Sports Radio News
McKernan Hits Major Milestone
Tim McKernan enjoys playing in the main event of the World Series of Poker, in Las Vegas. While chasing the huge payday there is a fun pursuit, he has cashed in nicely in St. Louis in his primary professional endeavor as he reaches a major milestone this weekend.
It is the 10th anniversary of the business he founded after leaving the St. Louis television sportscasting fray to go full-bore into radio. That led to the formation of what now is insideSTL Enterprises, LLC, which currently controls the weekday programming at radio station WGNU (920 AM), has the insideSTL.com website and also does promotional events associated with the company.
Sports is a focal point of the operation, but pop culture and general minutiae also are key elements of what is far from a traditional approach to the business.
The “Morning After” show, which airs from 7-10 a.m. weekdays, is the foundation of the company. McKernan and regular co-hosts Jim Hayes and Doug Vaughn (with Charlie Marlow often filling in) take an often irreverent approach that can veer into topics such as gambling, sex, drinking and the like. But there also are in-depth interviews of substance, as the company has found a successful, albeit unlikely, mix.
“It’s like a bizzaro-world variety show,” McKernan said this week. “Fortunately it works.”
The approach to the show, and the company, isn’t the typical corporate style associated with most stations. For instance, there is coarse language in online commentary and discussion of weird topics. It certainly isn’t for everybody. But there is a lot of interaction with the audience on many levels.
“Something has happened over the last couple years, (our audience has) gotten younger,” McKernan said. “It’s not like we’re all in our 20s — I’m the youngest guy on the show and I’m 38. But the audience — we still have the people who have listened for years — but when we do events it’s 20- and 30-somethings.
“The texting, tweeting and Facebook fan page … the audience is so involved in the show that they create” some of its content.
But it has been far from an easy ride, as the company has survived a series of wild twists that could only be described as soap-opera material — none bigger than the firestorm that erupted two summers ago when Jack Clark alleged on the air that fellow former Cardinal Albert Pujols used steroids.
“Understandably people assume — and I think to this day — that television pays more than radio, and in many cases that is reality,” McKernan recalled. “However, fortunately, I was able to make a lot more money doing radio and I liked it a lot more.”There is much more time for personal expression on radio.
He was working on radio with fellow TV sportscasters Martin Kilcoyne and Hayes, on what then was known as the “Morning Grind.” Still, when he made the full-time switch to radio …
“I was thinking to myself, ‘What the hell am I going to do?’” he said. “‘I had been (at KMOV) five years and I already want to move away from it. But radio, doing a show with Martin and Jim — it was picking up in popularity, it was fun and financially it was more lucrative”” than TV.
But he quickly discovered that there is a tough side to the radio business, too, as he was told he had to do some weekend Rams shows because he no longer was in TV — much to his chagrin.
“It’s not the way you’d want to treat people,” he said.
A television opportunity developed in Denver, which included doing a baseball show that would air nationally on Fox cable outlets. This wasn’t long after insideSTL had started, and Cardinals outfielder Jim Edmonds had offered to buy in to the operation that was growing.
“My addiction is the ‘Morning After’/’Morning Grind,’” he said, turning down the TV offer.
But then a key producer on the radio show was fired and Kilcoyne quit in a dispute with management. McKernan wanted Vaughn brought in to replace Kilcoyne (“Doug was clearly the best guy for the job,” he said) but management instead also fired Hayes and brought Bob Fescoe in from Kansas City to work with McKernan. Despite McKernan saying Fescoe is “a very nice guy’’ McKernan was miserable. They didn’t mesh.
“I couldn’t do it, it was so depressing,” McKernan said. “There were times I would look at the clock and wonder how we would make it to a commercial break because we had nothing. The station was losing money. It was a chaotic time. At that point I was ready to leave radio.”
His agent helped get him an audition for a TV sportscasting job in New York, and he was offered a job.
But at the same time in 2007, KSLG (1380 AM) was building what for a time was a St. Louis sports powerhouse lineup. McKernan and company were wanted there, and would be able to get out of the KFNS deal. So he had the choice of doing AM radio at 1380 or going to New York to do TV.
“Any observer in broadcasting goes, ‘OK, that’s a no-brainer,’’ McKernan recalls.
“I love the (radio) show and we had a business that was starting to gain traction,” he said. “So I turned down New York — and my agent went ballistic.”
Continue reading the rest of the story by visiting STL Today where it was originally published
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Sports Radio News
Mike Evans: ESPN is Going To Have to Cover the Nuggets Next Week
“If they want to get anything out of their investment, they’ve got to do their best to pump this thing up.”
When the Denver Nuggets advanced to the NBA Finals, much of the ESPN coverage centered around the Los Angeles Lakers being swept. Viewers perceived there being minimal mentions of Nikola Jokić, Jamal Murray and the rest of the Nuggets organization and what the team had just accomplished.
Brian Windhorst appeared on ESPN and stated the Lakers were terrific at going down in the series and calling the sweep an impressive performance by the team.
“I have to admit – my entire life as a sports fan, covering sports – countless locker rooms [and] press conferences – I don’t think I’ve heard anything dumber than that,” said Denver Sports 104.3 The Fan host Mike Evans.
