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Under The Radar – June 6, 2017

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Catching up on some news items from the past week. Here’s a number of developments that you may not have been aware of. To have your individual or radio station’s news included in a future edition of Under The Radar please send along any pertinent information via email to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me. Now on to the news!

WEEI in Boston should gain a few extra ears on June 16th when the station utilizes Roger Clemens as a radio analyst for the Red Sox game against the Houston Astros. The game takes place in the city of Houston. Longtime Sox announcer Joe Castiglione will miss the 3-day Houston trip, and Clemens’ appearance is being billed as a one-day stint. No word on if other opportunities in broadcasting could be on the horizon for Clemens.

Former Boston Red Sox play by play announcer Don Orsillo will reunite with his former club for a day when he works the FS1 broadcast of the Sox-Astros game on Saturday June 17th. Orsillo will call the game with Eric Karros and Tom Verducci. In addition to national work, he serves as the lead voice of the San Diego Padres.

After previously announcing he’d reduce his broadcast schedule due to health problems, Fred Manfra was forced to adjust those plans and bring his tenure in the Baltimore Orioles radio booth to a close. The popular O’s voice worked his final series this past weekend. He is relocating to Tampa, Florida to be closer to family and says two knee replacement surgeries await. He’s previously undergone two hip surgeries and back surgery. Congrats to Fred on a storied run in the Orioles radio booth.

WFAN overnight producer Russell Mafes has announced that he’s exiting the New York sports radio station after spending the past decade working for them. His last day will be June 9th. Mafes says he has accepted an opportunity with the Nassau County Police Department and will be leaving the sports media business.

Speaking of WFAN, while the station celebrates 30-years of broadcasting excellence, and has featured some of the true heavyweights of sports talk radio, the true architect of its creation is Jeff Smulyan. The CEO of Emmis Communications made a special guest appearance last week on Mike Francesa‘s show and talked about the history of the brand, how the station was launched, and why he felt sports talk as a format could work in the big apple. It was an interesting interview. To hear the conversation click here.

Staying in New York, congratulations to Steve Cohen, Steve Torre and their Mad Dog Radio morning show, The Morning Men, featuring Evan Cohen and Mike Babchik. The show held its special event, FALcon 2017 for its dedicated listeners this past Saturday at Rock and Reilly’s in New York City. The event was well attended and included on-site appearances by Ed Hendry of FOX News and Andrew Perloff of The Dan Patrick Show, the show’s update anchor Maria Marino,  plus a call-in from Chris “Mad Dog” Russo. To hear the show on demand click here.

The Oakland Raiders have found a broadcast home in Las Vegas. Despite being a few years away from relocating to the city, the team has announced their games will air in sin city on Beasley Media Group‘s local stations News-Talk KDWN and Country KCYE.

A job well done by the folks at 97.1 The Fan in Columbus. On Monday, the station was tipped off that something big was developing with the Ohio State basketball program. It was expected the school would announce head coach Thad Matta would be leaving after the season. Instead, the news became Matta leaving immediately, all of it captured in real-time by The Fan’s staff while other market brands were removed from local programming.

The Los Angeles Kings have named Alex Faust as their new television play-by-play announcer. Faust takes over for Bob Miller, who retired this past April after calling Kings games the past 44 years. He’ll join television color analyst Jim Fox on FOX Sports West starting with the 2017-18 season.

104.5 The Zone received some unexpected recognition during the NHL Stanley Cup Finals on NBC. During last Monday’s game, the catfish thrower was captured on television wearing a t-shirt of the station’s Midday 180 show. That act generated a ton of media attention, and the Midday 180 followed it up by creating a GoFundMe account to pay for the Catfish Thrower’s legal defense with all proceeds over his fine amount going directly to the Nashville Predators Foundation. Tennessee Titans All-Pro Taylor Lewan was one of the early contributors to the fund.

Cleveland and Detroit radio personality Matt Dery produced a podcast highlighting the top 10 NFL play by play announcers. Green Bay Packers announcer Wayne Larrivee was given top honors To hear the podcast click here.

Allen Smothers has signed on to host mornings for 100.3 The Team in South Carolina. The show can be heard throughout 13 counties in the Pee Dee and Grand Strand regions of the Palmetto State. For more information about the radio station click here.

The University of South Carolina Athletics and IMG have signed a multi-year deal with 107.5 The Game in Columbia, South Carolina which will keep the station in place as the official flagship station for Gamecock Sports.

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UConn Basketball’s Mike Crispino Less Critical of Referees As Official Himself

“I’ve changed completely since I started doing this. Because I realize how hard it is.”

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@mikecrispinonyk on Twitter

While basketball broadcasters may not have as contentious a relationship with referees as coaches, players, and fans, part of calling the action can involve criticizing a call. And with broadcasters typically positioned at courtside, there is certainly more opportunity for exchanges with officials than in football or hockey, for example.

