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Under The Radar – September 11, 2017

Jason Barrett

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Football season is back, which means the interest in sports media content should be top of mind for the next four months. This week there were a little more than twenty news items to share. As always, if you have information to share involving yourself or your company, please send it via email to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me.

Now here are this week’s tidbits.

Last year many blamed the NFL‘s ratings decline on the election, Donald Trump, Colin Kaepernick’s protest, Peyton Manning’s retirement and Tom Brady’s four game suspension. But this year’s Thursday Night opener on NBC featuring the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs produced a lower rating than last year’s game between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos. Is it a one week aberration or a sign of things to come? To read more about it, click here.

As WFAN begins dealing with the aftereffects of Craig Carton‘s arrest, the million dollar question becomes, “who takes his spot opposite Boomer Esiason?” The Fan has a few internal options to consider from Brandon Tierney, Gregg Giannotti, Damon Amendolara and Jerry Recco. They could stay in the company and ask Adam The Bull, Chris Carlin or Mike Valenti to relocate to the big apple. Or they could go outside the box. The New York Daily News raised the possibility of external candidates such as Chris Simms, Jon “Stugotz” Weiner or Michael Rappaport, and Greg Hughes, formerly of ‘Opie and Anthony’, has also been floated as a suggestion before too. One thing that’s not expected to change is the show’s television simulcast on the CBS Sports Network.

New York radio stations are ramping up their contributors for the 2017 NFL season. 98.7 ESPN New York has added New York Giants safety Landon Collins for The Michael Kay Show, and former New York Jets Linebacker Bart Scott as a contributor on a variety of station shows. WFAN will once again have Eli Manning and Ben McAdoo on each week with Mike Francesa, plus NFL Network reporter Peter Schrager has signed on to appear with Mike each Friday.

Speaking of contributors, ESPN Radio has announced its collection of experts to contribute to the network’s morning show, Mike and Mike, and starting in November, Golic & Wingo. Set to appear on the show are Louis Riddick, Booger McFarland, Ryan Clark, Herm Edwards, Paul Finebaum, Kirk Herbstreit, Matthew Berry, Brian Billick, Field Yates, Mike Golic Jr. and Joey Galloway.

Also on ESPN Radio, the network is bringing back Brian Custer and Donovan McNabb. The two men will broadcast Monday evenings from 7p-10p ET.

Changes are coming to 97.5 The Fanatic. The radio station has confirmed the addition of Bob Cooney to the morning show with Anthony Gargano. Cooney spent twenty five years with the Philadelphia Daily News.

Meanwhile on the other side of town, Sports Radio 94WIP deserves a round of applause for leading the cause to raise over two hundred thousand dollars for the Eagles Charitable Foundation. WIP says the money will help over 6,932 children receive eye care in the form of a $30 comprehensive vision exam and a pair of eyeglasses. Nice work.

Sticking with WIP, the radio station also announced their football contributors for the 2017 NFL season. Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham will appear live from Chickie’s and Pete’s each Monday night at 6p ET. The show will be hosted by Merrill Reese, Howard Eskin and Jon Marks. Immediately after Graham’s show at 7p ET, WIP rolls out the “Player’s Lounge” with Ike Reese and Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. In addition, Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson appears Monday mornings at 8a ET with Angelo Cataldi. The station will also feature regular appearances by The Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia, former NFL offensive lineman Ross Tucker, former NFL coach and Super Bowl champion Dick Vermeil, Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks, Ray Didinger, former NFL executive Mike Lombardi, Eagles cornerbacks Rodney McLeod and Jalen Mills, fantasy football experts Paul Charchian and John Hansen, and NFL Insider Ian Rapoport.

Congratulations to 106.7 The Fan in Washington D.C. on finishing the August book in the Top 3 with Men 25-54 M-F 6a-7p and M-SU 6a-Mid. The Sports Junkies turned in a dominant performance in morning drive, finishing the month a few tenths of a point under a 12 share, good enough for second place. Local competitor ESPN 980 also received good news. The majority of their weekday programs finished in the Top 10 including their morning show hosted by Chris Cooley and Kevin Sheehan which came in sixth.

The ratings were also positive for ESPN Los Angeles 710AM. Month to month performances were higher for the majority of the weekday lineup, but even more important was growth for each show in the key M-F 6a-7p schedule. Leading the way as usual were Mason and Ireland who turned in a little better than a three and a half share. Their rating is the best of any local sports talk show in the market.