ESPN has received its fair share of criticism, magnified when NBA on TNT studio analyst Charles Barkley expressed his disdain for the lack of Denver Nuggets coverage on television. LeBron James divulging that he is weighing retirement ostensibly played a role in the plans for talking points since he is widely regarded as one of the top players to ever take the court. Game 1 of the 2023 NBA Finals takes place on Thursday, June 1, meaning ESPN has over a week until the action commences; however, the show believes that placing the Lakers at the forefront imparts an agenda focused on garnering television ratings.
“‘What’s LeBron’s legacy?’,” co-host Mark Schlereth suggested as a topic on ESPN. “How does this win affect his legacy? Will he or will he not come back?’ Dude, the Nuggets just went to the Finals for the first time in their 47-year existence.”
“‘Kyrie Irving courtside!,’” Evans mocked an ESPN host saying. “‘Are they going to team up again?’”
The show proceeded to refer to Windhorst as a fanboy, especially since he covered James for the majority of his NBA career. They had ESPN on in a studio television throughout the show and saw no coverage pertaining to the Denver Nuggets, instead saying that the shows were centered around James, head coach Darvin Ham and the Lakers’ future. Nonetheless, Evans assumes things will change as the NBA Finals draw near.
“Starting next week, it’ll all be about the Nuggets and [Miami] Heat because ultimately no matter what you want to say about ESPN or how mad you are about ESPN, they do have the NBA Finals,” Evans articulated. “If they want to get anything out of their investment, they’ve got to do their best to pump this thing up.”
Sports Radio News
Jon Ritchie: ‘Not Realistic’ for Mike Florio to Expect Answers From Howie Roseman
“I think your ask of Howie is ridiculous for him.”
Things got contentious this week on Pro Football Talk Live. Howie Roseman would not answer Mike Florio’s direct questions about tampering. Jon Ritchie listened to the audio Wednesday morning on 94 WIP and put the blame on Florio.
Before the NFL Draft, the NFL ruled that the Arizona Cardinals were guilty of tampering with then-Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon the week that the Eagles were in Arizona for Super Bowl LVII. Gannon was named head coach of the Cardinals the next day.
When Florio asked Roseman about it, Roseman offered what sounded like a prepared statement saying that it did not make sense for the Eagles to dwell on the past. Instead, he thanked Gannon for his work for the team and said that any tampering penalties and arguments were “made at the ownership level.”
While that answer did not satisfy Ritchie’s partner Joe DeCamara, Ritchie said that he isn’t sure what Florio or anyone else would expect Howie Roseman to say in that situation.
“I don’t think it’s realistic to expect Howie to put his heart out and give his true feelings. He doesn’t want to come out against the league,” he said.
The duo played more audio from the exchange in which Florio accused Howie Roseman of deflecting and asking if he would like to read his talking points for a third time. Roseman shot back that Florio is easily on a list of the NFL’s top 5 conspiracy theorists.
Just how contentious things actually were can be debated, but according to Jon Ritchie, one of them deserves more criticism than the other.
“I thought Florio came across as rude yesterday,” he said. “I think your ask of Howie is ridiculous for him. We’re standing up like an adult and sticking to our guns, the high-road guns, and I appreciate that. Think of what you’re asking Howie to do, like take aim at the league…That’s not realistic.”
Sports Radio News
Fred Toucher: ‘ESPN is Now Just 3 People’
“Stephen A. Smith is on in the morning. He’s on the radio. He does a podcast. He’s at all the games. He does the postgames.”
How deep is the talent rotation at ESPN? Not very according to Fred Toucher. The 98.5 The Sports Hub morning host has certainly noticed that the network is turning to a small handfull of stars to do the bulk of the work.
“ESPN is now like three people, and Stephen A. Smith is on in the morning. He’s on the radio. He does a podcast. He’s at all the games. He does the postgames,” morning host Fred Toucher said. “Imagine if we had a microphone in front of us 12 hours a day…The guy’s going to snap one time.”
That led to a new segment on Toucher & Rich titled “Stephen A. Smith is horny” with music by R&B artist Barry White playing in the background. Throughout the nearly 20-minute aside, the show played clips from Smith’s Cadence 13-produced podcast recently renamed The Stephen A. Smith Show, and spoke about how he is now giving dating advice to close out episodes of his show.
“My man can’t help getting horny on it every single episode,” Jon Wallach said. “He is trapped with a microphone in front of him 18 hours a day – he really is. He’s on TV and the radio and podcast. It doesn’t stop.”
Because of Smith’s busy schedule across ESPN programming – including First Take, NBA Countdown, NBA in Stephen A’s World and guest appearances on shows such as SportsCenter and Get Up – he seems to be over the airwaves more often than not. On top of that, he hosts new episodes of his podcast at least three times a week. He has said the network did research that found he had reached 1.7 billion people on ESPN’s YouTube page last year, and that the number is expected to hit 2.4 billion at the end of this year.
The Boston morning show surmised that since Smith hardly has moments away from his profession, he cannot help but to talk about topics such as dating advice to vary the content.
“He just loves to drop into that sexy – ‘We’re going to do dating advice because everyone’s reaching out for dating advice from Stephen A. Smith,’” Toucher said.