Sports Radio 610 has enjoyed a long storied run as the premier sports radio brand in Houston. But in recent months, local competitors have been making their reign at the top a little unsettling.
When Nick Wright announced plans to depart the radio station to join Fox Sports 1, it created an opportunity for Program Director Ryan McCredden to take stock of his inventory. The lineup was performing fine, but with a couple of adjustments, could the brand ascend to an even higher level?
One way to get a read on how the audience felt about the radio station’s personalities was to give them a chance to express it by taking part in a promotion titled “Trade Deadline”. The station received tons of feedback, and for one on-air broadcast day, mixed up their lineup combinations, and placed a few of their key people in different timeslots, and roles. This served as a great opportunity for McCredden to hear some of his key people in different situations.
Over the course of the next two months, McCredden would exhaust numerous options to retool the lineup at Sports Radio 610. Internal candidates were given a look, in-market options were discussed, and out of town personalities were talked to, and flown in for auditions. Many of them with proven track records in other top markets. BSM is aware of at least eight candidates who received consideration.
“As a programmer, it gave me a lot of joy to know that there were a lot of really strong young talent out there”, said McCredden. “The process was extensive, and I learned a lot about a lot of people, but ultimately I felt like we had a lot of the answers under our own roof. Unfortunately there isn’t any silver medal available for the person who comes in second”.
610 has done an excellent job at developing talent over the past few years. No better example exists than that of the station’s former midday show “MaD Radio” hosted by Mike Meltser and Seth Payne, which is now moving into mornings. The program earlier this year was identified by Barrett Sports Media’s panel of programmers as one of the top 20 midday shows in the country.
What convinced McCredden though that the duo would be well suited for a move to the earlier timeslot?
“Mornings tend to be a timeslot where people want to laugh and be entertained,” said McCredden. “Mike and Seth can certainly make you laugh, and their chemistry is excellent. There were a few days when John was off, and I moved them into mornings, and I heard the energy, and the fun, and they sounded like they belonged in there.”
By moving up Meltser and Payne though, that would create a hole in middays, and leave John Lopez in limbo. McCredden tested Lopez with some out of town personalities, and had to decide whether to bring in a more polished out of town host, or roll the dice on a young talent inside his building.
The one personality that jumped out the most from his roster was Cody Stoots. Lopez and Stoots had a great relationship which helped, but it was something Stoots said during the process which struck a chord with McCredden.
“Cody told me, the Astros took a chance on a young shortstop Carlos Correa and it’s paid off. The Texans are taking a chance on a young Quarterback (Brock Osweiler) who doesn’t have a lot of experience, and they’re hoping it pays off. I just hope you’d be willing to do the same with me because I believe it’d pay off”.
Feeling good about Stoots and Lopez, McCredden still had a hunch about someone else he spoke to during the process. That person was Houston native, and former Texas A&M Aggie, and former NFL wide receiver and special teams superstar Dante Hall. The questions though were whether or not Dante could transition into talking all-sports five days per week, where would he fit best, and would a trio be the right mix in middays?
McCredden explained his logic. “The way the mornings were set up, I didn’t think that was the best fit because then we’d have 5 voices on the show, and that’s too many (Jim Mudd, and Robert Henslee are also involved as contributors). I also felt Mike and Seth were ready for that jump”.
“When it came to Dante, his confidence gave me confidence,” McCredden continued. “His desire to do this was overwhelming. The positivity he has is impressive. He’s personable, and although our listeners don’t know him well, I think he’s going to really connect with them. He may be raw but he has a lot of natural talent and energy, and I think he’s going to have a bright future with us.”
After giving it a lot of thought and talking to a large pool of candidates, it became clear that “In The Loop” with Lopez, Hall, and Stoots were the fit McCredden was looking for in middays. The show may not have the immediate polish of Meltser and Payne, and it may lack experience that a few others have, but that hasn’t reduced McCredden’s enthusiasm.
“There were guys who were more polished, but everyone needs an opportunity to show what they’re made of,” added McCredden. “Cody has the skills to do great work, and with John and Dante involved it will help him grow even more into the position. Lopez is a big fan of Cody’s, and sees him as one of the fastest growing young talents in the market. What I really love about this show, is that it’s a hardcore Houston show. I think the audience is going to enjoy it”.
The final layer of the 610 puzzle to solve was finding a way to further capitalize on the relationship between the radio station, and its flagship partner, the Houston Texans. As they worked on stabilizing their daytime lineup, conversations also took place with the football team to make them a bigger part of their daily programming.
The result was turning “Texans All Access” into a nightly program from 6pm to 7pm. The voice of the Texans Marc Vandermeer will continue serving as host of the show. Vandermeer is also a former weekday host on Sports Radio 610.
The afternoon show (Triple Threat), featuring Rich Lord, Ted Johnson, and Sean Pendergast, and the evening program (Gallant At Night) hosted by Paul Gallant remain unchanged.
As Sports Radio 610 celebrates their new day today, they do so while knowing that a long and extensive process was necessary to make sure the right formula was discovered. If McCredden’s instincts are right, the real winners in all of this will be the Houston sports radio audience. It’s now up to Meltser, Payne, Stoots, Lopez, and Hall to prove him right.
Here’s a complete look at SportsRadio 610’s new programming lineup:
6:00-10:00AM – MAD RADIO
10:00AM-2:00PM – IN THE LOOP
2:00-6:00PM – TRIPLE THREAT
6:00-7:00PM – TEXANS ALL ACCESS
7:00-11:00PM – GALLANT AT NIGHT
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.”
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.”
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?”
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.
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.”
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.”