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Under The Radar – March 14, 2018

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This week’s UTR includes a number of items related to the NCAA Tournament. As I state in each week’s piece, to be considered for exposure in an upcoming article, pass along any pertinent information via email to JBarrett@spoortsradiopd.com. Now on to the latest developments.

Entercom New York has named a new Market Manager to oversee some of the company’s most important and prestigious brands. New York native Susan Larkin will head back to the east coast, leaving San Francisco where she had been overseeing Entercom’s five Bay Area stations. Larkin also had regional oversight of Sacramento and a number of Southern California markets. To fill her absence in the Bay Area, Gregory Nemitz will be elevated to SVP/Market Manager. Los Angeles SVP/Market Manager Jeff Federman will also take on more responsibility adding regional oversight of Southern California markets, including San Diego, Palm Springs and Riverside. Although Larkin will be physically located in the big apple, she will continue as Nemitz’s direct report. Interim New York market manager John Fullam will now move to Denver where he was originally expected to be when he signed on with the company this past November.

If there’s one time of the year where you can learn a lot about a radio station’s creativity surrounding big events, it’s March. The NCAA Tournament becomes a key focus for many outlets but too often stations do the same thing. Sales requests a March Madness promotion to generate income, which is followed up by a station placing a bracket on its website, attaching a sponsor to it, supporting it with liners and promos and encouraging the audience to fill it out. The listener who produces the best bracket gets rewarded with a prize. Considering that sports fans receive the same exact options on TV and print media websites, it doesn’t stand out. To make noise, you’ve got to either offer an experience/prize that’s unheard of or do something outside the box. Fortunately, there are a few brands out there looking to capitalize on the buzz in unique ways rather than executing the same bland concepts.

For starters, the red carpet needs to be rolled out for Carrington Harrison of 610 Sports. The man deserves a moment in the spotlight for his creation of the Kanye Madness bracket. Harrison tapped into the passion of Kanye West fans by creating a bracket which highlighted 64 of the popular artist’s songs. It generated a massive amount of social buzz including feedback and participation from Chris Long, Cris Carter, Jordan Matthews, Bomani Jones, and coverage on Complex, Cincinnati.com, and the Kansas City Star among others. It even became a topic of conversation on MSNBC during an appearance by Havoc of Mobb Deep, who placed Harrington at the top of his ‘Real List’ and pushed for the song “Famous” to win the tournament since it was one of 2 songs he produced for Kanye. Whether you love Kanye’s music or not, the originality, social polls and video content created around the promotion was spectacular. As of last check, the original tweet had received 30,000 retweets and 81,000 likes. It also produced tons of shares and comments on Facebook. It was everything radio should be trying to create.

Although Harrison’s creation was impressive, it wasn’t the only bracket to strike a chord. The Spun did a fantastic job too by creating the 64 Most Annoying People in Sports Media bracket. If there’s a guaranteed way of generating buzz for a bracket, just include 64 people in the sports media business, and sit back, relax, and enjoy your popcorn as they flock to social media to mention their involvement in it. To see the bracket click here.

A few others which passed the creativity test include Barstool SportsPardon My Take which produced the 64 People Most Likely to Retweet This Bracket and Get Us More Followers bracket. CBS Sports Radio‘s Tiki and Tierney are giving one lucky fan the chance to host a segment with them on TV and Radio. Seth Harp in Jacksonville at Sports Radio 930 in conjunction with iHeart Radio Jacksonville rolled out Meat Madness, and Paige Dimakos and Zach Harper of FanRag Sports used the tournament as a connector to LeBron James‘ pending free agency.

Speaking of the tournament, SiriusXM is offering listeners nationwide comprehensive coverage of the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, airing every minute of every game on both satellite radios and the SiriusXM app on its exclusive 24/7 college sports talk channels. All Men’s NCAA Tournament game broadcasts are provided to SiriusXM by Westwood One, the official network radio partner of the NCAA and the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.

Thursday is a big day for Jason Fitz. The network radio and television host will take over ESPN‘s Twitter account as part of Fitz’s Big Basketball Binge-A-Thon Bonanaza. Fitz will have a few special guests stopping by to watch games, converse, eat and spin the wheel of destiny including Jalen Rose, Jay Williams, Michael Smith, Molly Qerim and more. Plans are for Fitz to begin his tour of duty at Noon ET. He’ll remain at the controls until the buzzer sounds for the final game of the evening.

