Under The Radar returns with another jammed pack week of sports media news. As usual, if you have individual or company news to pass along, send it via email to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me. Now here’s this week’s activity.
Last week’s chaos involving ESPN personality Jemele Hill has opened the floodgates to various individuals and brands defending and attacking the worldwide leader in sports. But one piece in particular stood out. Whether you agree or disagree with the notion that the sports media has shifted to the left, this presentation by John Locke Foundation Senior Vice President Jon Pritchett and Duke University professor Ed Tiryakian is very interesting. To watch it click here.
With many inside the radio industry excited, concerned and curious about the upcoming merger between CBS Radio and Entercom, one question has been how attractive the news is to stock holders. The early returns were favorable but enthusiasm has since faded. CNBC’s “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer addressed the situation and delivered an excellent analysis on why he feels Entercom is a wise investment. To see the segment click here.
Noise was made in Houston this week when the Texans revoked the credentials of Sports Talk 790 host Josh Innes and his producer Jim Mudd. The team was upset after Mudd reported live from practice, sharing formations and plays being used, and announcing which players were involved in team drills. Innes told the Houston Chronicle the Texans acted “randomly and arbitrarily” and that he wasn’t aware of their media policies. He cited the club’s August 22nd practice where fans were allowed to shoot audio and video from the stands as an example of confusion. “We were providing entertainment for our audience. We were trying to give information. Were people amused by it? Yes. My objective is to make people laugh, have a good show, don’t take ourselves seriously.”
97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia has stabilized its midday show. The station has promoted afternoon producer Jason Myrtetus to co-host alongside Harry Mayes. Myrtetus spent 4+ years working on Mike Missanelli’s show and says he’s excited for a new chapter in his radio career.
Speaking of additions, Sportsnet 650 in Vancouver has confirmed the hiring of Alex Auld as co-host of “Canucks Central.” Auld joins Satiar Shah weekdays from 12p-1p PT.
101 ESPN in St. Louis is doing something really cool to cover high school football. The radio station has teamed up with Silverback to deliver the high school game of the week via its website and Facebook. The production quality is fantastic and looks like a television broadcast being offered on the station’s digital and social platforms. Brad Barnes and Andrew Rogers call the action. To catch a glimpse click here. The broadcast starts about nine minutes in.
Congratulations is in order for Portland Trail Blazers radio play by play man Brian Wheeler. The veteran voice of the team has inked a new multi-year contract extension to continue calling Blazers basketball. Per company policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Larry Andersen has worked the past 47 summers in baseball. In 2018 that will change. The Philadelphia Phillies color analyst has announced he will decrease his schedule next season on radio broadcasts. The team hasn’t determined yet who will step in when Andersen isn’t working. The former major league reliever says he wants to reduce his travel and enjoy some personal time while he remains above ground.
After exiting AM 1300 The Zone, Rod Babers has resurfaced on the airwaves of crosstown rival 104.9 The Horn. Babers joined the radio station a few weeks ago, hosting a new midday show, “The Rodcast”, M-F 1p-3p CT.
Columbus sports radio station 105.7 The Zone has added a local afternoon show. “The Drive with Jackson and McCoy” now airs weekday afternoons 3p-6p ET. The program features market veteran Matt McCoy and Big Ten Network analyst Stanley Jackson.
Program Director Ryan Porth is getting busy behind the microphone. Porth is hosting a new weekly show called “Preds Insiders” on Nashville sports station 102.5 The Game. The program airs Monday nights from 6p-7p ET.
106.7 The Zone in Madison, Wisconsin has hired a new reporter/host. Danny Cunningham has agreed to join the radio station. He had recently announced his departure from ESPN Cleveland 850 WKNR. Cunningham will cover the Packers, Bucks, Brewers and University of Wisconsin Badgers for the radio station starting September 25th.
Former Louisville host Spencer Kietzman has confirmed he’s joined Arizona’s Sports Station 98.7FM. The son of WHB afternoon host Kevin Kietzman will contribute for the Phoenix brand on a part time basis.
