
Despite going through some difficult situations in St. Louis, Bob and I clicked personally and professionally. We even co-hosted a weekly NFL show together which I’m pretty sure he’s since tried to forget about. While working for KFNS, he gained the opportunity of covering the Rams on a regular basis plus he had the chance to host a weekly show with former wide receiver Isaac Bruce.
What stood out to me about Bob during the time I worked with him was how hungry he was for coaching and how receptive he was to feedback. Not every talent in this business is always looking to get better but that wasn’t the case with Bob. That willingness to constantly search for ways to improve is an important trait that I believe all on-air personalities should have.
When you turn on Bob’s show, one thing that’s impossible to ignore is how fired up he can get. He delivers his opinions with authority and sometimes gets so fired up that you’re worried he may just pop a blood vessel or two. While the force in which he presents his points may tick off local players or teams at times, it’s that genuine raw emotion on the air that has earned him the respect and appreciation of his audience throughout the years. Case in point, take a listen to one of Bob’s most memorable rants on the Kansas City Chiefs.
I reached out to Bob recently to get a sense of how he feels he’s grown as a personality throughout the years as well as what he considers some of the most important aspects of creating good radio. I hope you enjoy reading the conversation as much as I enjoyed conducting it.
Q: When did you first start to think about getting into sports radio? What made you want to do it?
A: I first thought about getting into sports broadcasting when I was 8. I was watching John Madden every Sunday and thought that seems like a cool job. It was at 8 when I realized I did not have the skills to play sports so why not talk about them. I never considered “Sports Talk” until about 2001. A job came open in KC as a producer and it eventually morphed into hosting nights. Ever since then I have been talking sports. Play by Play was what I thought I wanted to do in life.
Q: Who have been some of the people who you’ve learned from and would list as influences on your career? How have they helped you in developing as a talent?
A: First and foremost Ryan Maguire. My first PD at KCSP in KC. He was very instrumental in helping me develop further as a host. Constant feedback and involvement helped early on. I still do a lot of the things he talked about today. Jason Barrett was influential as well. It was from him I learned the “Art of Teasing” which is so vital and necessary in the business today. Barrett was also the first PD who actually gave me feedback which was so important in the early days of my career.
Q: Your first big career opportunity came with WHB in Kansas City. How would you summarize that experience?
A: It was fun. The guys at WHB gave me my first real chance when they allowed me to do morning. I am grateful for that chance because it allowed me to blossom and spring board on to the host I am today.
Q: During your first stint in Kansas City, you made national headlines as a result of having your Royals press pass revoked after you pissed off Royals Owner David Glass. How did that experience effect you and how you communicate with teams today?
A: I think the experience with the Royals was great. It made me realize “It’s not what you say but how you say it“. My mom used to say that to me all the time growing up but it took a real world incident to hammer it home. Its also made me realize that this business is all about relationships and without them it makes your job very difficult
Q: After working for WHB, you moved on to KFNS in St. Louis. What did you gain from that experience?
A: It made me realize that it’s not easy moving to a market like St Louis that is very provincial. It was tough. I bounced around from day part to day part and job to job. It made me become a much better broadcaster and stronger person. Without St. Louis I’m not sure I’d be in the position I am in today. I learned so much about putting together a show, how to tease, how to make radio compelling. I never learned any of that before.
Q: After leaving St. Louis, you elected to return to Kansas City and join 610 Sports. What made you decide to return to KC?
A: It was a great opportunity to return to one of the best sports cities in America. If you haven’t been to KC you are missing out on the most passionate fans in America. We have not had the most success on the field but fans live and die with their teams here and the college scene is awesome as well. 3 passionate fan bases with MU, KU and K-State make it a great place to talk sports.
Q: When it comes to the fundamentals of doing sports radio, what do you believe are your biggest strengths and biggest weaknesses?
A: I think my biggest strength is that I know what the fans are talking about. I feel like I have a good feel for the KC fan. I also think that having a fast pace, tons of energy and fun are big strengths. You can’t take yourself too seriously. My biggest weakness would have to be “the bits” that come with a radio show. That could use some work.
