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75 Losing Jobs At CSN Houston

Jason Barrett

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Seventy-five of the 115 employees of Comcast SportsNet Houston were informed Tuesday their jobs will be eliminated if a bankruptcy judge approves a plan backed by the Astros and Rockets to sell the financially troubled network to DirecTV and AT&T.

Employees were informed of the potential layoffs as mandated by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which requires companies with at least 100 workers to provide 60-day notice in advance of certain plant closings or mass layoffs.

As company officials delivered the news, one employee said a funereal atmosphere descended over the network’s studios in downtown Houston, midway between Minute Maid Park and Toyota Center.

“You just watched rows and rows of people walk into a room and come out with letters telling them, ‘Hey, thanks for two years, and now you’ve got nothing,’” the employee said. “There wasn’t a lot of outward anger. It was pretty subdued.”

But after the announcements, another employee said, “Everybody was back at their desks, working on the next show.”

Based on details in letters prepared for city and state officials, 40 employees were notified their jobs will be retained by the AT&T/DirecTV partnership, which will rebrand CSN Houston as Root Sports Houston under a Chapter 11 reorganization plan pending before Bankruptcy Judge Marvin Isgur.

Isgur is scheduled to decide Oct. 2 whether to approve the plan, which is opposed by Comcast. If the reorganization is not approved, the Astros-Rockets-Comcast partnership will be liquidated and all jobs eliminated.

Root Sports will include distribution on DirecTV and AT&T U-verse in addition to Comcast. The AT&T/DirecTV partnership plans to drop its contract for Dynamo games, but team officials say the network has expressed interest in a new deal for the 2015 season.

Most employees who will be retained for Root Sports Houston are employed in game production. Also retained will be Rockets broadcasters Bill Worrell, Matt Bullard and Calvin Murphy; Astros field reporter Julia Morales; and sportscasters Bart Enis and Kevin Eschenfelder.

Astros announcers Bill Brown, Alan Ashby and Geoff Blum and Rockets analyst Clyde Drexler are team employees and are not affected.

Among those whose contracts are not being retained by AT&T/DirecTV, according to court documents, include reporters and anchors Tiffany Blackmon, Steve Bunin, Howard Chen, Bill Doleman, Sara Eckert, Cory Hepola, Kelli Johnson, John Kelly, James Palmer, Marius Payton, Leila Rahimi and Sebastian Salazar.

Several of those likely will be offered jobs with other NBC Sports Group networks. Johnson, Doleman, Palmer and Payton came to Houston from other NBC-owned networks.

The announcement came on the same day it was announced that CSN Houston has been nominated for 16 regional Emmy Awards, including several of those who face layoffs next month.

For more visit the Houston Chronicle where this story was originally published

 

Sports Radio News

Tobin and Leroy Debut on WQAM Middays

“This is a big change for us,” Tobin said. “I’ve been doing morning drive, producing or hosting now, for the last decade. Now it’s to middays we go.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Tobin and Leroy

After a brief hiatus and the closure of 790 The Ticket, Brendan Tobin and Leroy Hoard officially returned to the Miami airwaves on Monday on 560 WQAM.

Tobin and Leroy debuted in its new midday timeslot of 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on the station.

“This is a big change for us,” Tobin said. “I’ve been doing morning drive, producing or hosting now, for the last decade. Now it’s to middays we go.”

Tobin added that the timing between when they made their exit from The Ticket and returned on WQAM was a bit off.

“It was a very weird week for us to take off last week. Because they were like, ‘Hey, you’re change times, you’re gonna change stations, and also it’s gonna be the busiest sports week of the year,'” he said. “So now we’re back, and nothing will happen this week.”

“There has been less action on days we thought we had to be here than what happened last week,” Hoard added.

Hoard actually arrived to the show late, citing traffic issues getting to the station. That was something even Tobin noted is an adjustment they have to make from when they were doing morning drive.

“We’ve all discovered here today is traffic is not the same at 8 a.m. as it is at 4 a.m.,” he said. “Very different.”

Tobin made sure WQAM listeners knew that even though they switched stations, the show isn’t changing. They continued with all the usual segments that fans know and love on Monday.

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Sports Radio News

Mike Rhyner Introduces Dallas to 97.1 The Freak

“So, where were we?” began Rhyner.

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Ben Torres / Special Contributor Dallas Morning News

There’s a new radio station in Dallas which features a number of personalities familiar to local sports radio listeners. 97.1 The Freak made its much anticipated debut and the first voice to be heard belonged to the ”Old Grey Wolf” Mike Rhyner.

97.1 The Eagle stopped regular programming late Monday morning and began stunting, a technique radio stations use to separate listeners from old programming and prepare them for new content. The station began by playing songs with the word “freak” in them before transitioning into a continuous loop of “The Waiting is the Hardest Part” by Tom Petty until 3p CT. Then, a voiceover detailing the Eagle’s history switched into the voice that Dallas-Forth Worth residents have gotten to know so well, Mike Rhyner.

“So, where were we?” began Rhyner.

Rhyner went on to relive his final moments at The Ticket in Dallas. He said he was getting his “head around being a Paw Paw” before getting a call from Ben Rogers of the Ben and Skin Show and thus an idea for The Freak began to take shape.

After that, the show’s intro music played and Rhyner welcomed in Mike Sirois and before you knew it, the guys were wondering about a quarterback controversy in Dallas.

97.1 The Freak is off and running with a lineup that includes “The Speakeasy,” with Jeff Cavanaugh, Kevin “KT’ Turner, Julie Dobbs, and Matt Cather in mornings (7-11am), “Ben & Skin Show” in middays (11am-3pm) and “The Downbeat” in afternoons (3p-7p) featuring Mike Rhyner alongside Mike Sirois and Michael “Grubes” Gruber.

The station is positioning itself as a lifestyle brand but given its talent connection to local sports radio and the strong interest in Dallas sports, it’s likely the talent will weave sports talk into their on-air discussions. Sports Radio 1310/96.7 The Ticket and 105.3 The Fan have enjoyed good ratings with the male 25-54 demographic and The Freak is expected to challenge them and every other brand that produces spoken word content.

“We’re beyond excited to introduce 97-1 the Freak – the level of talent is insurmountable, and we’re thrilled for the opportunity to further connect with Dallas Fort Worth,” Patrick Davis, Regional Senior Vice President of Programming Dallas, shared in an announcement.

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Sports Radio News

Howie Rose Plans to Travel for Mets Postseason Games

“Oh, I’m all-in if they play in Timbuktu,” Rose said.

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Howie Rose has cut back on his travel schedule as the radio voice of the New York Mets in 2022, but he says that no place is off limits during the playoffs.

“Oh, I’m all-in if they play in Timbuktu,” Rose told Newsday. “A lot of this was designed to make sure that I had enough reserve to be able to handle anything that comes up in terms of road trips.”

Rose, 68, readies for what is likely to be a Wild Card series start to the playoffs and because of their Wild Card status, a win there could mean a trip to Los Angeles for the National League Divisional Series.

“It’s not exactly like managing Edwin Diaz’s innings, but I think that doing the number of games that I have and more to the point, being able to take the breaks that I have, has enabled me to approach the postseason with a clear mind and the full-speed-ahead attitude that you need to have.”

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