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Steve Berman: Sports Radio Will Still Be Here in 20 Years, Maybe Not In 30

Berman had positive and negative thoughts on the future of sports talk radio.

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: Wallpapersdsc.net

Is sports talk radio going to be around in 20 years? That was a question the Athletic’s Steve Berman answered at length this week in his mailbag. Berman is a Bay Area media and sports reporter for the site. 

“My first instinct would be that it will exist for at least 20 more years in its current form,” Berman said. “There are some obvious reasons to be skeptical. Sports talk radio needs traffic, i.e. people stuck in their cars. The move toward remote work caused by the pandemic absolutely crushed the local sports talk stations (in San Francisco), which rely on people spending hours on the highways. People are starting to go back to the office, however, so we’ll probably see some bumps in the local ratings as the year progresses.”

The journalist covered local sports for Bay Area News Group from 2004-2008 and co-founded Bay Area Sports Guy, which became the top independent site covering sports in the region. Berman noted how the shift to remote work isn’t the only roadblock for sports talk radio.

“Remote work is here to stay for some,” Berman explained. “The time spent away from daily commutes has changed some habits. That’s one reason for concern. Another is the technology available in our cars. At this point, a decent number of drivers still don’t have satellite radio, a USB port, or Wi-Fi in their vehicles. But in 20 years, we can probably assume that just about everyone will be connected in a variety of ways when they drive, so they’ll be able to easily access listening options that feature far fewer ads.”

Berman concluded his thoughts by noting some of the advantages sports talk still has on other mediums like hyperlocalized content and instant reaction ability but there are still issues to figure out.

“Sports talk radio has a few things going for it that are unique … for now. My guess is that it’ll still be around in 20 years. Maybe not 30, though.”

Earlier this year, Demetri Ravanos and Jason Barrett spoke to several market managers as part of BSM’s Meet the Market Managers series. Several marveled at their station’s digital performance during the pandemic, including Dan Bennett of Cumulus in Dallas. He noted that half of The Ticket’s audience comes from its web stream. Even if traditional broadcast signals suffered set backs during the pandemic, it is clear that local sports talk brands were still being sought out by listeners.

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.

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.

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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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