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What Do PDs Want From A Fill-In?

“This is an important time for young voices in the building with aspirations to be a show host. In fact, it may be the biggest opportunity of the entire year.”



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It’s the holiday season, which means hosts across the country are probably looking at their remaining vacation days and making plans to use all of them before the end of the year. That leaves PDs in the position where they’re usually looking for fill-in talent to help fill shows. Some PDs will look outside the building, while others look at it as an opportunity to get a better look at some of the other voices that are employed as board ops, podcast hosts, etc. 

This is an important time for young voices in the building with aspirations to be a show host. In fact, it may be the biggest opportunity of the entire year. It’s the perfect time for someone to develop who they are behind the mic and identify the strengths and weaknesses they may possess. 

But what exactly are PD’s looking for and where do they normally go for fill-in talent? Those were the questions I posed to three PDs across the country. 

Armen Williams – Brand Manager at SportsRadio 610 and CBS Sports Radio 650

How did you come across the fill-in hosts you use?

AW: A lot of times fill-in hosts are inherited – let’s first investigate the voices that have been used over the years at the radio station.  Who are the listeners most familiar with? Then, it’s always healthy to look internally to see if there are other individuals who are on the support staff that would be interested in the opportunity or perhaps could be groomed for future roles. Next, it’s a search between other media members or notable individuals inside the market.

What are you looking for from these folks? 

AW: It depends. In a perfect world, there are at least a few people that you’re grooming for potential roles on the station one day. Who’s good enough to possibly do this thing on a regular basis? Building a depth chart on the station is one of the harder things to do but can pay off in dividends long-term.

Then, sometimes you’re just looking for others who might have another job but can provide a unique perspective and can be available on occasion.

Do you coach them the same way you do your regular hosts? 

AW: Well, most fill-ins are only in your building for a small amount of time out of the year, so it’s not a situation where you’re doing regular aircheck sessions with them, no. But it is important that they get communication as to what the minimum expectations are and a general feel/direction of the brand and content. Regular fill-ins will likely get more feedback than someone that’s only called on a few days out of the year.  

Tye Richardson – PD of ESPN Arkansas and Host of The Morning Rush

How did you come across the fill-in hosts you use?

TR: We’ve found our fill-in hosts at ESPN Arkansas in a number of ways. Some have been former employees. Others have been doing weekly podcasts associated with our radio station. Giving part timers a crack is another route we’ve explored. 

What are you looking for from these folks?

TR: We’re looking for future hosts of the station. Radio is an ever evolving business. I always need to be prepared if someone leaves for another job, quits, etc. Most athletic directors have a shortlist of who they would hire next if needed. We take a similar approach.

Do you coach them the same way you do your regular hosts?

TR: I rarely say anything to our current hosts as the Program Director. Our market manager handles that side of the coaching. I’m more willing to share my opinion to the fill-ins. It’s in my best interest they’re prepared to take a next step. 

John Mamola – PD of 95.3 WDAE, AM 620 and NewsRadio WFLA

How did you come across the fill-in hosts you use?

JM: During the holidays, we tend to give some of our board ops and producers some air time. We try to cycle it through the staff to try and get some reps in. We want to keep it local with people that the audience is familiar with, as opposed to bringing someone in out of the market. Sometimes we’ll lean on our partners, like if the Rays, Lightning or Bucs want to have some of their on-air personnel do some shows. But we do try to keep it to familiar voices

How valuable is that for you as a PD, to be able to use this time to evaluate talent?

JM: It’s extremely valuable. It’s good to give opportunities to some people that have worked really hard throughout the year and give them some experience behind the mic, instead of just the board. We pull in talent from the other radio stations in the building to give it a different spin, but those are more guest spots as opposed to full shows. We have some options to do more syndication, which we kind of lean on a little bit, but we try not to dive into that too much. 

What advice would you give to a fill-in talent?

JM: I don’t think booking interviews is necessarily a good trait of if you’re going to give an air check to a talent. Can you ask questions? Sure, as long as you’re asking the right questions and framing them correctly, fine. If I’m going to give advice to a talent, I’d rather give them advice on a skill set that defines them. 

If I were to go to North Carolina and ask someone to do a couple of hours in Tampa, the top three things would be, make sure you understand what you’re talking about, because if you don’t research my city and my market, then people aren’t going to listen to you. Work on pronunciations. That’s a big faux pas for a lot of people, unfortunately, when I hear people at other stations with talent that aren’t in those markets. Know how to pronounce Amalie Arena. Three, just be welcoming to being razzed a little bit. If people don’t know who the hell you are, they’re going to ask who the hell do you think you are. You have to be prepared for that, because it’s one thing to dive into how terrible the Bucs were on Sunday but if you can’t remember a certain play or moment in the game, and it’s obvious to the audience you have no idea what you’re talking about, you have to have thick skin. Have fun with it, because it’s a one-off and the biggest thing is can you entertain my audience from afar? If you can do that, you win the day.