Sometimes technical malfunctions can turn into entertaining radio. There was no better example than in New York where Don LaGreca expressed his fondness for the radio station’s microphone collapsing into his hands during Tuesday’s program. After the ESPN New York afternoon host snapped and screamed “FIX THAT” while walking out of the studio during a segment, Michael Kay and Peter Rosenberg were left to try and regain their composure and explain what just occurred. YES Network did an excellent job of turning around the clip quickly, generating strong social sharing. To watch LaGreca’s meltdown click here.

It may have taken five years, but Chris Townsend is finally getting an opportunity to make a bigger impact on Oakland Athletics radio broadcasts. The 95.7 The Game talk show host has been named the network host for A’s pre and postgame shows. “Towny” as he’s affectionately known to local listeners will also be dropping in during game broadcasts with A’s announcers Ken Korach, Vince Cotroneo and Ray Fosse.

Tim Murray will be hosting a new show on SB Nation Radio starting this Sunday, “Destination NFL Draft.” The show airs 11a-1p ET for the next six weeks leading up to the NFL Draft. Each show will include appearances from draft experts, draft prospects, and local beat reporters from the teams atop the draft.

Meanwhile, one of Murray’s radio partners Steve Solomon, is making some news of his own. The SB Nation Radio host and producer of Steve Czaban‘s afternoon show on The Team 980 is running for Montgomery County Council. In the first unofficial poll, Solomon led the way, garnering 15 percent of the vote from more than 5,000 votes recorded in a Bethesda Magazine reader survey. That percentage was more than double the next closest candidate. Solomon says he’s gratified to see his campaign resonating with Montgomery County residents. The election takes place June 26, 2018.

WWL in New Orleans has cut ties with longtime host Deke Bellavia. Bobby Hebert‘s co-pilot on “SportsTalk” and the New Orleans Saints “Point After” postgame show last appeared on-air on Friday March 9th. Saints sideline reporter Kristian Garic has been filling in on an interim basis. Hebert is expected to continue in his normal role. A replacement has not yet been named for Bellavia.

Time has run out for Eric Williams at ESPN 850 WKNR in Cleveland. The producer and on-air contributor to The Really Big Show with Tony Rizzo and Aaron Goldhammer is looking for his next opportunity. To get in touch with him via Twitter click here.

In the podcasting space, congrats is in order for Howie Schwab. The ex-ESPner has created the Schwab Cast for Univision. The first two episodes featured appearances from Dick Vitale and Fran Fraschilla. To listen and/or subscribe click here.

In Kansas City, 610 Sports morning host Bob Fescoe has also taken the plunge into the digital space. Fescoe has launched “The KC Bobcast,” a show focused on conversations with people who make Kansas City special. The first two episodes include interviews with Kansas Head Basketball Coach Bill Self and Marlin Man. To subscribe or listen click here.

When time allows, check out the ‘No Limits’ podcast hosted by ABC‘s Rebecca Jarvis. Barstool Sports CEO Erika Nardini was a recent guest on the program, and during the conversation, it was learned that since joining the company, Barstool has increased its revenue by eight times the amount. The company has also enjoyed a seven hundred percent gain in brand advertising, and a three hundred percent lift in e-commerce. Whether you love or hate the Barstool brand, those statistics are pretty remarkable.

Sports Radio News

Craig Carton Making Responsible Gambling Content For FanDuel

“He will help shape the company’s responsible gaming policy, play a role in FanDuel building AI that can spot problematic gambling patterns, and host events in which he will help younger bettors understand what an addiction looks like.”

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Audacy

FanDuel announced yesterday that it has hired its first ever “responsible gaming ambassador”. WFAN’s Craig Carton has agreed to take on the role. He has been open about his gambling addiction and advocated for those that believe they have a problem to seek help on air since returning to New York radio last year.

The content he creates for FanDuel will have a very specific focus. A press release says Carton will promote messages of “advocacy, prevention awareness and content development focused on the importance of wagering within limits”.

Craig Carton was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in a ponzi scheme to defraud investors of money they were told was being invested in tickets for resale. In reality, Carton was using the money to repay some of his gambling debts.

“My story and personal history with gambling has been well documented,” said Carton. “More than ever, I want to use my experience and platform to shine a meaningful spotlight on the issue of problem gambling. It was important to me that I find a real partnership with a company that shared my passion for this issue. It became clear FanDuel shared the same goals and was comfortable working transparently with me for the sole purpose of protecting people.”

