The news continues to trickle in from the world of sports radio. Here’s the latest developments that might have slipped by you. As a reminder, it’s a huge help to us when you pass along your information via email. If you or your station have news worth sharing, a tip, a press release or a job related change, please let us know so we can share your story with the rest of the format. Now on to this week’s stories.
After Terry Foster announced his departure from 97.1 The Ticket‘s afternoon show, the immediate question became “how will this impact Mike Valenti‘s future?” Does the talented host stay in afternoons as a solo act? Does he add a partner? Or does he explore a change of scenery? Well, it looks like the Detroit sports talker could have his eyes on the biggest piece of real estate in the format. According to the NY Daily News, Valenti is a finalist for Mike Francesa‘s seat on WFAN. Whether it’d be as a solo act or as part of a team show is unclear, but if Mark Chernoff decides to take a risk and install Valenti into drive time in the big apple, despite not having worked previously in the market (aside from a few fill-ins), it’d certainly be seen as a big risk. Risk taking though is part of Chernoff’s DNA (Boomer & Carton after Imus, no partner for Francesa after Russo left) and his track record when making big decisions is very strong.
Well wishes go out to Damon Bruce of 95.7 The Game. The San Francisco afternoon host is recovering from a health scare. No time frame has been given for his return to the airwaves but knowing D-Bruce, expect him to be focused on getting healthy so he can get back to doing what he loves. To send a positive thought his way via Twitter click here.
Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons deserves a round of applause for helping create an entertaining radio moment last week. After beating the New York Yankees, the Jays skipper dialed into SportsNet 590 The Fan‘s postgame show “Jay’s Talk” as “John in the Bronx” and proceeded to ask host Mike Wilner if he agreed that Marco Estrada is one of the best pitchers in the league. He also busted Wilner’s chops about being wrong on the pregame shows and capped off the call up by asking about free tickets and Wilner’s ratings. To hear the prank call click here.
Bob Fescoe and Mike Welch of 610 Sports conducted one of the best interviews I heard on radio last week. The Kansas City morning crew welcomed former Chiefs running back Larry Johnson to the show. It was the first time Johnson had talked to the Kansas City media in seven years. During the course of the twenty six minute interview, Johnson was extremely candid and apologetic about many of the missteps he made during his career. It’s definitely worth a listen. Click here to hear it.
Congrats are in order for Kyle Bailey and Frank Garcia who have taken over the midday slot on WFNZ in Charlotte. The duo can be heard weekdays from 10am-2pm. To learn more about the show click here.
Sid Rosenberg continues to make news. The WABC radio host announced via social media last week that he’ll be making his debut on the CBS Sports Radio Network on Saturday May 20th. Rosenberg will be on from 10a-2p ET.
Tampa sports radio legend Steve Duemig says he’s officially done with treatments and hopes to return to WDAE soon. Duemig has been battling brain cancer and has been sidelined since February.
After hearing from multiple sources that Chris Cantore‘s stint at the Mighty 1090 had ended, the information has now been confirmed by Cantore himself. The San Diego radio veteran is out after just five weeks. No word yet from 1090 on who will replace him.
Pete Sheppard has been making hosting appearances on ESPN SWFL (Southwest Florida) 99.3FM, a Beasley owned radio station. The former Boston sports radio host moved south to the sunshine state a few months ago and has been filling in from time to time.
In the Omaha sports radio winter ratings, 1620 The Zone remained the market’s leading sports radio brand. The radio station placed 5th with Men 25-54 M-F 6a-7p and 6th with Men 25-54 M-SU 6a-Mid. Local competitor ESPN 590 was 9th in both categories. The Zone was particularly strong in mornings. Sharp & Benning registered a 3rd place finish, which was best on the station for the quarter.
Congrats go out to Jason Wechsler who has been hired by 101.3 ESPN in Burlington, VT. Jason says he’ll be with the station through Labor Day helping to produce the afternoon show and provide on-air updates.
Two hours outside of Washington D.C. in Hopewell, Virigina, FOX Sports Radio 96.9FM/1340AM has made a roster addition. Dean Perretta is joining the station. He’s expected to serve in a reporter role.
Now for some bad news. The ESPN layoffs didn’t only impact television. ESPN Los Angeles anchor, reporter and host Jeff Biggs confirmed that after six years with the station he was let go.
iHeartmedia also made company wide cuts last week. Unfortunately they claimed two veteran sports radio hosts in the process. Matt Shepard was ousted from WDFN in Detroit, and longtime host and reporter Mike Jurecki was let go in Phoenix at FOX Sports 910. News/Talk 850 KOA also lost its Sports Director Mark Johnson.