Sports Radio News

Doug Gottlieb, Nick Wright Feud Over College Sports NIL Issues

“Gottlieb caught wind of Wright’s rant and let his disapproval be known.”



FOX Sports hosts Doug Gottlieb and Nick Wright definitely do not see eye-to-eye when it comes to money going to college athletes.

Despite both being employed by the same company, Gottlieb, who is never afraid to voice his opinion, fired back at Wright Friday regarding his take on college football’s NIL rule in the wake of Alabama head coach Nick Saban’s claiming Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher “brought” his recruits.

On Wright’s morning show, First Things First, the colorful broadcaster had a two minute rant about how he’s happy that schools are finding workarounds under the new NIL rules implemented by the NCAA to pay the players for their name, image and likeness. He said the universities have been taking advantage of college athletes, particularly black student athletes from rough backgrounds, for years and now that the tide has shifted, people are freaking out.

“The general sports public wants extra regulations and extra rules, is keeping their thumbs on college football and basketball players because their is an undeniable and always has been an incredibly uncomfortable racial context of the guys,” Wright said. “It’s mostly young black men from mostly really tough circumstances, generating billions of dollars. Who’s sharing in that?” Wright asked.

“An overwhelmingly white administration, an overwhelmingly white coaching staff, and an overwhelmingly white non-revenue sports. How do we pay for the tennis team and golf team, ah men’s football and basketball. What do they get? A scholarship. Be happy, we pulled you out the hood. Maybe you’ll have a better life if somehow you make the league or do something with your education.”

Gottlieb caught wind of Wright’s rant and let his disapproval be known. That resulted in a back and forth between the two sports personalities on Twitter.

Gottlieb continued, claiming the NIL rule puts exceedingly high expectations on the student-athletes before ever stepping on campus and are given something without having to “earn it.”

“The sad part is this push to pay SAs before they have even played a game, taken a class or assimilated to a school sets them up for failure in their post sports career. If you have been given before you earn, where is the motivation when you get to the real world?”

Wright then took a shot at Gottlieb, saying it always feels good that his take is the complete opposite of Gottlieb’s.

The dialogue continued with Gottlieb throwing shots at Wright, calling his take “embarrassing” and mentioning how he failed to point out the educational imbalance in society during his take. Wright asked Gottlieb what are some of the other “fake racism” takes that he claims are out in the media.

Gottlieb is no stranger to conflict with his FOX Sports colleagues. Troy Aikman called his opinion on Andrew Luck’s retirement “total bullshit” in a tweet from 2019. More recently, Gottlieb got into it with Speak for Yourself co-host Emmanuel Acho after Gottlieb ripped his brother Sam’s “Top 5 QB list” on First Take. He also called out Skip Bayless for name-calling.

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Sports Radio News

Bob Cousy: ‘JJ Redick Is Untalented Using Me To Get Attention On ESPN’

“People with less talent will always try to make a name for themselves by criticizing other people and hopefully getting some attention and perhaps increasing their credibility,” Cousy said.



Celtics legend Bob Cousy was not too happy with J.J. Redick dissing his game and credibility as an all-time great player.

During an appearance on First Take, Redick got into a fiery debate with Chris “Mad Dog” Russo about whether Chris Paul deserves to be mentioned among the best point guards in NBA history despite another disappointing exit from the playoffs. Russo claimed that Paul is “no Bob Cousy” which prompted Redick to retort, saying Cousy couldn’t even dribble with his left hand and called the players he played against, “plumbers” and “firemen.”

“Bob Cousy won championships when there were eight teams in the NBA and you had to win two playoff series,” Reddick said. “Let’s celebrate Bob Cousy in his era, but you can’t compare pre-1980 with the modern NBA.”

The 93-old Cousy made an appearance on SiriusXM Radio where he went scorched earth on Redick, basically calling the ESPN analyst “untalented” while listing some of the players that he went up against in his era.

“People with less talent will always try to make a name for themselves by criticizing other people and hopefully getting some attention and perhaps increasing their credibility,” Cousy said.

