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Steve Berman: Sports Radio Will Still Be Here in 20 Years, Maybe Not In 30

Berman had positive and negative thoughts on the future of sports talk radio.

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Courtesy: Wallpapersdsc.net

Is sports talk radio going to be around in 20 years? That was a question the Athletic’s Steve Berman answered at length this week in his mailbag. Berman is a Bay Area media and sports reporter for the site. 

“My first instinct would be that it will exist for at least 20 more years in its current form,” Berman said. “There are some obvious reasons to be skeptical. Sports talk radio needs traffic, i.e. people stuck in their cars. The move toward remote work caused by the pandemic absolutely crushed the local sports talk stations (in San Francisco), which rely on people spending hours on the highways. People are starting to go back to the office, however, so we’ll probably see some bumps in the local ratings as the year progresses.”

The journalist covered local sports for Bay Area News Group from 2004-2008 and co-founded Bay Area Sports Guy, which became the top independent site covering sports in the region. Berman noted how the shift to remote work isn’t the only roadblock for sports talk radio.

“Remote work is here to stay for some,” Berman explained. “The time spent away from daily commutes has changed some habits. That’s one reason for concern. Another is the technology available in our cars. At this point, a decent number of drivers still don’t have satellite radio, a USB port, or Wi-Fi in their vehicles. But in 20 years, we can probably assume that just about everyone will be connected in a variety of ways when they drive, so they’ll be able to easily access listening options that feature far fewer ads.”

Berman concluded his thoughts by noting some of the advantages sports talk still has on other mediums like hyperlocalized content and instant reaction ability but there are still issues to figure out.

“Sports talk radio has a few things going for it that are unique … for now. My guess is that it’ll still be around in 20 years. Maybe not 30, though.”

Earlier this year, Demetri Ravanos and Jason Barrett spoke to several market managers as part of BSM’s Meet the Market Managers series. Several marveled at their station’s digital performance during the pandemic, including Dan Bennett of Cumulus in Dallas. He noted that half of The Ticket’s audience comes from its web stream. Even if traditional broadcast signals suffered set backs during the pandemic, it is clear that local sports talk brands were still being sought out by listeners.

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Shan & RJ: ‘Inside The NBA Was Trying To Prevent A Riot Last Night’

“You know that moment? Everyone’s joking around. Everyone’s having fun, then someone doesn’t take the joke as a joke anymore and all the fun is sucked out of the room and things are awkward and serious?”

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Things were very far from normal on Thursday night on the set of Inside the NBA. During the postgame show, Warriors fans threw objects at Charles Barkley as TNT was broadcasting live outside of the Chase Center in San Francisco.

Friday morning on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, Shan and RJ discussed the scene and said things felt out of the ordinary long before anything was even thrown.

“You know that moment? Everyone’s joking around. Everyone’s having fun, then someone doesn’t take the joke as a joke anymore and all the fun is sucked out of the room and things are awkward and serious?” Shan Shariff said. “That’s what happened yesterday on Inside the NBA both in the pregame and the postgame.”

Barkley had been picking on Warriors fans calling them annoying and describing San Francisco as having “dirty ass streets full of homeless people” throughout the series.

Shariff said even in the pregame show, it seemed that the Inside the NBA crew was wary of the crowd gathered behind them.

“It felt like yesterday instead of having fun and cutting loose, it felt like they were trying to prevent a riot.”

After a rolled-up t-shirt struck Barkley, he got up and acted as if he was going to throw a ceramic coffee mug into the crowd. Shariff said it was clear that Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith thought Barkley was about to be involved in an altercation of some sort.

RJ Choppy disagreed though. His immediate thought in seeing the video was that Barkley was just taking his ribbing of the crowd to the next level like a WWE superstar might.

“I think he knew the wrestling role, but I don’t think the other guys did,” Choppy said.

Sean and RJ expounded on the wrestling comparison, saying that he had a specific event in mind. He compared the way the crowd treated Barkley on Thursday night to how the crowd at ECW’s One Night Stand in 2006 treated John Cena. Cena and security may have thought they knew what was coming, but it was clear when fans started throwing chairs at the WWE champ that their ire was more serious than anticipated.

