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Al Michaels: I Thought I Would Work With John Madden For 20 Years

“When you’re working with somebody like that, you have all the confidence in the world. You can go anywhere, and he’ll be right with you.”

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The National Football League recently lost an icon both on- and off-the-field with the passing of John Madden. After leading the Oakland Raiders to a Super Bowl championship in 1976, Madden embarked on a nearly 30-year broadcasting career, commentating football games on Fox, ABC, CBS and NBC Sports and remaining a fixture in the world of football. In 1988, Madden released his eponymous video game series, “John Madden Football,” which brought realism to fans seeking to learn and play the game of football. Of course, the video game series would eventually evolve into being called “Madden NFL,” and remains one of the most popular video games on the market each year.

For current Sunday Night Football commentator Al Michaels, having the opportunity to work with John Madden was something he had hoped would come to fruition when Fox Sports acquired the rights to NFC games in 1994. After a recruitment period akin to free agency as a player, Fox Corporation owner and media mogul Rupert Murdoch made him an offer of $8 million per year to call games on the network – a figure higher than any NFL player’s annual salary. Thus, Madden made the decision to pivot from signing a deal with ABC to join Michaels in 1994, to instead join Pat Summerall on-the-call for NFL coverage on Fox Sports.

Michaels appeared on The Dan Patrick Show on Fox Sports Radio Wednesday morning, and discussed the elation he felt when ABC was able to secure the broadcasting services of Madden in 2002. Reflecting on the seven-year stretch they called games together, Michaels affirmed that what you saw was indeed what you got in terms of working with John Madden.

“He was full of life; full of energy; a great conversationalist [and] a great teacher but a terrific listener that wanted to learn,” Michaels said. “He loved traveling around the country [and] being with people… There wasn’t anything about John that said ‘Hey look, I’m a big celebrity.’ No – it was none of that. He was more interested in absorbing things than playing any sort of a role.”

On whatever network he broadcast games, John Madden’s personality shined through, and communicated the importance of the game being played to all parties involved. Having never worked together prior to 2002, Michaels knew that he would not need a dry run before the duo made their debut at 2002 Hall of Fame Game.

“I had heard him for over 20 years. He was always on the bus after Sunday Night Football, and he heard me do hundreds of games,” said Michaels. “John and I understood each other’s rhythms [and] by the second commercial [of our first game], I thought I’d be working with him for 20 years.”

As Al Michaels’ contract for Sunday Night Football on NBC is set to expire following the conclusion of Super Bowl LVI, rumors suggest he will start calling games on Amazon Prime next year as a part of its Thursday Night Football slate of games. He will undoubtedly continue to honor the legacy of John Madden by bringing fans unique perspectives and stellar commentary as his broadcasting career continues, and, just like Madden, be on the road again.

“The great thing about John is that he was so well-versed in not just football, but [in just] everything,” said Michaels. “When you’re working with somebody like that, you have all the confidence in the world. You can go anywhere, and he’ll be right with you.”

Sports Radio News

Chick Hearn Headlines Radio Hall of Fame Legends Inductees

Amongst other accolades, he is credited with broadcast 3,338 consecutive Lakers game from November 21, 1965 to December 16, 2001.

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Chick Hearn

The Museum of Broadcast Communications announced today the selection of 10 new Legends inductees into the Radio Hall of Fame for 2022. This distinction honors those in the industry who have contributed greatly to it and have since passed away.

Chick Hearn, the longtime voice of the Los Angeles Lakers, will be amongst those inducted in Chicago next month. Hearn was the voice of the Lakers for 41 years (1961-2002). Amongst other accolades, he is credited with broadcast 3,338 consecutive Lakers game from November 21, 1965 to December 16, 2001.  

The full list of those to be inducted as part of the Legends class are:

  • MrDoug Banks– Nationally syndicated on-air personality;
  • MrJames Brown– Legendary singer, to be inducted as a radio station owner of WJBE Knoxville, TN;
  • MrBob Coburn– Host of the syndicated Rockline show;
  • Mr. Chick Hearn– Play-by-play announcer/voice of the Los Angeles Lakers;
  • MsBernice Judis– Owner and General Manager, WNEW-AM, 1930’s–1950’s;
  • MrSid Mark– Host of syndicated program, Sounds of Sinatra show for 60+ years;
  • Mr. Bobby O’Jay– On-air personality, WDIA-AM/Memphis;
  • MrPervis Spann– On-air personality, WVON-AM/Chicago;
  • Mr. James Thompson– Group W Broadcasting President and President of the Broadcasters Foundation;
  • Ms. Rosalie Trombley– Music Director of CKLW-AM/Detroit in the 1960’s–1970’s.