Q: When you listen to sports radio shows locally or nationally, what are some things that frustrate you as a listener and cause you to tune out?
A: Droning on and on with a topic. The one thing that our PD John Hanson has stressed is pacing. He is right. Make your point and move on. I also hate hosts who keep a guest for too long. 5-7 minutes is enough. 20 minute interviews do nothing for me. I usually turn on a show to hear the host, not a conversation with a writer. I also can’t stand when hosts don’t re-set. Let us know who you are talking to every few minutes.
Q: What’s your philosophy on guests and what do you hope to accomplish when conducting an interview?
A: I like guests, if they are a big name. I think the days of bringing on beat writer guys to preview a game are done. I also think that short chats are the best. Get the nuts and bolts out of them and move on. Again that is something that John Hanson has stressed and I agree with. I find myself getting mad when I hear guests on too long now.
Q: Being known as someone who wears his emotions on his sleeve during his show, how do you balance being explosive vs. going too far and crossing the line?
A: I think you have to be calculated. You can’t explode a lot or it becomes white noise. But when a fan base is upset and you can sense that, you have to give them what they want. Numerous times I have found myself taking a deep breath because you don’t want to go too far. However at times it’s warranted. I think there have been 2 times where it was really warranted and I let em have it!
Q: When it comes to improving as a personality, what are some things you do to measure your progress?
Q: How important are the ratings to you and what are some things you do to try and maximize your audience?
A: Obviously ratings are important but radio is so much more than just ratings. You have to spend a lot of time on social media these days talking with listeners and interacting. I think it has helped me a ton and I am sure it has with other hosts as well. As we all do, I wish there was a more efficient way of measuring listeners. I think podcast downloads and streaming numbers are vital as well since that is the way the young generation consumes everything. I was talking to a class at the University of Kansas a few years ago and a student said they don’t listen to the show. I said how do you know me then? He said podcasts. A lot of people listen to the show later in the day. Most people use their phones to stream. All those avenues are coming on fast and we need to embrace them.
Q: As you look at the sports radio industry, what do you believe has been the biggest change over the past 10-20 years?
A: The internet. Listening habits have changed. In a way, it is kind of on demand radio. People can consume your product 24/7. Interaction with listeners has changed so much with social media. IF you are a host and not on twitter you should just quit.
Q: In assessing your own work, what would you list as the biggest accomplishments of your career and what do you still hope to achieve in the future?
A: I think my biggest accomplishment was taking over my competition. We have worked hard to put a good product out. When we became the top sports morning show that was huge. But its not enough. We have to find a way to maintain that consistently.
Q: To those who are thinking about entering the sports radio business today, what one piece of advice would you like to pass along to them?
A: Be ready to work hard. Then work harder. IF you are not willing to put in the time then don’t bother.
Tony Bruno Relives Favorite Moments With Angelo Cataldi on 94 WIP
“I loved every day. We did stuff that put Sports Radio in Philly on the map and I’m proud of that.”
Tony Bruno has been a staple of the sports radio business for decades. Bruno is from Philadelphia and was teamed up in the early nineties with a duo still dominating the local airwaves there today, Angelo Cataldi and Al Morganti. The three reunited Thursday morning on 94 WIP to remember the glory days of their partnership and friendship.
One of the first moments Cataldi asked Bruno if he remembered was the update he did from a tree outside of their studio and the answer was an emphatic yes.
“Absolutely, it’s one of the highlights of my life – other than interviewing four Presidents and every sports athlete in history – there’s no bigger moment than me climbing up in the tree, which was obstructing our view of William Penn and the city skyline. That’s what I do, I was a man of action. I’m not one of these guys that talks the talk, I climb the tree to do whatever is necessary.”
More frivolity followed when Cataldi harkened back to a segment of ‘Damsels in Distress’ and a time in which Bruno was sent on the street during a snowstorm to help shovel people out of their driveways. Bruno quickly recalled, “Man of the people. I should run for – I should of run for Governor of Pennsylvania or Senate or something.”
