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More Controversy In St. Louis Radio

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It seemed as if things had cooled at Grand Slam Sports, which owns two St. Louis radio signals and last year was the epicenter of controversy, a revolt by some against management, racial tension and bad blood between some people working there.

The situation become so volatile that fisticuffs broke out in the studios last summer between broadcaster Brian McKenna and company executive Dan Marshall.

Marshall ended up in a hospital, McKenna in jail. Charges were not filed but a civil suit looms.

Since then, the operation has been significantly scaled back and now operates in comparative obscurity, but sources say certainly not with harmony.

KFNS (590 AM) broadcast in the sports format for two decades before Marshall converted it to a “guy-talk” format in 2013. But that failed after a year and the station has been off the air since November because of unpaid bills and huge debt. KXFN (1380 AM), Grand Slam’s other station, has been broadcasting in the “extreme radio” format.

But multiple sources said there’s a lot of maneuvering going on behind the scenes to try to get 1380 to carry an internet talk-show site that carries a lot of sports chat. That plan would bring controversial longtime St. Louis sports-radio host Kevin Slaten back to the local airwaves.

The story goes that the station would pick up fare being carried on the talkstl.com website — including the afternoon drive-time show hosted by rabble-rousing Slaten, who has been off radio since KFNS shut down. It would be a twist — a website being simulcast on the air instead of the other way around.

However, the sources said disagreement among Grand Slam’s owners has thwarted the plan because the company is trying to sell the stations. One ownership camp, which includes Marshall, is gung-ho on the simulcasting idea but the other is strongly opposed, thinking that move would disrupt the sales process to someone who would have the resources to clean up things.

Mike Calvin, who used to be Grand Slam’s operations manager, recently resigned that position. But he is working for the company as an independent contractor and his primary responsibility is to try to sell its stations.

He did not want to comment about the ongoing situation but he recently sent a memo to some staffers, and the Post-Dispatch obtained a copy of that note.

“There are major forces at work to lease the station out to Talk STL and Dan Marshall as a sports station in another one of his foolish attempts to ruin another radio station,” the note said, adding that Calvin is not being paid but wants to see good things happen for the remaining employees.

“I work for you, us and the right thing. … I consider you all friends and family,” the memo also said. “I will not allow some people and some of our investors to sabotage 1380. They have started a face book [sic], rumor mill campaign already on the streets that 1380 is being flipped to sports which will make sales even more difficult. If something was to happen REST ASSURE I would call you all or have a meeting immediately. I would not leave you in the wind.”

Marshall could not be reached for comment.

Calvin’s memo also says radio “can be (doesn’t need to be) but can be an ugly business and with some of the players against us it is a daily dog fight and I’m a mean dog!”

Credit to STL Today who originally published this article

Sports Radio News

Don La Greca: We Didn’t Want Peter Rosenberg On Michael Kay Show

“A little over six years later, La Greca characterizes the addition of Peter Rosenberg as “one of the best things that ever happened to the show” and noted that you will not last long in the media if you stay resistant to change.”

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The Michael Kay show will turn 20 years old in July. During the two decades the show has been on the air in New York City, it has had different time slots, a TV simulcast has debuted on YES and Kay and Don La Greca got a new partner.

La Greca was a guest this week on the Sports With Friends podcast, hosted by former BSM scribe Seth Everett. Everett asked La Greca to revisit the decision to add Peter Rosenberg to the show.

Rosenberg was not the first third mic Kay and La Greca ever worked with. He noted that in the past Bonnie Bernstein and Michelle Beadle were each part of the show. In 2015, ESPN New York General Manager Tim McCarthy wanted to bring in a lighter presence to balance the X and O sports talk Kay and La Greca did.

“I was not on board with it,” La Greca admits saying when he was told that the station was going to hire Rosenberg.

Everett said that when the addition was made, he feared that the station was going to begin phasing La Greca out of the afternoon show. While he did not say whether or not he had similar fears, Don La Greca did offer a glimpse into the meeting where the duo was told that Rosenberg was going to be joining them. He said that he loved working for McCarthy, but this particular meeting was a bit contentious.

“We did not agree on this particular thing and neither did Michael. He said ‘We don’t need a third person. We don’t like it’ and Tim said ‘Well, if you don’t like it, there’s the door.’”

