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Sports Radio News

Under The Radar – April 4, 2018

Jason Barrett

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Welcome back to another week of UTR. Our mission with this column is to catch you up on some of the activity that may have slipped by you in sports media circles while you were busy trying to improve your radio station or show. If you have future news to share please pass a tip along via email to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me. Now, here are the latest developments.

New San Diego sports/talk/rock station 97.3 The Machine debuted March 2nd and in less than a month the brand has come under attack. Dan Sileo has been involved in a series of social media exchanges with Darren Smith and Scott Kaplan of Mighty 1090 and new morning host Kevin Klein earned himself a spot in hot water after posting an image of the Coronado Bridge with the caption “JUMP” and the additional text “to a new morning show.” The problem with that post is that the Coronado Bridge is known for having one of the highest suicide rates of any place in the country and using the word “jump” showed a lack of awareness. The poorly thought out post has resulted in local backlash, Klein’s morning show being delayed, and public comments from San Diego Padres CEO Ron Fowler who has expressed concern over the team being affiliated with station. “We’re going to get through this first home stand, then sit down and evaluate it (the relationship with The Machine),” said Fowler. “We’re going to assess our legal obligations. We just want a good radio partner that’s not offensive to the community.” Deadspin didn’t do the brand any favors either with this scathing review.

Boomer Esiason and Gregg Gionnatti are less than thrilled with Chris “Mad Dog” Russo of SiriusXM‘s “Mad Dog Radio” after the former FAN host took a few jabs at his former station’s lineup during a TV conversation with Mike Francesa on the MLB Network. During an on-air exchange between Russo and Francesa, Mad Dog joked that The Fan would soon have lineup openings. Francesa played along and asked “who’s leaving?” The comments ticked off WFAN‘s morning team, leading Esiason to label the duo as “classless” and point out how the two men are only in the news when they’re talking about their former station. To hear the comments made my both parties and my follow up opinion on the situation click here.

Speaking of WFAN, midday host Evan Roberts has launched a podcast. The new digital offering will allow Roberts to explore topics he doesn’t spend a ton of time on during his radio program with Joe Beningo such as pro wrestling, the baseball hall of fame, fatherhood, TV shows, and more. To hear the debut episode click here.

Congratulations are in order for Damon Bruce. The San Francisco afternoon host on 95.7 The Game recently signed a new three-year contract extension to remain installed as The Game’s homerun hitter in PM drive. Bruce joined the station in March 2014 after spending a decade at KNBR 680/1050.

Seven-time MLB All-Star Matt Holliday has taken the plunge into the broadcasting business. The former Rockie, Cardinal, Athletic and Yankee has joined SiriusXM‘s MLB Network Radio lineup. Future details of Holliday’s on-air involvement will be announced soon.

Following the exit of Ben Heisler, 610 Sports in Kansas City is shuffling the deck behind the scenes. APD and morning producer Steven Spector has moved into afternoons to oversee The Drive with CDot and Fanning. Ryan Witkowski who had been producing The Day Shift with Bink and Lake earns an earlier wakeup call and now starts his day alongside Bob Fescoe, Mike Welch and Josh Klingler. Taking Witkowski’s place in middays is Stephen Serda, who receives an internal promotion but still maintains involvement with Ron Hughley on the evening show.

Bomani Jones is back on the podcasting circuit. The former ESPN Radio afternoon host who remains involved on ESPN television and will soon co-host a daily TV show with Pablo Torre has produced a new episode of his podcast “The Right Time with Bomani Jones.” The plan is for the podcast to be made available bi-weekly. To hear the latest show click here.

Continuing with ESPN related news, former producer turned podcast host, speaker, and author Jason Romano is conducting a webinar on Thursday April 26th to teach people the 5 essential steps to breaking into the broadcasting/media business. For more information on how to sign up click here.

Kaila Burns-Heffner is transferring from ESPN’s Bristol headquarters to the company’s Charlotte location. Burns-Heffner is expected to contribute in event production on the network’s college sports programming.

After departing ESPN a few weeks ago, Jim Trotter has a new home. The talented football reporter has signed on with the NFL Network and NFL.com.

In addition to losing Trotter, ESPN now has a hole at The Undefeated. Talented writer Mike Wise has announced he’s leaving the website. In a post on social media, Wise said his three-plus years with The Undefeated paralleled some of the most chaotic, turbulent times he’s ever been a part of at a media company. Despite the drama, he felt the brand produced good work and a number of genuine friendships were made. Wise’s current plan is to work on a biography of 1964 10K Olympic champion Billy Mills, and hopes to share additional professional news in the near future.

Longtime Dallas sports media columnist Barry Horn is no longer with the Dallas Morning News. He had written about the business since the 1990’s. No word on if the newspaper will replace his position.

Sticking with the subject of sports media writers, after leaving Sports Illustrated for The Athletic, Richard Deitsch has started a new podcast. You can hear it by clicking here. Deitsch’s former teammate Jimmy Traina has taken over the SI Media Podcast. You can hear current and future episodes by clicking here.

In podcast promotional news, ESPN received some positive press from Time. The respected publication listed the network’s 30 for 30 podcast and The Lowe Post podcast with Zach Lowe as two of the best digital audio offerings available. To read the article click here.

St. Louis radio and television personality Angella Sharpe has added a new employer to her resume. The St. Louis Blues in-game arena host has accepted an opportunity with the Tampa Bay Rays to contribute as their in-game host and emcee. Sharpe says the position will not impact her duties with the Blues.

And Matt Lombardo has landed a new opportunity. The former 97.5 The Fanatic host, update anchor and Eagles reporter has joined the Star-Ledger as a reporter working on the New York Giants beat.

Sports Radio News

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.”

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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.

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Sports Radio News

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.”

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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.”

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Sports Radio News

Ray Didinger Returning to 94WIP

“Didinger will be a member of the new morning show with Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie on 94WIP once Angelo Cataldi officially retires.”

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Longtime Philadelphia sports personality Ray Didinger stepped away from his media roles at NBC Sports Philadelphia and 94WIP in 2022, but he couldn’t stay away forever.

Didinger will be a member of the new morning show with Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie on 94WIP once Angelo Cataldi officially retires.

The 75-year-old returned to NBC Sports Philadelphia late in 2022 as a member of the Eagles Postgame show and decided to return to the venerable Philadelphia sports radio station as well.

Didinger will work on an as-needed basis for DeCamara and Ritchie, contributing to news surrounding the Eagles. Known for his yellow notepad, Didinger has covered the franchise for more than 50 years.

After his retirement, Didinger was the subject of an episode of NFL Films Presents… in December, at the time telling Cataldi he had stayed busy in retirement.

“It’s been busier than I thought,” Didinger said. “Just because of the way things have gone in the city. The Phillies going to the World Series, the Eagles are 10-1, I don’t think any of us thought it was going to be this kind of run.

“Consequently, my phone hasn’t stopped ringing. I had no idea everyone in the world has a podcast so I’ve been getting all those calls. My name and my phone number are on way too many rolodexes all around the country. When somebody says ‘Hey, let’s do a piece about Philly’, my phone rings. It’s been busy but it’s been good. It’s been great to see what this has meant to the city.”

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