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McKernan Hits Major Milestone

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Tim McKernan enjoys playing in the main event of the World Series of Poker, in Las Vegas. While chasing the huge payday there is a fun pursuit, he has cashed in nicely in St. Louis in his primary professional endeavor as he reaches a major milestone this weekend.

It is the 10th anniversary of the business he founded after leaving the St. Louis television sportscasting fray to go full-bore into radio. That led to the formation of what now is insideSTL Enterprises, LLC, which currently controls the weekday programming at radio station WGNU (920 AM), has the insideSTL.com website and also does promotional events associated with the company.

Sports is a focal point of the operation, but pop culture and general minutiae also are key elements of what is far from a traditional approach to the business.

The “Morning After” show, which airs from 7-10 a.m. weekdays, is the foundation of the company. McKernan and regular co-hosts Jim Hayes and Doug Vaughn (with Charlie Marlow often filling in) take an often irreverent approach that can veer into topics such as gambling, sex, drinking and the like. But there also are in-depth interviews of substance, as the company has found a successful, albeit unlikely, mix.

“It’s like a bizzaro-world variety show,” McKernan said this week. “Fortunately it works.”

The approach to the show, and the company, isn’t the typical corporate style associated with most stations. For instance, there is coarse language in online commentary and discussion of weird topics. It certainly isn’t for everybody. But there is a lot of interaction with the audience on many levels.

“Something has happened over the last couple years, (our audience has) gotten younger,” McKernan said. “It’s not like we’re all in our 20s — I’m the youngest guy on the show and I’m 38. But the audience — we still have the people who have listened for years — but when we do events it’s 20- and 30-somethings.

“The texting, tweeting and Facebook fan page … the audience is so involved in the show that they create” some of its content.

But it has been far from an easy ride, as the company has survived a series of wild twists that could only be described as soap-opera material — none bigger than the firestorm that erupted two summers ago when Jack Clark alleged on the air that fellow former Cardinal Albert Pujols used steroids.

THE BEGINNING

McKernan had realized his career dream, at least at the time, by being hired in 2000 as the No. 3 sportscaster at KMOV (Channel 4). But it became a dead-end spot — the chance of advancement was slim and the money wasn’t good. He began moonlighting in radio, doing sports at now-defunct KFNS (590 AM), and by 2005 he made the highly unusual full-time move then from TV to radio.

“Understandably people assume — and I think to this day — that television pays more than radio, and in many cases that is reality,” McKernan recalled. “However, fortunately, I was able to make a lot more money doing radio and I liked it a lot more.”There is much more time for personal expression on radio.

He was working on radio with fellow TV sportscasters Martin Kilcoyne and Hayes, on what then was known as the “Morning Grind.” Still, when he made the full-time switch to radio …

“I was thinking to myself, ‘What the hell am I going to do?’” he said. “‘I had been (at KMOV) five years and I already want to move away from it. But radio, doing a show with Martin and Jim — it was picking up in popularity, it was fun and financially it was more lucrative”” than TV.

But he quickly discovered that there is a tough side to the radio business, too, as he was told he had to do some weekend Rams shows because he no longer was in TV — much to his chagrin.

“It’s not the way you’d want to treat people,” he said.

A television opportunity developed in Denver, which included doing a baseball show that would air nationally on Fox cable outlets. This wasn’t long after insideSTL had started, and Cardinals outfielder Jim Edmonds had offered to buy in to the operation that was growing.

“My addiction is the ‘Morning After’/’Morning Grind,’” he said, turning down the TV offer.

But then a key producer on the radio show was fired and Kilcoyne quit in a dispute with management. McKernan wanted Vaughn brought in to replace Kilcoyne (“Doug was clearly the best guy for the job,” he said) but management instead also fired Hayes and brought Bob Fescoe in from Kansas City to work with McKernan. Despite McKernan saying Fescoe is “a very nice guy’’ McKernan was miserable. They didn’t mesh.

