Earlier this week, the National Football League AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals hosted a pep rally at Paul Brown Stadium in their home city where the team gave away 30,000 free tickets to fans to send the team off to Super Bowl LVI in style.
The stadium was loud with chants of “Who Dey?” for the home team and featured player introductions, appearances from team alumni and speeches from members of the team to the fans in “The Jungle,” all concluding with a fireworks display that lit up the Cincinnati skyline along the Ohio River.
As the Bengals seek to #RuleItAll this Sunday in “The Big Game,” ESPN2 and the NFL Network both promoted the event and said they would broadcast it to fans who could not be at the event in-person.
One of the people who was unable to attend in-person was Mo Egger, afternoon host at ESPN 1530 in Cincinnati. Egger had hosted his Monday afternoon show from Twin Peaks Restaurant in West Chester Township, Ohio, and had to run some errands after it concluded at 6 p.m. While he was unable to attend the pep rally in-person, he disclosed that he listened to it on his car radio with Lance McAllister and Dave Lapham serving as on-air hosts.
“I think [they] did a very good job of describing what was unfolding on the field,” said Egger. “You got to hear all of the speeches; You got to hear the players being introduced… [It] was really, really good.”
Once Egger returned home at approximately 7:40 p.m., he turned on ESPN2, which said it would broadcast the pep rally on television. In fact, he had promoted it himself on his radio program earlier that day.
To his surprise, the network showed a 90-second cut of the rally, with shots of Bengals fans being at Paul Brown Stadium, and then moved on. Upon turning to NFL Network, which also said it would broadcast the pep rally, it was a similar situation: a short clip showing the event, followed by a brisk transition.
“Compared to what we were told [the networks] were going to show, they didn’t really show anything,” said Egger. “That’s okay, but you can’t tell me that you’re covering the pep rally and then give me a handful of seconds – a few morsels – of the pep rally.”
Egger’s frustration with the networks apparently misleading their viewers is something he views as a type of wrongdoing in sports media. While Egger was able to see plenty of clips from the pep rally on social media, other people may not have utilized or known to utilize that option to enjoy the event from afar, diminishing the congeniality that the NFL-produced event sought to foster.
“[I] love the NFL Network,” said Egger. “[I love ESPN]. ESPN2 last night: ‘We’re carrying the pep rally.’ Awesome! Great! If you’re not going to do it, don’t say you’re going to do it. Last night, they said they were going to do it and, well, they didn’t.”
Nonetheless, for Egger and other Cincinnati sports fans, the Bengals winning the AFC championship and having a chance to win their first Super Bowl game in franchise history is quite surreal, and they are just trying to take it all in prior to kickoff on Sunday.
“The scene… at Paul Brown Stadium: festive, celebratory, hopeful, vibrant. It was one of those [moments] that makes you kind of pause and go, ‘Holy crap. This is happening,’” explained Egger.
“A handful of times last Friday, I had NFL Network on when I was around the house, and they’re talking exclusively about the Bengals. Then… as I’m driving around, and I was in the car for a better part of an hour-and-fifteen minutes… I said to myself: ‘I am listening to a Bengals pep rally before the team leaves to go play in the Super Bowl. This still doesn’t seem like real life,’ and yet it is, and the planes have landed, and the team is in Los Angeles.”
Derek Futterman is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. In addition, he serves as the production manager for the New York Islanders Radio Network and lead sports producer at NY2C. He has also worked on live game broadcasts for the Long Island Nets and New York Riptide. He previously interned for Paramount within Showtime Networks and wrote for The Long Island Herald. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @derekfutterman.
Fred Toucher Tells Paul Finebaum: Your Greatest Talent Is Not Losing It On Callers
“What you’re actually taught in radio — and not to the benefit of people — is to move things along and cut people off.”
98.5 The Sports Hub morning show Toucher & Rich has frequently pointed out the absurdity of callers into The Paul Finebaum Show. Thursday morning, the Boston show welcomed in the southern college football host to discuss what makes his show tick.
“I can’t tell you how big a thrill this is for me, because I didn’t realize how funny our show was until I started listening to you guys,” Finebaum joked.
“Part of the brilliance of your show is you just let these people go,” Fred Toucher said. “For those that don’t know, the instinct in what you’re actually taught in radio — and not to the benefit of people — is to move things along and cut people off. At what point did you realize ‘I’m just gonna let these dudes talk and see where they take it’?”
“I listened to all these radio goobs — I mean all these people in the corner office — tell us how to do it and I realized I can’t do that. I didn’t have the radio voice, I didn’t have the style, I didn’t have the energy. So I just sat there and literally listened to callers ramble on and I started to find the humor in it.
“It hit me one day that these people don’t have a voice,” Finebaum continued. “Especially in the south where we don’t have six or seven professional sports franchises. Callers started becoming famous and becoming a part of the show. We started having lunches with them for Christmas and various other things and days and I think we realized what we had and we made the most of it. Some of these callers really defy logic. I think I’ve given four or five eulogies at various callers funerals and I think that there’s a connection there.”
