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Under The Radar – May 8, 2017

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The news continues to trickle in from the world of sports radio. Here’s the latest developments that might have slipped by you. As a reminder, it’s a huge help to us when you pass along your information via email. If you or your station have news worth sharing, a tip, a press release or a job related change, please let us know so we can share your story with the rest of the format. Now on to this week’s stories.

After Terry Foster announced his departure from 97.1 The Ticket‘s afternoon show, the immediate question became “how will this impact Mike Valenti‘s future?” Does the talented host stay in afternoons as a solo act? Does he add a partner? Or does he explore a change of scenery? Well, it looks like the Detroit sports talker could have his eyes on the biggest piece of real estate in the format. According to the NY Daily News, Valenti is a finalist for Mike Francesa‘s seat on WFAN. Whether it’d be as a solo act or as part of a team show is unclear, but if Mark Chernoff decides to take a risk and install Valenti into drive time in the big apple, despite not having worked previously in the market (aside from a few fill-ins), it’d certainly be seen as a big risk. Risk taking though is part of Chernoff’s DNA (Boomer & Carton after Imus, no partner for Francesa after Russo left) and his track record when making big decisions is very strong.

Well wishes go out to Damon Bruce of 95.7 The Game. The San Francisco afternoon host is recovering from a health scare. No time frame has been given for his return to the airwaves but knowing D-Bruce, expect him to be focused on getting healthy so he can get back to doing what he loves. To send a positive thought his way via Twitter click here.

Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons deserves a round of applause for helping create an entertaining radio moment last week. After beating the New York Yankees, the Jays skipper dialed into SportsNet 590 The Fan‘s postgame show “Jay’s Talk” as “John in the Bronx” and proceeded to ask host Mike Wilner if he agreed that Marco Estrada is one of the best pitchers in the league. He also busted Wilner’s chops about being wrong on the pregame shows and capped off the call up by asking about free tickets and Wilner’s ratings. To hear the prank call click here.

Bob Fescoe and Mike Welch of 610 Sports conducted one of the best interviews I heard on radio last week. The Kansas City morning crew welcomed former Chiefs running back Larry Johnson to the show. It was the first time Johnson had talked to the Kansas City media in seven years. During the course of the twenty six minute interview, Johnson was extremely candid and apologetic about many of the missteps he made during his career. It’s definitely worth a listen. Click here to hear it.

Congrats are in order for Kyle Bailey and Frank Garcia who have taken over the midday slot on WFNZ in Charlotte. The duo can be heard weekdays from 10am-2pm. To learn more about the show click here.

Sid Rosenberg continues to make news. The WABC radio host announced via social media last week that he’ll be making his debut on the CBS Sports Radio Network on Saturday May 20th. Rosenberg will be on from 10a-2p ET.

Tampa sports radio legend Steve Duemig says he’s officially done with treatments and hopes to return to WDAE soon. Duemig has been battling brain cancer and has been sidelined since February.

After hearing from multiple sources that Chris Cantore‘s stint at the Mighty 1090 had ended, the information has now been confirmed by Cantore himself. The San Diego radio veteran is out after just five weeks. No word yet from 1090 on who will replace him.

Pete Sheppard has been making hosting appearances on ESPN SWFL (Southwest Florida) 99.3FM, a Beasley owned radio station. The former Boston sports radio host moved south to the sunshine state a few months ago and has been filling in from time to time.

In the Omaha sports radio winter ratings, 1620 The Zone remained the market’s leading sports radio brand. The radio station placed 5th with Men 25-54 M-F 6a-7p and 6th with Men 25-54 M-SU 6a-Mid. Local competitor ESPN 590 was 9th in both categories. The Zone was particularly strong in mornings. Sharp & Benning registered a 3rd place finish, which was best on the station for the quarter.

Congrats go out to Jason Wechsler who has been hired by 101.3 ESPN in Burlington, VT. Jason says he’ll be with the station through Labor Day helping to produce the afternoon show and provide on-air updates.

Two hours outside of Washington D.C. in Hopewell, Virigina, FOX Sports Radio 96.9FM/1340AM has made a roster addition. Dean Perretta is joining the station. He’s expected to serve in a reporter role.

Now for some bad news. The ESPN layoffs didn’t only impact television. ESPN Los Angeles anchor, reporter and host Jeff Biggs confirmed that after six years with the station he was let go.

iHeartmedia also made company wide cuts last week. Unfortunately they claimed two veteran sports radio hosts in the process. Matt Shepard was ousted from WDFN in Detroit, and longtime host and reporter Mike Jurecki was let go in Phoenix at FOX Sports 910. News/Talk 850 KOA also lost its Sports Director Mark Johnson.

Job cuts also made their way to Northeast Pennsylvania. Tom Ferguson announced that his time with Times Shamrock’s NEPA ESPN Radio and ALT 92.1 had come to an end. The elimination of his position was due to corporate restructuring.

Barstool Sports created an excellent spoof with Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett. In the video, Brett types up a blog and presents it to the Barstool staff for approval. After discovering barbecue sauce on the keyboard, the staff make the decision to deny Brett’s submission, which sends the former third baseman into a rage. It’s a well done bit playing off of Brett’s infamous pine tar incident during his playing days. To watch click here.

Congrats to Peter Mundo who has struck a deal between his Big 12 media outlet Heartland College Sports – Independent Big 12 Sports Blog and USA TODAY Sports. Mundo says that as part of the agreement, USA Today will have no editorial control over the site, but the partnership will help his brand expand into different platforms, along with receiving support on the advertising front, as well as accessibility to events, news and information.

ESPN has launched a new podcast.“The Basketball Analogy,” features a rotating lineup of NBA insiders, writers, reporters and hosts covering the latest news and analysis. Involved are Amin Elhassan, Brian Windhorst, Tom Haberstroh, Kevin Arnovitz, Tim MacMahon, Kevin Pelton and Cassidy Hubbarth. Rachel Nichols, Pablo Torre and Ohm Youngmisuk will also lend their voices and perspectives to the podcast. Episodes will be provided daily during the post-season and through the NBA Draft.

Turning our attention further north, SportsNet 590 The Fan has launched a new podcast. Point Taken will debut on May 10th and feature hosts Greg Brady and Caroline Cameron. The pair say they plan to conduct conversations with athletes, actors, musicians, broadcasters, and anyone they can bribe to appear.

A special thanks to everyone who’s listened to the BSM Podcast episode 12 featuring Michael McCarthy of the Sporting News and Bryan Curtis of The Ringer. The program was listed in the top 10 of sports media podcasts, which is remarkable given that the program is produced without the backing of a major company or distributor. My sincere thanks to everyone for listening, sharing, and supporting the program. Be sure to leave a review on iTunes and if there’s something you’d like to hear explored on a future episode feel free to pass along your suggestion via email.

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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