Sports Radio News
Under The Radar – August 15, 2016
Sports media news has been surfacing across the country once again. Here are the latest developments for you to be aware of. As a reminder, if you have a news tip or promotion to share, you can email it to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me. I’m also reachable on Twitter @sportsradiopd.
- Drew Olson has left Milwaukee sports radio station ESPN 540, a place he has called home since 2004. Olson broadcasted his final show on Friday alongside on-air partner Dan Needles. He says he’s planning to focus on his sports media training company, Crush It. Needles will remain on the radio station, joining forces with Bryan Dee who will take over for Olson.
- In May, 1320 The Fan in Salt Lake City dropped local host Tim Lewis and elected to carry CBS Sports Radio’s “Tiki and Tierney” on an interim basis during morning drive. Well now it seems the radio station has gone outside the box to find a solution. The Fan has added “The Bob and Tom Show” to morning drive, hoping to differentiate its programming from other local market brands 700 ESPN and 1280 The Zone.
- A change in morning drive has been made in Portland once again on Rip City Radio. The iHeart sports station featured the team of “Bunker and Danforth” in mornings from February 2015 to June 2016. But then Andy Bunker announced he was leaving the radio station to move to Atlanta. Taylor Danforth moved forward with new partner Dan Sheldon, but apparently that experiment is over, as Danforth left the radio station in July, one month after Bunker. As of now the station is promoting “Rip City Mornings” as its local show but no names are featured on the station’s website or social media pages. Once we have a future announcement to pass along we’ll fill you in.
- Speaking of mornings, ESPN LA 710 has been rumored to be adding more local programming to its lineup. A few notable names have been in recently including Ryen Russillo, Jorge Sedano, Marc James, Robin Lundberg and Jonathan Hood. The station is searching for a partner to work alongside afternoon host Marcellus Wiley, but is also taking a look at extending mornings. One name that has surfaced as a possibility to be part of the mix is former ESPN NFL Analyst Keyshawn Johnson. Bristol sources say that the company is open to continuing a relationship with the former wide receiver despite not keeping him on Sunday NFL Countdown.
- After being rumored to call Los Angeles Rams radio broadcasts, Andrew Siciliano didn’t sign on to call the action during the regular season, but he has agreed to serve as play by play man for the team during the pre-season. The NFL Network host is calling pre-season games on television alongside Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk.
- Here’s one story that seems to surface every six months – sports radio personality Kevin Slaten has left 590 The Fan KFNS in St. Louis…AGAIN. Slaten who has bounced around the local market now says he plans to return to political talk with the Insane Broadcasting Company which is owned by Bob Romanik. New KFNS boss Tim McKernan has yet to announce who will fill afternoons but after a prior bad episode with Slaten while running CBS Sports Radio 920, this allows McKernan to move in a different direction.
- Longtime WWLS Sports Animal talk show host Al Eschbach will celebrate 40 years on the air in Oklahoma City with a special show this Wednesday from 4p-8p. His guests will include OU men’s basketball coach Lon Kruger, OU football coach Bob Stoops, former OU basketball coach Billy Tubbs, former OU football coach Barry Switzer, Houston basketball coach Kelvin Sampson, and a slew of others.
- FOX Sports 920 The Jersey has reached a deal to carry Rutgers football on the radio station. The brand will partner with IMG to provide Rutgers coverage for the 2016 college football season.
- Sports Radio 1340 The Fan in Lubbock, Texas has signed on for a third straight season as an affiliate of the Denver Broncos. The Townsquare radio station will carry all pre-season, regular season, and playoff games, along with a two-hour pre-game show and one-hour post-game show. Coverage is supplied by the Broncos Radio Network which originates out of Denver on 850 KOA. The company’s sister station Awesome 98 is also a Houston Texans affiliate.
- ESPN West Palm 106.3 is also adding an affiliation. The radio station has signed on as a play by play affiliate for Miami Dolphins broadcasts. The Good Karma sports station will also feature a Thursday night call-in with Dolphins General Manager Mike Tannenbaum.
- Shifting to Nashville, 102.5 The Game has moved former afternoon host Willy Daunic to middays alongside Darren McFarland, and former Titans wide receiver Derrick Mason. The trio will be re-branded as “3-D, Darren, Derrick and Daunic”. Daunic previously hosted with George Plaster, and former Titans GM Floyd Reese.