When it comes to numbers, 101 ESPN in St. Louis has become accustomed to dominating the local competition, and the month of August was no exception. The station’s weekday shows once again finished between 1st and 4th. Leading the way were The Fast Lane which turned in another #1 performance in afternoons with better than a 12 share.

Jordan Kent has returned to 102.9/750 The Game in Portland to co-host the Oregon Ducks pre-game show. Kent, who played football, basketball and ran track for the Ducks, also contributes locally on television for Comcast Sports Northwest.

KNBR 680 host John Lund has launched a new website, playing off of one of his popular benchmarks “The Caboose Pistol.” The site contains a bunch of male demo prep material and can be accessed by clicking here.

Staying in San Francisco, KCBS has announced the return of John Madden to its airwaves. The former NFL head coach and analyst has been a longtime contributor to the radio station.

A little further south, the Broadcast Company of the Americas in San Diego have struck a deal to feature University of San Diego football and basketball on their radio stations. Five football home games will air on The Mighty 1090. The remaining road games will be carried by sister station ESPN 1700. Men’s basketball games will also split between the two stations, with 1090 carrying 10 games, and the remaining ones being offered on 1700.

Charlotte’s sports leader WFNZ has added some firepower to its talk shows for the 2017 NFL season. Joining the station’s lineup as weekly contributors are voice of the Panthers Jim Szoke, Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, former NFL executive Tony Softli, NBC Pro Football Talk reporter Mike Florio, former NFL offensive lineman Lomas Brown, and a slew of others.

The Big 1070 in Madison, Wisconsin has adjusted its weekday lineup. 1070 has replaced Fox Sports Radio’s “Rich Eisen Show” weekdays 11a-2p CT with a one-hour edition of “The Rundown with Jon Arias”, and a regional simulcast of sister station The Big 920’s “The Drew Olson Show.” An hour of Mike Heller’s programs gets eliminated but he remains installed in afternoons on the station from 3p-6p CT.

Shifting to Denver, Ryan Edwards is moving from Mile High Sports to Orange and Blue Radio. Edwards will host M-F 10a-12p MT.

In Cleveland, Danny Cunningham has left ESPN 850 WKNR. He says he’s involved in talks for another project and will share the details at the appropriate time.

The Syracuse Crunch have decided on their new play by play voice. Congratulations to Lukas Favale on earning the opportunity.

Aaron Torres has joined Kentucky Sports Radio as a contributing writer according to founder Matt Jones.

A new podcast has been launched by former WFAN and current WOR producer “Sugar” Ray Martel, and New England radio personality Keith Rice. The two Boston sports fans will discuss Boston’s “Big 4” via the Sugar and Rice podcast. Martel brings a Big Apple perspective to his Boston fandom. Rice acknowledges his slant is very “anti-New York”. The weekly podcast will be available on iTunes and Google Play.

A toast is in order for ESPN which celebrated 38 years in business last week. The network launched to an estimated audience of 30,000 viewers. It’s pretty remarkable to see where the company is now compared to where it was in 1979 when it first began. Cheers!

While we’re on the subject of anniversaries, congratulations to CBS‘ flagship show, The NFL Today, which celebrates 50 years on the air on September 13th. The initial broadcast ran 15 minutes and was hosted by Frank Gifford. Since then, 43 different hosts, analysts and reporters have contributed to the program.

Lately many writers have been flocking from the Bay Area News Group to join The Athletic, leaving holes inside the organization’s sports department. One of them has been filled as BANG has hired Dieter Kurtenbach as a sports columnist.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has lost a valuable member of their sports department. Longtime Blues reporter and writer Jeremy Rutherford has announced he’s signed on with The Athletic. JR says he will transition from breaking news, game stories and practice updates to providing deeper columns that cover the key issues involving the Blues.

The Athletic has landed another scribe north of the border. The company’s Toronto division has lured Eric Duhatschek over from the Globe and Mail. Duhatschek had spent 17 years with the local newspaper.

Ken Pomeroy has also announced he’s joining The Athletic. Pomeroy will be a regular contributor and analytics editor for the company’s college basketball platform.

There will be a new beat reporter covering the Missouri Tigers for the Kansas City Star. Longtime writer Tod Palmer has confirmed he’s stepping aside to take a position as Suburbans Editor for some of The Star’s products as well as Lee’s Summit Journal and the Cass County Democrat.

