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Hitzges Celebrates 40 Years On-Air

Jason Barrett

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Norm Hitzges was an out-of-work TV sportscaster when KERA-FM (90.1) offered him $15 for an hour of Saturday morning radio airtime back in August 1975. Hitzges grabbed the money and on Aug. 9 was off and running on what has become an unparalleled sports-talk run along the Dallas-Fort Worth radio dial. As if anyone needs to be told, at 71, he’s still going strong as the mid-morning host on SportsRadio 1310 The Ticket.

In honor of Norm’s upcoming 40th anniversary on radio, here’s our first “40 for 40.”

Best guest:

Don Nelson. He always tried to be entertaining and funny. And, if you listened closely, he told you important things. One day I was pressing him about who the Mavericks might draft that night. He was very coy but as we said goodbye he said, “Auf Wiedershehen.” That night German teenager Dirk Nowitzki became a Maverick.

Worst guest:

Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller. Just a few minutes before he was to go on the air he suggested he should get paid. I was stunned, politely declined and went to “open lines.”

Busiest year:

In 1990, I was an ESPN baseball game analyst every Tuesday and Friday night and doing the morning show every day on KLIF from 5:30-9 a.m. I believe I worked in 23 parks that season.

Weirdest thing that ever happened during a show:

While doing an early morning show at Fenway Park, I accidentally set off the fire alarm. Within minutes, lots of guys in fire suits arrived and looked at me, certain I was a knucklehead.

Best talk show host ever:

Johnny Carson on TV. On radio, probably Larry King – great brain.

Guest I’ve never been able to book:

Either of the Rangers owners – Ray Davis or Bob Simpson. And, yes, we have asked.

Favorite caller:

Leon Simon, the barber. He became my friend and then co-host for a while.

Worst-ever remote location:

Outside a Texaco Mini-Mart at Northwest Highway and Abrams during rush hour with the traffic zooming past. And then the skies opened and poured down rain.

Best Norm Hitzges imitation:

Toss up between George Dunham and Gordon Keith. But Gordon has me saying much weirder things.

Twitter or Cyber Dust:

Yellow pad and flip phone.

If I could attend only one more sporting event it would be:

Game 7 of a Rangers World Series win.

Favorite play-by-play voice:

Four aces – Pat Summerall, Brad Sham, Eric Nadel and Mark Holtz. And I already miss Ralph Strangis.

Favorite analyst:

Howard Cosell, who broke ground for so many of us. Right now it’s Troy Aikman. I learn something every time I listen to him. Vin Scully is truly one of a kind.

Greatest career influence:

Former local CBS news anchor and news director Eddie Barker who took a raw kid with a big nose, unusual voice and less-than-ideal hair and gave him his first TV reporting job in January 1972.

Ever offered a network radio job:

No, thank heavens. I might have actually taken it and left an area I’ve come to love very much.

Last job before getting into TV-radio:

Teaching journalism at San Antonio MacArthur High School.

Best DFW athlete ever watched:

Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson.

Favorite sport:

To announce it would be baseball. To watch on TV it’s the NFL. To attend it’s horse racing.

Least favorite sport:

That’s easy — boxing.

Favorite racehorse:

A cheap claimer named Steal Me Blind who won at huge odds at New Orleans Fairgrounds one day. He paid a huge price creating a very nice payday for my father Edgar and myself. It may have been the first time he’d smiled in the weeks and months since the death of my mom, Lillian, who’d been his wife and racing partner for decades.

Sporting event never attended but would like to:

Il Palio, a horse race held twice a year around the city square in Siena, Italy. It’s a huge spectacle.

Did you think you would ever see another Triple Crown winner in your lifetime:

No. Then I saw American Pharoah run with his hooves barely touching the racing surface.

Sport most proficient in:

Amateur, impromptu hot dog eating contests in ballparks.

First time ever on radio:

Did play-by-play of a Sul Ross State football games while I worked there as a teacher during the 1967-68 school year.

Self-review of first radio talk show:

It remains a blur. I was very nervous. I know I talked too fast, which makes my voice get even an octave higher and makes me sound squeakier. It must have been a joy to listen to.

Number of times called into a talk show:

Not once.

Usual work attire:

Sweat pants or shorts, a sometimes-color-coordinated T-shirt and sandals. When you dress in the dark in the early morning it’s not always pretty.

Most unusual idiosyncrasy:

I’m anal about always trying to use a few minutes of time to do something, no matter how small that something might be.

Initial reaction in 2000 when management informed I was moving to the Ticket:

I didn’t want to go. I was happy at KLIF.

Last book read:

God As He Longs For You To See Him by Chip Ingram.

Best series on home DVR:

House of Cards.

The perfect Saturday night:

The 3 M’s — Merlot, movie and (wife) Mary.

For my last wedding anniversary:

We planned our next journey to some place she’d always wanted to go –Tuscany.

