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Under The Radar – August 15, 2018

Jason Barrett

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There’s been a flurry of sports media activity to catch you up on. This column contains a total of 23 items, and if you’d like your brand or individual news to be included in a future column, all you need to do is pass along the details by email to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me.

Now here’s the latest!

A new Senior Producer has been hired by ESPN Radio to work with Mike Golic and Trey Wingo. Evan Wilner is Bristol bound after spending the past eight years working for SiriusXM in Washington DC. He’s expected to get started at the network sometime this month.

Well wishes go out to Mike Evans of 104.3 The Fan in Denver. The morning host who works opposite Mark Schlereth has missed time on the air due to undergoing heart surgery. Evans is said to be recovering well but needs time to heal before returning to the airwaves.

Boston sports radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub celebrated its 9th year on the air this week. Congratulations to Mike Thomas and his team on their latest achivement.

Congratulations to John Martin and Jason Smith who had their options picked up to continue as 92.9 ESPN‘s midday show in Memphis. The program has been a consistent ratings success for the station since being added to the schedule two years ago.

After seven years working for SiriusXM‘s NASCAR Radio channel, Jim Noble has left to become Wofford College‘s play by play voice for football and basketball games. Noble posted a note on Twitter expressing his appreciation to those he worked with and covered, and said he’ll still pick up some fill-in assignments on SiriusXM, and appear at the track for PRN broadcasts, but his focus now will shift to his new role with Wofford.

93.7 The Fan in San Diego morning host Dan Sileo is getting a chance to do a little bit of national hosting this fall. Sileo is scheduled to fill in a few times for Jim Rome on the CBS Sports Radio Network. Dates are still to be announced.

Along with the addition of Lauren Rew, 1010XL in Jacksonville made a few other moves as well. The radio station recently added Tera Lageman to Frank Frangie‘s afternoon show. Lagemam has worked in television in Chicago, Gainesville and Greensboro. She assumes the role formerly held by Lauren Brooks who moved to mornings joining Dan Hicken and Jeff Prosser on The Drill. The radio station has also added Joe Cowart and Ryan Green to its weeknight schedule. The duo debuted their new program 1010XL PrimeTime on Monday August 13th.

WWL in New Orleans is adding Steve Geller as its new sideline reporter on Saints games. Geller replaces Kristian Garic who enjoyed a nine year run in the role. Garic remains with the station transitioning to pregame and postgame where he’ll host alongside Bobby Hebert.

Speaking of football, Mike Wickett is returning to the sports radio airwaves this fall as the Chiefs pre and post game co-host on 610 Sports. Wickett currently hosts on 98.1 KMBZ in Kansas City. Prior to moving into the NewsTalk arena he hosted mornings in Milwaukee with Chuck Freimund on 105.7 The Fan.

Former Miami Herald writer and 790 The Ticket host Ethan Skolnick continues to make progress with his new venture the Five Reasons Sports Network. The digital audio brand is partnering with WSVN-7 and WFOR-4 on a few projects, and has begun adding staff to ramp up its coverage of the Dolphins and Heat entering the fall. Five Reasons is also hosting a public event at the Texas Roadhouse in Miramar on Friday August 17th. Not bad for a startup which is just four months in.

All the best to Jason “Pod Vader” Soderberg who was unexpectedly let go as BlogTalk Radio‘s Head of Content. Soderberg spent the past four years with BlogTalk following a sixteen year run at ESPN Radio. He’s looking for his next opportunity. Interested parties can reach him by email by clicking here.

Congratulations goes out to Maura Sheridan on being named the new play by play voice of Vermont Women’s Basketball, and Clay Ables who has been named the Director of the Red Devil Network and Sports Department at WJHI in Indiana.

From the television world, NBC Sports Philadelphia has chosen not to renew the contract of sports media veteran Rob Ellis. Ellis spent 17 years with the company, working his way up from behind the scenes to becoming an anchor and part of CSN/NBC’s morning show.  Although Ellis’ television future is in flux for the moment, he can still be heard in Philadelphia on Sports Radio WIP.

Further north in Boston, Mike Giardi has left NBC Sports Boston after a lengthy run. The reason? Giardi has been hired by the NFL Network. His primary focus according to Chad Finn of the Boston Globe will be to cover the New England Patriots.

An addition is being made in Seattle, where KING 5 News is adding former Seattle Seahawk and HOF tackle Walter Jones to its 5th Quarter show. Jones will work alongside sports anchor Paul Silvi.

After 20 years at SportsNet, Daren Millard has announced his departure. He explained via Twitter that the decision to leave the company was one that involved many factors, soul searching, and layers of emotion, but in the end he wanted to pursue a new challenge. No word yet on what Millard has planned next.

The exits continue, this time In Milwaukee, where Telly Hughes has learned he won’t be returning to Milwaukee Bucks television broadcasts. Hughes was relieved of his duties after covering the team for nearly a decade. The franchise told Hughes they were interested in pursuing a different direction. What that will be remains to be seen.

Jordan Strack has been elevated to the position of Sports Director at WTOL in Toledo, Ohio. Strack becomes the 4th SD in station history.

Stadium continues to ramp up its programming and talent roster. Chris Hassel is said to be joining the digital brand to call 10 games this season alongside AJ Hawk and Kristen Balboni. Congrats to all involved.

In writing circles, Chris Biderman has left the USA Today Sports Media Group where he ran the Niners Wire in order to cover the 49ers for the Sacramento Bee. Biderman called the new opportunity to write for a newspaper a lifelong dream and said he looks forward to adding his work to a space which Matt Barrows has helped make special.

The Washington Post has hired Ben Strauss to cover sports and media. Strauss will begin his new assignment for the newspaper starting in September.

