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Under The Radar – September 11, 2017

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Football season is back, which means the interest in sports media content should be top of mind for the next four months. This week there were a little more than twenty news items to share. As always, if you have information to share involving yourself or your company, please send it via email to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me.

Now here are this week’s tidbits.

Last year many blamed the NFL‘s ratings decline on the election, Donald Trump, Colin Kaepernick’s protest, Peyton Manning’s retirement and Tom Brady’s four game suspension. But this year’s Thursday Night opener on NBC featuring the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs produced a lower rating than last year’s game between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos. Is it a one week aberration or a sign of things to come? To read more about it, click here.

As WFAN begins dealing with the aftereffects of Craig Carton‘s arrest, the million dollar question becomes, “who takes his spot opposite Boomer Esiason?” The Fan has a few internal options to consider from Brandon Tierney, Gregg Giannotti, Damon Amendolara and Jerry Recco. They could stay in the company and ask Adam The Bull, Chris Carlin or Mike Valenti to relocate to the big apple. Or they could go outside the box. The New York Daily News raised the possibility of external candidates such as Chris Simms, Jon “Stugotz” Weiner or Michael Rappaport, and Greg Hughes, formerly of ‘Opie and Anthony’, has also been floated as a suggestion before too. One thing that’s not expected to change is the show’s television simulcast on the CBS Sports Network.

New York radio stations are ramping up their contributors for the 2017 NFL season. 98.7 ESPN New York has added New York Giants safety Landon Collins for The Michael Kay Show, and former New York Jets Linebacker Bart Scott as a contributor on a variety of station shows. WFAN will once again have Eli Manning and Ben McAdoo on each week with Mike Francesa, plus NFL Network reporter Peter Schrager has signed on to appear with Mike each Friday.

Speaking of contributors, ESPN Radio has announced its collection of experts to contribute to the network’s morning show, Mike and Mike, and starting in November, Golic & Wingo. Set to appear on the show are Louis Riddick, Booger McFarland, Ryan Clark, Herm Edwards, Paul Finebaum, Kirk Herbstreit, Matthew Berry, Brian Billick, Field Yates, Mike Golic Jr. and Joey Galloway.

Also on ESPN Radio, the network is bringing back Brian Custer and Donovan McNabb. The two men will broadcast Monday evenings from 7p-10p ET.

Changes are coming to 97.5 The Fanatic. The radio station has confirmed the addition of Bob Cooney to the morning show with Anthony Gargano. Cooney spent twenty five years with the Philadelphia Daily News.

Meanwhile on the other side of town, Sports Radio 94WIP deserves a round of applause for leading the cause to raise over two hundred thousand dollars for the Eagles Charitable Foundation. WIP says the money will help over 6,932 children receive eye care in the form of a $30 comprehensive vision exam and a pair of eyeglasses. Nice work.

Sticking with WIP, the radio station also announced their football contributors for the 2017 NFL season. Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham will appear live from Chickie’s and Pete’s each Monday night at 6p ET. The show will be hosted by Merrill Reese, Howard Eskin and Jon Marks. Immediately after Graham’s show at 7p ET, WIP rolls out the “Player’s Lounge” with Ike Reese and Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. In addition, Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson appears Monday mornings at 8a ET with Angelo Cataldi. The station will also feature regular appearances by The Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia, former NFL offensive lineman Ross Tucker, former NFL coach and Super Bowl champion Dick Vermeil, Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks, Ray Didinger, former NFL executive Mike Lombardi, Eagles cornerbacks Rodney McLeod and Jalen Mills, fantasy football experts Paul Charchian and John Hansen, and NFL Insider Ian Rapoport.

Congratulations to 106.7 The Fan in Washington D.C. on finishing the August book in the Top 3 with Men 25-54 M-F 6a-7p and M-SU 6a-Mid. The Sports Junkies turned in a dominant performance in morning drive, finishing the month a few tenths of a point under a 12 share, good enough for second place. Local competitor ESPN 980 also received good news. The majority of their weekday programs finished in the Top 10 including their morning show hosted by Chris Cooley and Kevin Sheehan which came in sixth.

The ratings were also positive for ESPN Los Angeles 710AM. Month to month performances were higher for the majority of the weekday lineup, but even more important was growth for each show in the key M-F 6a-7p schedule. Leading the way as usual were Mason and Ireland who turned in a little better than a three and a half share. Their rating is the best of any local sports talk show in the market.

When it comes to numbers, 101 ESPN in St. Louis has become accustomed to dominating the local competition, and the month of August was no exception. The station’s weekday shows once again finished between 1st and 4th. Leading the way were The Fast Lane which turned in another #1 performance in afternoons with better than a 12 share.

Jordan Kent has returned to 102.9/750 The Game in Portland to co-host the Oregon Ducks pre-game show. Kent, who played football, basketball and ran track for the Ducks, also contributes locally on television for Comcast Sports Northwest.

