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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

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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