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Chris Oliviero Addresses Craig Carton Rumors, State of WFAN On BSM Podcast

“I think a brand of lesser stature would have been taken out at the knees if they had to take on that magnitude of change within months of each other.”

Brandon Contes

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Chris Oliviero is finishing up his third full month as market manager of Entercom New York, which sees him contribute as the general manager of WFAN, the most prime real estate in sports radio. And as Oliviero said during the latest BSM podcast, he considers it the “best job in broadcasting.” 

Since being hired by Entercom earlier this year, Oliviero has often been asked about the possibility of WFAN reuniting with their former morning star Craig Carton, who was recently released from prison. Oliviero has been consistent in his interest in working with Carton, his friend and former colleague, a sentiment he maintained during his conversation with Jason Barrett. 

“I have spoken to him, we do have a relationship.” Oliviero said while noting those conversations have so far been about life and family and not yet about business. Oliviero added that the business conversations will come when Carton is ready, but he also knows Entercom is not the only company that will approach the radio host. 

“There has been no job offer made to Craig, we will talk at the appropriate time,” Oliviero added. “When that is? I don’t know. There are things in Craig’s life right now that are more important than radio, I think people will understand that. His resume, his success, his history with the station and the company warrants that conversation.”

Despite remaining strong in morning drive without Carton, ESPN New York has narrowed the ratings gap among the overall lineup, but Oliviero still touts the power of WFAN’s brand. 

“It’s a sign of how strong the brand is that FAN was able to withstand that amount of change,” Oliviero said of Francesa’s first retirement and losing Carton within a few months of each other. “I think a brand of lesser stature would have been taken out at the knees if they had to take on that magnitude of change within months of each other.”

One interesting dynamic of potentially bringing Carton back to WFAN, is his now public battle with gambling addiction. As the sports wagering industry continues to become a more accepted practice, the audience will seek related content. During the BSM podcast, Oliviero discussed the importance of gambling content in sports radio, the need to cover betting, and the fact that it offers a new way for hosts to examine games. 

While WFAN’s weekday lineup may have lost household names such as Craig Carton and Mike Francesa in recent years, the attention the brand receives hasn’t wavered. Speculation on changes that could take place within WFAN’s lineup are analyzed and discussed just as much as pro teams in the area are.  Oliviero told Barrett he likes the attention WFAN receives from newspapers and media because it “shows we’re relevant in the year 2020, it shows people care and that’s a reflection of the brand.”

For almost 30 years, the person in charge of WFAN’s lineup changes has been Mark Chernoff. When Chernoff spoke with BSM for an interview earlier this year, the program director expressed a profound desire to keep working. But a change in leadership will inevitably happen, and when it does, Oliviero said Chernoff’s goal will be to do whatever is in the best interest of FAN. He acknowledged already having those conversations with Chernoff to make sure that when the moment comes, WFAN will have ample time to address finding his replacement. 

Owning premier sports radio stations across the country, Entercom has phenomenal in-house talent with a bench of sports radio and audio programming experts. But Oliviero noted the next programmer of FAN could come from outside radio because the world and industry is ever changing.

Sports Radio News

Jonathan Zaslow No Longer With WQAM

An attempt to reach out to Zaslow for comment went unanswered.

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WQAM midday host Jonathan Zaslow is no longer with WQAM in Miami.

The radio station has removed his show from the website and references to him and his normal 10a-2p ET midday timeslot program have been scrubbed from the station website.

Zaslow tweeted at 5:19p ET confirming the news.

Whether or not this has any effect on his involvement with the Miami Heat broadcasts is unknown as of now.

Zaslow had been with 790 the Ticket since 2004. He was transitioned from Audacy-owned 790 to sister station AM 560 Sports WQAM last October. During his tenure he has worked with a number of established local voices including Joy Taylor, Amber Wilson, Brett Romberg, and Brendan Tobin amongst others.

WQAM has gone thru a number of changes, including a rebranding effort to call the station “560 The Joe”. That ended last year with the station returning to the AM 560 Sports WQAM brand listeners were more familiar with. What they have planned next in Zaslow’s timeslot is unclear but local listeners will likely get some answers next week.

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Sports Radio News

Vanessa Richardson Named Houston Rockets Sideline Reporter, Paul Gallant to Host Solo on ESPN 97.5

Vanessa Richardson will be on the sidelines for the Houston Rockets and Paul Gallant will host solo show on ESPN 97.5.

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Vanessa and Gallant

Changes are taking place in Houston sports media. First, the Houston Rockets will have a new television sideline reporter this season, and she’s a familiar name to Houston sports fans.

Vanessa Richardson, the now former co-host of ESPN 97.5’s Vanessa and Gallant, revealed that she will be on the sidelines for the NBA franchise covering the team for AT&T SportsNet Southwest.

She tweeted the news saying, “Elated to be the new Houston Rockets sideline reporter! I can’t wait to travel the country & share the stories of this dynamic team during 80+ games on AT&T SportsNet Southwest. I’ll continue to fill-in as a host/reporter for Astros broadcasts as well.”

Richardson’s co-host, Paul Gallant, tweeted that with Richardson leaving the show for the Rockets sideline gig, Vanessa and Gallant will become the Paul Gallant Show. The solo show led by Gallant begins Monday September 26th.

“We’re excited to have Paul host his own show”, said Todd Farquharson, General Manager of ESPN 97.5 & 92.5.  “He’s super creative, energetic, and likeable.  He’ll get the audience involved and have fun.”

Paul commented, “You know what I’ve always loved about sports talk radio?  That it’s interactive.  Whether through a phone call, text message, tweet or on Twitch, it’s the best place for sports fans to come together and celebrate…or vent.  And that’s what The Paul Gallant Show is going to be…Houston’s platform to talk about its teams. THE most interactive sports talk show in Houston.”

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Sports Radio News

Ken Carman: Al Michaels ‘Feels Untethered’ On Amazon Prime Video

“The thing that stuck out was Kirk Herbstreit ripping the elf,” said Carman. “Don’t be ripping Brownie the Elf, man.”

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The Cleveland Browns defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers during Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime Video. 92.3 The Fan morning host Ken Carman applauded Al Michaels for his performance during the presentation.

“Al Michaels feels untethered for the first time. He’s not network television anymore and he can say whatever he wants. We interviewed him on the pregame show and I was nervous,” Carman said.

“He’s a legend,” co-host Anthony Lima added.

During the final play of the game, the Steelers fumbled a lateral into the endzone which the Browns recovered to make the final score 29-17. Michaels said “that may be meaningful to some of you. And you know who I mean”, alluding to people who had placed wagers on the game.

Carman, who hosts two-hours of pre-game coverage on the Browns Radio Network, continued to discuss how nervous he was interviewing Michaels. He also discussed how impressive Amazon’s behind-the-scenes production was, pointing out the only football broadcast with more cameras is the Super Bowl. More than 400 people work behind the scenes for Amazon Prime Video.

“The thing that stuck out was Kirk Herbstreit ripping the elf,” said Carman. “Don’t be ripping Brownie the Elf, man.”

Carman later said people angry that Michaels misspoke by saying the Pro Football Hall of Fame is “down I-71” instead of I-77 were unreasonable, and joked “Al Michaels hasn’t been on a highway in 20 years”.

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