Just when it seems things should slow down, another flurry of activity hits. This week’s UTR is once again jam packed and features the largest number of news and notes items since we began producing the column. My thanks to all who supplied information. A reminder, to be included in a future article, send your individual or company news via email to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me.
Now here’s the latest developments!
A tip of the cap to Mike Thomas. The head of programming for 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston has inked a multi-year contract extension to continue in his multi-platform role as VP of Sports Programming for CBS Radio and VP of Programming for CBS Radio Boston.
Congratulations are in order for Chad Dukes and Grant Paulsen. The two Washington D.C. sports radio personalities have signed new contract extensions to remain with 106.7 The Fan. Dukes hosts the afternoon show, Paulsen teams with Danny Rouhier in middays on the station.
A second news item from 106.7 The Fan. The radio station has named Craig Hoffman as its new Washington Redskins beat reporter. Hoffman originally moved to D.C. to cover the Skins for ESPN 980. He had been working part-time as a host and anchor on The Fan prior to earning the promotion.
Danny Kanell is back on the radio. The former ESPN Radio midday co-host who was surprisingly let go in April amid company budget cuts, has struck a deal to host weekdays from 1p-4p ET with Jason Horowitz on SiriusXM’s ESPNU Radio. Kanell debuted on the channel last week.
According to the New York Daily News, Mike Francesa is not expected to return to host his Football Sunday program on WFAN this season. The plan apparently is to team Marc Malusis and former New York Giant David Diehl on Sunday mornings. Francesa hosted the popular NFL Sunday show for close to three decades. WFAN has not yet named who will replace Francesa in afternoons when his contract expires in December.
Big career news for Nate Lundy. After tackling roles as a radio host, television commentator and program director, Lundy can now officially add “owner” to his resume. Lundy put together a group of investors to purchase Mile High Sports, a multimedia company in Denver with assets including a local radio station, magazine, website and daily newsletter. All the best to Nate and his team in their attempts to move the brand forward.
WDAE in Tampa has officially returned to local programming in morning drive. The radio station’s popular midday show Ronnie and T-Kras, featuring Tom Krasniqi and Ronnie “Night Train” Lane have shifted to mornings replacing ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike. The radio station adds The Dan Patrick Show to middays to fill Krasniqi and Lane’s old timeslot.
Speaking of WDAE, in June the radio station promoted John Mamola to program director. Last week, the station made its commitment even stronger, locking up Mamola with a new multi-year contract. Congrats to all involved.
1500 ESPN in Minneapolis has announced its “Talkin’ Purple” lineup for the 2017 NFL season. The radio station will feature Star-Tribune Vikings writer Ben Goessling on Monday’s, former NFL QB, Minnesota native and current CBS analyst Rich Gannon each Tuesday, former NFL head coach and player, and current ESPN NFL analyst Herm Edwards on Wednesday’s, ESPN NFL Nation reporter & former longtime Vikings beat writer Kevin Seifert every Thursday, and the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero on Friday’s. 1500 ESPN has also re-signed “the superstar” Mike Morris, former Vikings long-snapper turned popular twin cities radio personality. Morris will be part of the station’s“Vikings Ventline postgame show” and contribute a weekly podcast called “The Star Power Podcast.”
The Rams may be gone from St. Louis but that doesn’t mean football programming isn’t important to local listeners. To satisfy the local appetite for the NFL, 101 ESPN has announced the return of Anthony Slater and Brandon Kiley for the radio station’s pregame show, No Huddle. The show will air each Sunday from 10a-11a CT.
Another St. Louis sports station, 590 The Fan KFNS, also plans to deliver Sunday programming for football fans. Howard Balzer and Marc Lillibridge will team up to host the Sunday Football Kickoff from 10a-12p CT.
Sticking with football programming, Zach Gelb is joining 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia to host the radio station’s Sunday postgame shows following Eagles games. He’ll continue hosting his afternoon show in Trenton, NJ for FOX Sports 920 The Jersey.
With Dan D’Uva now in Las Vegas to call Golden Knights hockey, ESPN Syracuse has filled his vacancy in their weekday lineup by adding a new show. Orange Nation now occupies the airwaves weekdays from 12p-2p ET. Seth Goldberg co-hosts the program alongside Steve Infanti. The radio station has also announced, In The Booth, will run weekdays from 2p-3p ET and feature Paulie Scibilia and Matt Park.