It’s another busy period for The Athletic who have added former NFL linebacker turned sports media personality Kirk Morrison as a contributor to their San Francisco bureau. Vincent Bonsignore has exited the Southern California News Group to join The Athletic’s Los Angeles outlet. And in Sacramento, Jason Jones is signing on in September to contribute to the platform’s coverage of the Sacramento Kings.

And last but not least, SB Nation has added Natalie Weiner as a staff writer.

Sports Radio News

New Study Finds Listeners to MLB on Radio Are Willing to Spend

More than one third (34%) of the respondents recently purchased clothing/apparel that features their favorite team… 27% have visited a ballpark in the past year. That compares to only 19% of the average MLB fan base has made an apparel purchase to support their team while just 11% have gone to a game in person in that same time span.

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MLB Radio

When it comes to advertiser’s attempting to reach an affluent and engaged audience, sports talk radio might have a whale on their hands. Major League Baseball play-by-play features an audience that has money and has no problems spending it.

In a recent MRI-Simmons study, data shows that consumers who listen to MLB broadcasts on the radio are the perfect audience for sports marketers. According to the analysis, done by Katz Radio Group, nearly two thirds (62%) of those surveyed consider themselves “super fans” of baseball. That number is 58% higher than the average.

Radio Listeners to MLB

Those “super fans” are willing to spend to support their team, as well. More than one third (34%) of the respondents recently purchased clothing/apparel that features their favorite team. Those fans are also far more willing to make the trip to see their team. The study found that 27% have visited a ballpark in the past year. That compares to only 19% of the average MLB fan base has made an apparel purchase to support their team while just 11% have gone to a game in person in that same time span.

The news continues getting better for advertisers. Continued analysis reveals that 66% of listeners are currently employed and have a median household income greater than $106,000.

Listeners to MLB games on the radio are also 34% more likely to place a sports bet and 106% more likely to be a participant in fantasy baseball.

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Sports Radio News

Jeff Dean Signs Off At ESPN Tucson for The Final Time

Dean said on Facebook: “…the years of burning the candle at both ends has taken a dire toll on my health and for the first time in my life, I’m going to put myself and my livelihood first”

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Jeff Dean Show

Fans will no longer be able to tune into ESPN Tucson and hear Jeff Dean hosting his show. Friday morning was his last show, according to his Facebook and Twitter pages.

The Jeff Dean Show had been airing from 7-9a MT weekday mornings. Dean took to social media to relay the news and the reason behind him stepping away from the microphone. Dean said on Facebook:

“This morning I signed off from my radio show on ESPN Tucson for the final time. I have been devoting too much of my life and my time to working multiple jobs…the years of burning the candle at both ends has taken a dire toll on my health and for the first time in my life, I’m going to put myself and my livelihood first”

Jeff Dean Facebook

Dean went on to emphasize that he isn’t stepping away from ESPN Tucson, he’s just taking himself off the air. He also added that “gladly, I will be continuing my position as PA announcer of University of Arizona Football and Men’s basketball.”

Dean would also go onto Twitter to add even further context for his self-removal from the ESPN Tucson airwaves. He added, “It’s not a decision I arrived at hastily, as it’s been a 6 month mental grind to make the ultimate decision that had to be made, and I’m not particularly happy about it, but I have to put my health first, we all do, and make sure we’re around long enough to enjoy life”.

Dean had been ESPN Tucson’s morning host since November 2019.

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Sports Radio News

Jonas Knox: Adrian Wojnarowski’s NBA Draft Reporting Was Desperate Ratings Ploy

“The idea that Woj is going to get duped by Orlando Magic in the draft! The first time he’s ever been duped in his career?”

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Thursday’s NBA Draft is a moment the guys waiting to hear their names called had been waiting for since the day they picked up a basketball. While his draft came decades ago in the NFL, LaVar Arrington could relate to what they were feeling.

“It’s a dream recognized,” he said on Friday’s episode of FOX Sports Radio’s 2 Pros and a Cup of Joe. “You work so hard for so long. So, when you’re sitting there waiting for them to call your name, it’s a surreal moment.”

His partner, Jonas Knox, wasn’t in such a nostalgic or celebratory mood. He had a problem with the information leading up to draft night and just how much the narrative that Auburn’s Jabari Smith would be taken by the Orlando Magic with the first pick was pushed before all the sudden, it wasn’t.

“What a bunch of crap that we are being fed by Adrian Wojnarowski, ESPN, the Orlando Magic,” he said. “Whoever’s feeding it is full of crap.”

Wojnarowski tweeted an hour before the Draft that Jabari Smith was still the favorite to be taken, but he was hearing that the Magic weren’t ruling out Duke’s Paolo Banchero. 

When the first pick was announced, it was Paolo Banchero that heard his name called, not Smith. 

“One of three things happened,” Knox said. “Either ESPN is so desperate for ratings and for people to give a crap about the NBA Draft and their sport that they waited until the final hour to pump up some interest, realizing we’ve got a problem here based on some ratings and some reports on some ratings in the NBA Finals, so they waited until an hour before and had Woj drop a ‘Woj Bomb’ that it could not be Jabari Smith, that it could be Banchero who’s gonna go number one overall. It’s either that or Woj is in some kind of cahoots with the Orlando Magic.”

That is a powerful accusation. Knox finds it hard to believe the information got to ESPN’s renowned NBA Insider so late in the process.

“The idea that Woj is going to get duped by Orlando Magic in the draft! The first time he’s ever been duped in his career?”

He didn’t rule out that someone was trying to make money behind the scenes. As late as Thursday afternoon, the Duke Forward was still in plus territory to be the top pick on many sportsbooks’ odds boards. The odds had gone as high as +1600 last week.

“I call BS. I think it’s all shenanigans and I think somebody needs to get called out for it,” Knox concluded. “That pisses me off, man.”

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