Finebaum then mentioned one of his more notorious callers, Legend. The caller actually spent more than 20 years in prison after shooting someone six times. Toucher said Legend has actually called into their show but they have never taken his call.
“We don’t take Legend because we’re not gonna do as good a job with him,” Toucher said. “I told our producer, I do not want to take Legend.”
“Paul’s a master with him,” Rich Shertenlieb added.
Gregg Giannotti: CBS Won’t Show Deshaun Watson Accusers Sunday
“I think people know what’s going on. You’re not gonna show them and start trashing them on the broadcast.”
Quarterback Deshaun Watson is set to make his 2022 season debut against his former team on Sunday following an 11-game suspension. Watson has been accused of sexual misconduct, and 10 of the women who believe the now-Cleveland Browns QB preyed upon them are planning to attend the game in Houston. On Boomer & Gio on WFAN on Wednesday, co-host Gregg Giannotti had a thought on CBS cameras dedicating a snippet of the game broadcast to showing the women in attendance.
“I wonder does like the broadcast show them?” Gio asked to co-host Boomer Esiason. “Are you guys gonna have to talk about that on The NFL Today?”
“I have no idea,” Esiason responded. Boomer explained that they hadn’t had their production meeting for this week’s show, but he felt like beyond that he and Gio had already discussed the Watson situation at great length.
Still, Gio said if he were in charge of the CBS broadcast, he would find a way to show the alleged victims’ faces.
“I mean you could show them and explain the situation,” he said. “I think people know what’s going on. You’re not gonna show them and start trashing them on the broadcast.”
Once the 2022 NFL season started, and Watson accepted the suspension and began going through the various processes he needed to go through in order to be reinstated, the focus shifted away from the story. But Gio added that now that Watson is ready to play, the story gets thrust back into the limelight.
“Nobody was talking about it for weeks and weeks and weeks, and now he’s back,” he said. “And now it’s back.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He works full-time as a multimedia specialist at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, while also putting in part-time work for News Radio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond. Additionally, you can find Jordan contributing coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and ABC 8News. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
98.7 ESPN New York Shuffles Lineup, DiPietro & Rothenberg Expanding To Four Hours
DiPietro & Rothenberg will now move to 6:00-10:00 AM to compete directly with WFAN morning show Boomer & Gio.
Andrew Marchand and Ryan Glasspiegel of The New York Post reported yesterday and ESPN has since confirmed that 98.7 ESPN New York is expanding its local programming. The station’s morning show DiPietro & Rothenberg will increase to four hours as part of a revamped daily lineup which will go into effect on January 3rd.
DiPietro & Rothenberg currently airs on the station from 5a-8a while ESPN Radio’s national morning show — Keyshawn, JWill, & Max — airs from 8a-10a. By extending the local show, 98.7 ESPN New York will now look to compete locally in all four hours with WFAN’s Boomer & Gio.
Vinny DiMarco, market manager, ESPN New York said, “Our fans will have the opportunity to listen to local coverage on 98.7 ESPN FM all throughout the day.” He continued, “Both DiPietro & Rothenberg as well as Bart & Hahn will give fans valuable insight, expertise, and live reaction about all things New York sports. The change also provides more opportunities for our partners to align with the station and achieve their marketing goals and objectives.”
Additionally, ESPN Radio’s Bart & Hahn will move back to 98.7 ESPN New York as an exclusively local show. Bart Scott played a portion of his NFL career for the New York Jets, and worked at both WFAN and 98.7 ESPN New York before the show moved to the national stage. Alan Hahn has spent more than 25 years working in New York media with Newsday, MSG Network, and 98.7 ESPN New York.
“We are always looking for the best ways to serve sports fans and we are excited to bring even more New York flavor and content to local fans throughout their day on 98.7,” said Scott McCarthy, vice president, ESPN Audio. “Expanding DiPietro & Rothenberg in morning drive, being fortunate enough to have Bart & Hahn back as a local New York show, and continuing with all of our other outstanding local shows will create consistency for listeners and give our hosts a greater opportunity to engage with audiences, and each other, on the day’s top stories.”
The local changes do require some additional adjustments on ESPN Radio’s side as well. The national network will install Jason Fitz and Harry Douglas into the newly opened 12p-3p slot. The 7p-9p evening show will now belong to the team of Joe Fortenbaugh and Amber Wilson. They fill the void created by Sarah Spain who recently announced her departure.
Greeny — hosted by Mike Greenberg — will remain in its current 10a-12p timeslot on the station. However, the move to a local morning show on 98.7 ESPN New York does raise questions about KJM‘s future on ESPN Radio.
The Michael Kay Show, and the station’s other local programs hosted by Dan Graca, Larry Hardesty and Gordon Damer all remained unchanged.