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92.9 ESPN Adds Martin & Smith, Vernon Exits

Jason Barrett

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A big change has taken place at 92.9 FM ESPN in Memphis. Chris Vernon has left the station and his position as its midday host. Taking over are John Martin and Jason Smith.

Vernon, who was recognized as one of the top midday shows in the nation earlier this year, is joining Bill Simmons to host a podcast series for his website “The Ringer”. He’s also expected to remain involved locally working with the Memphis Grizzlies on their television broadcasts.

Martin is the youngest sports host in a Top 50 market in America and has been with 92.9 FM ESPN since 2013. Smith is an award-winning reporter who brings over a decade of experience in the Memphis sports landscape. He joins 92.9 FM ESPN after spending the last six years at The Commercial Appeal as the University of Memphis basketball beat writer.

The two men were once colleagues at The Commercial Appeal, who will reunite to host the midday show from 11a-2p. Smith will also contribute to The 92.9 Line, the radio station’s online home for written content and breaking news.

“I could not be more excited to have this opportunity with a man I consider a true friend and talent. We always said we wanted to team up again, and we think we’ll bring an entirely new twist to Memphis sports radio,” Martin said.

“I am so pumped to be with my guy John Martin again,” Smith said. “I am so grateful to the folks at 92.9FM ESPN. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I can’t wait to get started. I also want to thank The Commercial Appeal for the last 13 years.”

“This is a significant day in this market,” 92.9FM ESPN/680AM sports programming director Brad Carson said. “We couldn’t be more excited about the dynamic that John and Jason both bring – from a reporting and entertainment perspective.”

“We are thrilled to bring this show to Memphis,” Entercom Memphis VP/Market Manager Dan Barron said. “Jason and John are highly skilled and bring unique insight. I believe listeners will enjoy this fresh, informative and entertaining show.”

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Mike Florio: Chris Simms Isn’t Desensitized to Internet Criticism

“Chris takes a lot of crap. I take a lot of crap. I’ve been doing it a lot longer than Chris, and I think sometimes Chris just kind of reaches the end of the rope.”

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Courtesy: Heidi Gutman/NBC Sports

Chris Simms caught some heat this week while discussing the death of Miami Dolphins fan Eric Carmona. Carmona was the brain behind the Tuanon viral videos, which featured him in a Dolphin mask attacking critics of Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Simms was one of his frequent targets.

Carmona was killed in a motorcycle accident last week. He leaves behind a wife and four children. He was just 30 years old.

Mike Florio brought the story up on Pro Football Talk Live, because Tagovailoa himself donated $10,000 to a GoFundMe campaign to support Carmona’s family. Simms responded by noting that Carmona was a frequent critic of his.

Florio pushed back saying that trolling is better than being ignored. People are passionate about their teams and if they are passionate about attacking you for criticizing their teams, it means you matter to them.

“This is a deep subject and I think it’s societal and I won’t go into it because I’m only going to get myself in trouble,” Simms responded. “We’re also setting an example like, ‘Hey here’s money to a guy who was very negative too.’ That’s all I’m saying.”

On Friday, Florio made his weekly appearance on WQAM in Miami. Morning show host Joe Rose asked Florio what Simms was thinking with those comments.

“I don’t know. That’s a question for Chris, and you could invite him on and he could talk about that,” Florio answered. “And I’m not trying to be flippant by saying that. I understand the way he feels from my perspective.”

He did try to explain the point he was making to Simms in saying that being trolled is better than being ignored. He reminded Rose that there is a thick skin required to having the kind of jobs they do.

“Chris takes a lot of crap. I take a lot of crap. I’ve been doing it a lot longer than Chris, and I think sometimes Chris just kind of reaches the end of the rope. He doesn’t actively participate in Twitter. He has one of the producers at NBC that primarily updates his account. So I don’t think he’s become as desensitized to it as I have over the years.”

Simms caught heat earlier this week from another fan base. Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie of the WIP Morning Show ripped the NBC analyst for ranking Jalen Hurts as the seventh best QB in the league.

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Stoney & Jansen Baffled By NBA Finals TV Schedule

“They’ve got to get up early on the [West] Coast. We’ve got to stay up late because Monday Night Football can’t start until 8:30. It goes both ways.”

