Shan Shariff can be described as many things on the air. He can be sarcastic, funny, opinionated, creative and downright ballsy. I remember having a conversation with sports agent Craig Fenech once about Shan and he told me “this guy had the balls to pick up Mark Cuban’s tab at a restaurant“. When I asked Shan about it, he confirmed that it happened but said that he got lucky because Cuban that day had only ordered a chicken salad.
What I remember liking about that story was that this was relatively a short time after Shan had arrived in Dallas and I thought to myself “what better way to show that you’re determined to stand out in a new market than to get the attention of the Mavericks billionaire owner“.
While that story certainly got my attention, I was already familiar with Shan’s work. Prior to moving to Dallas, Shan worked for 610 Sports in Kansas City and local ESPN Radio affiliate in Maryland. I remember hearing his work for the first time courtesy of Jon Chelesnik at STAA Talent while Shan was in Maryland and when I listened to him I thought he was unique which was a good thing. There was a lot to like in the original presentation even though he was still a little green.
Shan’s profile would start to become more familiar to people in the sports radio industry when he landed a weekend slot with 106.7 The Fan. I remember David Brody of BMS calling me around that time to once again put him on my radar but I was in St. Louis and didn’t have a need so we agreed to keep in touch if things were to change in the future.
As luck would have it, an opening would pop open in Kansas City and Shan’s work was recognized by Program Director Ryan Maguire who would hire him to host a 2-hour midday show for the radio station. From there, Shan’s career started to take off. He spent the next year working for 610 where he’d fine tune his craft, become more polished and start to gain some ratings traction and his hard work and success would draw the attention of Bruce Gilbert in Dallas who would make the decision to hire Shan and bring his “New School” style to Dallas where he’d team up with RJ Choppy for 105.3 The Fan.
Interesting enough, at the time when he was being hired in Dallas, I had a spot open up in St. Louis and I had contacted David Brody after listening to a few days of Shan’s shows in Kansas City. I told David I wanted to know a little more about Shan’s status but was told “I wish I could tell you but I can’t do that right now“.
David and I have known each other a long time and he’s been a great guy to network with so I knew this meant he had something bigger brewing for Shan which I was glad to hear. A few days later the news would come out that Shan was off to Dallas and he hasn’t slowed down since arriving on the scene in March of 2011.
Today when I listen to Shan’s show, I find it to be very entertaining, fast paced and built for Men 18-44. It has an element of unpredictability which I like and I think that’s important especially during morning drive. When you take into account that there are three competitive sports radio stations battling for every quarter hour of listening in the Dallas market, shows need to be unique to the local audience and Shan and RJ have found their place in the overall mix.
Aside from what you hear on the air, Shan is one of the most active personalities in the entire sports radio industry on social media. You may not listen to his show in Dallas if you live out of the market but if you follow him on Twitter you feel like you know everything that’s happening with the program. From morning to evening, he’s always engaging with his fans and that accessibility and willingness to interact is a big reason in my opinion while he’s built up great support for what he does.
I exchanged a few messages with Shan to get a sense of how he has approached blending into new markets, why he’s so active on social media, the competitive landscape of Dallas sports radio and what he believes is important in executing a 4-hour morning show and I think you’ll enjoy the results of that conversation.
A: After college, I scalped a ticket to the Spurs-Nets NBA finals and recorded play-by-play on a mini-recorder. A buddy of mine who worked at a Baltimore television station was able to sync up my audio with the television broadcast and I had my VHS resume tape. The program director in my hometown of Cambridge, MD was impressed (with the editing more than anything) and hired me to host a three hour daily show on their ESPN affiliate.
Q: Who are some of your influences that got you interested in pursuing a sports broadcasting career?
A: Dan Patrick, Marv Albert, Dick Enberg, Colin Cowherd.
Q: After starting your career in Maryland, you left for Kansas City to host mid-days for 610 Sports. How difficult was it to enter the market as an outsider and attempt to win people over? How did you approach the situation to show people you were invested in the things they cared about?
A: It was a challenge at first, but I think the audience realized I could bring an objective view of their favorite teams. It would have been MUCH different if I was a Raiders fan in Chiefs territory, but they weren’t offended by my Redskins love.
The way I showed people I was invested was to work and prepare. I had to quickly learn everything possible about the football and basketball programs at Missouri, Kansas and Kansas State. Once they realized I knew their players and coaches, I think I was accepted.
Q: When you reflect back on your experiences in Kansas City, what stands out as the best and worst part of it?
A: Best part was having early success. My time spent listening was very high and I gained confidence that my style could work in an awesome sports market. Worst part was only having a two hour show.
Q: Following your stint in KC, you moved to Dallas where you’ve since worked for 2 great programmers (Bruce Gilbert and Gavin Spittle) at 105.3 The Fan. Share one thing they’ve taught you that you use in your approach each day?
A: Bruce preached likability while teaching me everything I know about Arbitron. From setting appointments to resetting, teasing, getting to the point or hooking the listener, Bruce always had new, creative ways to attack the PPM game.
