After 13 years with ESPN 710 LA, the University of Southern California are making a change. Trojans football and men’s basketball is moving to KABC. The Cumulus owned talk station will also carry the show Trojans Live on Monday nights.
Despite recent struggles for both programs, USC remains a brand name in college sports, particularly football. Drew Hayes, KABC’s interim GM, says the large fanbase and his station’s signal strength will form a tough combo to beat.
“We are thrilled to partner with USC as the new radio broadcast home of Trojan football and men’s basketball and look forward to bringing the very best sports programming to passionate Trojan fans. With KABC’s powerhouse signal, and USC’s powerhouse teams, more Southern California sports fans than ever will enjoy the ultimate in sports programming.”
A statement from USC athletic director Lynn Swann seems to indicate that ESPN 710 LA’s partnerships with the Lakers and Rams played a role in the school’s decision to end their partnership. “We are extremely proud to be the showcased sports property on KABC. It was important to us that our radio partner is without other team conflicts, thereby making USC its sports priority.”
The partnership could bring up an interesting predicament for both sides. If more information about USC’s involvement in the college admissions scandal that lead to the indictments of several people including actresses Lori Laughlin and Felicity Huffman comes to light, KABC would be obligated to report on it. That obviously wouldn’t be the case at ESPN 710 LA.
Under the new deal, USC games can still be distributed on national and international streaming platforms. Football and basketball games will continue to be available on the TuneIn app as well as SiriusXM.
Sean Thompson Named New Program Director of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM
“Thompson has spent the past ten years in Atlanta, working for 92.9 The Game as its Assistant Brand Manager.”
After going thru a nationwide search over the past few months, Bonneville Phoenix has found their man. The company has announced the hiring of Sean Thompson as Program Director of 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station and ESPN 620 Phoenix.
Thompson has spent the past ten years in Atlanta with 92.9 The Game as its Assistant Brand Manager. He played a key role alongside former PD Terry Foxx building and developing The Game into a southeast sports radio powerhouse. Over the past two years with Foxx in Charlotte, he’s reported to Audacy VP of Programming Reggie Rouse, assuming more day to day responsibility. Among his duties, managing the station’s play by play partnerships with the Atlanta Falcons, Hawks and United FC, and keeping The Game’s talk shows on track and in a strong ratings position.
“It was going to need to be the ultimate opportunity for me to leave The Game and I’ve found it,” said Thompson. “With the talented talk shows, flagship relationships with all the local teams and full commitment to digital content, the potential for the Arizona Sports super brand is limitless.”
Thompson takes over for Rod Lakin, who left the station in October to become Sports Radio WIP’s brand manager in Philadelphia.
“Sean is the perfect person to lead Arizona’s Sports Station to new heights,” shared Bonneville Phoenix SVP/Market Manager Ryan Hatch. “He is strategic, creative, collaborative and we can’t wait to see what he will do to continue to grow the Arizona Sports brand on all channels.”
Thompson’s industry experience should serve him well moving into his new role. In addition to his work at 92.9 The Game, he’s also spent six years in Madison, WI as an On-Air host and Program Director, and five years with Westwood One working in their Affiliate Relations department.
Paul Finebaum: ‘I Guard My Callers Fiercely’
“Nobody has better callers than we do. I’ll fight you to the death on that.”
In an interview with Barrett Sports Media’s Demetri Ravanos, Paul Finebaum was asked about other outlets using content from callers on his show. The calls from The Paul Finebaum Show have become famous for the outrageousness and passion-filled voices from fans calling in. Other shows will sometimes take clips of these calls and get a good laugh out of them.
Ravanos asked Finebaum how he felt when other shows use this content and rib the callers, particularly shows that are not broadcast in the South such as Toucher and Rich.
“Well, I’ve heard many bits on Toucher and Rich, and they’re hilarious, I’m more than happy to provide gobs of entertainment and content for them,” said Finebaum.
“However, I guard fiercely our callers. I think because we started in Birmingham and never had the tools that we do now being affiliated with ESPN, we had to depend on something else and the callers were the show. I think, I don’t care, there may be better talk show hosts — I’m sure there are better talk show hosts, and better guests and more entertaining subjects — nobody has better callers than we do. I’ll fight you to the death on that.”
Finebaum added that one of the main reasons the show’s callers are so great is because they feel at home and part of the show.
“And some of the reason is that I think we make them feel comfortable,” Finebaum said. “You go back 25, 30 years before television, this is the Cheers bar where everybody knows your name, where you feel comfortable, you belly up and you tell your story and that has happened.
“We get the crazy people, the never-Georgia crowd who insist that Alabama is still the national champion because Alabama’s best player got hurt, but we also hear stories everyday of death and tragedy.”
Finebaum explained how the show has been a savior to listeners and gotten them through tough times.
“I mean, I don’t think we go a day where somebody doesn’t call up and go ‘Listen, my mom’s in hospice, but she’s a big fan of the show’ or ‘I just lost my dad and when Georgia won the national championship, listening or watching your show; it helped bring back his memory,'” said Finebaum.
“And that to me is very important. I respect all the people that come on. I used to work with Colin Cowherd and I thought he was brilliant. He would come on and articulate and pontificate for 15 or 20 minutes. I’m not capable of doing that, I don’t have that, but he does. But I’ve also had people like Tony Kornheiser pull me aside and go, ‘What the blank are these people that call into your show, why do you talk to these morons?’ Because they are my family and as long as I’m sitting behind a microphone, they will have a voice.”
You can listen to or watch The Paul Finebaum Show Monday through Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. ET on the SEC Network, ESPN Radio, and Sirius XM Channel 81.
Finebaum will be on this week’s edition of BSM’s Media Noise Podcast. During the conversation, he talks about his start in radio, why the SEC Network is better positioned for success than other conference networks, and what he thinks about big SEC games on ESPN+.
Sports Radio 610’s John Lopez Releases OG Sauce At Texas Star Grill Shops
“John Lopez has been making his OG Sauce for friends and family for years. Now, listeners and other meat enthusiasts can own a bottle themselves for $6.99.”
If you’re in Texas, you can put a little Houston sports radio in your belly. Sports Radio 610’s John Lopez announced on Twitter that his name will be on a line of grilling sauces available through the Texas Star Grill Shops.
The announcement was met with real enthusiasm. John Lopez spent the day retweeting photos and answering questions relating to how to buy and use the sauce.
A rival even gave into the excitement. ESPN 97.5 & 92.5’s Jake Asman tweeted that he had purchased a bottle of OG Sauce.
Sports Radio 610 boss Armen Williams has been doing his part to support the effort too. He tweeted that he had purchased plenty for himself. He also updated his followers on the stock at various Texas Star Grill Shop locations.
John Lopez has been making his OG Sauce for friends and family for years. Now, listeners and other meat enthusiasts can own a bottle themselves for $6.99.
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