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Sports Radio News

Under The Radar – July 17, 2017

Jason Barrett

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Is there ever a week where the sports media industry isn’t busy? I keep waiting for one of these periods to emerge where the activity isn’t strong enough to produce a full column yet even on slow weeks, but there’s always something.

Although I’m sure you know the drill by now, I have to be a broken record because new people are also finding the column. If you’d like to have your personal or company news shared with the sports media industry in this article, please pass it along via email to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me.

Now here are this week’s stories.

Many have inquired about the status of the BSM Podcast. After producing 14 episodes, enough to complete a first full season, a short break was necessary. BSM is happy to report that a new episode will be coming out in the next few days. The first installment of Season 2 is a good one. It features an in-depth conversation with Houston and New Orleans sports radio host Josh Innes. To listen to past episodes click here.

The New York Daily News reported something pretty interested this past weekend. According to Bob Raissman, Clay Travis was offered his own show on FOX Sports 1 by former executive Jamie Horowitz. Except there was one condition – Travis could not discuss politics on television, radio or social media. By taking the job Travis would’ve further elevated his profile and made a ton of money but he declined the offer, choosing instead to stay true to his principles. To read the full article click here.

Although Travis may not be adding a heavy presence on FS1‘s airwaves, the network is scouting others who they feel can enhance their on-air programming. According to Michael McCarthy of the Sporting News, FS1 recently brought in “Today” correspondent and anchor Jenna Wolfe for an audition for their upcoming morning show First Things First which features Nick Wright and Cris Carter. The audition reportedly went well, leading the network to open up discussions with Wolfe and her representatives.

Congratulations is in store for Ryan Ruocco. The ESPN and YES Network play by play announcer and former 98.7FM ESPN NY radio host began hosting a podcast for The Players Tribune with New York Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia. The debut episode features a special appearance by Derek Jeter, and it has quickly shot up the iTunes charts. To take a listen click here.

Meanwhile, one of Ruocco’s former on-air partners, Robin Lundberg, is also in the news. The former ESPN Radio and 98.7FM ESPN New York host stepped in this past Saturday for a few hours on the airwaves of WFAN. Rumors have been circulating about Lundberg being on The Fan’s radar to host a lead-in show to Boomer and Carton, but nothing official has been announced just yet.

Another talented radio personality is diving head first into the podcasting space. Former Houston radio host and current NFL Network draft analyst Lance Zierlein has launched his Off The Script podcast. Zierlein teased an upcoming episode featuring himself and former Astros Lance Berkman and Lance McCullers. He also spoke recently to CultureMap about his decision to leave radio. You can read the interview by clicking here.

A role change could be on the horizon for St. Louis sports radio host and executive Tim McKernan. The 590 The Fan KFNS morning man struck a deal last year with station owner Randy Markel to oversee operations as President and CEO, with the idea being to eventually assume ownership once Markel recouped his investment. However, Markel has been more involved than expected. According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Markel has started talks with McKernan about restructuring his deal and eliminating his ownership stake and CEO and President duties.

Checkpoint Radio continues to gain momentum. The esports show which is hosted by Nate Bender, Robbie Landis, Norris Howard and Joe Sloan has added 101 ESPN in St. Louis and 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia as affiliates. For more information on the show click here.

Unfortunate news out of Boston. Christian Arcand announced on social media that he was laid off by Boston Herald Radio. Arcand is however still hosting WEEI Late Night on the Boston sports radio station.

The news is similar in San Francisco for on-air personality Zakariah. The evening and Athletics Pre/Post game host has been let go by 95.7 The Game. To reach him and discuss future opportunities click here.

Surprising news out of Texas. Rod Babers, who had co-hosted The Sports Buffet on Ticket 760 in San Antonio and AM 1300 The Zone in Austin is no longer active on each stations. Babers and Craig Way had formed a strong team in afternoons but Way left in January to join Austin sports station 104.9 The Horn. With Babers gone, The Ticket afternoon show is being hosted by Chris Duel. AM 1300 has begun airing The Doug Gottlieb Show from FOX Sports Radio.

In Salt Lake City, ESPN 700 (KALL-AM) and the University of Utah and its media rights holder Learfield Utes Sports have extended their broadcast agreement through the 2021-2022 season. The radio station has served as the University’s radio partner for an impressive sixty six years.