FanDuel is planning to utilize Carton in a number of ways. He will help shape the company’s responsible gaming policy, play a role in FanDuel building AI that can spot problematic gambling patterns, and host events in which he will help younger bettors understand what an addiction looks like.

He will also create audio and video for FanDuel’s Play Safe Campaign. FanDuel will help Carton’s WFAN program “Hello, My Name is Craig” find a bigger audience. The show airs on weekends and features Carton discussing his addiction and offering advice to others seeking help.

“We are absolutely thrilled to partner with Craig to place even more emphasis on responsible gaming behaviors,” said Mike Raffensperger, FanDuel Group’s Chief Marketing Officer. “Everyone at FanDuel understands the importance of protecting our customers who are also our family, friends, neighbors and community members. Craig’s powerful personal story will help fuel our mission of making sure no bet placed results in hurting a loved one.”

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Sports Radio News

Marc Malusis: Stephen A Smith Spouting ‘Complete & Utter BS’

“Listen, I get he’s on ESPN and we’re doing out thing here, but it’s affecting a team we cover on a day-in-day-out basis with the Brooklyn Nets with Kyrie Irving, who is a very polarizing figure in this city.”

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WFAN’s Marc Malusis wants Stephen A. Smith to acknowledge that he either has inside information regarding the Nets or that he completely made up a trade rumor on First Take earlier this week. Smith said on First Take that the Brooklyn Nets would trade Kyrie Irving to Philadelphia if it meant they got Ben Simmons back in return, but the idea has been nixed by Kevin Durant.

Stephen A. Smith accused some in the media of lying about his report. He tried to claim that he what said on First Take was that the Irving for Simmons deal is a trade the Nets could do. That was enough to sett Malusis off.

“This is just complete and utter BS,” he shouted. “I mean, get the boots on!”

Marc Malusis claims that the idea of an Irving for Simmons trade isn’t totally absurd. Having James Harden on the roster would allow Brooklyn to bring in someone that does everything well but shoot. Still, he says Smith framed his stance as something he knows happened and Malusis is adamant it didn’t.

He was even more upset that Smith would say people in the New York media “lied” about what Smith had said. Marc Malusis pointed out that when you are the local media, you have to dive into a rumor like that. It doesn’t just get to be something that was said on ESPN.

“Listen, I get he’s on ESPN and we’re doing out thing here, but it’s affecting a team we cover on a day-in-day-out basis with the Brooklyn Nets with Kyrie Irving, who is a very polarizing figure in this city.”

It sounds like Malusis’s greatest objection is to Smith’s indignation at the idea that someone took his trade rumor seriously.

“Don’t all the sudden start waking back and saying ‘everyone’s spewing lies about what I had to say yesterday’ because you know what? We had to weed through the BS of what you said yesterday.”

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Sports Radio News

104.5 ESPN’s Matt Moscona Sets Up $100K Donation to Local High School

”It’s been tough on these kids, and this will definitely help us.”

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Guaranty Media and 104.5 ESPN in Baton Rouge recently invited a local Athletic Director from South Lafourche High School Brian Callais to come and promote an upcoming fundraising event host by Central High School on After Further Review with Matt Moscona.

During the phone interview, Callais informed listeners of the impact that Ida had on their school, including major damages to the high school that there are no funds to repair. Additionally, the school’s sports teams will be forced to travel for every game this season as their facilities are not fit to host other schools.

Little did Callais know, Matt Moscona had invited the founder of a Baton-Rouge-based cryptocurrency business called Game Coin to join him in the 104.5 ESPN studio to surprise Callias with a donation of $100,000 dollars to the school.

“This will go a long way,” said Callais after learning of Game Coin’s donation to his program. “Our [senior] student-athletes have not had a normal high school year since their freshman year…Their sophomore year, they were hit with the pandemic, and we’re looking forward to a regular senior year for them. It’s been tough on these kids, and this will definitely help us.”

Gamecoin is one of the few cryptocurrencies that is not totally for profit, as 4% of their 10% transaction fee goes to charitable donations to help youth sports groups.

“Growing up, I didn’t have everything that I thought I should have,” said founder of Game Coin David Mahler on Moscona’s radio program. “I just always wanted to be able to provide for people…and since I’m able to do that now, I added that as a part of Game Coin.”

Mahler also said in the interview that three more similar donations are already arranged and they will be announced within the next two weeks.

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