We may not see Phil Simms in the TV booth this season on CBS, but that doesn’t mean the Hall of Fame quarterback won’t be busy. In addition to serving as an analyst on CBS’ NFL Today, the former quarterback has added a radio component this NFL season. Simms will join SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Radio for a special one-hour segment with Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, each Friday at 4pm ET. The channel is branding the hour as Simms and The Mad Dog..
After being let go at KNBR, Ray Woodson has resurfaced. The Bay Area radio veteran has been filling in on KNBR’s cross town rival 95.7 The Game during middays.
Meanwhile at KNBR, a former member of 95.7 The Game has been added. Former midday producer Brian Burns has joined the San Francisco sports radio station in an off the air role.
North of the border, congratulations to Sportsnet 650 in Vancouver on their official launch which took place on Labor Day. The new radio home of the Vancover Canucks has also confirmed the addition of Joey Kenward to its Canucks pre and postgame coverage. News 1130’s Ann Smaltz has also joined the radio station as a rinkside reporter. 650 has also added Dan Riccio to its roster. Riccio had been part of Rogers Media’s Sportsnet 590 The Fan in Toronto for the past eight years. The move keeps him in the company, just working on the other end of the country.
Speaking of Sportsnet 590 The Fan, congratulations to all who have been a part of the radio station’s growth throughout the years. The top rated Toronto sports radio brand celebrated its 25th anniversary on Labor Day.
In other anniversary news, congratulations to John Kincade and Buck Belue of 680 The Fan. The Atlanta sports radio duo celebrated 17 years together this past Monday.
SB Nation Radio has launched a new Sunday night NFL show. Patrick Creighton hosts the program from 9p-1a ET on SB Nation Radio and its local affiliate stations.
Congrats to Robert Brender on being summoned by SiriusXM to work Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers games this season. Brender will be heard on SiriusXM NFL Radio, channel 88.
The radio airwaves are becoming a little more interesting in southwest Florida with the return of Mark Miller and David Moulton. The popular local duo are reuniting and will be heard throughout the region on a few different AM and FM signals under the Sun Broadcasting ownership group. Miller and Moulton previously worked for Beasley Broadcasting and aired in afternoons on 99.3 ESPN. Both hosts were let go in separate situations, creating a lot of local noise. This time around the two men will work the morning shift, hosting weekdays from 6a-9a ET. 99.3 ESPN has since moved on from the duo by adding the respected team of Craig Shemon and Pete Sheppard in afternoons.
After being let go by the Indianapolis Colts, Kevin Bowen has landed on his feet. The Indianapolis based reporter has signed on to report, write and produce multi media content for 1070 The Fan. He’ll be assigned to cover the Pacers and Colts on a regular basis for the radio station.
Patrick Meagher of SiriusXM and Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated have launched a new college football podcast, Place At The Table. Meagher hosts The Rap on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio. Staples is a Senior writer for Sports Illustrated, and the host of Sunday With Staples on SiriusXM’s College Sports Nation. To check out the first episode click here.
Speaking of podcasts, Podcast One is structuring its sports podcasts differently under a new collective banner. Podcast One Sports will feature the launch of a weekly podcast hosted by University of Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh starting September 5th. The company also plans to release new shows from Dick Enberg, Rich Eisen and his wife Suzy Schuster, the NFL Network’s Dave Dameshek and his former radio boss Adam Carolla, Lilian Garcia, Jay Mohr and the company’s existing programs such as “The Rich Eisen Show”, “The Dan Patrick Show”, “Steve Austin Unleashed”, Ross Tucker’s football podcast, and “The Big Podcast with Shaq”.
It’s great to see Sean O’Connell returning behind the microphone. The UFC fighter and Salt Lake City sports radio host had been off the air after ESPN 700 made the decision to not renew his contract. OC though has reached an agreement to join KSL in Salt Lake delivering a digital audio program. Details he says are forthcoming.
The Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network has improved its behind the scenes operations by adding Dave Tepper as a studio coordinator. The NRG Media Operations Manager for 1620 the Zone, 1180 Zone 2, News Talk 1290 and La Nueva 99.5/1020 will produce the pregame, halftime and postgame shows with longtime host Art Hains, and assist the network studio team on all preseason, regular season and postseason games.
The University of Washington Huskies will have a new radio voice taking over for Bob Rondeau after the 2017 football season. Former Clemson Tigers basketball announcer Tony Castricone has been named Director of Broadcasting by Washington IMG Sports Marketing. Castricone will call Huskies football and men’s basketball starting with the 2017-18 men’s basketball season.