Bruno added that his favorite rant (and one that Cataldi loved too) wasn’t about the Cowboys or sports at all. “My favorite was my Infinity Broadcasting rant where I went on one day and even ripped our bosses, all the way up to the top of Infinity Broadcasting.” Cataldi cackled and praised Bruno’s rants more before being interrupted by Bruno saying, “yeah, my only regret is I never really ripped Al (Morganti) the way I should have ripped him. I let him of the hook so many times.”
An insightful moment came at the end of the call when Cataldi asked rhetorically if Bruno ever thought they (Cataldi & Morganti) would still be doing this thirty years later and then asked if Tony ever regretted leaving.
“It was a tough decision, Ang,” Bruno answered. “I was given an ultimatum. When I came to work with you guys, I loved every day. Every day we had fun. We did stuff that put Sports Radio in Philly on the map and I’m proud of that. It wasn’t one of those, ‘oh I got to go; I’m too big for these guys’. I even turned the ESPN job down a couple of times.
“My kids were still younger then, I didn’t want to move. I didn’t have to move. They said just come up here on weekends and that’s how ESPN Radio started. So I was doing weekends and Tom Bigby (Program Director) didn’t like that either, told me it wasn’t going to work. It was a philosophical thing. When he told me, ‘you should go because we are not going to pay you what they’re paying you,’ I said ok.
Cataldi began to sign off with Bruno with genuine thanks: “I got to tell you something Tone, we are indebted to you for the rest of our lives because we both learned so much from you and you are one of the great talents that radio has ever had.”
Dodgers Temporarily Pull Broadcasters Off Road
“If the broadcasters’ are not dealing with severe cases of Covid and they have cleared health and safety protocols, it appears the team is open to sending them back out on the road.”
When the Los Angeles Dodgers visit the East Coast later this week, the men that call the action on TV and radio will not be with them. The games will instead be broadcast on AM570 LA Sports and SportsNet LA from their respective studios.
“Due to a few members of the Dodgers’ broadcast team having recently tested positive for COVID-19, and out of an abundance of caution, the Dodgers have decided to not travel their broadcasters to upcoming games in Philadelphia and Washington,” the Dodgers announced in a statement. Similar to the 2020 and 2021 MLB seasons, the games will be broadcast from Los Angeles,” reads a statement on the team’s Twitter account.
No further details are available, so the severity and the number of cases remain unknown.
Last September, both members of the Dodgers’ television play-by-play crew were forced into quarantine. Joe Davis was the first to test positive, followed later that month by Orel Hershiser.
On Wednesday, manager Dave Roberts told the media that the Dodgers’ roster and coaching staff are not effected.
“There’s there’s no symptoms in the clubhouse. I think that as far as the upstairs, as an organization, we’re all just trying to be very cautious. But as far as in the clubhouse, coaches, training staff, nothing like that.”
If the broadcasters’ are not dealing with severe cases of Covid and they have cleared health and safety protocols, it appears the team is open to sending them back out on the road. 2022 was supposed to be a return to normal for the Dodgers and many other teams after not letting broadcasters travel in 2020 and 2021.
Pat McAfee: ‘No One Will Disrespect Jim Rome On My Show’
“That’s because you need to respect the f–king jungle.”
Jim Rome is a sports radio icon and Pat McAfee recognizes that.
On The Pat McAfee Show on Wednesday, McAfee was talking to co-host A.J. Hawk about how Rome trended recently on Twitter.
This happened after news of Tom Brady’s FOX Sports deal surfaced, and a list of the top paid sports media personalities was compiled. Rome came in behind Brady at number two making a reported $30 million a year, and many were surprised by that number. McAfee wasn’t.
“That’s because you need to respect the f–king jungle,” he said. “I have nothing but respect for Jim Rome.”
McAfee gave props to Rome, 57, saying he’s been doing sports talk probably longer than anyone. He’s one of the most widely distributed hosts in the country. Pat said he won’t tolerate anyone talking smack about the Smack-Off King.
“No disrespect will be said on this show of Jim Rome, ever,” he said. “Love that man.”