KNBR 680 host John Lund has launched a new website, playing off of one of his popular benchmarks “The Caboose Pistol.” The site contains a bunch of male demo prep material and can be accessed by clicking here.

Staying in San Francisco, KCBS has announced the return of John Madden to its airwaves. The former NFL head coach and analyst has been a longtime contributor to the radio station.

A little further south, the Broadcast Company of the Americas in San Diego have struck a deal to feature University of San Diego football and basketball on their radio stations. Five football home games will air on The Mighty 1090. The remaining road games will be carried by sister station ESPN 1700. Men’s basketball games will also split between the two stations, with 1090 carrying 10 games, and the remaining ones being offered on 1700.

Charlotte’s sports leader WFNZ has added some firepower to its talk shows for the 2017 NFL season. Joining the station’s lineup as weekly contributors are voice of the Panthers Jim Szoke, Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, former NFL executive Tony Softli, NBC Pro Football Talk reporter Mike Florio, former NFL offensive lineman Lomas Brown, and a slew of others.

The Big 1070 in Madison, Wisconsin has adjusted its weekday lineup. 1070 has replaced Fox Sports Radio’s “Rich Eisen Show” weekdays 11a-2p CT with a one-hour edition of “The Rundown with Jon Arias”, and a regional simulcast of sister station The Big 920’s “The Drew Olson Show.” An hour of Mike Heller’s programs gets eliminated but he remains installed in afternoons on the station from 3p-6p CT.

Shifting to Denver, Ryan Edwards is moving from Mile High Sports to Orange and Blue Radio. Edwards will host M-F 10a-12p MT.

In Cleveland, Danny Cunningham has left ESPN 850 WKNR. He says he’s involved in talks for another project and will share the details at the appropriate time.

The Syracuse Crunch have decided on their new play by play voice. Congratulations to Lukas Favale on earning the opportunity.

Aaron Torres has joined Kentucky Sports Radio as a contributing writer according to founder Matt Jones.

A new podcast has been launched by former WFAN and current WOR producer “Sugar” Ray Martel, and New England radio personality Keith Rice. The two Boston sports fans will discuss Boston’s “Big 4” via the Sugar and Rice podcast. Martel brings a Big Apple perspective to his Boston fandom. Rice acknowledges his slant is very “anti-New York”. The weekly podcast will be available on iTunes and Google Play.

A toast is in order for ESPN which celebrated 38 years in business last week. The network launched to an estimated audience of 30,000 viewers. It’s pretty remarkable to see where the company is now compared to where it was in 1979 when it first began. Cheers!

While we’re on the subject of anniversaries, congratulations to CBS‘ flagship show, The NFL Today, which celebrates 50 years on the air on September 13th. The initial broadcast ran 15 minutes and was hosted by Frank Gifford. Since then, 43 different hosts, analysts and reporters have contributed to the program.

Lately many writers have been flocking from the Bay Area News Group to join The Athletic, leaving holes inside the organization’s sports department. One of them has been filled as BANG has hired Dieter Kurtenbach as a sports columnist.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has lost a valuable member of their sports department. Longtime Blues reporter and writer Jeremy Rutherford has announced he’s signed on with The Athletic. JR says he will transition from breaking news, game stories and practice updates to providing deeper columns that cover the key issues involving the Blues.

The Athletic has landed another scribe north of the border. The company’s Toronto division has lured Eric Duhatschek over from the Globe and Mail. Duhatschek had spent 17 years with the local newspaper.

Ken Pomeroy has also announced he’s joining The Athletic. Pomeroy will be a regular contributor and analytics editor for the company’s college basketball platform.

There will be a new beat reporter covering the Missouri Tigers for the Kansas City Star. Longtime writer Tod Palmer has confirmed he’s stepping aside to take a position as Suburbans Editor for some of The Star’s products as well as Lee’s Summit Journal and the Cass County Democrat.

Sports Radio News

NBC Sports Names Al Michaels To Emeritus Role

The partnership will keep Michaels on for the Olympics and NBC’s NFL playoff coverage.

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Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

NBC Sports, which had been the home of Al Michaels since 2006, will still feature the veteran broadcaster despite Michaels’ moving to Amazon for Thursday Night Football.

The network announced that Michaels will still be a part of NBC Sports’ high-profile broadcasting properties including the Olympics and NFL Playoffs. Michaels’ last broadcast with the network had been Super Bowl LVI in February, his eleventh Super Bowl.

NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua said in a statement, “Revered by viewers and colleagues, Al has been the soundtrack for many of the greatest moments in sports television history. We are thrilled that he’s staying in the family and raising the stature of our events for years to come.”

“I’m looking forward to continuing my longtime NBC relationship while also launching the Thursday Night Football package on Amazon this fall. A special thanks to NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua and the folks at NBCUniversal for their help in making this happen,” Michaels said.