“I couldn’t do it, it was so depressing,” McKernan said. “There were times I would look at the clock and wonder how we would make it to a commercial break because we had nothing. The station was losing money. It was a chaotic time. At that point I was ready to leave radio.”

His agent helped get him an audition for a TV sportscasting job in New York, and he was offered a job.

But at the same time in 2007, KSLG (1380 AM) was building what for a time was a St. Louis sports powerhouse lineup. McKernan and company were wanted there, and would be able to get out of the KFNS deal. So he had the choice of doing AM radio at 1380 or going to New York to do TV.

“Any observer in broadcasting goes, ‘OK, that’s a no-brainer,’’ McKernan recalls.

However …

“I love the (radio) show and we had a business that was starting to gain traction,” he said. “So I turned down New York — and my agent went ballistic.”

Continue reading the rest of the story by visiting STL Today where it was originally published

Sports Radio News

Peter Schrager: ‘Next Good Morning Football Host Has Massive Shoes To Fill’

“I don’t know where they are going for that and I don’t play coach or GM. I’m just going to sit back and if they ask my opinion, I’ll give it.”

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This week, Good Morning Football ended up winning a Sports Emmy for the best daily studio show. It is a show that has turned into part most football fans’ morning routines. However, there will be new people on the panel eventually with the departures of Nate Burleson and Kay Adams

This week, one of those left, Peter Schrager, was on The Pat McAfee Show. He did not have a name for McAfee that would fill the role Adams leaves behind and he isn’t going to interfere in the process of the executives picking the next host. 

“I would think that there is going to be a long line of people who will want that,” he said. “Those are massive shoes to fill. I don’t know where they are going for that and I don’t play coach or GM. I’m just going to sit back and if they ask my opinion, I’ll give it. But, for now, I trust the executives to hire someone who is going to take care of that hosting job.” 

As for Burleson’s seat, the show has used a number of ex-players to fill-in. Schrager likes it that way because he can learn many different stories each week: 

“Nate and I can finish each other’s sentences. Now, you have a guy I don’t know the story this player is going to tell. I don’t know where he’s going to take it and I think it’s kind of cool for us.” 

Last summer, Schrager hosted The Flying Coach podcast on The Ringer with Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay. Unfortunately, there will be no season 2 of that show this summer. That doesn’t mean there won’t be another season of the podcast in the future though. 

“I won’t do it without McVay. I begged him. He’s just out….He’s getting married this offseason. He’s got his honeymoon. He’s like, we’ll pick it up another offseason. I’m upset. I love doing it. All these new coaches, Sean and I would have had a good time with it and we talked about it, but it’s his decision and he’s saying no and I totally get it. He’s really good at it and he liked it. He’ll have opportunities and you see some of these numbers that these guys are getting. Trust me, he’s aware.”

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Shan & RJ: ‘Inside The NBA Was Trying To Prevent A Riot Last Night’

“You know that moment? Everyone’s joking around. Everyone’s having fun, then someone doesn’t take the joke as a joke anymore and all the fun is sucked out of the room and things are awkward and serious?”

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Things were very far from normal on Thursday night on the set of Inside the NBA. During the postgame show, Warriors fans threw objects at Charles Barkley as TNT was broadcasting live outside of the Chase Center in San Francisco.

Friday morning on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, Shan and RJ discussed the scene and said things felt out of the ordinary long before anything was even thrown.

“You know that moment? Everyone’s joking around. Everyone’s having fun, then someone doesn’t take the joke as a joke anymore and all the fun is sucked out of the room and things are awkward and serious?” Shan Shariff said. “That’s what happened yesterday on Inside the NBA both in the pregame and the postgame.”

Barkley had been picking on Warriors fans calling them annoying and describing San Francisco as having “dirty ass streets full of homeless people” throughout the series.

Shariff said even in the pregame show, it seemed that the Inside the NBA crew was wary of the crowd gathered behind them.