“The Radio Hall of Fame is dedicated to recognizing the individuals who have made the greatest impact on our 100+ year old industry,” Kraig T. Kitchin, Co-Chairman, Radio Hall of Fame said. “I’m thrilled to see the Nominating Committee confirm the induction of these 10 individuals who each made such an impact on our industry in their time.”    

The Radio Hall of Fame will recognize its 2022 class of inductees, including the class announced in July, during a ceremony on Tuesday, November 1st.

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Sports Radio News

Tobin and Leroy Debut on WQAM Middays

“This is a big change for us,” Tobin said. “I’ve been doing morning drive, producing or hosting now, for the last decade. Now it’s to middays we go.”

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Tobin and Leroy

After a brief hiatus and the closure of 790 The Ticket, Brendan Tobin and Leroy Hoard officially returned to the Miami airwaves on Monday on 560 WQAM.

Tobin and Leroy debuted in its new midday timeslot of 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on the station.

“This is a big change for us,” Tobin said. “I’ve been doing morning drive, producing or hosting now, for the last decade. Now it’s to middays we go.”

Tobin added that the timing between when they made their exit from The Ticket and returned on WQAM was a bit off.

“It was a very weird week for us to take off last week. Because they were like, ‘Hey, you’re change times, you’re gonna change stations, and also it’s gonna be the busiest sports week of the year,'” he said. “So now we’re back, and nothing will happen this week.”

“There has been less action on days we thought we had to be here than what happened last week,” Hoard added.

Hoard actually arrived to the show late, citing traffic issues getting to the station. That was something even Tobin noted is an adjustment they have to make from when they were doing morning drive.

“We’ve all discovered here today is traffic is not the same at 8 a.m. as it is at 4 a.m.,” he said. “Very different.”

Tobin made sure WQAM listeners knew that even though they switched stations, the show isn’t changing. They continued with all the usual segments that fans know and love on Monday.

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Sports Radio News

Mike Rhyner Introduces Dallas to 97.1 The Freak

“So, where were we?” began Rhyner.

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Ben Torres / Special Contributor Dallas Morning News

There’s a new radio station in Dallas which features a number of personalities familiar to local sports radio listeners. 97.1 The Freak made its much anticipated debut and the first voice to be heard belonged to the ”Old Grey Wolf” Mike Rhyner.

97.1 The Eagle stopped regular programming late Monday morning and began stunting, a technique radio stations use to separate listeners from old programming and prepare them for new content. The station began by playing songs with the word “freak” in them before transitioning into a continuous loop of “The Waiting is the Hardest Part” by Tom Petty until 3p CT. Then, a voiceover detailing the Eagle’s history switched into the voice that Dallas-Forth Worth residents have gotten to know so well, Mike Rhyner.

“So, where were we?” began Rhyner.

Rhyner went on to relive his final moments at The Ticket in Dallas. He said he was getting his “head around being a Paw Paw” before getting a call from Ben Rogers of the Ben and Skin Show and thus an idea for The Freak began to take shape.

After that, the show’s intro music played and Rhyner welcomed in Mike Sirois and before you knew it, the guys were wondering about a quarterback controversy in Dallas.

97.1 The Freak is off and running with a lineup that includes “The Speakeasy,” with Jeff Cavanaugh, Kevin “KT’ Turner, Julie Dobbs, and Matt Cather in mornings (7-11am), “Ben & Skin Show” in middays (11am-3pm) and “The Downbeat” in afternoons (3p-7p) featuring Mike Rhyner alongside Mike Sirois and Michael “Grubes” Gruber.

The station is positioning itself as a lifestyle brand but given its talent connection to local sports radio and the strong interest in Dallas sports, it’s likely the talent will weave sports talk into their on-air discussions. Sports Radio 1310/96.7 The Ticket and 105.3 The Fan have enjoyed good ratings with the male 25-54 demographic and The Freak is expected to challenge them and every other brand that produces spoken word content.

“We’re beyond excited to introduce 97-1 the Freak – the level of talent is insurmountable, and we’re thrilled for the opportunity to further connect with Dallas Fort Worth,” Patrick Davis, Regional Senior Vice President of Programming Dallas, shared in an announcement.

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