“So when you respond to something like this, you play into their hands. I won’t do that, but I will defend the firemen and the plumbers that he referenced. And I’ll just give you a few of the names of these firemen that I played with and against during those years. How about Bill Russell, the aforementioned, not too bad a player. Wilt Chamberlain, remember that guy? He wasn’t bad. I guess he must have fought fires as well. But in any event, Wilt Chamberlain.

“Still the best, in my judgment, small forward that ever played the game, a guy named Elgin Baylor. A couple of point guards that weren’t too shabby, my colleague who also had an award created [in his name], guy named Oscar Robertson, who was pound for pound the best player perhaps in the game.”

Chris Paul is a 12-time All-Star compared to Cousy’s 13 appearances.

One thing Paul and Bob Cousy do have in common is their aptitude for leadership. Cousy developed and started the NBA players union in 1954, being named its first president. Paul served in that same role from 2013-2021.

The two men also share similarities off the court. Cousy was a stanch anti-racist advocate during the civil rights era 50s and 60s, when it wasn’t all that popular to so. Paul has also spoke out on issues regarding race, working with commissioner Adam Silver to address some of the issues facing the black community.

Maybe the two have more in common than either Redick or Russo would like to admit.

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Sports Radio News

Cole Cubelic: ‘A Lot Of Media Wasn’t Prepared To Talk About Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher’

“There were multiple other messages that were attempted to be delivered by Nick Saban two nights ago that I don’t think anybody paid attention to, and I’m wondering if Jimbo paid attention to them.”



The comments from Alabama football coach Nick Saban regarding other teams allegedly “buying” their players through the new rules pertaining to name, image and likeness (NIL) deals has set the college football world abuzz.

In his comments, Saban directly accused Texas A&M Head Coach and one of his former assistant coaches at Louisiana State University Jimbo Fisher of unreasonably using NIL deals to recruit college football players, and remarked that the system as a whole has created a fundamental disadvantage for certain programs. Additionally, he stated that Alabama has never tried to lure a player solely based on these deals; however, he left the door open to potentially having to adjust his recruitment strategy to align with the actions of his competitors around him.

Much of the college football world weighed in on the comments, but the voice everyone was waiting to hear was that of Jimbo Fisher, including McElroy and Cubic in the Morning on Jox 94.5 FM in Birmingham, Ala. On Friday morning, the program opened with show co-host Cole Cubelic reacting to the candid response given by Fisher in a news conference carried on multiple media outlets in which Fisher called Saban a “narcissist.”

“When we’ve had coaching feuds before, we’ve had guys go back and forth; we’ve had guys go at one another, sometimes in a little bit more of a subtle way; sometimes maybe a less-confrontational way,” Cubelic said. “Jimbo even said it yesterday – he’s not afraid of confrontation; he’s not worried about it.”

An aspect of what has made this discordance between two highly-accomplished and eminent coaches a story being followed across the college football landscape is the fact that it has taken place within the public sphere. When Saban appeared on SiriusXM Radio and apologized for singling out Texas A&M in his comments from earlier in the week, there was not much emotion involved, according to Cubelic. Fisher’s remarks in his press conference though, were of a completely different sentiment – and may have escalated the situation altogether.

“Debates often turn to arguments as soon as emotions become involved,” Cubelic said. “…Jimbo Fisher yesterday at 10 a.m. – that felt emotional; that felt personal, and that one had to dig deep. Jimbo Fisher said yesterday he doesn’t anticipate things are going to be repaired. I don’t see in a way that these two sort of get things back in line.”

“The bridge is burned both ways,” added show co-host Greg McElroy. “They’ll probably shake hands; do what they need to do pregame. But as far as any love lost? Nah, that’s a wrap.”

A part of this story that remains seminal when reporting or commenting on it is listening to the full extent of the comments from both Saban and Fisher on the situation so as to more effectively contextualize and comprehend the situation. Cubelic said that he did multiple interviews on different programs yesterday, and some of the interviewers, as he anticipated, had solely listened to portions of the comments, rendering them not completely prepared to have a truly pertinent discussion about the topic at hand.

“We said it here on the show yesterday morning — right out of the gate — people are going to take the Miami; the Jackson State; and the Texas A&M stuff, and they’re going to clip it and they’re going to play it and they’re going to read it and that’s all they’re going to pay attention to,” said Cubelic. “There were multiple other messages that were attempted to be delivered by Nick Saban two nights ago that I don’t think anybody paid attention to, and I’m wondering if Jimbo paid attention to them.”

Jimbo Fisher and the Texas A&M Aggies visit Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide on October 8 in a matchup that will sure to be a primary topic of discussion in the weeks and months leading to kickoff.

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