But as David Borges writes in a feature for CT Insider, UConn men’s basketball play-by-play announcer Mike Crispino might go a bit easier on referees than his colleagues. And that’s because Crispino works as a referee himself when he’s not at the mic, officiating high school basketball and baseball games in Connecticut

Crispino has been a referee for 12 years and says it completely changed how he viewed officiating while calling play-by-play for the New York Knicks and UConn Huskies. Prior to donning the stripes, he would often question calls during a broadcast.

“I’ve changed completely since I started doing this,” Crispino told Borges. “Because I realize how hard it is. It’s not easy. You’re on-call all the time. You’ve got to have two hours of being sharp. You can’t get lazy, you can’t get distracted, you can’t listen to too many people barking about stuff. You have to be on it. Otherwise, you’re not doing the service that you’re getting paid to do.”

Despite having the perspective of a working referee, Crispino — who’s been broadcasting UConn men’s basketball for the past four years — still gets caught up in the moment and questions certain calls, sometimes with the officials standing right in front of him.

Unlike broadcasting, where young announcers are always trying to break into the industry, Crispino is concerned about the future of officiating. He says fewer people work as referees because of stories about angry parents and coaches.

Of course, Crispino has also experienced such exchanges from the other side with high school coaches disputing his calls as a referee. But he’s only issued one ejection during his officiating career, along with just a few technical fouls. Seeing referees work at the college and NBA levels as a broadcaster has helped him understand how to deal with such situations. That perspective has clearly been beneficial in both jobs.

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Pat McAfee Irritated At Fans’ ‘Throw Rogan’ Nickname For Aaron Rodgers

“His haters got very loud.”

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The Pat McAfee Show

Many NFL fans, both casual and diehard, were ready with jeers and nicknames for Aaron Rodgers following the Green Bay Packers’ 13-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Saturday’s NFL divisional playoff game.

As Pat McAfee pointed out on his show Monday, fans were eager to throw insults at Rodgers, waiting for the opportunity like a batter waiting for the ideal pitch to hit.

“People were sitting on ‘Throw Rogan,'” said McAfee, who naturally supported the person who appears on The Pat McAfee Show every week and made those conversations must-see viewing.

That particular nickname is a play on Joe Rogan, the popular podcast host whose advice Rodgers followed for batting COVID-19. As Rogan recommended, Rodgers took the drug Ivermectin, which is typically used to treat roundworms and other parasites.

McAfee cited last week’s ESPN.com feature on Rodgers by Kevin Van Valkenburg in which the reporter detailed the turn perception has taken toward the Packers QB this season and Rodgers’ strident belief in himself as a free thinker and intellectual.

Co-host A.J. Hawk agreed, adding another popular nickname posted to social media Saturday. “QAaron Rodgers” mocks the quarterback’s stated belief in conspiracy theories regarding the vaccine.

On the field, the Packers were the No. 1 seed in the NFC and considered in prime position to advance to the Super Bowl. Rodgers will likely win the NFL Most Valuable Player award (despite some voters feeling otherwise) for the second consecutive season after passing for 4,115 yards and 37 touchdowns (to just seven interceptions), while completing 68.9 percent of his throws and leading Green Bay to a 13-4 regular-season record.

But off the field, Rodgers gained national notoriety and became a controversial figure for his stance on the COVID-19 vaccine. Rodgers refused to get vaccinated, which put him at odds with many throughout the country. But what became the subject of national outrage and discussion was the quarterback giving the impression that he’d been vaccinated by saying he was “immunized” against the virus.

That turned many people against Rodgers for the past three months and those fans took delight from him losing in the playoffs. (The quarterback also lost some fans for trying to force a trade during the offseason and it’s possible Rodgers played his final game in Green Bay on Saturday.) And they flooded social media with nicknames.

“His haters got very loud,” said McAfee. “But I will say, I don’t think he has a lot of haters in general managers around the NFL on whether or not they can get him in the building.”

The trade rumors will begin gaining heat soon. Will fans tossing out derisive nicknames right now — especially those supporting the Broncos, Raiders, Giants, Saints, and Steelers — eventually embrace him as their quarterback? You know the answer to that.

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Sports Radio News

Jeff Rickard Out At WEEI (Update)

“In the memo, new Audacy Boston market manager Mike Thomas says that the station will be naming a new brand manager in the future.”

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Jeff Rickard’s tenure in Boston did not last long. Chad Finn of the Boston Globe tweeted yesterday that the WEEI brand manager has left Audacy and intends to return to Indianapolis.

Rickard was announced as the new brand manager of the legendary Boston sports talker in August. He left his role as morning show host and PD at The Fan in Indianapolis at that time.

In the memo, new Audacy Boston market manager Mike Thomas says that the station will be naming a new brand manager in the future.

In the meantime, Ken Laird has been promoted to operations manager for the station. Laird announced yesterday that this means he is leaving the Greg Hill Show, which will be on the lookout for a new producer.

On Monday, Jeff Rickard took to Twitter to update fans and followers on his situation. He did not have anything negative to say about WEEI, Audacy, or anyone involved with him coming to Boston. He even noted that this move is likely what is best for him and his family.

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