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Under The Radar – July 24, 2017

Jason Barrett

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It’s starting to sound like a broken record, but another week passes, and the sports media news cycle keeps on spinning. Although this week was a little slower than the past few. A reminder, you can have your individual or company news featured in this article by forwarding any pertinent information to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me.

Now here’s the latest developments.

Vice Sports has become the latest digital brand to overhaul its writing team in favor of video content. The company is parting ways with 2% of its 3,000 employees as it becomes heavier focused on original video programming. Among the cuts were Aaron Gordon, Jorge Arrangure, and Patrick Hruby. To read more about it click here.

Adrian Wojnarowski may not have been able to raid the entire Vertical staff and take them with him to ESPN, but that doesn’t mean the network isn’t committed to adding to its NBA reporting team. Mike Schmitz and Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com have agreed to join the company as NBA Draft Analysts. The Draft Express website had produced millions of readers over the past 14 years, but with their new opportunity at ESPN, Givony and Schmitz plan to produce all of their content exclusively for ESPN and its multiple platforms. Archived material will remain available on the Draft Express website.

Also heading ESPN’s direction is Nick DePaula. The former feature writer for The Vertical, and creative director and Editor-In-Chief for Sole Magazine and Nice Kicks, has signed on with the network to provide additional coverage on hoops and athlete’s footwear.

Darius Rucker has decided that calling into sports talk shows isn’t enough. The county music star has reached an agreement with SiriusXM to host a new golf show on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio. The show will be titled “On Par with Darius Rucker” and it’s slated to debut Wednesday July 26th. The show will air monthly once its officially launched.

Congratulations to SportsNet 590 The Fan program director Dave Cadeau who has been elevated by Rogers Media to National Format Director. In addition to continuing to program the Toronto sports radio station, Cadeau will assist other sports radio properties under the Rogers umbrella.

Longtime Nashville sports talk show host George Plaster is returning to the local airwaves. A new program is being developed and will air on Classic Country WSM-AM. The show won’t interfere with Plaster’s position of Associate Director of Athletics at Belmont University. Plaster previously hosted on 102.5 The Game.

WQAM’s Ant Calatayud is bound for Bristol. The Miami radio producer is moving to Connecticut in August to join ESPN where he’s expected to contribute to the network’s Podcenter team.

Atlanta sports radio station 680 The Fan gave former Bills and Falcons wide receiver Peerless Price an opportunity to host last week. Price stepped in alongside fellow former wideout Brian Finneran and radio host/anchor Sandra Golden. Lead host Steak Shapiro had time off.

iHeartmedia has taken the plunge into the sports format in Tucson, Arizona. The company has launched FOX Sports 1450 featuring FOX Sports Radio network programming. The station also is the local home for Tucson Roadrunners minor league hockey.

The Baltimore Ravens have announced a new nine-part podcast series which will dive into the lives of the Harbaugh family. Man of the Crowd is hosted by Sarah Ellison and features more than 25 interviews with family members, friends, co-workers and reporters, offering fans a better understanding of what makes the Harbaugh family tick. For more information click here.

While some in the media begin to write obituaries for written content, others are taking advantage of the opportunity to add talented writers to their websites. The Athletic are the latest to do so. After previously hiring Tim Kawakami and Marcus Thompson to spearhead their Bay Area coverage, Kawakami revealed that Phil Taylor, John Middlekauff, Dieter Kurtenbach, Danny Leroux and Bay Area Sports Guy have been added as contributors.

Former Sports Illustrated writer Greg Bedard is also taking a more prominent role in overseeing a digital brand. Bedard has launched BostonSportsJournal.com, which includes Sean McAdam, Christopher Price, and Brian Robb and focuses primarily on the Boston sports scene. The website’s model replicates what Dejan Kovacevic installed in Pittsburgh with DKPittsburghsports.com. Kovacevic’s brand has amassed over 38,000 subscribers while adding strong corporate advertising support. Bedard is hoping to accomplish the same with his new digital venture.