I’ve never been looser as a host than now under Gavin. He encourages fun, lifestyle topics and bits that provide a nice release from hardcore sports during a four and a half hour show. I used to be afraid to do non-sports on a sports show. Gavin changed that way of thinking.
Q: You sang “Hail To The Redskins” to Jerry Jones while hosting your show on the radio home of the Dallas Cowboys. How much flack did you take from the team and your bosses for it? Were you at all worried about losing listeners as a result of cheering for the enemy?
A: There was only once instance where someone from the Cowboys gave me flack for being a Skins fan: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dc-sports-bog/post/dallas-radio-host-plays-hail-to-the-redskins-for-jerry-jones/2012/09/11/f96f48fa-fc41-11e1-a31e-804fccb658f9_blog.html
I never worried about losing listeners when I started because I never want to hide who I am, but I think it was a mistake. I probably overestimated the ability and willingness of some to separate my fandom from the way I covered the Cowboys. I just figured my honesty wouldn’t hurt me in Dallas because it didn’t in KC. Looking back, it probably cost me some listeners the minute I revealed my favorite team.
A: The biggest way I try to gain an advantage on competition is out-working everyone. I know I sleep less and read more than anyone. I always think about our next show and remain obsessed with higher ratings in this market.
I think the biggest difference between us and the competition is pace and energy. We’re never going to be a slow product that feels like it’s dragging. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, texts or taking calls, we interact with our audience more than any show in DFW, it’s not even close.
I also believe we’re more creative topic wise than anyone because we over prepare every single day. The greatest compliment I can get is “I never thought of it that way.”
Q: You currently work with RJ Choppy on a 2-man show but previously the program had a third member (Jasmine Sadry). Which setup do you prefer and how does your approach and preparation change when doing a 3-person show vs. a 2-person show?
A: Bruce Gilbert always wanted two voices to sound like four and four to sound like six. RJ and I have always been the primary voices but we also have producers chime in. It probably took me three years to get comfortable. I had trouble not taking over for three minutes and setting everyone up for air-time. Talking over each other is a turn-off to everyone and that only happens with multiple people in the room.
The positives are different viewpoints, having twice the prep work and it’s nice to regroup during a segment while the other is talking. I would probably prefer a two person show for more air-time but depending on how good the talent and chemistry are, three would also work. Our mid-day show has five voices.
Q: When it comes to executing a 4-hour show, how many guests do you like to have on, how many segments involve callers, how many features are included, etc? What’s the right type of balance in your opinion?
A: I would like to have three guests for a four hour show. If the guest list is like Dan Patrick, you can have five a day. I fight the caller debate every year. My recent bosses prefer less calls and more host. Yes, there are some hosts who lazily rely on open phone lines but I believe in empowering the audience.
One of the things I loved about hosting solo was the increased caller segments and interaction with listeners. There will always be calls that suck, but I always thought I could control the quality of them with the topics I set-up and questions I asked. Calls can also make a show sound busy and break up the monotony of a solo program.
Q: You’re on the air for 4.5 hours per day which equals 22.5 hours per week – are there any tricks you use to keep yourself mentally focused and engaged in every segment?
A: With multiple people on the show, I’ve never really had a problem with focus. I think it’s MUCH easier to stay engaged as the quarterback of the show with the additional responsibilities you have. I also take my job very seriously (probably too much), so I’m usually pretty intense while the red light is on.
A: I want the audience to know I’m not too cool for them. I care about what they have to say. I’ll never forget the Twitter joy I had in being followed by Adam Schefter so if I can follow someone back or like their Facebook comment, maybe they’ll appreciate it and be more invested as a listener.
One major thing I think hosts overlook is the brainstorming and topic ideas you can get through social networking. If two heads are better than one, isn’t 14,000 better than two? If a listener comes up with a great topic or sports question, I let them know they’re getting the credit tomorrow morning and hopefully they set the appointment for the tune in!
Q: When it comes to the critiquing process, how do you, RJ, Gavin and your support staff measure whether or not you’re making progress with the show?
A: I’m probably our biggest critic. From Ryan Maguire, Bruce Gilbert, Gavin Spittle and David Brody, I feel like I’ve already worked under some of the best minds in the business and can judge good or bad radio. We also have a daily meeting with Gavin where we review the show.
A: I don’t believe an agent is necessary, but there are certainly benefits. I went from Cambridge, MD to Kansas City because my agent had a relationship with the PD. Without that connection, I wouldn’t have been found. I HATE the thought of negotiating so having someone to handle the back and forth is always a relief for me.
The downside is you better hope your agent is respected, competent and gets along with management. The worst part is obviously paying their commission.
Q: For someone who’s considering a career in our industry, what piece of advice would you like to share based on your own experiences that may be helpful to them?
A: Work harder than everyone and be willing to start from the bottom. I can’t tell you how many kids I’ve seen in Dallas who are unsatisfied and feel held back (AND THEY’RE ON AIR!!!). They’re unwilling to move and have no idea what it’s like to make $20,000 while calling local little league games five years into your career. Be willing to accept and embrace coaching while reading more and sleeping less than your competition.
Tony Bruno Relives Favorite Moments With Angelo Cataldi on 94 WIP
“I loved every day. We did stuff that put Sports Radio in Philly on the map and I’m proud of that.”
