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McNeil Ready For a Change

Jason Barrett

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Dan McNeil had a chance to return to his old turf.

WSCR 670 AM called a couple of weeks ago when former Bear Patrick Mannelly decided to walk away from his role as McNeil’s replacement on the midday show.

McNeil listened, but he said his mind already was made up. It was time to head in another direction.

Or as he says, “I knew I was ready for a change in the backdrop.”

Tuesday, it was announced officially McNeil will team with Pete McMurray for a new morning show on “The Drive,” WDRV-FM 97.1. Initially reported by Robert Feder, the pair will replace Steve Downes, who is retiring.

McNeil said the new show, which will begin in early March, will feature “a guy-talk format” on the classic rock station.

“I get excited talking about music and movies,” McNeil said. “You know, the type of stuff guys talk about with their buddies on the golf course. That’s what the show will sound like.”

Of course, there will be sports talk. McNeil figures Bears discussion will be prevalent on Mondays after a game. However, unlike his previous jobs, he won’t be involved in 24/7 chatter about who will fill the Bears’ holes at linebacker.

“We’re not going to ignore what a huge percentage of men want to talk about (the Bears),” McNeil said. “But let’s put it this way: I can kick around Jay Cutler for five minutes and say, ‘Here’s ACDC,'”

McNeil made his name during nearly 30 years in sports talk radio. His shows have delivered strong ratings at WSCR and WMVP-AM 1000. However, when he parted ways with WSCR in August, he said it had more to do than not coming to terms on a new contract. He walked away from a reported $350,000-400,000 per year offer.

McNeil describes himself as a “risk-taker” who gets “uncomfortable sometimes with routine.”

“The station was great to me, and (program director) Mitch Rosen has been as loyal to me as anyone in radio,” McNeil said. “There was nothing contentious in our parting of the ways. A lot of this was about me wanting to do (something different).”

In October, McNeil said he heard from Greg Solk, the senior vice president of programming for Hubbard Radio, about the possibility of coming to “The Drive.” Eventually, their discussions led to a new job that McNeil said “fulfills a dream I’ve had for close to a decade.”

“Anyone who knows me or has heard me won’t be surprised by this,” McNeil said. “My passion for music often exceeds that for ballgames. One of the biggest appeals to me was how fond I was of the station. It is a crown jewel of Chicago radio. It seemed like the perfect fit.”

It’s not all perfect. Pre-dawn wake-up calls will require a considerable lifestyle change for McNeil. That’s hardly a small detail considering his openly-acknowledged battles with depression and addiction problems.

McNeil said he already is adjusting his body clock by getting up early in anticipation of his new job.

“If I continue my mental health regime, I’m good,” McNeil said.

When told during a 8 a.m. interview on Tuesday that his day would be half-finished in his new role, McNeil laughed and tried to look at the bright side.

“Yeah, sometimes it’s going to suck waking up at 4,” McNeil said. “But being on the tee box at 11 doesn’t sound like a bad idea.”

Credit to the Chicago Tribune who originally published this article

Sports Radio News

Marcus Spears: Tom Brady ‘Let His Ego Get in the Way’ of Taking FOX Sports Job Instead of Playing In 2022

“Should we remind everybody that Tom Brady’s got $375 million waiting on him at FOX? Or did we all forget about that?”

Jordan Bondurant

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It’s possible that Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady decides to retire for good at the end of the 2022 season, but that remains to be seen.

Brady’s decision to unretire not long after originally saying he was done playing shocked the football world, and some questioned why he wanted to come back and not make the transition into the broadcast booth.

ESPN NFL analyst Marcus Spears told Dan Patrick on Tuesday that the contract Brady signed with FOX should be enough incentive for him to call it a career at season’s end. Patrick asked him whether he thought Brady or Packers QB Aaron Rodgers would be back in 2023, and Spears said he definitely felt like Rodgers would be back.

“Should we remind everybody that Tom Brady’s got $375 million waiting on him at FOX?” Spears asked. “Or did we all forget about that?”

Perhaps Brady felt like he had unfinished business on the field after the Bucs got steamrolled by the eventual Super Bowl champion Rams in the playoffs last season. But even if that was the case, Spears said Brady couldn’t help himself and just stay retired. Now Brady’s chickens have come home to roost.

“He is learning that his damn ego got in the way. That’s what he learned,” Spears said. “Because what happened in Tampa based on what he needs can happen next year. They can suffer injuries next year. New contracts, guy moving places, can happen next year.”

Spears added that despite the Bucs still leading the NFC South with six games left, there’s a lot going on internally with the team that could persuade Brady to hang it up after this season.

“Right now it’s a bunch of disarray in Tampa,” he said. “So even if he decides to come back, is Tampa the right place? We don’t know that.”

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Sports Radio News

Merrill Reese Doesn’t See Himself Doing Anything Other Than Calling Eagles Games

Jordan Bondurant

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When it comes to voices synonymous with Philadelphia sports, Merrill Reese is among them.

The radio voice of the Philadelphia Eagles, Reese and his broadcast partner Mike Quick were recently featured on NBC’s TODAY. Reese, 80, said he still has a passion for what he does.

“I love it,” he said. “There’s nothing in the world I’d rather do than be out here broadcasting NFL football, especially the Eagles.”

Reese has been calling Eagles games for more than four decades. The job has evolved in a lot of ways since the days at Veterans Stadium, and Reese said despite having so much experience, it still involves putting in plenty of work.

“It’s a little bit different,” he said. “There are hours and hours and hours of preparation.”

But the product of that work, Quick added, makes listeners seem like just about anyone could do what they do.

“It’s so chatoic in the booth, but we have to make sure that it’s seamless,” Quick said. “It comes out like two guys just sitting and talking football.”

Reese and Quick are both members of the Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Fame.

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Sports Radio News

Gregg Giannotti Asks Boomer Esiason If He’s Reuniting With Al Michaels

“Get (Kirk) Herbstreit out of there, and then you doing Amazon with Al Michaels. You could still do this job with that, though, I think.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Boomer and Gio

Boomer Esiason is content with the work he’s doing at WFAN and CBS, and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon.

On Tuesday’s edition of Boomer & Gio, Esiason told co-host Gregg Giannotti that he couldn’t watch the U.S. World Cup match against Iran with him, because he had an important lunch meeting to be at.

Gio wondered if that meant Boomer would be making a career move, but Esiason said it had to do with a charitable opportunity.

Still, Gio jokingly asked Boomer if he was being courted by Amazon to join forces again with Al Michaels on Thursday Night Football. Esiason shut that down quickly.

“No I don’t think so,” Boomer said.

Gio said he thought it would be interesting if Boomer got back with his former Monday Night Football broadcast partner.

“You and Al Michaels reunited. That would be some buzz around that, you kidding me?” Gio said. “Get (Kirk) Herbstreit out of there, and then you doing Amazon with Al Michaels. You could still do this job with that, though, I think.”

Boomer said that wasn’t happening, and reiterated that he had no plans on leaving WFAN or CBS.

“I kind of like the jobs I have. I love the jobs I have, actually,” he said. “I laugh a lot here which is great, and I laugh a lot on The NFL Today which is great.”

Esiason joined Michaels and Dan Dierdorf in the MNF booth for the 1998 and 1999 seasons. ABC parted ways with Boomer in 2000, and Esiason has said he and Michaels just never worked well together.

“It’s hard to do your job when you’re trying to offer humor and be provocative and the guy next to you isn’t trying to bring it out in you,” Esiason told The New York Times in March 2000. “Al could have been better for me, and I tried with him, but it never clicked with me because he never wanted it to click.”

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