“It felt like yesterday instead of having fun and cutting loose, it felt like they were trying to prevent a riot.”

After a rolled-up t-shirt struck Barkley, he got up and acted as if he was going to throw a ceramic coffee mug into the crowd. Shariff said it was clear that Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith thought Barkley was about to be involved in an altercation of some sort.

RJ Choppy disagreed though. His immediate thought in seeing the video was that Barkley was just taking his ribbing of the crowd to the next level like a WWE superstar might.

“I think he knew the wrestling role, but I don’t think the other guys did,” Choppy said.

Sean and RJ expounded on the wrestling comparison, saying that he had a specific event in mind. He compared the way the crowd treated Barkley on Thursday night to how the crowd at ECW’s One Night Stand in 2006 treated John Cena. Cena and security may have thought they knew what was coming, but it was clear when fans started throwing chairs at the WWE champ that their ire was more serious than anticipated.

There can be peace for the time being. TNT’s NBA season ends at the conclusion of the Western Conference Finals. It will be interesting to see if this animosity returns in the 2022-23 season.

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Sports Radio News

Don La Greca: ‘Howie Rose Was The Only Sports Talk Host As Passionate About Hockey As Me’

“When you look at the history of sports radio, the only person that I can think of that called games and was [as] passionate about hockey as I am that had a regular radio show was Howie Rose.”

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Don LaGreca has been working on Rangers radio broadcasts since 2005, and has served as the backup play-by-play announcer for the last few seasons, filling in for Kenny Albert when he is unable to be on the call. Because of Albert’s responsibilities in calling national playoff games on television amid the new media rights agreement between the league and its partners (ESPN and Turner Sports), La Greca has called more Rangers games of late, and received positive reviews.

Yesterday on The Michael Kay Show on 98.7 ESPN New York, Kay mentioned the compliments callers have been giving La Greca for his ability to call hockey games, some of whom credit him for introducing them to the sport.

“The one thing hockey is is underexposed,” said La Greca. “Because you hear a lot of people say, ‘Boy, I didn’t realize how much fun this sport is; how great it is to go to a game,’ because a lot of us don’t grow up around it.”

La Greca realizes that he is in a unique position being the co-host of a sports radio show and an NHL play-by-play announcer, giving him a responsibility to communicate and opine on the game of hockey to his listening audience at large. He considers himself the second person to have such a distinction – the pioneer of which, while he may no longer be calling hockey games, still frequently discusses the sport on Twitter.

“When you look at the history of sports radio, the only person that I can think of that called games and was [as] passionate about hockey as I am that had a regular radio show was Howie Rose,” said La Greca. “And Howie Rose has been out of the sports radio game for 25 years.”

Rose was with WFAN from its launch on July 1, 1987 as its weekday nighttime host. Additionally, he served in the same role as La Greca, backing up Kenny Albert’s father Marv on Rangers radio broadcasts – where, in 1994, he delivered the illustrious call of Stephane Matteau’s game-winning, double-overtime goal in game 7 that sent the team to the Stanley Cup Finals. One year later, Rose left WFAN to begin calling games for the NHL’s New York Islanders on Sportschannel, and did not host a sports radio show during his time as a lead hockey play-by-play announcer.

While there are other sports radio hosts in the New York marketplace that exhibit a passion for hockey such as Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti, La Greca is the only one who actively calls the games – akin to how Michael Kay is the only active New York sports radio host who regularly calls professional baseball.

“You don’t have somebody who is as close to the sport as I am to have this kind of forum, so maybe there are a few people like, ‘Hey, I’m a fan of Don. I really don’t like hockey, but he calls a few games so let me listen,’ and it kind of opened a door that otherwise wouldn’t have been opened” said La Greca. “….I don’t think it’s anything that I’m doing. It’s just an opportunity that I have, and it is humbling and it’s pretty cool to hear and I hope those people stick with the sport.”

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