Tony Bruno has been a staple of the sports radio business for decades. Bruno is from Philadelphia and was teamed up in the early nineties with a duo still dominating the local airwaves there today, Angelo Cataldi and Al Morganti. The three reunited Thursday morning on 94 WIP to remember the glory days of their partnership and friendship.
One of the first moments Cataldi asked Bruno if he remembered was the update he did from a tree outside of their studio and the answer was an emphatic yes.
“Absolutely, it’s one of the highlights of my life – other than interviewing four Presidents and every sports athlete in history – there’s no bigger moment than me climbing up in the tree, which was obstructing our view of William Penn and the city skyline. That’s what I do, I was a man of action. I’m not one of these guys that talks the talk, I climb the tree to do whatever is necessary.”
More frivolity followed when Cataldi harkened back to a segment of ‘Damsels in Distress’ and a time in which Bruno was sent on the street during a snowstorm to help shovel people out of their driveways. Bruno quickly recalled, “Man of the people. I should run for – I should of run for Governor of Pennsylvania or Senate or something.”
Bruno added that his favorite rant (and one that Cataldi loved too) wasn’t about the Cowboys or sports at all. “My favorite was my Infinity Broadcasting rant where I went on one day and even ripped our bosses, all the way up to the top of Infinity Broadcasting.” Cataldi cackled and praised Bruno’s rants more before being interrupted by Bruno saying, “yeah, my only regret is I never really ripped Al (Morganti) the way I should have ripped him. I let him of the hook so many times.”
An insightful moment came at the end of the call when Cataldi asked rhetorically if Bruno ever thought they (Cataldi & Morganti) would still be doing this thirty years later and then asked if Tony ever regretted leaving.
“It was a tough decision, Ang,” Bruno answered. “I was given an ultimatum. When I came to work with you guys, I loved every day. Every day we had fun. We did stuff that put Sports Radio in Philly on the map and I’m proud of that. It wasn’t one of those, ‘oh I got to go; I’m too big for these guys’. I even turned the ESPN job down a couple of times.
“My kids were still younger then, I didn’t want to move. I didn’t have to move. They said just come up here on weekends and that’s how ESPN Radio started. So I was doing weekends and Tom Bigby (Program Director) didn’t like that either, told me it wasn’t going to work. It was a philosophical thing. When he told me, ‘you should go because we are not going to pay you what they’re paying you,’ I said ok.
Cataldi began to sign off with Bruno with genuine thanks: “I got to tell you something Tone, we are indebted to you for the rest of our lives because we both learned so much from you and you are one of the great talents that radio has ever had.”
Dodgers Temporarily Pull Broadcasters Off Road
“If the broadcasters’ are not dealing with severe cases of Covid and they have cleared health and safety protocols, it appears the team is open to sending them back out on the road.”
When the Los Angeles Dodgers visit the East Coast later this week, the men that call the action on TV and radio will not be with them. The games will instead be broadcast on AM570 LA Sports and SportsNet LA from their respective studios.
“Due to a few members of the Dodgers’ broadcast team having recently tested positive for COVID-19, and out of an abundance of caution, the Dodgers have decided to not travel their broadcasters to upcoming games in Philadelphia and Washington,” the Dodgers announced in a statement. Similar to the 2020 and 2021 MLB seasons, the games will be broadcast from Los Angeles,” reads a statement on the team’s Twitter account.
No further details are available, so the severity and the number of cases remain unknown.
Last September, both members of the Dodgers’ television play-by-play crew were forced into quarantine. Joe Davis was the first to test positive, followed later that month by Orel Hershiser.
On Wednesday, manager Dave Roberts told the media that the Dodgers’ roster and coaching staff are not effected.
“There’s there’s no symptoms in the clubhouse. I think that as far as the upstairs, as an organization, we’re all just trying to be very cautious. But as far as in the clubhouse, coaches, training staff, nothing like that.”
If the broadcasters’ are not dealing with severe cases of Covid and they have cleared health and safety protocols, it appears the team is open to sending them back out on the road. 2022 was supposed to be a return to normal for the Dodgers and many other teams after not letting broadcasters travel in 2020 and 2021.
Pat McAfee: ‘No One Will Disrespect Jim Rome On My Show’
“That’s because you need to respect the f–king jungle.”
Jim Rome is a sports radio icon and Pat McAfee recognizes that.
On The Pat McAfee Show on Wednesday, McAfee was talking to co-host A.J. Hawk about how Rome trended recently on Twitter.
This happened after news of Tom Brady’s FOX Sports deal surfaced, and a list of the top paid sports media personalities was compiled. Rome came in behind Brady at number two making a reported $30 million a year, and many were surprised by that number. McAfee wasn’t.
“That’s because you need to respect the f–king jungle,” he said. “I have nothing but respect for Jim Rome.”
McAfee gave props to Rome, 57, saying he’s been doing sports talk probably longer than anyone. He’s one of the most widely distributed hosts in the country. Pat said he won’t tolerate anyone talking smack about the Smack-Off King.
“No disrespect will be said on this show of Jim Rome, ever,” he said. “Love that man.”