Sports Radio 610 has enjoyed a long storied run as the premier sports radio brand in Houston. But in recent months, local competitors have been making their reign at the top a little unsettling.
When Nick Wright announced plans to depart the radio station to join Fox Sports 1, it created an opportunity for Program Director Ryan McCredden to take stock of his inventory. The lineup was performing fine, but with a couple of adjustments, could the brand ascend to an even higher level?
One way to get a read on how the audience felt about the radio station’s personalities was to give them a chance to express it by taking part in a promotion titled “Trade Deadline”. The station received tons of feedback, and for one on-air broadcast day, mixed up their lineup combinations, and placed a few of their key people in different timeslots, and roles. This served as a great opportunity for McCredden to hear some of his key people in different situations.
Over the course of the next two months, McCredden would exhaust numerous options to retool the lineup at Sports Radio 610. Internal candidates were given a look, in-market options were discussed, and out of town personalities were talked to, and flown in for auditions. Many of them with proven track records in other top markets. BSM is aware of at least eight candidates who received consideration.
“As a programmer, it gave me a lot of joy to know that there were a lot of really strong young talent out there”, said McCredden. “The process was extensive, and I learned a lot about a lot of people, but ultimately I felt like we had a lot of the answers under our own roof. Unfortunately there isn’t any silver medal available for the person who comes in second”.
610 has done an excellent job at developing talent over the past few years. No better example exists than that of the station’s former midday show “MaD Radio” hosted by Mike Meltser and Seth Payne, which is now moving into mornings. The program earlier this year was identified by Barrett Sports Media’s panel of programmers as one of the top 20 midday shows in the country.
What convinced McCredden though that the duo would be well suited for a move to the earlier timeslot?
“Mornings tend to be a timeslot where people want to laugh and be entertained,” said McCredden. “Mike and Seth can certainly make you laugh, and their chemistry is excellent. There were a few days when John was off, and I moved them into mornings, and I heard the energy, and the fun, and they sounded like they belonged in there.”
By moving up Meltser and Payne though, that would create a hole in middays, and leave John Lopez in limbo. McCredden tested Lopez with some out of town personalities, and had to decide whether to bring in a more polished out of town host, or roll the dice on a young talent inside his building.
The one personality that jumped out the most from his roster was Cody Stoots. Lopez and Stoots had a great relationship which helped, but it was something Stoots said during the process which struck a chord with McCredden.
“Cody told me, the Astros took a chance on a young shortstop Carlos Correa and it’s paid off. The Texans are taking a chance on a young Quarterback (Brock Osweiler) who doesn’t have a lot of experience, and they’re hoping it pays off. I just hope you’d be willing to do the same with me because I believe it’d pay off”.
Feeling good about Stoots and Lopez, McCredden still had a hunch about someone else he spoke to during the process. That person was Houston native, and former Texas A&M Aggie, and former NFL wide receiver and special teams superstar Dante Hall. The questions though were whether or not Dante could transition into talking all-sports five days per week, where would he fit best, and would a trio be the right mix in middays?
McCredden explained his logic. “The way the mornings were set up, I didn’t think that was the best fit because then we’d have 5 voices on the show, and that’s too many (Jim Mudd, and Robert Henslee are also involved as contributors). I also felt Mike and Seth were ready for that jump”.
“When it came to Dante, his confidence gave me confidence,” McCredden continued. “His desire to do this was overwhelming. The positivity he has is impressive. He’s personable, and although our listeners don’t know him well, I think he’s going to really connect with them. He may be raw but he has a lot of natural talent and energy, and I think he’s going to have a bright future with us.”
After giving it a lot of thought and talking to a large pool of candidates, it became clear that “In The Loop” with Lopez, Hall, and Stoots were the fit McCredden was looking for in middays. The show may not have the immediate polish of Meltser and Payne, and it may lack experience that a few others have, but that hasn’t reduced McCredden’s enthusiasm.
“There were guys who were more polished, but everyone needs an opportunity to show what they’re made of,” added McCredden. “Cody has the skills to do great work, and with John and Dante involved it will help him grow even more into the position. Lopez is a big fan of Cody’s, and sees him as one of the fastest growing young talents in the market. What I really love about this show, is that it’s a hardcore Houston show. I think the audience is going to enjoy it”.
The final layer of the 610 puzzle to solve was finding a way to further capitalize on the relationship between the radio station, and its flagship partner, the Houston Texans. As they worked on stabilizing their daytime lineup, conversations also took place with the football team to make them a bigger part of their daily programming.
The result was turning “Texans All Access” into a nightly program from 6pm to 7pm. The voice of the Texans Marc Vandermeer will continue serving as host of the show. Vandermeer is also a former weekday host on Sports Radio 610.
The afternoon show (Triple Threat), featuring Rich Lord, Ted Johnson, and Sean Pendergast, and the evening program (Gallant At Night) hosted by Paul Gallant remain unchanged.
As Sports Radio 610 celebrates their new day today, they do so while knowing that a long and extensive process was necessary to make sure the right formula was discovered. If McCredden’s instincts are right, the real winners in all of this will be the Houston sports radio audience. It’s now up to Meltser, Payne, Stoots, Lopez, and Hall to prove him right.
Here’s a complete look at SportsRadio 610’s new programming lineup:
6:00-10:00AM – MAD RADIO
10:00AM-2:00PM – IN THE LOOP
2:00-6:00PM – TRIPLE THREAT
6:00-7:00PM – TEXANS ALL ACCESS
7:00-11:00PM – GALLANT AT NIGHT
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.
Nick Wilson: Deshaun Watson Press Conference ‘Insulting’ To Local Media
“You — neither Deshaun, his lawyers, or anybody involved in this — get to dictate what those reporters get to say, ask, or think.”