The Auburn Sports Network has expanded its Tigers Tailgate Show from two to three hours this season, and in the process, has added some additional firepower. Former Tigers and NFL QB Jason Campbell returns to his alma matter to contribute as an analyst. Campbell joins a large cast which includes Paul Ellen, Andy Burcham, Rod Bramblett, Stan White, Ronnie Brown and Brad Law.
The Charlotte 49ers have a new play by play voice. Congratulations goes out to Jackson Kaplan who will not only call the team’s games but also tackles the role of Media Relations Assistant.
Congratulations to Trey Ragland on being named the new sideline reporter for University of Alabama at Birmingham Football. The school’s games are produced by IMG.
Believe it or not, last week marked the 10-year anniversary of The Big Ten Network. Congrats to all involved who were part of the network’s launch and who have helped the channel grow during the past decade.
ESPN has confirmed Diana Russini, Wendy Nix and Darren Woodson have signed new contracts to remain involved with the network.
In other contractual news, FOX Sports has signed Grant Wahl to a new deal which keeps him involved with the company for the men’s 2018 World Cup and the women’s 2019 World Cup.
After doing an excellent job as the courtside reporter for NBC Sports Bay Area’s Golden State Warriors games, Rosalyn Gold-Onwude has signed on to work full-time for TNT and NBA TV. She’s expected to work with the Inside The NBA crew on Thursday nights, provide reports courtside for national games, and host on NBA TV. As part of the job change she’ll be relocating from the Bay Area to Atlanta.
In Chicago television circles, CSN Chicago has announced their programming plans surrounding the Chicago Bears, and 670 The Score evening host Laurence Holmes is one of the key additions. Holmes joins the network this season as host of its Bears game day programming, including Bears Pregame Live and Bears Postgame Live. He’ll work with a panel of Bears/NFL experts including former Bears linebacker/seven-time Pro Bowler Lance Briggs, former Bears quarterback Jim Miller, and former Bears defensive end standout Alex Brown.
Former SportsCenter anchor Darren Haynes has landed a new gig. The Connecticut native has joined WUSA-TV in Washington D.C. as a sports anchor. Haynes was part of ESPN’s cuts in April.
It may be a subjective column, but it’s a good feeling nonetheless for anyone recognized in The Big Lead’s 40 Under 40. A special tip of the cap to Scott Shapiro of FOX Sports Radio and Amanda Gifford of ESPN, formerly of ESPN Radio, on being included in the piece.
Pittsburgh and Boston sports radio veteran Tim Benz has joined the Pittsburgh Tribune Review as a sports columnist. Benz had been working for DK Pittsburgh Sports, but is leaving the website to focus on the Tribune, and his additional projects with ESPN 970 Pittsburgh, WDVE, KDKA TV, Steelers Wire, Robert Morris hockey and XFinity PXP.
Benjamin Allbright has confirmed he’s taking over as Chief Operating Officer, Managing Editor & part owner of Cover 32. The NFL themed website was founded by James Merilatt and Miles Dittberner. To view the website click here.
For twenty six years, Jim Thomas did an outstanding job covering the Rams and the NFL in St. Louis. But with the football team now located in Los Angeles, Thomas is shifting his focus to another sport and team. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter has changed beats and will now cover the St. Louis Blues. The real winners are St. Louis hockey fans who now gain the benefit of Thomas’ news breaking and story telling abilities.
And a week can’t go by without The Athletic scooping up another talented writer. After 12+ years with the San Francisco Chornicle, Vic Tafur is leaving the newspaper to join The Athletic’s Bay Area division. Tafur will cover the Oakland Raiders as he’s done throughout his career. He began his new assignment on Monday.
Fred Toucher: ‘I’d Rather Hear Crowd Noise Than Tony Romo’
“I don’t know why they throw so much money at these guys. Who goes ‘Wow, Aikman is the greatest’?”
The Toucher and Rich show from 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston was not happy with the calls made in Sunday’s Bills-Chiefs divisional playoff game. No, not the play-calling by either team, but the broadcast call from the booth.
The duo went on a tangent discussing blunders made by Tony Romo and Jim Nantz in the booth — Romo, specifically. Towards the end of the game as Buffalo and Kansas City were trading scores, Romo was ecstatic but also fumbling over his words and couldn’t get his clearest thought out. Some probably didn’t notice or understood the excitement at that point which caused Romo to babble. However, Fred Toucher was very annoyed with it.
