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WFNZ Extends Its Radio Deal with the Charlotte Hornets

Jason Barrett

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The Charlotte Hornets and Entercom’s WFNZ (610 AM/102.5 FM) The Fan in Charlotte have inked a new multi-year deal for WFNZ to continue serving as the team’s flagship radio station. The announcement was made Monday morning.

“The Hornets are an outstanding organization in a great sports town,” said Matthew R. Hanlon, VP/GM Entercom/Charlotte. “It makes so much sense for WFNZ to be the flagship station for the Hornets’ radio network. We’re very proud to be a part of the growth and success of the Charlotte Hornets.”

“We are excited to have WFNZ once again serve as the ‘radio home of the Charlotte Hornets’ with this multi-year partnership,” said Hornets President & COO Fred Whitfield. “In addition to broadcasting all Hornets games, our fans will benefit from the increased hours of additional Hornets programming, including extended pregame and postgame shows. We look forward to working with all of the talented people at WFNZ for many years to come.”

The extended partnership between the Hornets and WFNZ will feature more Hornets programming than ever before on the radio station. All of the team’s preseason, regular-season and postseason games will be carried by WFNZ and each game broadcast will also be available to fans on the Hornets app. The new agreement includes an expanded 30-minute pregame show and a 20-minute postgame wrap-up show. Following the wrap-up show, WFNZ will provide an additional 30-minute call-in postgame show.

In addition, WFNZ is adding a weekly 60-minute Hornets show to its lineup. The new show will air Thursday nights at 6pm ET. Daily Hornets features will also air on both WFNZ and its sister station WBT (1110 AM) during the NBA season.

The two parties have confirmed the return of Steve Martin as the radio play-by-play voice. Martin has served as a radio or television broadcaster for NBA basketball in Charlotte since the team arrived in 1988. He’s expected to call all of the action at home and on the road. Former NBA player Matt Carroll joins Martin as the Hornets radio analyst for all home games.

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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