It’s been a while since we brought you an Under The Radar column but to borrow a line from Mike Greenberg “we’re back and better than ever.” OK maybe that’s a stretch but if it’s sports media industry news you crave, then you’ve come to the right place.
The following message may sound repetitive if you’ve read this column before but it’s important that we get it out to keep you informed. The only way we can help tell your story is if you take the time to let us know about it. All it takes is sending an email to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me and including a few details about your individual or station’s news story, and when the next UTR piece comes out we’ll try to make sure you’re included. It’s that easy.
Now that we’ve tackled that issue, let’s move on to the latest news!
Friday marks the final day of Chris Oliviero‘s tenure as EVP of programming for Entercom. The highly respected radio executive announced on June 22nd that he’d be leaving the company to explore new opportunities. He is expected though to remain in an advisory role thru the remainder of the year. Prior to joining Entercom, Oliviero spent 22 years with CBS Radio, helping establish the company as one of the best in broadcasting. Many of the top sports talk brands in America have either been created, strengthened or rebuilt under his watchful eye. BSM wishes Chris the best in his future pursuits. To stay in touch with him via email click here.
As interest rapidly increases in sports betting content, VSiN have been on quite the roll. The Vegas Stats and Information Network has secured new radio partnerships with the Mighty 1090 in San Diego, 104.5 ESPN in Baton Rouge, FOX Sports 1290 in Wilmington, DE, FOX Sports 960 in Salisbury, MD and Sports Radio 1450 in Springfield, IL. That’s in addition to prior partnerships announced with 670 The Score in Chicago and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. A few other major market brands are expected to be announced soon once agreements are finalized. Some sports brands in states which have yet to legalize sports gambling have taken a wait and see approach towards increasing their sports betting content, but their tentativeness has opened the door for rock stations who also target the Male 25-54 demographic. The content after all appeals to both audiences. How that will factor into future partnerships with VSiN will be interesting to follow. One thing’s for certain, the interest level from brands is only going to increase as we inch closer to football season.
As great as Colin Cowherd is at delivering analogies and opinions, what he did on Thursday’s show to turn a lemon into lemonade was worth highlighting. It’s a great lesson for talk show hosts on how to handle things when a curveball gets thrown in your direction. Cowherd’s guest booker Dave Coelho asked Colin if he’d want former Laker great Norm Nixon on the show to discuss LeBron’s arrival in Los Angeles. Cowherd agreed and Coelho texted him to set it up and then sent a car to bring him to the studio. Except when Coelho went downstairs to meet Nixon to bring him to the studio he discovered that Nixon looked nothing like the guest he thought he had booked. It turned out that Norm Nixon Jr., an actor, writer, music producer and comedian, and the son of the Lakers great was the recipient of the texts. Cowherd said it was the first time in 30 years that he had ever experienced a situation like that. To watch the way it unfolded click here.
Sad news out of Charlotte. Entercom Charlotte digital director Nathan Richie lost his life in a motorcycle accident in mid-June. Richie spent over two decades working in the market including the past year with Entercom and was highly regarded. To show their respect for a fallen teammate, Market Manager Matt Hanlon and his programming teams utilized their on-air, online, and social platforms on all local brands to highlight the impact Richie made on those he came in contact with. It was a very classy gesture by the operation. A funeral service was also arranged by Richie’s family to allow those who knew him to say their final goodbyes.
Also in Charlotte, former WFNZ host turned Charlotte Hornets radio play by play voice Chris Kroeger has launched a podcast for his new NBA employer. Kroeger has made good use of his newfound access, sitting down with new GM Mitch Kupchak and head coach James Borrego, and visiting with this year’s draftees Miles Bridges and Devonte’ Graham. He’s also chatted with the franchise’s 1st ever draft selection Rex Chapman. To hear any of the episodes click here.
Chicago sports radio personality Jason Goff has been a busy man as of late. The former 670 The Score afternoon host has appeared on Laurence Holmes‘ “House of L Podcast” and been a frequent contributor on television, making visits to NBC Sports Chicago, ABC-7 and FOX-32. Goff has also spread his wings beyond the windy city hosting on WFNZ in Charlotte and Mad Dog Radio and the NBA Channel on SiriusXM.
Kate Scott made a return to the Bay Area radio airwaves for a fill-in assignment on her former station KNBR 680. Scott stepped in to host for Paul MacCaffrey on Tuesday July 3rd working alongside former morning colleague Brian Murphy.
Props to 790 The Ticket in Miami for once again providing live and local overnight programming on the night of NBA Free Agency. It was the 3rd straight year the station created a live show to report and let listeners sound-off on one of the biggest night’s of the NBA off-season. Despite the flood of news pouring in at midnight on Saturday/Sunday, a time when radio station’s don’t usually sell sponsorships, The Ticket’s sales team used the specialized the event to generated new revenue from three clients. A nice job by all involved.
Miami is also where you’ll find sports radio veteran Josh Darrow diving into the podcasting space. Darrow’s forthcoming digital audio offering will be titled “The 5 Rings” and will focus heavily on the Miami Hurricanes. The podcast will be part of the 5 Reasons Sports Network which was co-founded by former Miami Herald writer and 790 The Ticket afternoon host Ethan Skolnick.
