The sports media news cycle continues to spin, and this week’s information includes a number of comings, goings, and new additions. To have your station, company or personal news shared in a future edition of UTR, please pass along all information via email to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me. Now on to the news.
After 16 years, Matt Abbatacola has left 670 The Score in Chicago. The Chicago sports radio veteran served as a producer, anchor and reporter, and enjoyed a long run as Boers and Bernstein’s executive producer. He turned in his resignation to pursue other opportunities according to Robert Feder’s website.
It’s good to see “The Big Dog” Steve Duemig back on the airwaves in Tampa at WDAE. After a three month absence from the airwaves and an intense battle with cancer, Duemig returned to his afternoon drive slot last Monday. He says he’s feeling good and is excited to be back. To hear his emotional opening monologue click here.
ESPN 99.3FM in Southwest Florida is adding to its afternoon show. Former WEEI host Pete Sheppard has been brought in to partner with Craig Shemon weekdays from 2p-6p ET. “Shemon and Sheppard” made their debut on the station on Monday afternoon. You can learn more information by visiting the station’s website 993ESPN.com
Former ESPN Cleveland 850 WKNR talk show host Mark “Munch” Bishop has resurfaced. Bishop has signed on to host afternoons for FOX Sports Radio 1350 in Akron, Ohio. In addition to being offered locally, Bishop’s program will receive regional syndication on The Sports Animal in Youngstown, and FOX Sports Radio 1340 in Mansfield.
Joe Raineri is back on the south Florida airwaves again. The former sports talk show host on Alpha Media’s FOX Sports Radio 640 has made a format switch. Raineri is now hosting mornings on Revolution Radio 93.5FM. The station bills itself as an electronic dance station.
A new midday show is launching in June on FOX Sports Knoxville. The station has confirmed that “Talk Sports” will debut June 19th and air weekdays from 10a-1p ET. The show will be hosted by Jon Reed and Boomer Dangel.
Coming up on Saturday June 3rd, Mad Dog Sports Radio‘s Morning Men featuring Evan Cohen and Mike Babchik will present their fan appreciation party, FALCon 2017. For information on how you can attend the event click here.
101 ESPN in St. Louis is hosting its 4th Annual Baseball Camp for Kids, which gives kids ages 6-13 a chance to learn the fundamentals of baseball from a few of its hosts, who just so happen to possess on the field credibility. The event takes place at GCS Ballpark on June 3rd! Former Cardinals and World Series Champions Chris Duncan (middays) and Brad Thompson (afternoon show), and former Miami University Baseball Player Kevin Wheeler (middays) will serve as primary instructors. For more information on the promotion click here.
Congratulations to Ryan Chell who has signed on with WFNZ in Charlotte as producer of Primetime with Chris Kroeger. Chell previously worked for SiriusXM in Washington D.C. before making the move.
Ryan Radtke is leaving his position as the University of Nevada Wolf Pack‘s play-by-play voice of football and men’s basketball in order to join Westwood One as a play-by-play announcer for college football, college basketball and other sporting events. Radtke spent nine years calling Wolf Pack games and also served as the voice of the Reno Aces minor league baseball team.
New agreements have been secured by Learfield Sports with two of its existing partners. The broadcast group has extended their partnership with Utah State University and the University of North Dakota.
Alpha Media has launched a brand new sports radio station in Peoria, Illinois. The Larry Wilson led company has introduced 95.9 The Sports Nut to local listeners. The station’s programming will be largely provided by FOX Sports Radio. A local show is being hosted by Scott Robbins from 4p-6p CT.
In Nashville, ESPN 94.9 The Game 2 has added a weekly Soccer show on Saturday mornings at 8am ET. The show, which has been created in conjunction with the Nashville Soccer Club, will feature Julian Council, hosting alongside different members of the club’s front office and coaching staff. To read the press release click here.
Paul Esden Jr. has been hired as a producer at 1260 The Score in Syracuse. Esden previously worked for ESPN Syracuse 97.7 and 100.1.
Speaking of producer hires, congratulations to Gavin Kinsel who’s been named Executive Producer of the NBA on TuneIn.
Gary Lawless has left the Winnipeg Free-Press and TSN in order to join the NHL’s new expansion franchise the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Lawless worked his final shift in Winnipeg on Friday and is in transition to the city of sin. You can read his introductory column to Golden Knights fans by clicking here.
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.
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.
DNVR Sports Files Injunction Against Bonneville Over Denver Sports Brand
“We can’t allow someone that represents the exact opposite of us to damage the goodwill of our brand or create confusion in the community.”
After Bonneville International unveiled new branding for its Denver Sports properties, digital outlet DNVR Sports has filed an injunction to stop the radio company from utilizing the brand and logos.
In a Twitter thread, ALLCITY Network CEO Brandon Spano claimed DNVR Sports has already seen listeners, viewers, and readers confuse the two brands. “We can’t allow someone that represents the exact opposite of us to damage the goodwill of our brand or create confusion in the community,” Spano tweeted.
“Our branding was created purposefully, to be different from the way sports networks traditionally looked,” he said in another tweet. “To represent the city of Denver in a simple way while removing us from the gloss and pretentiousness of sports media. To create something that brings people together.”
Spano added that ALLCITY sent Bonneville a cease-and-desist letter last week, but claims the company failed to respond, so an injunction has been filed.
The Denver Sports branding utilized by Bonneville — which encompasses 104.3 The Fan and ESPN Denver — features a black and white city skyline as well as the Rocky Mountains inside a hexagon with block lettering. The DNVR Sports logo is a rectangle, similar to the city of Denver flag, with the sun centered between the mountain peaks and a block “DNVR” below the rectangle.
The complaint filed by StudioIP LLC — the law firm representing ALLCITY — claims the branding used by Bonneville constitutes “trademark infringement, unfair competition, trade dress infringement, dilution by tarnishment, and tortious interference arising out of Bonneville’s trademark infringement of Plaintiff’s trademarks,” according to Westword.
Bonneville has denied any wrongdoing, saying the accusations “have absolutely no merit, and our legal counsel is preparing a formal response. Denver Sports remains committed to delivering the most in-depth and inclusive local sports content for all Denver sports fans.”