- The Midday 180 in Nashville needs a new producer. Former producer Steve Ulrey worked his final shift on Friday August 12th. Ulrey is apparently launching a business. The Midday 180 are presently one of the highest rated midday shows in the sports talk radio format.
- Speaking of the Midday 180, one of the show’s hosts, Chad Withrow, has signed on to be the new TV host for a Saturday morning program titled “Varsity XTRA”. The show will air in the Nashville area on MyTV30.
- Steve Lippo has been named the new Executive Producer for NBC Sports in Chicago. Lippo had been working as a producer for Laurence Holmes’ show on 120 Sports.
- Congratulations to Ryan Cooley who has accepted a new opportunity in sales at WEEI in Boston. Cooley announced on Facebook that he was leaving his position as 1080 The Fan’s Sales Manager in Portland, Oregon to move to the northeast and join the Boston sports radio station.
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.
Sports Radio News
Fred Toucher: Stephen A. Smith is in TV Prison
“He’s basically in a television prison all day. He’s not allowed out.”
New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson overshadowed part of the NBA Finals action Wednesday after it was announced that he and his girlfriend Ahkeema were expecting a baby girl. Yet a string of tweets from OnlyFans model Moriah Mills have shifted the discussion, suggesting they had seen one another at a point without Mills knowing about Williamson having another relationship. Basketball fans across social media bombarded Williamson after the revelation became public, and it was a topic of discussion on coverage of the league throughout the ensuing days. On the latest edition of the eponymously named The Stephen A. Smith Show, Stephen A. Smith spoke about Williamson and surmised that he had figured out why Williamson only played 29 games during this past season.
“I’ve been waiting for the leg to heal Zion,” Smith said. “….New Orleans has been waiting for a while. I mean, we’ve been waiting, man. No wonder you ain’t healthy; I’m talking about your legs. I’m just saying, man. What I’m concerned about is we need those legs spry, but you can’t get healthy. Your lower extremities were compromised.”
Fred Toucher and Rich Shertenlieb of 98.5 The Sports Hub never thought that one of their morning show’s newest segments – titled “Stephen A. Smith is horny” – would take place more than once over a six-week span. Yet it has quickly become a hit, with show listeners messaging Shertenlieb on social media whenever they see a clip that could fit the comedic bit. Because of the situation regarding Williamson and Smith’s reaction to it, which was filled with caesura and vocal intonation, the segment made its third appearance in the past two weeks on Thursday morning.
“ESPN is committed to just basically featuring two people – Mike Greenberg and Stephen A. Smith,” Toucher said. “If there’s a third I forget it – oh yeah, they’re bringing in… Pat McAfee. So there’ll be three people that are doing all of it.”
Toucher has concluded that Smith has a live microphone in front of him at all times, with ESPN recognizing his appeal to its consumers. After all, Smith is a featured commentator on First Take, works on NBA Countdown, hosts an alternate game telecast for select NBA matchups and podcasts at least three times a week.
“He’s basically in a television prison all day,” Toucher said of Smith. “He’s not allowed out. He is a man after all – he’s not old. I’d imagine he’s around 50; that doesn’t mean he’s dead.”
Smith, 55, was mocked throughout the latest edition of the segment for his breaths and phrasing, filled with both hosts doing impressions of him. It even resulted in a production person creating a soundboard where the show quickly replayed soundbites from Smith’s statements on Williamson. Eventually, the show put it to the tune of “Mah Na Mah Na,” a song made famous by The Muppets, leading to unrestrained, mirthful laughter from those in the studio.
“Stephen A. Smith turns into Christopher Lloyd and Roger Rabbit when he’s horny,” Shertenlieb said, referring to Smith’s fluctuating vocal range.
“He’s in that TV prison horny as hell,” Toucher added.
As the segment concluded, Toucher wondered if Smith would ever be allowed off of the ESPN airwaves for a day, as he seems to always be part of the network’s subconscious. Smith is reportedly paid $8 million annually by ESPN and is perceived as someone untouchable as The Walt Disney Company nears its conclusion of laying off 7,000 employees. Pat McAfee is set to join the network this fall in a multiyear, multi-million dollar agreement, and will host The Pat McAfee Show afternoons on ESPN’s linear channel and on various digital platforms.