There can be peace for the time being. TNT’s NBA season ends at the conclusion of the Western Conference Finals. It will be interesting to see if this animosity returns in the 2022-23 season.

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Don La Greca: ‘Howie Rose Was The Only Sports Talk Host As Passionate About Hockey As Me’

“When you look at the history of sports radio, the only person that I can think of that called games and was [as] passionate about hockey as I am that had a regular radio show was Howie Rose.”

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Don LaGreca has been working on Rangers radio broadcasts since 2005, and has served as the backup play-by-play announcer for the last few seasons, filling in for Kenny Albert when he is unable to be on the call. Because of Albert’s responsibilities in calling national playoff games on television amid the new media rights agreement between the league and its partners (ESPN and Turner Sports), La Greca has called more Rangers games of late, and received positive reviews.

Yesterday on The Michael Kay Show on 98.7 ESPN New York, Kay mentioned the compliments callers have been giving La Greca for his ability to call hockey games, some of whom credit him for introducing them to the sport.

“The one thing hockey is is underexposed,” said La Greca. “Because you hear a lot of people say, ‘Boy, I didn’t realize how much fun this sport is; how great it is to go to a game,’ because a lot of us don’t grow up around it.”

La Greca realizes that he is in a unique position being the co-host of a sports radio show and an NHL play-by-play announcer, giving him a responsibility to communicate and opine on the game of hockey to his listening audience at large. He considers himself the second person to have such a distinction – the pioneer of which, while he may no longer be calling hockey games, still frequently discusses the sport on Twitter.

“When you look at the history of sports radio, the only person that I can think of that called games and was [as] passionate about hockey as I am that had a regular radio show was Howie Rose,” said La Greca. “And Howie Rose has been out of the sports radio game for 25 years.”

Rose was with WFAN from its launch on July 1, 1987 as its weekday nighttime host. Additionally, he served in the same role as La Greca, backing up Kenny Albert’s father Marv on Rangers radio broadcasts – where, in 1994, he delivered the illustrious call of Stephane Matteau’s game-winning, double-overtime goal in game 7 that sent the team to the Stanley Cup Finals. One year later, Rose left WFAN to begin calling games for the NHL’s New York Islanders on Sportschannel, and did not host a sports radio show during his time as a lead hockey play-by-play announcer.

While there are other sports radio hosts in the New York marketplace that exhibit a passion for hockey such as Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti, La Greca is the only one who actively calls the games – akin to how Michael Kay is the only active New York sports radio host who regularly calls professional baseball.

“You don’t have somebody who is as close to the sport as I am to have this kind of forum, so maybe there are a few people like, ‘Hey, I’m a fan of Don. I really don’t like hockey, but he calls a few games so let me listen,’ and it kind of opened a door that otherwise wouldn’t have been opened” said La Greca. “….I don’t think it’s anything that I’m doing. It’s just an opportunity that I have, and it is humbling and it’s pretty cool to hear and I hope those people stick with the sport.”

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WFAN, WCBS Become New Flagship For Rutgers Football, Men’s Basketball

“The multi-year deal begins with the 2022-23 season.”

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Rutgers University and Audacy have announced an agreement that will make WFAN and WCBS the flagship stations for the school’s football and men’s basketball teams.

The multi-year deal begins with the 2022-23 season.

“Rutgers athletics is on the rise under Greg Schiano and Steve Pikiell in the Big Ten, bringing excitement and anticipation to Tri-State area fans,” said Chris Oliviero, Market President, Audacy New York. “WFAN and WCBS 880 will provide listeners with unmatched coverage of the Scarlet Knights and we are honored to add Rutgers to Audacy’s market-leading play-by-play portfolio.”

A 30-minute pregame and postgame show will air on WFAN for all Rutgers football games, while basketball games on WCBS will get a 15-minute pregame and postgame show.

Games will be able to be streamed locally on the Audacy app, and the company said both stations will promote the partnership on-air and digitally, in addition to on-campus events throughout the school year.

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