A little over six years later, La Greca characterizes the addition of Peter Rosenberg as “one of the best things that ever happened to the show” and noted that you will not last long in the media if you stay resistant to change.

That is particularly true in sports radio. Don La Greca was the first voice ever heard on ESPN New York when the station launched in 2001. He told Everett that the sound of the station now is nothing like it was then. The station, and the format as a whole, has done a complete 180 from its first decade in business. That is why Peter Rosenberg is so important to The Michael Kay Show.

“Sports radio to me has changed and evolved in the last ten years from a medium where you informed people to know your job is to entertain people. Our audience knows as much as we do, because they have access to the information we have.”

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Sports Radio News

Sean Payton Tries On TV Analyst Visor For Dan Patrick

“You’ve got to speak in 15-second sound bytes. You should actually practice this.”

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The Dan Patrick Show

One of the bigger stories in the NFL this week was longtime New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton informing team management that he would not return to coach the team next season.

Payton has been linked to rumors that he would follow in former Saints quarterback Drew Brees’ footsteps and become a TV analyst.

Payton joined The Dan Patrick Show on Thursday to discuss his coaching exit but during the segment, Patrick also got him to basically audition for a TV analyst job.

“I’m asking you as an analyst, how the hell did the Chiefs (drive the field and force overtime against the Bills this past weekend) in 13 seconds?” Patrick said.

“They did it because defensively, Buffalo played outside technique in a zone coverage, defending the sidelines,” Payton explained. “The problem was Kansas City had timeouts, and you can’t do that when a team has timeouts.”

Patrick liked the answer, but he said he’d have liked Payton to have kept the response to about 15 seconds. Payton went on to break down the crazy ending of the San Francisco 49ers-Dallas Cowboys Wild Card playoff game, and Patrick was a fan of the more concise breakdown.

“I like that,” Patrick said. “You’ve got to speak in 15-second sound bytes. You should actually practice this.”

No word on where Payton will end up for the 2022 season. But surely, he will get calls from either of the networks looking for a coach’s mind to complement a broadcast.

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Sports Radio News

Ian Rapoport Ditches ‘Gresh & Keefe’ for Phone Call on Breaking News

“That’s the first time that’s happened to us all season.”

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With the NFL coaching carousel going full speed, news of the next head coach, coordinator or general manager hiring could break at any time.

That means NFL insiders like Ian Rapoport are basically on-call in case a shoe drops and news of a hiring needs to be reported. A perfect example of this happened Thursday while the NFL Network reporter was a guest on WEEI’s Gresh & Keefe.

After talking about the potential head coaching landing spots for Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, Rapoport was asked about the possibility of the NFL changing its overtime rules following this past weekend’s divisional round game when his phone went off.

“Plus, at the time, the focus was more on… you know… oh, shoot — I just got a text, I gotta go,” Rapoport said before the call suddenly ended.

Shocked, there was some initial laughter before Andy Gresh responded to what just happened.

“Well now, there goes Ian Rapoport,” he said.

“That’s the first time that’s happened to us all season,” show producer Chris Scheim added.

You can listen to the full segment here.

This wasn’t the first time Rapoport has abruptly ended an interview due to his phone buzzing, and Gresh and Rich Keefe brought up the identical occurrence involving Rapoport and former Washington, D.C. host Chad Dukes.

Dukes notoriously called Rapoport a “son of a bitch” and a “douche” after he twice had to quickly leave a hit being pre-recorded. That led to a brief tiff between the two and Rapoport eventually re-appeared the next day to apologize for jumping so soon and demanded an apology from Dukes for cursing him. Dukes did not apologize for calling him an SOB.

Gresh noted that wasn’t how they were going to handle what had happened, even though it was sudden and left them hanging.

“It happens,” Gresh said. “Now we can at least circle back if we have something at 1:30.”

Turns out the news was the Chicago Bears hiring Matt Eberflus as their next head coach. Gresh and company joked they made Rapoport late to being first to break the news, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted it out a minute before Rapoport could.

They finished talking about what had happened, teased a Boston Bruins segment, and then tossed to commercial. But it was certainly a moment on-air talent doesn’t necessarily plan for or anticipate.

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