Best movie of 1939, Wizard of Oz, Mister Smith Goes to Washington or Gone With The Wind:

Gone With The Wind.

John Wayne, Jack Nicholson or Tom Hanks:

Hanks by a nostril hair over Nicholson.

Favorite all-time pro wrestler:

The late Angel of Death, who was my friend.

Next birthday wish:

Another birthday.

How many more years I have remaining on the air:

How many more years do I have left?

Message to listeners:

I hope I always deserve you.

To read the rest of this article visit the Dallas News where it was originally published

Sports Radio News

Jonathan Zaslow No Longer With WQAM

An attempt to reach out to Zaslow for comment went unanswered.

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WQAM midday host Jonathan Zaslow is no longer with WQAM in Miami.

The radio station has removed his show from the website and references to him and his normal 10a-2p ET midday timeslot program have been scrubbed from the station website.

Zaslow tweeted at 5:19p ET confirming the news.

Whether or not this has any effect on his involvement with the Miami Heat broadcasts is unknown as of now.

Zaslow had been with 790 the Ticket since 2004. He was transitioned from Audacy-owned 790 to sister station AM 560 Sports WQAM last October. During his tenure he has worked with a number of established local voices including Joy Taylor, Amber Wilson, Brett Romberg, and Brendan Tobin amongst others.

WQAM has gone thru a number of changes, including a rebranding effort to call the station “560 The Joe”. That ended last year with the station returning to the AM 560 Sports WQAM brand listeners were more familiar with. What they have planned next in Zaslow’s timeslot is unclear but local listeners will likely get some answers next week.

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Sports Radio News

Vanessa Richardson Named Houston Rockets Sideline Reporter, Paul Gallant to Host Solo on ESPN 97.5

Vanessa Richardson will be on the sidelines for the Houston Rockets and Paul Gallant will host solo show on ESPN 97.5.

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Vanessa and Gallant

Changes are taking place in Houston sports media. First, the Houston Rockets will have a new television sideline reporter this season, and she’s a familiar name to Houston sports fans.

Vanessa Richardson, the now former co-host of ESPN 97.5’s Vanessa and Gallant, revealed that she will be on the sidelines for the NBA franchise covering the team for AT&T SportsNet Southwest.

She tweeted the news saying, “Elated to be the new Houston Rockets sideline reporter! I can’t wait to travel the country & share the stories of this dynamic team during 80+ games on AT&T SportsNet Southwest. I’ll continue to fill-in as a host/reporter for Astros broadcasts as well.”

Richardson’s co-host, Paul Gallant, tweeted that with Richardson leaving the show for the Rockets sideline gig, Vanessa and Gallant will become the Paul Gallant Show. The solo show led by Gallant begins Monday September 26th.

“We’re excited to have Paul host his own show”, said Todd Farquharson, General Manager of ESPN 97.5 & 92.5.  “He’s super creative, energetic, and likeable.  He’ll get the audience involved and have fun.”

Paul commented, “You know what I’ve always loved about sports talk radio?  That it’s interactive.  Whether through a phone call, text message, tweet or on Twitch, it’s the best place for sports fans to come together and celebrate…or vent.  And that’s what The Paul Gallant Show is going to be…Houston’s platform to talk about its teams. THE most interactive sports talk show in Houston.”

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Sports Radio News

Ken Carman: Al Michaels ‘Feels Untethered’ On Amazon Prime Video

“The thing that stuck out was Kirk Herbstreit ripping the elf,” said Carman. “Don’t be ripping Brownie the Elf, man.”

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The Cleveland Browns defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers during Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime Video. 92.3 The Fan morning host Ken Carman applauded Al Michaels for his performance during the presentation.

“Al Michaels feels untethered for the first time. He’s not network television anymore and he can say whatever he wants. We interviewed him on the pregame show and I was nervous,” Carman said.

“He’s a legend,” co-host Anthony Lima added.

During the final play of the game, the Steelers fumbled a lateral into the endzone which the Browns recovered to make the final score 29-17. Michaels said “that may be meaningful to some of you. And you know who I mean”, alluding to people who had placed wagers on the game.

Carman, who hosts two-hours of pre-game coverage on the Browns Radio Network, continued to discuss how nervous he was interviewing Michaels. He also discussed how impressive Amazon’s behind-the-scenes production was, pointing out the only football broadcast with more cameras is the Super Bowl. More than 400 people work behind the scenes for Amazon Prime Video.

“The thing that stuck out was Kirk Herbstreit ripping the elf,” said Carman. “Don’t be ripping Brownie the Elf, man.”

Carman later said people angry that Michaels misspoke by saying the Pro Football Hall of Fame is “down I-71” instead of I-77 were unreasonable, and joked “Al Michaels hasn’t been on a highway in 20 years”.

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