Sports Radio News

Jonathan Zaslow No Longer With WQAM

An attempt to reach out to Zaslow for comment went unanswered.

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WQAM midday host Jonathan Zaslow is no longer with WQAM in Miami.

The radio station has removed his show from the website and references to him and his normal 10a-2p ET midday timeslot program have been scrubbed from the station website.

Zaslow tweeted at 5:19p ET confirming the news.

Whether or not this has any effect on his involvement with the Miami Heat broadcasts is unknown as of now.

Zaslow had been with 790 the Ticket since 2004. He was transitioned from Audacy-owned 790 to sister station AM 560 Sports WQAM last October. During his tenure he has worked with a number of established local voices including Joy Taylor, Amber Wilson, Brett Romberg, and Brendan Tobin amongst others.

WQAM has gone thru a number of changes, including a rebranding effort to call the station “560 The Joe”. That ended last year with the station returning to the AM 560 Sports WQAM brand listeners were more familiar with. What they have planned next in Zaslow’s timeslot is unclear but local listeners will likely get some answers next week.

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Sports Radio News

Vanessa Richardson Named Houston Rockets Sideline Reporter, Paul Gallant to Host Solo on ESPN 97.5

Vanessa Richardson will be on the sidelines for the Houston Rockets and Paul Gallant will host solo show on ESPN 97.5.

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Vanessa and Gallant

Changes are taking place in Houston sports media. First, the Houston Rockets will have a new television sideline reporter this season, and she’s a familiar name to Houston sports fans.

Vanessa Richardson, the now former co-host of ESPN 97.5’s Vanessa and Gallant, revealed that she will be on the sidelines for the NBA franchise covering the team for AT&T SportsNet Southwest.

She tweeted the news saying, “Elated to be the new Houston Rockets sideline reporter! I can’t wait to travel the country & share the stories of this dynamic team during 80+ games on AT&T SportsNet Southwest. I’ll continue to fill-in as a host/reporter for Astros broadcasts as well.”

Richardson’s co-host, Paul Gallant, tweeted that with Richardson leaving the show for the Rockets sideline gig, Vanessa and Gallant will become the Paul Gallant Show. The solo show led by Gallant begins Monday September 26th.

“We’re excited to have Paul host his own show”, said Todd Farquharson, General Manager of ESPN 97.5 & 92.5.  “He’s super creative, energetic, and likeable.  He’ll get the audience involved and have fun.”

Paul commented, “You know what I’ve always loved about sports talk radio?  That it’s interactive.  Whether through a phone call, text message, tweet or on Twitch, it’s the best place for sports fans to come together and celebrate…or vent.  And that’s what The Paul Gallant Show is going to be…Houston’s platform to talk about its teams. THE most interactive sports talk show in Houston.”

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Sports Radio News

Ken Carman: Al Michaels ‘Feels Untethered’ On Amazon Prime Video

“The thing that stuck out was Kirk Herbstreit ripping the elf,” said Carman. “Don’t be ripping Brownie the Elf, man.”

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The Cleveland Browns defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers during Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime Video. 92.3 The Fan morning host Ken Carman applauded Al Michaels for his performance during the presentation.

“Al Michaels feels untethered for the first time. He’s not network television anymore and he can say whatever he wants. We interviewed him on the pregame show and I was nervous,” Carman said.

“He’s a legend,” co-host Anthony Lima added.

During the final play of the game, the Steelers fumbled a lateral into the endzone which the Browns recovered to make the final score 29-17. Michaels said “that may be meaningful to some of you. And you know who I mean”, alluding to people who had placed wagers on the game.

Carman, who hosts two-hours of pre-game coverage on the Browns Radio Network, continued to discuss how nervous he was interviewing Michaels. He also discussed how impressive Amazon’s behind-the-scenes production was, pointing out the only football broadcast with more cameras is the Super Bowl. More than 400 people work behind the scenes for Amazon Prime Video.

“The thing that stuck out was Kirk Herbstreit ripping the elf,” said Carman. “Don’t be ripping Brownie the Elf, man.”

Carman later said people angry that Michaels misspoke by saying the Pro Football Hall of Fame is “down I-71” instead of I-77 were unreasonable, and joked “Al Michaels hasn’t been on a highway in 20 years”.

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