1010XL in Jacksonville recently made some internal adjustments. The station has moved afternoon personality Lauren Brooks into mornings alongside Jeff Prosser and Dan Hicken. A few producer moves have occurred as well. Midday producer Andrew Gibson has shifted to afternoons, morning producer Tyler Devitte has moved to middays, and afternoon producer Ryan “Big Country” Bonifant has taken on new responsibilities behind the scenes and left the afternoon show.
The stars continue to align for former 1010XL on-air contributor MacKenzie Thirkill. Thirkill announced in late June on social media that after two and a half years working with the Orlando City Soccer Club she was leaving her on-air position for a new opportunity. That new opportunity involves reporting and hosting for the Orlando Magic on their digital platforms. Thirkill says she’ll also make television appearances on FOX Sports Florida during the NBA regular season.
The end of the line has been reached by John Semar in St. Louis. After ten years behind the scenes working for 101 ESPN and 590 The Fan in St. Louis and 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, “The Sea Monster” as he was known to colleagues has decided to leave the radio business. During his career Semar produced shows featuring Bryan Burwell, Bob Stelton, Pat Parris, Tim McKernan, Zach McCrite, Rick Venturi and the Rise Guys.
Continuing in St. Louis, congrats are in order for former Jim Rome Show producer Austin Huff. The Mizzou graduate has accepted a position working for 101 ESPN. Huff spent three years in California on Rome’s program after starting his radio career in Nashville working for both 104.5 The Zone and 102.5 The Game. While at The Game he served as an EP for FOX Sports Radio personality Steve Gorman.
SB Nation Radio is undergoing a lineup overhaul. The network is searching for a new afternoon host after Sean Salisbury left for SportsTalk 790 in Houston. That isn’t the only drive time affected though. Mornings are changing too after the network made the decision to pull the plug on its previous show featuring Steve Solomon, Tim Murray, and Scott Linn. In order to figure out the best way forward, SB Nation Radio is bringing in Jason Page, Carter Bryant and Eytan Shander for fill-in shows. Other names may also be added to the mix as time progresses.
Staying in Houston, Sports Radio 610 host Marc Ryan has earned an opportunity to expand his presence on the national circuit. Ryan has been tabbed by the CBS Sports Radio Network to make his on-air debut this Sunday night from 6p-10p ET. Among his scheduled guests for his debut program include actor Seth Rogen, Kristen Ledlow and Ryan’s former Tampa radio teammate and new Monday Night Football sideline analyst Anthony “Booger” McFarland.
Also in Houston, former SB Nation Radio producer Joe George has moved over to Sports Radio 610. Meanwhile his former SB Nation Radio teammate Adam Sager who produced Sean Salisbury’s show has seen his time at the network come to an end after four years. Sources say there could be interest from 790 to bring Sager on board but as of now he remains a free agent. You can contact him for opportunities by clicking here.
Ann Meyers Drysdale and John Ramsey are the newest members of the So Cal Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame. The duo will be inducted at the 28th annual SCSB Awards Luncheon on January 2019. Drysdale enjoyed a long broadcasting career working for the UCLA Radio Network, Pac-12 Network, ESPN, the LA Sparks and covered a number of Olympic games for ABC, NBC and TNT. Ramsey was the original public address announcer for the Angels, Dodgers, Kings, Lakers and L.A. Raiders as well as the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, five Super Bowls including the first Super Bowl, seven World Series, two Major League All Star Games, two NBA All Star Games and ten NBA finals. For more information click here.
Some unfortunate news for Molly Sullivan. After six years on the sidelines with the Philadelphia 76ers, Sullivan was informed by NBC Sports Philadelphia that she wasn’t being brought back. The decision caught her off guard and has led to Philadelphia sports fans being upset by the decision. For a deeper read and listen to Sullivan’s side of the story with Richard Deitsch of The Athletic click here.
Sullivan wasn’t the only one covering the Sixers to be let go by NBC Sports Philadelphia. Jessica Camerato announced on Twitter on Thursday that she too was informed her time had come to an end after two and a half years.
National Sports TV interviewer Graham Bensinger has announced that his program In Depth with Graham Bensinger is now available in podcast form. The full uninterrupted interviews that Bensinger conducts with high profile national sports figures can be heard by clicking here.
In writing news, the Chicago-Tribune has named Jimmy Greenfield their new Chicago Blackhawks beat reporter. The Athletic has hired Antonio Morales to cover USC Football for their Los Angeles outlet, and the Arizona Cardinals have added radio veterans Mike Jurecki and Craig Giralou to their digital team. Both men will host podcasts, videos, and pre/post game shows for the Cardinals. Meanwhile the Boston Globe .
And finally, Amanda Stein has agreed to join the New Jersey Devils full-time as their All-Access host and digital reporter.
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.
Jonathan Zaslow No Longer With WQAM
An attempt to reach out to Zaslow for comment went unanswered.
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.
Barry Jackson, a veteran journalist with the Miami Herald, reports that 790 The Ticket morning hosts Brendan Tobin and Leroy Hoard will move to that 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. WQAM slot during the week of Oct. 3.
In more station movement, Joe Rose’s WQAM morning show with Zach Krantz now will be simulcast on The Ticket, replacing the Tobin/Hoard program. Audacy, which owns both WQAM and The Ticket, also simulcast Marc Hochman’s and Channing Crowder’s afternoon show.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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”.