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson met with the media for the first time yesterday since being reinstated by the NFL after the league ruled he was guilty of violating the Personal Conduct Policy due to improper sexual advances towards more than two dozen massage therapists. 92.3 The Fan afternoon host Nick Wilson called Watson’s press conference “trash” and “insulting” to local media.
Watson told reporters he would only answer football related questions from the assembled media members, which Wilson took issue with.
“You can’t bury this story simply by saying ‘I won’t talk about it’,” Wilson said. “It is insulting to the media who covers this team. This is not about Nick Wilson, I promise. This is about the beat reporters who cover this team. It is insulting — intentionally or not — to say ‘You know what, guys? I love y’all, but I’m going to dictate what you ask me’.
“You don’t do that. You dictate when you speak, your opening statement, or how you respond. You — neither Deshaun, his lawyers, or anybody involved in this — get to dictate what those reporters — who work very hard day in, day out covering this organization, covering Deshaun Watson, covering this town — get to say, ask, or think. That was trash.”
Co-host Dustin Fox added the whole job of the media is to bring information to fans, and Watson wouldn’t allow reporters to do that Thursday, and may never do that.
Gregg Giannotti: Biggest Issue With Craig Carton, Jon Jastremski Feud Is “Mole” At WFAN
“The thing that bothers me the most about this is the leak from within the building. Someone here is sending this audio out to a former listener…to cause problems.”
A feud has sprung up between WFAN afternoon host Craig Carton and former WFAN host John Jastremski. Boomer & Gio discussed the spat on Friday morning’s show, with Gregg Giannotti being troubled by a revelation.
During his New York New York podcast, a voicemail left for Jastremski asked about Carton’s comments, but the caller said a WFAN employee sent him the clip of Carton’s criticism.
“So that means we have a mole,” Boomer Esiason said.
“That right there is a problem,” Gregg Giannotti added. “‘We both have a mutual friend that still works over there’ and that person shared a link of Craig talking about JJ (Jastremski). So, clearly, that person is on JJ’s side and they’re still working here. That’s a mole! That’s someone going against the team! And I think know who that is!”
Esiason then asked if he knew the person, to which Giannotti said he did. He then asked if he would be upset by who it was, which Giannotti affirmed as well.
The show then played the final portion of Jastremski’s rant, which included him saying to Carton “I’m not listening to a crook. So you know what? Go take a f—ing hike.”
“Jesus!” Esiason exclaimed. “Good for JJ, though. Standing up for himself.”
“I like both of these guys. I do. I got respect for both of them,” said Giannotti. “Everybody doesn’t have to go to the jail, crook thing with Craig every single time. Do they? It’s low-hanging fruit. Everybody goes there. There’s no way he can defend himself in that way because everybody saying ‘You went to jail’ didn’t go to jail, and it’s not apples and oranges. But the business stuff is apples-to-apples.
“So when I hear that, I’m just like ‘Ok, you went there. Be a little more creative than that’. As far as I listen to legend things, please, nobody has given me worse advice in my life than Mike Francesa did. Nobody. I would still be out in the newsroom cutting Islander highlights if I listened to that guy. And the only reason why Mike liked JJ was because he didn’t feel he was a threat. The only people Mike likes is the people he feels non-threatened by. And that’s where that comes from.”
After concluding Jastremski’s rant was a “little over the top”, Giannotti then turned his attention to the “mole” inside the station.
“The thing that bothers me the most about this is the leak from within the building. Someone here is sending this audio out to a former listener…to cause problems. That — to me — is an issue. The guy on the voicemail said ‘We may or may not have a mutual friend that still works at the radio station’ and this guy just slammed the radio station. And he’s friends with the guy who slammed the radio station and then slammed Craig and this guy’s on their side?! And this guy that works here is on their side?! That to me is a major, major problem.”
Dan Dakich: Craig Carton is ‘The Way Talk Radio Should Be’
“If you’re being critical because you want to be the guy that’s always critical I don’t think you can do that either. I think you gotta be honest. And criticism comes with it.”
Craig Carton has prided himself on being one of those hosts who tells it like it is, especially when talking about New York’s pro sports teams.
That willingness to call a spade a spade and levy criticism on teams like the Jets and Giants, especially when things are not going well on the field, is something Dan Dakich has always seen as a recipe for success in the industry.
Interviewing Carton on Thursday on his Outkick show Don’t @ Me, Dakich praised the WFAN afternoon host for essentially creating a blueprint for how sports talk should be done.
“In Indianapolis I’m the bad guy right, because I say look the Colts stink, this regime is 46-49-1 – why are you telling me the GM is the best in the country – why are you telling me Frank Reich can really coach?” Dakich said. “New York’s different, though, right? I mean, New York they expect you to say look if you ain’t any good then you ain’t any good. Yu don’t sugarcoat nothing, and I think that’s the way talk radio should be.”
Carton noted that what’s key in how you critique a team or a front office, executive or owner is finding a balance. He said you can’t as a host be the ultimate homer and blow smoke up everyone’s behind.
“You have to be able to be critical when it’s warranted,” Carton said. “If you’re being critical because you want to be the guy that’s always critical I don’t think you can do that either. I think you gotta be honest. And criticism comes with it.”
Carton pointed out that the fan bases in both New York and in Indianapolis are ultimately the same, because at the end of the day it’s all about making sure you have competent people calling the right shots. He added that the organizations are the same too because of how sensitive they can be to criticism, which he said if they don’t like it, “too bad.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He works full-time as a multimedia specialist at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, while also putting in part-time work for News Radio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond. Additionally, you can find Jordan contributing coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and ABC 8News. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.