The University of Alabama has struck a new deal with Townsquare Media Tuscaloosa. The new agreement is a seven year extension for games to continue airing on Tide 102.9, gospel station Praise 93.3, and country stations 95.3 The Bear and Catfish 1230AM and 100.1FM.

Another play by play agreement has been extended in Bloomington, Illinois. Cumulus Media has signed a new five year deal with Illinois State Athletics and Learfield Redbird Sports Properties. The agreement calls for AM 1230 and 93.7 NASH to continue serving as the flagship stations for Redbird football and men’s basketball.

SportsRadio 850 in Norfolk has expanded its morning show from one hour to two starting Monday July 17th. As a result, Nick Bailey gains an extra sixty minutes to inform and entertain local fans.

Former CBS Radio CEO Dan Mason, who contributes as an analyst for the Horse Racing Radio Network, recently wrote a series on how to break into the horse racing industry. Some of the suggestions he passed along can also transfer to the broadcasting business. To read his latest piece, the fourth part of a five part series, click here.

Sticking with horse racing broadcasting news, the New York Racing Association has added a four-time All-Star to their lineup. Former major league catcher Paul Lo Duca has agreed to become part of the “Saratoga Live” crew. The analytical show runs daily during the 40-day meet for two or two-and-a-half hours and is available on the MSG+ network. Lo Duca will work with Greg Wolf, Andy Serling, Maggie Wolfendale, Tom Amoss and Gabby Gaudet. He’s also expected to contribute on select NYRA broadcasts this the fall when racing returns to Belmont Park.

Congratulations to Dov Kramer of WFAN. The radio station’s executive producer recently celebrated his 30-year anniversary with the radio station.

Washington D.C. radio host Nick Ashooh has launched a website which features audio, video and written pieces. To learn more about it click here.

Many in the sports media business remain curious about the long term prospects of The Athletic. The new digital brand which is reliant on subscriptions has been stacking their talent pool by adding established writers. Stewart Mandel, formerly of FOX Sports and Sports Illustrated, previously announced he’d signed on to write for the website. Now this week, San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami has revealed he too would be joining the platform. Seth Davis, formerly of Sports Illustrated, is also expected to write for the site. For more details click here.

According to The Big Lead, after a company sale and losing its biggest sports asset Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo Sports appears to be ready to add new blood to its sports department. TBL says Pete Thamel is leaving Sports Illustrated to join Yahoo. Thamel covered college football for SI and also worked previously for the New York Times.

Also in the print world, Brian Christopherson has announced that he’s leaving the Lincoln Journal Star after 13 years. Ten of those years involved covering Huskers football. Christopher says he will remain involved covering the Huskers except he’ll be doing so now for 247Sports and Scout Media.

Sports Radio News

Chick Hearn Headlines Radio Hall of Fame Legends Inductees

Amongst other accolades, he is credited with broadcast 3,338 consecutive Lakers game from November 21, 1965 to December 16, 2001.

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Chick Hearn

The Museum of Broadcast Communications announced today the selection of 10 new Legends inductees into the Radio Hall of Fame for 2022. This distinction honors those in the industry who have contributed greatly to it and have since passed away.

Chick Hearn, the longtime voice of the Los Angeles Lakers, will be amongst those inducted in Chicago next month. Hearn was the voice of the Lakers for 41 years (1961-2002). Amongst other accolades, he is credited with broadcast 3,338 consecutive Lakers game from November 21, 1965 to December 16, 2001.  

The full list of those to be inducted as part of the Legends class are:

  • MrDoug Banks– Nationally syndicated on-air personality;
  • MrJames Brown– Legendary singer, to be inducted as a radio station owner of WJBE Knoxville, TN;
  • MrBob Coburn– Host of the syndicated Rockline show;
  • Mr. Chick Hearn– Play-by-play announcer/voice of the Los Angeles Lakers;
  • MsBernice Judis– Owner and General Manager, WNEW-AM, 1930’s–1950’s;
  • MrSid Mark– Host of syndicated program, Sounds of Sinatra show for 60+ years;
  • Mr. Bobby O’Jay– On-air personality, WDIA-AM/Memphis;
  • MrPervis Spann– On-air personality, WVON-AM/Chicago;
  • Mr. James Thompson– Group W Broadcasting President and President of the Broadcasters Foundation;
  • Ms. Rosalie Trombley– Music Director of CKLW-AM/Detroit in the 1960’s–1970’s.