One of Chicago’s most influential sports radio personalities is putting his lifetime of experiences in the business on paper. Former 670 The Score afternoon host Terry Boers is publishing a memoir titled “The Score of a Lifetime.” The book is expected to be released November 15th. For more details including how you can pre-order it click here.
Speaking of books, sports business consultant and host of the Tao of Sports Podcast Troy Kirby has published “Liquid Courage”, a story about three bodybuilders who attempted a casino heist. It’s available on Amazon in paperback or e-book. For more information about the book visit the Facebook page or Twitter page.
All Access featured SiriusXM sports program director Jason Dixon in their latest edition of 10 Questions. To read the piece and become more familiar with Dixon’s career in the radio industry click here.
In Baltimore, Tony Lombardi of Russell Street Report conducted an interview with 105.7 The Fan afternoon host Scott Garceau. The article includes Garceau’s thoughts on working with Jeremy Conn, Anita Marks, callers to his show, and more. To read it click here.
The Baton Rouge Business Report caught up with LSU football sideline reporter and Guaranty Media vice president and general manager Gordy Rush. One of the station’s under Rush’s watch is 104.5 ESPN. To gain further insight into Rush’s background and views click here.
In print news, The Athletic continues to stockpile talented writers. The latest to join the company is Andrew Brandt. The former NFL executive and ESPN NFL business analyst will continue producing written content for Peter King’s MMQB. He’s simply adding to his plate by creating columns for The Athletic.
Brandt may be doing double duty for SI and The Athletic but Chris Burke‘s situation is different. Burke has left SI to join The Athletic where he’ll cover the Detroit Lions for the company’s Detroit platform.
With many Bay Area sports writers flocking to The Athletic, that’s presented opportunity for others at the San Jose Mercury News. Matt Schneidman is the latest to take advantage of the situation. He’s signed on to cover the Oakland Raiders for the local newspaper.
Former FOX Sports writer Pat Muldowney has resurfaced. After being let go as part of FOX’s controversial shift to video, Muldowney has signed on to work for The Ringer.
Barstool Sports has hired their first full-time female on-air talent. Julie Stewart Binks has joined the multi-media company where she’ll be involved in a number of programs for the company. One of those projects includes hosting “The Barstool Tailgate Show” alongside company president Dave Portnoy and former NFL punter Pat McAfee. Stewart-Binks has previously worked for FS1 and works for ESPN as a sideline reporter on MLS games. Her role with Barstool won’t affect her role on ESPN.
VSporto has been ramping up its sports podcast programming. The company recently launched a new national NFL podcast with former ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan. They’ve also launched a Houston-centric podcast with local sports radio host Charlie Pallilo, and an irreverent college football show featuring Bleacher Report’s Adam Kramer and CBSSports’ Barrett Sallee.
Sticking with podcasts, Joy Taylor of FOX Sports 1‘s “Undisputed” has entered the digital audio space. Taylor has teamed up with Brandon J. Newman to launch Maybe I’m Crazy. In addition to playing the point guard between Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe, Taylor has long form talk experience. She previously hosted for 790 The Ticket in Miami and has also hosted shows on FOX Sports Radio. To hear the debut episode click here.
In sports television news, Cara Capuano has announced she’s returning to call women’s college sports for ESPN.
Derek Medlin has shared via social media that he’s returning to WRAL in two weeks. Medlin says he’s excited to get back to his roots covering sports for the channel.
Former Dallas Stars play by play man turned Los Angeles Kings announcer Ralph Strangis has received good news. The veteran hockey voice has been summoned by Westwood One to call USA Hockey this February in the winter Olympics.
And congratulations to Evan Pivnick on being named the new play by play voice and Director of Broadcasting for the ECHL’s Adirondack Thunder. Pivnick previously called Bowling Green hockey games.
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.”
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.
Pat McAfee Irritated At Fans’ ‘Throw Rogan’ Nickname For Aaron Rodgers
“His haters got very loud.”
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.
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.”
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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