Job cuts also made their way to Northeast Pennsylvania. Tom Ferguson announced that his time with Times Shamrock’s NEPA ESPN Radio and ALT 92.1 had come to an end. The elimination of his position was due to corporate restructuring.
Barstool Sports created an excellent spoof with Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett. In the video, Brett types up a blog and presents it to the Barstool staff for approval. After discovering barbecue sauce on the keyboard, the staff make the decision to deny Brett’s submission, which sends the former third baseman into a rage. It’s a well done bit playing off of Brett’s infamous pine tar incident during his playing days. To watch click here.
Congrats to Peter Mundo who has struck a deal between his Big 12 media outlet Heartland College Sports – Independent Big 12 Sports Blog and USA TODAY Sports. Mundo says that as part of the agreement, USA Today will have no editorial control over the site, but the partnership will help his brand expand into different platforms, along with receiving support on the advertising front, as well as accessibility to events, news and information.
ESPN has launched a new podcast.“The Basketball Analogy,” features a rotating lineup of NBA insiders, writers, reporters and hosts covering the latest news and analysis. Involved are Amin Elhassan, Brian Windhorst, Tom Haberstroh, Kevin Arnovitz, Tim MacMahon, Kevin Pelton and Cassidy Hubbarth. Rachel Nichols, Pablo Torre and Ohm Youngmisuk will also lend their voices and perspectives to the podcast. Episodes will be provided daily during the post-season and through the NBA Draft.
Turning our attention further north, SportsNet 590 The Fan has launched a new podcast. Point Taken will debut on May 10th and feature hosts Greg Brady and Caroline Cameron. The pair say they plan to conduct conversations with athletes, actors, musicians, broadcasters, and anyone they can bribe to appear.
A special thanks to everyone who’s listened to the BSM Podcast episode 12 featuring Michael McCarthy of the Sporting News and Bryan Curtis of The Ringer. The program was listed in the top 10 of sports media podcasts, which is remarkable given that the program is produced without the backing of a major company or distributor. My sincere thanks to everyone for listening, sharing, and supporting the program. Be sure to leave a review on iTunes and if there’s something you’d like to hear explored on a future episode feel free to pass along your suggestion via email.
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.
Joe DeCamara & Jon Ritchie Reveal Contributors To New WIP Morning Show
“Angelo for many, many years has had a wonderful team. And obviously we’re indebted to what he did for all the years putting everything together.”
The Philadelphia Eagles postseason run will determine how much longer Angelo Cataldi hosts his morning show on 94 WIP. While hosts Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie wait in the wings to take the reins from Angelo, they took time on Wednesday to reveal the rest of the cast of contributors and fill-in hosts for the new WIP morning show.
“Angelo for many, many years has had a wonderful team. And obviously we’re indebted to what he did for all the years putting everything together,” DeCamara said. “We want to just sort of duplicate it at a similar level of success and longevity. And to do that you want to put together a group that you really believe in and want to have a great shot with and entertain people for years.”
DeCamara and Ritchie revealed that longtime morning contributors Rhea Hughes and Joe Weachter will continue to serve in their capacities. DeCamara said he’s excited to work with such a tenured producer and have him and producer James Seltzer collaborate.
“Everybody cares about Joe, because he’s been such a huge part of Angelo’s show for so many years behind the scenes as the producer,” DeCamara said. “He’s gonna be producing this show in addition to helping James out. And we got ambitious plans for social media and ways we can get Joe involved in all sorts of ways to help present our show to the public. So that’ll be a big part of it.”
WIP newcomer Devan Kaney will also be a regular on the morning show. DeCamara also announced Philly sports media legend Ray Didinger will also be heard at certain points.
As for insiders and contributors to discussions on the Philly sports teams, it was announced former Phillies TV analyst Ruben Amaro, former Phils announcer Ben Davis, former Eagles linebacker Seth Joyner and Ron Jaworski will be in the lineup.
Ritchie said having someone like Amaro on to talk baseball is going to be a great chance to soak up as much knowledge as possible.
“You know so much, and I feel like I’m gonna learn so much from you,” he said. “And I think we’re all so fortunate.”
Additionally, comedian Joe Conklin will be added to keep things lively and fun.
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.
Steak Shapiro Apologizes, Says He Didn’t Think Stetson Bennett Criticism Was ‘That Inflamatory’
“You were just trying to play music and not ignore the fans. Still don’t think it was a great speech, but again, you’re the biggest football hero in Georgia football history.”
