2020 has been a difficult year for broadcasters and the companies they work for. Though many expect the business to rebound in 2021, there are no guarantees. To make sure the future is maximized to its fullest, organizations are looking for ways to strengthen themselves internally and externally.
One on the industry’s largest groups, Entercom, believes the answers will come from experienced leadership. CEO David Field issued an internal memo last night announcing the promotion of 10 key people and the addition of another who will be depended on to lead the company to brighter days.
In the memo Field stated “Our greatest strength and our most important and valued asset are our people and we are incredibly fortunate to have such a talented team across the country. Today, we have an opportunity to recognize several of them, each of whom has made great contributions to our work, as they continue to grow and expand their responsibilities within the company. I am pleased to announce the following promotions across our organization:”
• Chris Ebbott: Vice President, Programming
• Chad Fitzsimmons: Senior Vice President, Promotions & Experiences
• Rose Isard: Vice President, Senior Counsel
• John Kennedy: Senior Vice President, Engineering
• Jennifer Morales: Vice President, Corporate Communications & PR
• Nancy Muir-Gaire: Vice President, Facilities Management
• Johnny Palumbo: Vice President, Senior Counsel
• Reggie Rouse: Vice President, Programming
• Jeff Sottolano: Executive Vice President, Programming
• Stephanie Taylor: Vice President, Benefits, Compliance and Talent Acquisition
The names that will resonate most with sports radio professionals are Rouse, Sottolano, and Morales. Rouse has been helping to lead 92.9 The Game in Atlanta (along with V103) following the exit of Terry Foxx. Sottolano has been involved with Radio.com and serving as a resource to sports radio programmers. Morales has provided sports media outlets with support on PR opportunities involving company talent and executives.
Also mentioned in the release was the addition of Bill Smee as the company’s new Vice President of News. Smee’s background includes holding leadership roles with CNN, NBC News and Slate. He’s expected to work with Entercom’s NewsTalk brands on improving their programming and delivering new products and capabilities across broadcast, digital, podcast, and smart speaker platforms.
Field also praised the growth of Radio.com, the company’s podcasting business, and the work done by Entercom’s newly formed Diversity, Equity and Inclusion task force led by Rick Caffey and Sarah Harris. He also mentioned that remote work will continue thru the end of the year.
A classy gesture by Field in the memo included acknowledgement of the passing of 97.1 The Ticket host Jamie Samuelsen. After highlighting Jamie’s career accomplishments and track record in Detroit, Field offered thoughts and prayers to Jamie’s family and friends and stated that the company was grieving his heartbreaking passing.
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Fescoe in the Morning: ESPN Has a History of Ignoring Non-Partner Leagues
“They are risking being ignored by ESPN now,” replied Klingler.
ESPN is out of the running for the Big Ten football and basketball media rights. Those will be awarded to a combination of other networks and likely a streaming service. ESPN appears to be focusing on NCAA Championships next.
Josh Klingler, co-host of Fescoe in the Morning on 610 Sports Radio in Kansas City, took time on their show on Tuesday to break down what that might mean for the Big Ten in terms of coverage.
“You’re (Big Ten) going to network television, which is better; more eyeballs and what have you,” noted Klingler. “But also, let’s not forget ESPN has a history of ignoring you when you’re not on their air. That’s the risk they are going to run.”
Klingler would add, “They are going to take the money. They are going to get network viewers, which is good. I guess the highlight and the hype and all those things that we are accustomed to doing that ESPN provides. We’ve already seen they ignore you if you’re not on their network.”
Bob Fescoe chimed in a reminder about another prominent league that chose not to partner with ESPN.
“Ask the National Hockey League what happened when they took the money from NBC and ran,” said Fescoe.
“They are risking being ignored by ESPN now,” replied Klingler.
“Right, but I think they are willing to do that for a billion dollars per year,” Fescoe responded.
Fescoe then said that the Big Ten might make up for the perceived shortcomings of not being on ESPN by being on network television.
“If you’re going to be on network TV in all three windows, Josh, quite honestly all your marquee games are going to be free,” said Fescoe.
“That’s exposure,” said Klingler.
NESN’s Dave O’Brien Says National Networks “Blew It” By Not Hiring Dennis Eckersley
“I don’t know how they blew it as badly as they did but Dennis Eckersley should have been a national icon… they made a mistake on that. I hope somebody regrets it.”
On Monday, Dennis Eckersley decided to make it known that this season would be his last with NESN in the booth. He mentioned that after 50 years in baseball, it was time to go be with the grandchildren in San Diego.
His broadcast partner for a lot of those years in the NESN booth was Dave O’Brien. On the latest Sports Media Mayhem podcast, O’Brien joined show host Alex Reimer to talk about the retirement of Eckersley. Reimer pointed out that it took awhile before Eckersley became the main color analyst for the team. O’Brien remembered the time well.
“When he started, he was pre- and post- and he did that most of his career at NESN,” said O’Brien. “It was really, only the last six or seven years that he really started to get on as a game analyst.”
O’Brien was named the lead play-by-play announcer for NESN’s Red Sox coverage in 2016 which is about the same time Eckersley slid into the role of game analyst. In the time since, O’Brien has seen the work of Eckersley up close and is floored that he was working for a regional sports network and not somewhere more nationally prominent.
“I think the national people totally blew it on Dennis Eckersley,” blurted O’Brien. “And that includes Turner. They had an opportunity, I can say that because a lot of those people there now didn’t make the decision. He should have been the lead analyst doing national games. He should have been on ESPN on Sunday Night Baseball or FOX. I don’t know how they blew it as badly as they did but Dennis Eckersley should have been a national icon… they made a mistake on that. I hope somebody regrets it.”
Sal Paolantonio Not Interested In Trying Ayahuasca To Better Understand Aaron Rodgers
“Halucinagenics have been at the center of a lot of conversations about Aaron Rodgers lately.”
Dan Patrick is a very good interviewer. He asks the questions he knows his audience wants answered. He also makes a habit out of throwing out questions to his guests that they never see coming. That was the case on Tuesday for ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio.
Paolantonio joined the Dan Patrick Show to discuss Pro Football Hall of Fame voting and the new NFL season. That is not what the host hit him with out of the gate.
The first question from Patrick to Paolantonio was “Just to relate to Aaron Rodgers, would you be willing to try ayahuasca?”.
Paolantonio was left speechless. All he could do was laugh and say “you got me on that one, Dan.”
Halucinagenics have been at the center of a lot of conversations about Aaron Rodgers lately. The Green Bay quarterback recently said on a podcast that experimenting with ayahuasca opened him up to be ready to succeed both on the field and as a leader. He credits the experience with laying the foundation for his 2021 MVP season.
Patrick pushed the issue challenging Paolantonio to beat Andrea Kremer to the experience.
“My money is on the fearless Andrea Kremer,” Paolantonio shot back.
For the record, Kremer responded to the challenge on Twitter.