“The Radio Hall of Fame is dedicated to recognizing the individuals who have made the greatest impact on our 100+ year old industry,” Kraig T. Kitchin, Co-Chairman, Radio Hall of Fame said. “I’m thrilled to see the Nominating Committee confirm the induction of these 10 individuals who each made such an impact on our industry in their time.”    

The Radio Hall of Fame will recognize its 2022 class of inductees, including the class announced in July, during a ceremony on Tuesday, November 1st.

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Sports Radio News

Tobin and Leroy Debut on WQAM Middays

“This is a big change for us,” Tobin said. “I’ve been doing morning drive, producing or hosting now, for the last decade. Now it’s to middays we go.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Tobin and Leroy

After a brief hiatus and the closure of 790 The Ticket, Brendan Tobin and Leroy Hoard officially returned to the Miami airwaves on Monday on 560 WQAM.

Tobin and Leroy debuted in its new midday timeslot of 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on the station.

“This is a big change for us,” Tobin said. “I’ve been doing morning drive, producing or hosting now, for the last decade. Now it’s to middays we go.”

Tobin added that the timing between when they made their exit from The Ticket and returned on WQAM was a bit off.

“It was a very weird week for us to take off last week. Because they were like, ‘Hey, you’re change times, you’re gonna change stations, and also it’s gonna be the busiest sports week of the year,'” he said. “So now we’re back, and nothing will happen this week.”

“There has been less action on days we thought we had to be here than what happened last week,” Hoard added.

Hoard actually arrived to the show late, citing traffic issues getting to the station. That was something even Tobin noted is an adjustment they have to make from when they were doing morning drive.

“We’ve all discovered here today is traffic is not the same at 8 a.m. as it is at 4 a.m.,” he said. “Very different.”

Tobin made sure WQAM listeners knew that even though they switched stations, the show isn’t changing. They continued with all the usual segments that fans know and love on Monday.

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Sports Radio News

Mike Rhyner Introduces Dallas to 97.1 The Freak

“So, where were we?” began Rhyner.

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Ben Torres / Special Contributor Dallas Morning News

There’s a new radio station in Dallas which features a number of personalities familiar to local sports radio listeners. 97.1 The Freak made its much anticipated debut and the first voice to be heard belonged to the ”Old Grey Wolf” Mike Rhyner.

97.1 The Eagle stopped regular programming late Monday morning and began stunting, a technique radio stations use to separate listeners from old programming and prepare them for new content. The station began by playing songs with the word “freak” in them before transitioning into a continuous loop of “The Waiting is the Hardest Part” by Tom Petty until 3p CT. Then, a voiceover detailing the Eagle’s history switched into the voice that Dallas-Forth Worth residents have gotten to know so well, Mike Rhyner.

“So, where were we?” began Rhyner.

Rhyner went on to relive his final moments at The Ticket in Dallas. He said he was getting his “head around being a Paw Paw” before getting a call from Ben Rogers of the Ben and Skin Show and thus an idea for The Freak began to take shape.

After that, the show’s intro music played and Rhyner welcomed in Mike Sirois and before you knew it, the guys were wondering about a quarterback controversy in Dallas.

97.1 The Freak is off and running with a lineup that includes “The Speakeasy,” with Jeff Cavanaugh, Kevin “KT’ Turner, Julie Dobbs, and Matt Cather in mornings (7-11am), “Ben & Skin Show” in middays (11am-3pm) and “The Downbeat” in afternoons (3p-7p) featuring Mike Rhyner alongside Mike Sirois and Michael “Grubes” Gruber.

The station is positioning itself as a lifestyle brand but given its talent connection to local sports radio and the strong interest in Dallas sports, it’s likely the talent will weave sports talk into their on-air discussions. Sports Radio 1310/96.7 The Ticket and 105.3 The Fan have enjoyed good ratings with the male 25-54 demographic and The Freak is expected to challenge them and every other brand that produces spoken word content.

“We’re beyond excited to introduce 97-1 the Freak – the level of talent is insurmountable, and we’re thrilled for the opportunity to further connect with Dallas Fort Worth,” Patrick Davis, Regional Senior Vice President of Programming Dallas, shared in an announcement.

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