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Kevin Kugler Needs to Be Careful When Making Final Call of Duke-North Carolina

“On your [final] call, Kevin, make sure you don’t say that whoever wins just won the championship.”

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Kevin Kugler

When people think of college basketball, they often ponder over hypothetical matchups, especially those in the NCAA Tournament. Watching Saint Peter’s run to the Elite Eight round would have likely been enough of a story to signify this year’s tournament, but college basketball fans have now shifted their attention towards a situation that has been looming in the background since the tournament began in 1939.

The Duke Blue Devils will face the North Carolina Tar Heels for the 258th time in history. However, it will be their first-ever tournament meeting, let alone in the Final Four with a trip to the national championship game on the line.

Fans from Durham to Chapel Hill are eagerly anticipating this showdown, set to take place Saturday night from the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans. The home stadium of the New Orleans Saints has a basketball capacity of 74,000, and there will unquestionably be no open seats. The excitement extends far beyond North Carolina, though, as fans from all across the United States and the world look forward to the game, set to begin just after 8:45 ET.

One of the broadcasters set to bring the game to listeners is Kevin Kugler, the lead play-by-play announcer for college basketball on Westwood One. This long-awaited game has dominated the sports conversation all week and as a national broadcaster, he knows it is a very big deal to be on the call for the game.

“If you’re someone who’s doing this game on a national level and you can’t say this is a big deal, you probably shouldn’t be doing these games,” Kugler said while being interviewed on The Mac Attack Thursday on WFNZ in Charlotte. “Whether you’re a fan in North Carolina of these, or you’re someone who watches college sports from afar, this is a huge deal.”

The storyline, aside from Duke and North Carolina finally meeting in an NCAA Tournament matchup, is that it could be the final game on the bench for Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Kugler knows that the Tar Heels’ fan base would love nothing more than to spoil Duke’s tournament run and end the career of the renowned Coach K after defeating the Blue Devils in their final regular-season home game in early March.

“If you’re a North Carolina fan… you have the chance to end his career with a loss to your team in the Final Four,” said Kugler. “That has to be the lottery ticket for any North Carolina fan, and if you’re a Duke fan, you get the chance to send Coach K out in the National Championship game and, oh, by the way, you get to step on your rival on the way there.”

This year’s Final Four contains seven of the national championship winners since 2008, which happens to be the same year Kugler began calling Final Four games on Westwood One. Sure, the matchups could turn out not to be as competitive or engaging to fans as is being anticipated, but it could also end up being one of the most storied semifinal rounds in tournament history.

“This is the blue blood of the blue blood Final Four, and people can argue ‘Villanova is not a blue blood,’ [but] Villanova’s a blue blood now,” said Kugler. “Maybe [they are] not a blue blood from the standpoint of 1984, although they won the title in 1985, but they’re not a blue blood in the sense of Duke, North Carolina, [and] Kansas. They are a blue blood in the sense of success though, and Jay Wright has…”

And then the interview suddenly stopped. Kugler had been dropped from the show, presumably because of a bad signal or loss of phone battery. (Did he use up the battery calling last week’s Providence-Kansas game via cell phone?) But Chris McClain and Travis “T-Bone” Hancock had other ideas as to why they had just lost their guest.

“Did he get dropped because he started talking [about] Villanova?,” asked McClain. “Was it not allowed? Too much talk about one of the other teams in the Final Four other than Duke or UNC.”

Kugler quickly re-joined the program and said what he supposedly meant to say before being cut off of the program.

“I’m sorry – I should have just said, ‘The only thing that matters in this Final Four is Duke-North Carolina. Then you guys wouldn’t have hung up on me,” he quipped.

The hosts also made it a point to give Kugler a valuable reminder before calling perhaps one of the most anticipated college basketball games in NCAA Tournament history.

“It is going to be a real buzzkill when the winning team fan base realizes they [have] to play one more game in order to win a title,” said McClain.

“On your [final] call, Kevin, make sure you don’t say that whoever wins just won the championship,” said Hancock.

“[I’ve] got to write that down,” said Kugler. “‘Not the championship.’ All right, good. I got that down now. I should be fine.”

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.

Barry Jackson, a veteran journalist with the Miami Herald, reports that 790 The Ticket morning hosts Brendan Tobin and Leroy Hoard will move to that 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. WQAM slot during the week of Oct. 3.

In more station movement, Joe Rose’s WQAM morning show with Zach Krantz now will be simulcast on The Ticket, replacing the Tobin/Hoard program. Audacy, which owns both WQAM and The Ticket, also simulcast Marc Hochman’s and Channing Crowder’s afternoon show.

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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