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Under The Radar – July 3, 2017

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Independence Day may be upon us but that doesn’t mean the sports media news cycle stops. A reminder, it’s helpful when you pass along any personal or brand information. We create UTR each week to keep members of the sports media business informed about the latest industry developments. Please do your part by forwarding any pertinent details via email at JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me.

We hope you enjoy your July 4th holiday, but before you fire up the grill, drink a few cold ones and take a dip in the swimming pool, be sure to read the news and stay informed. Here are this week’s stories.

BSM has a few upcoming projects that will require additional contributions from industry members. If you have a passion for sports radio, an ability to write, a good ear, and want to increase your profile in the business, send an email by clicking here. There may be future opportunities to earn compensation but if money is your end game, it’s wiser to pursue other outlets that are working with higher budgets.

Budget cuts have claimed another talented programmer/on-air talent. Gregg Henson has been let go by iHeartmedia. Henson had been programming ESPN Pittsburgh and doubling as an afternoon talk show host with Jim Costa and Drew McCarthy in Detroit and Grand Rapids. To reach Gregg to discuss future opportunities email him by clicking here.

In recent months the media industry has seen a steady reduction in talented writers. Just last week FOX Sports and MTV made major changes to their digital approach, choosing to eliminate written content in favor of heavier video distribution. Although opinions remain split on the financial upside of written material, Clay Travis of FOX Sports Radio and Outkick The Coverage wrote an excellent piece on the future of sports writing. If you haven’t yet had a chance to read it I highly recommend it. You can do so by clicking here.

After decades of deadlines and covering every major sports development in the Bay Area, Mark Purdy has decided it’s time for a change. The exceptional wordsmith of the San Jose Mercury News has revealed he will leave the newspaper after more than three decades of providing journalism excellence. His final column will be published in August. In a piece this week where he announced his forthcoming departure Purdy said he’s not done writing but changes to the journalism profession have forced many to alter their approach and he’s looking forward to exploring new possibilities and enjoying a little more free time with his wife. To read the piece click here.

WEEI afternoon host Rich Keefe may not be invited over for dinner anytime soon by Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell. During Farrell’s weekly interview on the Boston sports station, Keefe asked about a local report about the team’s position coaches being frustrated with the Sox skipper over the way he was using closer Craig Kimbrel. Farrell denied the report and appeared none to pleased with Keefe. To watch their exchange click here.

Congratulations is in order for St. Louis Blues television personality Darren Pang. The outstanding hockey analyst has confirmed he’s agreed to a new three year deal to remain with the team and its television partner FOX Sports Midwest.

In other television news, the NFL Network has added a new reporter to its staff. Tom Pelissero has left the USA Today and will be contributing on-air and on NFL.com. He’s also expected to continue hosting radio shows on 1500 ESPN in Minneapolis and SiriusXM NFL Radio.

Dallas based radio host Matt Mosley, who has been working with Ed Werder on the Doomsday Podcast, revealed thru social media that he’ll be heard this week on the ESPN Radio Network. Mosley will work nights alongside Cincinnati talk show host Mo Egger and Joe Ovies of 99.9 The Fan.

In what’s being billed an upset of epic proportions, NBC Sports Radio has agreed to turn over the airwaves once again to Rob “Stats” Guerera. Mike Florio’s executive producer will host Pro Football Talk Live Tuesday morning July 4th from 6a-9a ET.

Former 95.7 The Game midday hosts Guy Haberman and John Middlekauff will be earning some air time on KNBR. The two men are scheduled to host on the Bay Area sports radio station on Monday July 3rd from 9a-1p.

The final fill-in news comes from Phoenix where Jody Oehler of FOX Sports 910 will earn an opportunity to present himself to a national audience this Wednesday-Friday. Oehler will step in on FOX Sports Radio for Rich Eisen.

A tip of the cap to 97.3 ESPN. The Atlantic City sports radio station won the Most Creative Localization contest of the Mike and Mike Dream Finals campaign. The station used Mike and Mike’s winning word and localized the promotion by tying in the station’s LPGA VIP experience promotion which rewarded a listener with an opportunity to play in the LPGA Pro-Am and earn an inside the ropes experience during the event. For winning the contest, the station received a $1000 gift card and an opportunity to be featured in a future case study by ESPN Radio.

In late May, ESPN Pensacola was abruptly shut down. As a result, Paul Chestnutt and Chad Brillante were left without jobs. Fortunately for both men, that stint on the unemployment line didn’t last long. Chestnutt has been hired by WPNN (103.7 FM and 790 AM) to host his hour-long “Sports Roundtable” show. Brillante has been added to The Ticket Sports Network (97.1 FM in Pensacola, 100.3 FM in Crestview-Fort Walton-Destin, and 93.5 FM in Panama City) to host afternoons.

Up north, Andy McNamara has shared that he’ll be hosting a new Wednesday night program across Canada called CFL Weekly. The show will be heard on the TSN Radio Network and focus on the Canadian Football League.

A couple of play-by-play news items to pass along. First, AJ Ricketts has been named the new voice of Florida International University football.  Second, former Boston College and North Carolina State head football coach Tom O’Brien has been named the new radio color analyst for the Navy Football Radio Network. O’Brien takes over for Omar Nelson who moved into the position of Football Recruiting Coordinator.

Additionally in the play by play arena, SiriusXM MLB radio host and TNT television host Casey Stern will make his debut as an NBA play by play announcer. Stern is scheduled to call summer league action on NBA TV July 7-9. He’ll be working with Isaiah Thomas and Steve Smith.

Congratulations to accomplished writer and reporter Bruce Feldman. After enjoying stints with ESPN and FOX Sports, Feldman has announced he’s joining Sports Illustrated to cover and write about college football.

Greg Smith has announced he’s leaving the Gregath and Smith show on ESPN 1480. Smith has signed on to be a Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity. The website has also added Derek Peterson as a writer and Huskers football reporter.

Continuing with some additional writing news, former CBS Radio digital host Jake Brown has joined SNY on a part time basis. Brown will be contributing written pieces about the NY Knicks for the TV station’s website.

Sports Radio News

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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Sports Radio News

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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