“It’s without fail now – at least once a week, he gets horny,” Shertenlieb expressed.
Sports Radio News
USL, SiriusXM Renew Agreement
“SiriusXM has been a great partner the last three years and extending this relationship on the men’s side was an easy choice.”
The United Soccer League (USL) and SiriusXM have inked a new agreement that extends its media rights deal through 2025. The deal ensures SiriusXM will be the audio home of USL Championship games, including the USL Championship Final, USL Super League inaugural Final, the USL League One Final and USL League Two Final. SiriusXM subscribers can listen to games on channel No. 157 and on the SiriusXM app.
“At the USL, we want to ensure that our games are available to our fans wherever they want to experience them,” Court Jeske, USL chief commercial officer, said in a statement. “SiriusXM has been a great partner the last three years and extending this relationship on the men’s side was an easy choice. We are also incredibly proud that they will offer coverage of the USL Super League, our new women’s professional league, with the inaugural season beginning in August of 2024.”
The SiriusXM FC channel has been the broadcast home of the USL Championship since 2020, and also airs a USL Game of the Week for consumers in the United States and Canada. Additional future coverage will include games from the 2024-2025 USL Super League season. Moreover, USL All-Access will resume with hosts Mike Watts and Devon Kerr, offering listeners new perspectives on the league, and a broad view of highlights and storylines.
“The USL has a terrific and dedicated fanbase across the country and we’re pleased to deliver those fans both the action on the pitch and a show dedicated to their league,” said Eric Spitz, SiriusXM vice president of sports programming, in a statement. “We’re excited to not only renew our agreement with the USL for multiple years, but also expand our coverage and be the exclusive audio home of the USL Championship Final, League One Final, League Two Final and the new USL Super League Final.”
Watts has been the play-by-play announcer for the USL Championship since 2015, and he continues to work on Westwood One’s college football game of the week and serves as a backup public address announcer at Madison Square Garden. Furthermore, he called eight domestic and international finals in 2021, including the U.S. Men’s National Team victories in the Concacaf Nations League and Concacaf Gold Cup.
Kerr serves as an analyst for MLS Season Pass on Apple TV and contributes to FOX Sports as well. He has been the lead analyst for the USL Championship since 2018, and works in a similar role for the NCAA Men’s College Cup on ESPN and Concacaf events. Aside from his work with Apple TV and FOX Sports, Kerr has appeared on platforms for ESPN, EA Sports, the NCAA and MLS.
Broadcasts started Wednesday night, but the next game airing on SiriusXM FC will be a matchup between the San Diego Loyal and Sacramento Republic at 10 p.m. EST/7 p.m. PST. Games have been announced through July 3, and additional matchups will be announced at a later date.
Sports Radio News
Audacy Names Lee Davis SVP of Sports Monetization Overseeing New Sales Team
“Through our best-in-class sports audio portfolio, powered by over 150 flagship team partnerships, iconic local broadcast brands, award-winning podcasts and sports betting content, Audacy is uniquely positioned to capitalize on a new sales strategy in this arena.”
Audacy is has a newly organized sports sales team. Lee Davis will be its leader. He has been named the company’s SVP of Sports Monetization.
The team will oversee “sales and execution, managing the entire client lifecycle” for Audacy’s sports properties. They will provide solutions for both on-air and digital platforms and work on both local and national properties.
“No medium delivers more value for sports than Audio. People are spending more time than ever with broadcast Radio, streaming and podcasts, and the demand for compelling sports content across these channels is growing exponentially,” Brian Benedik, Audacy’s Chief Revenue Officer, said in a press release. “Through our best-in-class sports audio portfolio, powered by over 150 flagship team partnerships, iconic local broadcast brands, award-winning podcasts and sports betting content, Audacy is uniquely positioned to capitalize on a new sales strategy in this arena.”
Lee Davis worked with WFAN from 1990 until 2005. He returned to Audacy in 2018 to over see the company’s Traffic, Weather, Information and News (TWIN) offering.