Wednesday’s edition of The Steakhouse was one Atlanta sports fans were waiting for. Late Tuesday night, Steak Shapiro took to Twitter to promise that he would address Stetson Bennett IV’s reaction to his criticism of the way the quarterback behaved at Georgia’s National Championship parade on Saturday.
“The notion is that Steak was basically roasted,” he said of the coverage the social media spat received. “He was put on the grill and taken to task.”
Shapiro had tweeted that he did not think it was a good look for Bennett to be on his phone during the championship parade and that his speech seemed more about settling old grudges than it was about celebrating the team or the fans. In a message on Twitter, which began by addressing Shapiro as “Mr. Med Rare”, Bennett explained that he was using his phone to play music in the car he was riding in. He was not ignoring the moment or the fans.
After giving Bennett credit for coming up with a funny nickname, Steak Shapiro said that he was surprised that the quarterback took the criticism so personally.
“My job is to give an opinion. I didn’t think it was that inflammatory. I didn’t think it was that dramatic.”
He added that has no problem with Stetson’s disdain for the media. He just thought the parade should have been about the fans and the accomplishment rather than Stetson Bennett IV trying to settle old grudges. Still, Shapiro wanted to make it clear that he does not hate the Georgia quarterback. He remains one of Bennett’s most vocal fans.
“On three or four occasions, I was lambasted because I said I thought he was the greatest player in Georgia history, and I said that before he won the national title,” Shapiro said. “I said that when they had the undefeated regular season, and then people started saying ‘stop saying that about Stetson’ or ‘Stetson’s overrated’. I just kinda had his back the entire year and probably had his back the last two years. I just didn’t think Saturday was a great day. That is what I have been saying, and I stand by it. I just didn’t think it was a great-looking day.”
Steak Shapiro did offer an apology to Bennett. He said that if the quarterback was just trying to play music on his phone, that isn’t that big of a deal, and if he had known that is what was happening, his reaction may have been different.
“My bad,” he concluded. “You were just trying to play music and not ignore the fans. Still don’t think it was a great speech, but again, you’re the biggest football hero in Georgia football history. You’re one of the iconic sports figures — maybe number one — in a town of Hank Aaron, and Chipper Jones, and Domonique Wilkins, and Matt Ryan, and Deion Sanders. You’re probably number one all time.”
Brian Gebhardt to Serve as Program Director of Sactown Sports 1140
“Learning under skilled leaders such as Terry Foxx, Sean Thompson, Reggie Rouse, and Mike Conti helped prepare Gebhardt for the next step.”
Sactown Sports 1140 has found their next program director. After an extensive search, GM Steve Cottingim and Bonneville Sacramento’s Group Director of Programming Chad Rufer have found their next leader in Atlanta, GA, tabbing Brian Gebhardt to guide the brand’s programming department.
Gebhardt heads west to join Bonneville Sacramento after enjoying over seven years of success at 92.9 The Game. He has served recently as the Executive Producer of the ‘Andy & Randy’ show featuring Randy McMichael and Andy Bunker. During his time with the Atlanta sports station, Gebhardt has learned under skilled leaders such as Terry Foxx, Sean Thompson, Reggie Rouse, and Mike Conti. Those experiences prepared Gebhardt for the next step, as did working with numerous on-air talents who have helped The Game become a model of consistency in Georgia.
“Brian’s experience working with both premiere talent and professional sports franchises will help us help the Sactown Sports brand grow both on-air and on-line ,” said Cottingim.
“Brian demonstrated to us a real passion for leading extraordinary talent,” shared Rufer. “We are very confident that he will help us grow Sactown Sports into Sacramento’s premiere sports brand.”
“I can’t wait to get started and I am beyond excited to be working with Bonneville,” added Gebhardt.
The hiring of the Georgia native as new PD allows Nick Cattles to focus exclusively on hosting the station’s afternoon show, a role he’s wanted to invest more time. Cattles joined Sactown Sports in November 2021 and has pulled double duty since arriving in Northern California. He hired Ramie Makhlouf as his afternoon drive co-host and the duo have built a solid foundation in afternoons. Having the ability now to focus solely on the show should allow Cattles and Ramie to elevate their program even more.
The first day on the job for Gebhardt will be Monday February 3rd. Depending on what develops with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC playoffs, there’s a possibility he could be walking into two straight weeks of Super Bowl planning. Regardless, Gebhardt has a new market to learn, a new team to meet, a new company to deliver results for, and an opportunity to take a big step in his radio career.