Sticking in the San Francisco area, NBC Sports Bay Area recently launched a new show, Giants Outsiders, featuring Grant Brisbee and Therese Vinal. The show is thirty minutes in length and offers viewers an entertaining and fresh take on Giants games with an emphasis on viewer interaction via Twitter and Facebook. The show is also synced with Facebook Live to produce a unique interactive experience.

Sports Radio News

Joel Utley, College Basketball’s Record Holder for Most Games Called, Retires

Utley retires after 61 years as the team’s basketball play-by-play announcer which is a college basketball record.

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Joel Utley

Joel Utley has announced he is retiring from broadcasting and as the voice of the Kentucky Wesleyan Panthers.

Utley retires after 61 years as the team’s basketball play-by-play announcer which is a college basketball record. He broadcast 1,933 Kentucky Wesleyan games during that span, also a record for total games called. He began his career on December 2, 1961 when KWC defeated California State University – Northridge, 100-64. 

Utley also is the only broadcaster in the nation to call 12 NCAA Basketball Championship games (all levels) including eight Division II titles.

Joel Utley interviewing Rupp

“It was a tough decision to make, but the timing is right to step down,” Utley said. “What I have done as a broadcaster reflects my love for KWC. My career has been beyond any dreams I ever had.”

He is a member of the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame and in September, Utley will be inducted into the Kentucky Broadcaster Association Hall of Fame.

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Sports Radio News

Mark Chernoff: ‘I Didn’t Believe Mad Dog Was Going To Leave WFAN’

“I wish they hadn’t separated, because it was the most amazing team.”

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Mark Chernoff offered some great stories and insight on the latest episode of The Jason Barrett Podcast. The former program director of WFAN in New York began his appearance by paying tribute to the station’s three soon-to-be Hall of Famers.

He reflected on Jeff Smulyan’s vision in creating sports radio, Suzyn Waldman’s gravitas and versatility as a reporter and talent, and all of the success he shared with Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo.

Russo and his long time radio partner Mike Francesa split up in 2008 after Russo left WFAN for Sirius. Chernoff admitted that even as he was told it was about to happen, he still didn’t believe it.

“You know, I misread a little bit the situation with Mike and Chris,” he admitted. “Mike said ‘Dog’s gonna leave. I know he’s gonna leave.’ He even intimated that he had spoken to Mel [Karmazin, the then-CEO of Sirius], not Mike but Chris, and it was likely he was going to go over to Sirius. And I just couldn’t believe it.”

Mike and the Mad Dog is as dominant a show as local sports radio has ever produced. The duo was together from 1989 until 2008. When they split up, Mark Chernoff says that he took it personally.

“I was sad for a really long time. I was angry too.”

The move hurt his relationship with Russo for a while. The two did not speak for a long time.

He told Barrett that that is over now. They share occasional texts and always hug and catch up when they see each other. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t still some lingering disappointment.

“I wish they hadn’t separated, because it was the most amazing team,” Chernoff said of Mike & the Mad Dog. “But both [Chris] and Mike were certainly successful on their own.”

New episodes of The Jason Barrett Podcast are released each Tuesday morning.

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Sports Radio News

Eli Gold To Miss Start of Alabama Football Season

He’s faced his share of health challenges recently. His streak of 409 consecutive Alabama football games was broken in 2020 after a COVID diagnosis.

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Legendary Alabama play-by-play announcer Eli Gold will miss the beginning of the 2022 football season with health issues.

Jim Carabin, Vice President and General Manager of Crimson Tide Sports Marketing announced the news Wednesday. The school did not elaborate on Gold’s ailment, only saying he would be sidelined to begin the season.

Chris Stewart, who handles play-by-play duties for Alabama’s basketball and baseball teams will fill in during Gold’s absence. Stewart will also host The Nick Saban Show and Hey, Coach until Gold returns.

The 68-year-old Gold is a 2014 inductee to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Gold, who’s contract runs through the 2023 season, has been the Voice of the Crimson Tide since the 1988 season.

He’s faced his share of health challenges recently. His streak of 409 consecutive Alabama football games was broken in 2020 after a COVID diagnosis. Gold also had both shoulders replaced that same year.

In addition to his work with the Crimson Tide, Gold has served as an announcer for NASCAR, NFL, NHL, and the NBA G-League, among others.

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