“It’s something massive that happened in that game and he ruined it!” he said. “Why is that better than crowd noise? How is that better than crowd noise? I’d rather just hear the crowd noise.”
This was in reference to one of the touchdowns late in the game. Later, Toucher stated that announcers don’t add much value to the game anyway and asked why networks give so much money to color commentators.
“I don’t know why they throw so much money at these guys. Who goes ‘Wow, Aikman is the greatest’? It’s like, Aikman doesn’t bother me. It’s just the ability not to bother you. That’s all. And you can do that by staying out of the way.”
While a former player like Romo is newer to the booth, many enjoy his style due to his ability to break down plays or at times predict exactly what will happen on an upcoming play down to the smallest detail. However, he is still learning and even the best announcers babble at times.
Everyone seems to have an opinion on each football analyst and announcer. It’s safe to say Toucher and Rich have had enough of Romo.
850 AM ESPN Cleveland Knocked Off Air Friday Due to Damaged Transmitter
The transmitter issues were fixed later in the day and ESPN Cleveland was back on the air shortly after 4 p.m. Friday.
Sports radio station WKNR, 850 AM ESPN Cleveland, was off the air Friday morning due to a transmitter that was damaged during last Monday’s snowstorm.
As the station told listeners on Twitter and Facebook, ESPN Cleveland programming was still available on the ESPN app, The Land on Demand website, the TuneIn App, and smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home.
So features like an NFL roundtable with the station’s Cleveland Browns analyst Tony Grossi could still be heard by ESPN Cleveland listeners, just not on the radio via 850 AM for most of the workday.
But the transmitter issues were fixed later in the day and ESPN Cleveland was back on the air shortly after 4 p.m. Friday, as announced on social media.
Afternoon drive-time listeners got to hear The Next Level with Emmett Golden, Jerod Cherry, and Matt Fontana on their way home from work. (Well, some listeners probably only got an hour’s worth of programming before the station powered down its signal at 5 p.m.)
As some listeners pointed out on Twitter, it seemed strange for the transmitter to break down four days after the snowstorm. But the damage obviously wasn’t an immediate problem and apparently something that deteriorated. Or it was an issue that needed to be addressed for the transmitter to continue working properly.
Monday’s snowstorm was no joke. Snowfall totals at the Cleveland airport were measured at 8.2 inches. The region was also battered by 35 mph winds, temperatures in the mid-20s, and wind chills in the teens. At least sports fans could listen to ESPN Cleveland at the time…
TV Reporter Tori Yorgey Surprised By Eagles’ Brandon Graham During WIP Appearance
“This is the craziest early morning call I’ve ever had!”
WSAZ-TV reporter Tori Yorgey became news last Thursday for getting hit by a car during a live shot on the West Virginia station. Despite what looked like a scary collision on television, Yorgey got up right away to let anchor Tim Irr and the viewing audience know that she was all right.
"We're good, Tim." pic.twitter.com/9kn2YElDLK— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 20, 2022
The following day, Yorgey, a Philadelphia native, was a guest on the 94WIP morning show as the “Winner of the Week” to talk about the incident. But host Angelo Cataldi made the interview even better by bringing on Yorgey’s favorite Philadelphia Eagles player, Brandon Graham.
“No way!” exclaimed Yorgey. “Oh my God, I love you!”
“You’re a trooper,” said Graham. “Like when performers fall down the stairs, the show must go on. That’s how you approached it.”
“Thank you so much,” Yorgey responded. “Whoa, this is the craziest early morning call I’ve ever had.”
Last week after video of Yorgey went viral, Graham’s Eagles teammate, Lane Johnson, said he’d send her a jersey.
Yorgey told fans on Twitter that she was “just a little sore” after the incident, but she’s still feeling discomfort in her right leg. As so many have pointed out, it could have been so much worse for her.
Amazingly, the on-air collision was one of the last assignments Yorgey covered for WSAZ. She’s moving on to Pittsburgh’s WTAE-TV, where she’ll be a nighttime reporter. Yorgey starts her new job on Feb. 1. There don’t appear to be any worries that she’ll become a Steelers fan, especially after talking to her favorite Eagles player on WIP.
“I hope you come to Philly instead of Pittsburgh,” said Graham toward the end of his call.
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