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Courtesy: Audacy

The NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Final continue with games taking place this weekend, and many basketball and hockey fans are expected to tune in to watch the action. The Denver Nuggets will try to take a 3-1 series lead on the Miami Heat, while the Vegas Golden Knights will look to rebound from an overtime loss to return home one win away from a championship. Aside from the pomp and circumstance, there is considerable intrigue pertaining to the action on both the court and the ice. The challenging part of the entire situation is knowing when the games are played due to the disjointed nature of the schedule.

Throughout the NBA Finals, games have taken place three days apart from one another, while the Stanley Cup Final has followed a similar pattern but both avoid playing games on Sundays. As a result, there were only two days between the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals, but three for the remainder should it reach a deciding seventh game. Similarly in basketball, the first three games of the NBA Finals were played every other day, but the remainder of the series is scheduled with two days of rest. There is a chance the decision was made to accommodate travel schedules, as both series are aligned in a 2-2-1-1-1 pattern, meaning the first two games are played in one city; the next two are played in the other; and then they continue to alternate until a champion is crowned.

“I don’t know why the NBA’s not playing on Sunday,” 97.1 The Ticket morning co-host Mike Stoney said. “That big travel day – because you really need travel days nowadays with your private planes to fly from Miami to Denver.”

Show co-host Jon Jansen, who played 10 seasons in the NFL as an offensive tackle with Washington and Detroit, expressed how some players may need to acclimate themselves to the altitude in Denver, Colo. The city is located 5,280 feet, or one mile, above sea level, making the air thinner and dryer and presenting some visitors with difficulty breathing. Jansen never felt the effects of altitude sickness, claiming that it was never a big deal for him, but obviously, everyone reacts to things differently.

“Basketball in particular and hockey because it’s constant running, especially at your position,” Stoney proposed. “You’re not running like madmen [in football] like they do in basketball where I think it affects you the most.”

The schedule also presents challenges for consumers around the United States living in different time zones. The NBA Finals do not begin until 8:30 p.m. EST, and the games often do not include until close to midnight. Especially on weeknights, asking East Coast fans to stay up late and then go to work early in the morning limits the amount of sleep they can receive. Meanwhile, those on the West Coast are just returning home from a standard eight-hour workday and may have other tasks to carry out.

“They’ve got to get up early on the [West] Coast,” Jansen said. “We’ve got to stay up late because Monday Night Football can’t start until 8:30. It goes both ways.”

There is no perfect time slot that will appease all consumers, but even so, ratings for this year’s NBA Finals have exceeded most expectations. Game 3 attracted an average audience of 11.2 million viewers and peaked at a figure of 12.4 million, down 2.5% from last year’s third game of the NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors. Viewership for the first three games of the NBA Finals is averaging 11.6 million, representing a nearly 2% decline from last year’s numbers. ESPN reported its most-watched playoffs across its platforms in the last 11 years, with the total playoff viewership audience averaging approximately 6.1 million people.

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Colin Cowherd: I Have Tried to Invest in MLS Teams Twice

“I think they’re smart. I think they’re boutique stadiums, their fanbases feel European. The in-game environment’s excellent.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Courtesy: FS1

Could we have seen FOX Sports Radio host Colin Cowherd having some sort of ownership stake in an MLS team? Cowherd said he tried, and then he tried again.

Talking about Inter Miami adding global superstar Lionel Messi on Thursday, Cowherd mentioned that he inquired about getting involved with the league, but the asking price at this point is too much for him.

“I have twice tried to invest in the MLS, and I just can’t afford it,” Cowherd said. “I think they’re smart. I think they’re boutique stadiums, their fanbases feel European. The in-game environment’s excellent. The academy is slowly becoming something, but it is becoming something their academy system. And they are now on a regular basis going and getting the world’s biggest soccer stars.”

Colin pointed out that Messi is the most popular athlete in the world, boasting social media followings and name recognition that easily eclipses that of superstar athletes like LeBron James and celebrities like the Kardashians and Beyonce. So not only is Messi’s signing a monumental moment for Inter Miami owner David Beckham, but it’s a feather in the cap signing for Major League Soccer as a whole.

“Messi is massive for the MLS. It’s the biggest moment in the history of the franchise,” he said. “Think Beckham times two. And Beckham was big when he arrived here in the States.”

“I think it’s cool that the MLS, our domestic soccer league, can go out and bring a superstar – not a star, a mega superstar on our soil regularly,” he added.

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