Michaels moved to Amazon Prime Video this season for their Thursday Night Football package. He will be paired with ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit. This season will mark his 37th NFL play-by-play campaign in primetime.

Following another historic broadcasting moment in which Michaels deftly demonstrated his expertise and versatility, he became just the second sportscaster in history to receive a News Emmy nomination for his coverage of the San Francisco earthquake during the 1989 World Series.

In addition to the 11 Super Bowls, Michaels has worked nine Olympics and called eight World Series.

In December 2020, Michaels was honored with the 2021 Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Michaels is one of only five distinguished broadcasters to be recognized with the baseball honor and the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Award (Dick Enberg, Lindsey Nelson, Jack Buck, and Curt Gowdy).

One of television’s most respected journalists, Michaels has covered more major sports events than any sportscaster, including 20 years as the play-by-play voice of Monday Night Football. He is the only commentator to call the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals and host the Stanley Cup Final for network television. In addition, Michaels called the classic 1985 championship boxing match between Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns and “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler.

Among his many accolades, Michaels has captured eight Emmy Awards – seven for Outstanding Sports Personality – Play-by-Play and one in 2011 for the Lifetime Achievement Award, and has three times (1980, 1983 and 1986) received the NSSA Award from the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association; he was inducted into the NSSA Hall of Fame in 1998. Michaels was named Sportscaster of the Year in 1996 by the American Sportscasters Association, and, in 1991, he was named Sportscaster of the Year by the Washington Journalism Review.

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Thom Brennaman Continues to Search for a Second Chance

Brennaman has been searching for a broadcasting gig since he spoke a homophobic slur in August 2020 on a Cincinnati Reds broadcast.

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USA Today

The last time Thom Brennaman sported the microphone for a major broadcast was August 19, 2020. It was game that featured a doubleheader between the Cincinnati Reds and the Kanasas City Royals and in between the two, Brennaman blurted a homophobic slur that has thus far kept him off radio and television.

Brennaman has struggled to find his footing since that error. Recently, Brennaman recorded an episode of Tell Me A Story I Don’t Know, a podcast hosted George Ofman. That episode was available Tuesday and in it, Ofman asks where Brennaman thinks he’ll be in six months.

Brennaman said, “I have no idea. I really don’t. There were a couple of times I thought that maybe somebody out there was going to give me a chance to broadcast again and then this same thing comes up again.”

Brennaman sounded baffled that he’s still searching for work, citing other influential local leaders and what they opined in the days after the incident. “You know what you find out George, the guy who’s considered to be the leading voice of the LGBT community here in Cincinnati, he’s a big executive with Johnson and Johnson, a guy named Ryan Messer. He had written, and I had never met Ryan Messer at this point in time, like two days after what I said, he wrote a letter to the editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer, local paper, that Thom Brennaman should not be fired. There is room for growth here in so many areas and a great opportunity for him, for the gay community, for the Reds, for our society.”

Brennaman added that the two met as well as did Brennaman with other leaders in the LGBT community at the time. “I reached out to the guy and made contact with him and he’s the guy who’s house we went to that I made reference to earlier in listening to a bunch of the stories with some gay leaders. But anyway, I said ‘if you have people there – and I know you do – that are gay that work there, I would put up the amount of hours that I have spent in the gay community in some form or fashion over the last year against anybody you have that works in that office that’s gay’.”

Despite his efforts, the broadcasting veteran is dismayed that it’s failed to sway opinion, “it’s almost like in some cases it just falls on deaf ears.”

Regardless of where he is at now, he’s confident that eventually he’ll be afforded another opportunity. “But I ‘d like to think there’s somebody out there – and there will be and all it takes is one – is just to say ‘you know what, this was a mistake. Here’s the documentation of what the guy’s tried to do since then. We’re going to take a chance – answer some tough questions – and take a chance and get him back in the booth.”

And if another opportunity doesn’t present itself? “If it doesn’t happen, it’s not going to be the end of my life.”

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Sports Radio News

The Rundown With Jeff Michael Coming To SportsMap Radio

“The Rundown with Jeff Michael will debut on June 6.”

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Jeff Michael is getting a promotion at SportsMap Radio. He is moving from the part-time staff into a new midday show.

The Rundown with Jeff Michael will debut on June 6. The network describes the new two-hour show as energetic and fast-paced.

“Sports talk radio always meant the world to me,” Jeff Michael said in a press release. “Having an opportunity to reach such a large national audience is something I do not take lightly. While I’m so grateful for the opportunity, my focus will always be on creating captivating and informative content.”

Michael has been with SportsMap Radio since 2020. He has also been a prolific host in the podcasting space.

“I feel this is a perfect format for Jeff to excel,” CEO David Gow added. “From listening to fill-in appearances, you can tell he has tremendous command of his audience. You cannot easily teach what Jeff Michael already possesses.”

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