After 18 months away from the airwaves in Salt Lake City, Spence Checketts returned to Utah’s ESPN 700 as their afternoon drive host on Monday.
For well over a decade, Checketts was a sports radio fixture in Salt Lake City, but in February 2018, the broadcaster was forced to resign from his show on 1280 The Zone following his arrest for speeding with an open container of alcohol in the car. It wasn’t the first time Checketts had an alcohol related issue, he was arrested three times between 2003 – 2008 before remaining sober for almost a decade. Following last year’s bout with alcohol, nearly a week of jail time and almost 18 months without a daily radio show, Checketts returned to the airwaves on Monday by asking for a chance.
“If you think I’ve wasted all my opportunities, here’s all I’m asking, all I’m asking for is a chance. I can say I’m sorry until I’m blue in the face and believe me, I am and I have been,” Checketts told the audience on his first day back.
“I have been apologetic because I truly am, it’s a horrible, horrible situation and I’m trying to make the best of it every single day, all I do is wake up and say to myself, do the next right thing.”
The son of Dave Checketts, business mogul and former president of the Utah Jazz and New York Knicks, Spence has worked to make a name for himself in the world of sports as a popular radio host. This is Checketts’ second tenure with ESPN 700, having previously hosted the Bill and Spence Show, before moving to 1280 The Zone.
After Checketts lost his show with 1280 The Zone, he returned with a long-form interview podcast last year, titled Reality Check. As he looked to break back into the industry, Checketts also made multiple appearances on ESPN 700 with his former co-host Bill Riley who hosts the station’s midday show. Now, the radio host makes his full-time return to ESPN 700, launching The Drive with Spence Checketts weekdays from 2 – 6pm.
Brandon Contes is a former reporter for BSM, now working for Awful Announcing. You can find him on Twitter @BrandonContes or reach him by email at Brandon.Contes@gmail.com.
Fescoe in the Morning: ESPN Has a History of Ignoring Non-Partner Leagues
“They are risking being ignored by ESPN now,” replied Klingler.
ESPN is out of the running for the Big Ten football and basketball media rights. Those will be awarded to a combination of other networks and likely a streaming service. ESPN appears to be focusing on NCAA Championships next.
Josh Klingler, co-host of Fescoe in the Morning on 610 Sports Radio in Kansas City, took time on their show on Tuesday to break down what that might mean for the Big Ten in terms of coverage.
“You’re (Big Ten) going to network television, which is better; more eyeballs and what have you,” noted Klingler. “But also, let’s not forget ESPN has a history of ignoring you when you’re not on their air. That’s the risk they are going to run.”
Klingler would add, “They are going to take the money. They are going to get network viewers, which is good. I guess the highlight and the hype and all those things that we are accustomed to doing that ESPN provides. We’ve already seen they ignore you if you’re not on their network.”
Bob Fescoe chimed in a reminder about another prominent league that chose not to partner with ESPN.
“Ask the National Hockey League what happened when they took the money from NBC and ran,” said Fescoe.
“They are risking being ignored by ESPN now,” replied Klingler.
“Right, but I think they are willing to do that for a billion dollars per year,” Fescoe responded.
Fescoe then said that the Big Ten might make up for the perceived shortcomings of not being on ESPN by being on network television.
“If you’re going to be on network TV in all three windows, Josh, quite honestly all your marquee games are going to be free,” said Fescoe.
“That’s exposure,” said Klingler.
NESN’s Dave O’Brien Says National Networks “Blew It” By Not Hiring Dennis Eckersley
“I don’t know how they blew it as badly as they did but Dennis Eckersley should have been a national icon… they made a mistake on that. I hope somebody regrets it.”
On Monday, Dennis Eckersley decided to make it known that this season would be his last with NESN in the booth. He mentioned that after 50 years in baseball, it was time to go be with the grandchildren in San Diego.
His broadcast partner for a lot of those years in the NESN booth was Dave O’Brien. On the latest Sports Media Mayhem podcast, O’Brien joined show host Alex Reimer to talk about the retirement of Eckersley. Reimer pointed out that it took awhile before Eckersley became the main color analyst for the team. O’Brien remembered the time well.
“When he started, he was pre- and post- and he did that most of his career at NESN,” said O’Brien. “It was really, only the last six or seven years that he really started to get on as a game analyst.”
O’Brien was named the lead play-by-play announcer for NESN’s Red Sox coverage in 2016 which is about the same time Eckersley slid into the role of game analyst. In the time since, O’Brien has seen the work of Eckersley up close and is floored that he was working for a regional sports network and not somewhere more nationally prominent.
“I think the national people totally blew it on Dennis Eckersley,” blurted O’Brien. “And that includes Turner. They had an opportunity, I can say that because a lot of those people there now didn’t make the decision. He should have been the lead analyst doing national games. He should have been on ESPN on Sunday Night Baseball or FOX. I don’t know how they blew it as badly as they did but Dennis Eckersley should have been a national icon… they made a mistake on that. I hope somebody regrets it.”
Sal Paolantonio Not Interested In Trying Ayahuasca To Better Understand Aaron Rodgers
“Halucinagenics have been at the center of a lot of conversations about Aaron Rodgers lately.”
Dan Patrick is a very good interviewer. He asks the questions he knows his audience wants answered. He also makes a habit out of throwing out questions to his guests that they never see coming. That was the case on Tuesday for ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio.
Paolantonio joined the Dan Patrick Show to discuss Pro Football Hall of Fame voting and the new NFL season. That is not what the host hit him with out of the gate.
The first question from Patrick to Paolantonio was “Just to relate to Aaron Rodgers, would you be willing to try ayahuasca?”.
Paolantonio was left speechless. All he could do was laugh and say “you got me on that one, Dan.”
Halucinagenics have been at the center of a lot of conversations about Aaron Rodgers lately. The Green Bay quarterback recently said on a podcast that experimenting with ayahuasca opened him up to be ready to succeed both on the field and as a leader. He credits the experience with laying the foundation for his 2021 MVP season.
Patrick pushed the issue challenging Paolantonio to beat Andrea Kremer to the experience.
“My money is on the fearless Andrea Kremer,” Paolantonio shot back.
For the record, Kremer responded to the challenge on Twitter.