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Under The Radar – April 24, 2017

Jason Barrett

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There’s never a slow week in sports media, and the past week was no exception. Here’s a look at a few news items which you might not be aware of. As always, if you have a news tip, press release or station promotion to share, you can pass it along via email to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me.

Sources tell BSM that an internal change is taking place inside the ESPN Radio network. VP of ESPN Audio Dave Roberts, who also oversees production for First Take, is turning his focus towards more of ESPN’s television programming. With Roberts shifting to television, Marcia Keegan, ESPN’s VP of Production since 2007 is expected to assume a larger role inside the ESPN Audio division.

The good times keep on rolling for 101 ESPN in St. Louis. The station finished the winter book in 3rd place among Men 25-54 M-F 6a-7p. Their afternoon show The Fast Lane led its time slot, finishing 1st. The Bernie Miklasz Show registered a 3rd place finish in mornings, and in middays, The Kevin Wheeler Show was 4th and The Turn with Anthony Stalter and Chris Duncan came in 5th. A very impressive showing by St. Louis’ dominant sports radio brand.

Congrats to both 98.5 The Sports Hub and WEEI on a strong performance in the Boston winter ratings book. The Hub finished ahead in the key three dayparts (morning, middays and afternoons) but WEEI has closed the gap significantly. The station is up year to year by 14% while the Hub has dropped 15% during that time. With the Red Sox back on the field and both station’s shows firing on all cylinders it’ll be interesting to see how the competition between these two elite sports radio brands develops during the next quarter.

Following its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival on Friday, the much anticipated television premiere of the Mike and the Mad Dog 30 for 30 will debut on Thursday July 13th. The documentary is scheduled to air that night at 8pm ET on ESPN.

After learning last week that his longtime on-air partner Terry Foster was retiring, 97.1 The Ticket host Mike Valenti announced that he has no desire to fill the seat which Foster has occupied for over a decade. Valenti said that doing so would feel wrong and disrespectful, and if or when it makes sense to add a co-host to the show, those intentions will be announced. For now he plans to host the afternoon show solo on the Detroit sports radio station.

With Andy Gresh now in Providence hosting evenings for WPRO, his former radio home WTIC in Hartford has decided to go in a different direction in afternoons. As a result, Gresh’s partner Joe D’Ambrosio will no longer host a daily show on the radio station. D’Ambrosio will continue to be hear on the station as the play-by-play voice of UConn football and men’s basketball, and he’ll step in from time to time as a fill in talk show host.

Chris LoPresti has announced that he’s stepping down as WFAN‘s New York Jets reporter, a position he held for the past four seasons. The search for his replacement is already in progress.

Congrats to Rick Camp who enjoyed his maiden voyage hosting on 670 The Score in Chicago this past weekend. The longtime producer was given an opportunity by program director Mitch Rosen to host Sunday morning from 7am-9am CT. Camp is hopeful of gaining additional chances to grace the windy city airwaves in the future.

Westwood One has agreed to distribute the new eSports program, Checkpoint Radio, which is a product of Rick Scott and Associates, and Kevin Graham‘s Ripple Content. The show is hosted by Nate Bender, Robbie Landis, Joe Sloan and Norris Howard and runs two-hour in length. For more information about the show click here.

Richard Deitsch shared a great sports media story which is worthy of being re-told. During an on-air interview with Darren McFarland on 102.5 The Game in Nashville, NHL play-by-play man Doc Emrick shared his email address over the airwaves, encouraging young broadcasters to contact him if they wanted his feedback on their work. A classy gesture from the NHL’s top broadcaster.

Sports Radio News

Andrew Fillipponi: Peter Burns Made ‘Innocuous Joke’ To Ben Watson

“So wait a minute? Because you believe in Jesus Christ you care about your wife more than other people? What are you talking about?”

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The on-air spat between SEC Network host Peter Burns and analyst Ben Watson continues to be bandied about in sports media circles, with 93.7 The Fan hosts Andrew Fillipponi and Chris Mueller discussing the topic Tuesday.

“I’m on Team Burns,” Fillipponi said.

“Forget who’s team you’re on,” Chris Mueller said. “I think you’ve do have to keep the wives and children out of this.”

“What are you talking about, keep the wives and out of it?!,” Fillipponi asked.

“Do we believe this is work or shoot here?,” Mueller wondered.

“Oh, I think this is real,” Fillpponi added, which Mueller agreed.

“Do you think a close fist from Ben Watson hit Peter Burns?,” Mueller asked.

“No, I think he picked him up by the lapels,” Fillipponi said.

When the subject of Watson’s religion was brought up, Fillipponi then pointed out the absurdity of the situation.

“So wait a minute? Because you believe in Jesus Christ you care about your wife more than other people? What are you talking about?”

“I think he might have a shorter fuse and not taking in humor that Peter Burns was giving out,” Mueller said.

“It was an innocuous joke!,” Fillipponi stated. “It wasn’t a joke! Why is it in bad taste?”

Mueller then added the idea of Watson’s wife texting Burns insinuates there’s an inappropriate relationship.

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Sports Radio News

Craig Carton: Booger McFarland’s Zach Wilson Analysis ‘An Embarrasment’

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Craig Carton

ESPN NFL analyst Booger McFarland raised eyebrows on Monday Night Countdown this week by saying New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson has never been held accountable for his actions because he was a “young man who grew up with a lot of money”. WFAN afternoon host Craig Carton called out McFarland’s comments Tuesday as outlandish.

“It was an embarrasment,” Carton said. “Someone should ask Booger McFarland if his kids — who grew up with amazing wealth — have accountability in their lives or if having a little bit of money in your pocket immediately discounts the possibility to have accountability. He’s an idiot and we learned that last night.”

“It’s funny that Steve Young was on the other side of it,” Evan Roberts noted. “Because a long time ago, Steve Young criticized Chris Simms because he’s the son of a famous quarterback.”

“You don’t have to invent reasons for why Zach Wilson isn’t playing well,” added Carton. “Just watch his tape. He’s not playing well. Maybe he’s just not good!”

Carton later said NFL reporters “will try to make a name for themselves by putting out a story” about quarterbacks who take responsibility for their teams failures, while Wilson wouldn’t accept the blame.

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Sports Radio News

Greg Hill: Ben Watson, Peter Burns Drama Was A Bit

“Be careful when you’re talking about somebody’s wife and their kids. ‘Cause not everybody jokes the same way.”

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Peter Burns and Ben Watson shared an awkward exchange during the halftime show of an SEC Network football game over the weekend, and many are still debating whether Watson walking off the set was serious or not. Count part of the cast of The Greg Hill Show on WEEI as doubters.

“That was a a bit,” Courtney Cox said. “That was absolutely a bit.”

“Yeah, unlike the Chris Rock/Will Smith thing, I assume that was a bit,” Hill said. “I can’t believe that Ben Watson is really angry about that.”

“I dunno, man. There’s been a lot of speculation that it isn’t,” Jermaine Wiggins added. “There are people who are very sensitive about you clowning on them or joking with them. Especially with joking about their wife. Some people can’t handle jokes like that.”

After a back-and-forth with Cox about the legitimacy of the joke, Wiggins concluded by saying for some folks family is off limits.

“I’ve learned something in my 47 years on this Earth: be careful when you’re talking about somebody’s wife and their kids. ‘Cause not everybody jokes the same way.”

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