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Van Pelt and Sheehan Remember Ken Beatrice

Jason Barrett

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A few things have struck me while reading and listening to everything I could about Ken Beatrice in recent days; among them, how many of his biggest fans were just kids during his heyday, and how many of them later went on to media careers of their own.

I’ve always wanted to do a long piece on the absurd number of sports media members — both local and national — who grew up in the D.C. area. When I’ve talked to some of them about this in the past, they usually mention reading The Post’s legendary Sports section of the 1980s, and watching magnetic anchors on local television like Warner Wolf and Glenn Brenner and George Michael, and listening to groundbreaking radio hosts like Beatrice. (If I’m being honest, probably 75 percent of these people grew up in Montgomery County. I have no explanation for that one.)

I didn’t grow up here, but the Beatrice stories this week make it sound like he had something of a children’s army on his side, with pre-pubescent boys listening to his show while doing homework, and nervously jamming his phone lines, and calling him up in his office to chat. ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt added his own name to that roster this week, while reminiscing with Kevin Sheehan on ESPN 980.

“He called my house,” Van Pelt said, wonder still in his tone 30 years later. “Ken Beatrice after the show, I didn’t make it on, but he called me up. And it was the craziest thing. You picked up the phone and there’s this incredibly distinctive voice on the other end, and you just can’t believe that he would do that. There’s a lot to him, a lot of complicated this, that, and the other thing, but he was a giant. And it becomes real easy — because you and I both got into this business — to say we were inspired or whatever. I don’t think we ever dreamed we’d be this lucky, but anybody that does it and grew up in D.C. — just like Glenn Brenner influenced us, George Michael, Warner Wolf — he was A Guy, and an amazingly important guy to the sports talk landscape in the city. And so to acknowledge that only seems appropriate.”

Van Pelt’s memory was inspired by a similar one Sheehan discussed with my pal Matt Terl over at City Paper.

“As a kid listening to him, if you called in and you were on hold when the show ended, he would actually call you at your house when the show was over,” Sheehan said. “You’re sitting at the house after the show and the phone rings and it’s Ken Beatrice on the line saying, ‘Hey, Kev! Sorry you didn’t get on, but I just wanted to call.’ And he would sit there and talk to you forever.”

To read the rest of the article visit the Washington Post where it was originally published

Sports Radio News

Danny Balis Joins 97.1 The Freak

“I feel kind of nervous because I haven’t done this in a long time. I thought this may not ever happen to me again, to do radio with people I’ve known for a very, very long time.”

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Longtime Sportsradio 96.7/1310 The Ticket producer Danny Balis is joining 97.1 The Freak in Dallas.

Balis was introduced Monday as the newest member of The Downbeat cast, which already features Mike Rhyner, Mike Sirois, and Michael Gruber.

“He was the one I want, and I get what I want here,” Rhyner said during Monday’s announcement.

“I’m excited,” said Balis. “I feel kind of nervous because I haven’t done this in a long time. I thought this may not ever happen to me again, to do radio with people I’ve known for a very, very long time.”

Balis left The Ticket in May, citing an interest in focusing on other areas of his life outside of radio. He served as a producer at the station for 22 years before stepping aside. At the time, he said “The room for growth for me up here is not going to open up until all you knuckleheads retire,” the 54-year-old joked.

In addition to his work with The Freak, Balis continues to co-own the Twilite Lounge in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

97.1 The Freak launched in October, and features a “broad-based, personality driven format” that features several former Dallas sports radio personalities including Rhyner, and Ben and Skin among others.

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Sports Radio News

Shan & RJ: We Have Questions About Jerry Jones But Washington Post Report Isn’t One of Them

“We all have some skeletons in our closet, but to throw the weight of the word racist on anyone, you’re gonna have to come with more than that.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones found himself in the headlines last week ahead of the team’s Thanksgiving Day game, but it was largely seen as something that didn’t need to be dragged out into the spotlight, and 105.3 The Fan hosts Shan and RJ agreed.

The Washington Post last week published a photo from 1957 showing a 14-year-old Jones among a crowd of onlookers as white students tried to block the path of some Black students attempting to enter his North Little Rock, Arkansas high school.

The piece focused on Jones, who is the Cowboys general manager, never hiring a Black head coach in the entire time he’s owned the franchise.

On Monday, Shan Shariff said it seemed a bit much to use that photo and article to paint Jones as some sort of racist.

“There’s certainly a bunch of stories out there that we know on and off the record about Jerry Jones that makes me question his morals,” he said. “We all have some skeletons in our closet, but to throw the weight of the word racist on anyone, you’re gonna have to come with more than that.”

Cowboys insider Bobby Belt, who was filling in for co-host RJ Choppy on Shan & RJ, said Jones has likely evolved like a lot of people do over time. He didn’t think it was fair to necessarily say Jones was racist.

“I’m not gonna speak for anyone else but I don’t believe he’s racist,” Belt said. “I think there are enough people who have dealt with him who are African American who would tell you they don’t think he’s racist. But it’s still not a thing that you can just write off to ‘Oh I was just standing there.'”

Jones admitted to the Post that his football coach at the time told him and other players not to get involved or be among the crowd for that moment, but he went anyway.

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Sports Radio News

DiPietro & Rothenberg: NFL TV Partners Should Schedule Jets and Giants at Opposite Times

Jordan Bondurant

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For the first time in a long time, both the New York Giants and the New York Jets are factors in the NFL playoff picture. After years of both franchises occupying the bottom portions of the league standings, fans in New York and the surrounding area have a reason to believe. On DiPietro & Rothenberg on ESPN New York, Dave Rothenberg said he thinks the league should put both teams in more marquee windows.

“When you start to think about flexing games, you start to think about you know what, the Giants and Jets should be flexed into better time slots,” he said.

Co-host Rick DiPietro said it sucks now that both teams are playing well, fans are essentially forced to flip back and forth between games.

“It’s awful. It really is,” he said. “I wouldn’t say that it ruins the Sunday because that would be hard. But it’s not my favorite.”

Still, it’s not lost on Rothenberg that football fans in the city now have something to cheer for NFL wise as the last chunk of the regular season approaches.

“When was the last time the Jets and Giants in December had meaningful football games?” Rothenberg asked. “Years and years and years.”

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