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Under The Radar – October 30, 2017

Jason Barrett

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The news has been trickling in over the past few weeks so we have plenty to catch you up on. A reminder, it helps us, and benefits the remainder of industry folks when they’re kept in the loop about news involving yourself or your brand. To have your information included in a future UTR column please pass along any pertinent details via email to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me.

Now on to some of the news you might have missed.

Congratulations to Bob Valvano on signing a new 2-year contract with Union Broadcasting in Louisville and ESPN Radio in Bristol to continue in his current roles as a local and national talk show host and college basketball analyst. Bobby V can be heard on ESPN 680 as well as across the nation on ESPN Radio.

In other positive news related to ESPN Radio, congrats are overdue for Mike Urrunaga and Vince Kates. The two longtime producers have been elevated to supervisor roles. Kates is now overseeing the network’s evening programming and Urrunaga its weekend shows. The moves provide new challenges for both men while also allowing Pete Gianesini and Louise Cornetta to focus more on digital content and podcast development.

Cumulus Media has made an excellent hire to lead its programming efforts at News Radio 106.7 FM in Atlanta. Accomplished sports radio veteran Tom Lee has been brought in to oversee the station’s programming efforts. Lee has worked in Los Angeles, Dallas, Seattle and Philadelphia and was last in charge of The Beast 980 before it was sold and flipped to a different format.

Elsewhere in Atlanta, Former Atlanta Falcon Bob Whitfield has hosted his last show on 1230 The Fan 2 in Atlanta. Station owner David Dickey told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Whitfield’s show with Larry Sachs wasn’t what he was looking for. Whitfield joined the show in late-July. Dickey is trying to find a different role for Whitfield on one of his other Atlanta radio stations.

Thrilled to see SiriusXM add pro wrestler Tommy Dreamer to its roster as a talk show host. Dreamer, who has co-hosted a few wrestling shows with Dave LaGreca on Busted Open Radio, and is most familiar for his work in ECW and WWE, has a strong passion for professional sports. The satellite company is giving him an opportunity to scratch that itch by contributing on a part-time basis to a few different sports channels, in addition to adding his insights on the latest activity inside the squared circle.

102.9/750 The Game in Portland has brought thru a few interesting personalities recently. The radio station has utilized Mark Zinno formerly of 92.9 The Game in Atlanta, Zakariah formerly of 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, Brian Noe of FOX Sports Radio, Seth Harp of Sports Radio 930 in Jacksonville, and Erik Gee formerly of 107.7 The Franchise in Oklahoma City. The radio station is working thru a process to identify future talent for its vacant afternoon slot.

Staying in Portland, best wishes go out to Brian Wheeler, the radio voice of the Portland Trail Blazers. Wheeler has been sidelined with health issues, causing him to miss a number of Blazers games to begin the 2017-2018 campaign. Scott Lynn has stepped in on an interim basis to hold down the fort. Wheeler says he’s focused on getting himself better and is appreciative of everyone’s well wishes and hopes to be back behind the microphone real soon.

It’s not every day that you see a headline that reads “San Antonio Sports Talk Show Host in Twitter feud with singer, Richard Marx” but Mike Taylor of The Ticket 760 found himself in that spot a few weeks ago. Taylor and Marx exchanged words over searching for vegan options and Marx’s wife Daisy Fuentes. To read more click here.

Just when he thought he was out, they pulled him back in. Bob Ramsey is back on the St. Louis radio airwaves on 550 KTRS. Ramsey, who also calls Saint Louis University Billikens Men’s Basketball games, is working a part-time schedule, hosting evening shows with Sports Director Brendan Wiese.

Longtime Missouri basketball radio color commentator Gary Link was relieved of his duties recently by Mizzou Athletics. Link had been a part of the broadcast team since 1996. He also played for the school from 1970-74. The school says it’s working with Mizzou Sports Properties to identify a permanent replacement.

Some contractual news out of Charlotte that you might have missed. Former NFL offensive lineman Frank Garcia has signed a new deal with 102.5/610 The Fan, WFNZ. Garcia has been a mainstay on the radio station since 2007 and presently teams in middays with Kyle Bailey. The deal is said to be a multi-year agreement.

A little further south, 107.5 The Game in Columbia, SC recently promoted Tim Hill to program director. The announcement was made a few weeks ago. In addition to programming the radio station, Hill serves as host of the morning show, The Early Game.

Also on the PD circuit, it’s good to see former FOX Sports 910 program director Neil Larrimore resurface. After being let go by iHeart Phoenix, Larrimore was scooped up by Cumulus Media and named PD of WPRO-AM and WPRV-AM in Providence, RI.

After a stellar run with the San Francisco ChronicleKevin Lynch has decided to make radio his full time focus. The Bay Area veteran has signed on to contribute full time to KNBR.com where he’s primarily covering the San Francisco 49ers, along with Warriors and Raiders stories as needed.

Other news out of the Bay Area, Entercom San Francisco recently changed General Managers. Steve DiNardo has left the company and been replaced by Susan Larkin. Prior to joining Entercom, Larkin oversaw operations for COX Communications’ 14 stations in Orlando and Jacksonville. She’s been in the radio industry for nearly 25 years. Entercom San Francisco presently operates local sports radio station 95.7 The Game.

Dave “Deuce” Mason announced a few weeks back that he’s moved on from Good Day Sacramento to increase his role with the Sacramento Kings. Mason serves as Executive Producer of Kings radio broadcasts and has begun creating digital content for the Kings’ website and social platforms.

After more than a decade with Good Karma Broadcasting, Joe Colella has left his position as the evening host and afternoon sports anchor at ESPN West Palm 106.3 FM. Colella started as an intern at ESPN Radio 760 in 2003, and climbed the ladder to becoming a producer and on-air talent. He is said to be leaving the radio industry for an opportunity in content marketing. To read more click here.

Peter Mundo has been hosting/producing an hour-long weekly radio show in conjunction with his Big 12 website, Heartland Sports, and it’s been added by stations in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa and West Virginia. The show is split into four-segments, exactly 42 minutes of content, and is entirely focused on Big 12 football. To learn more click here.

Hosting a sports radio show is a dream come true for many, but being able to do that while also owning the radio station is an opportunity that not everyone has the chance to experience. For Nate Brown though that situation has presented itself in Rapid City, SD. Brown is in the process of purchasing KIMM (1150AM/106.7 FM) and as part of the sale will flip the station to all-sports including moving his evening show into PM drive starting November 6th.

Greg Frank confirmed that he’s been named a host and play by play announcer at WILD 102 in Roseau, MN.

Joe Ostrowski of 670 The Score in Chicago has been retained by VSIN to contribute to its new podcast network. Ostrowski is producing a new podcast titled “Early Odds” which drops each Monday morning.

Australian podcaster and keynote speaker Sean Callanan conducted an interesting conversation recently with Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Tank contributor Mark Cuban. The podcast went in-depth on technology, business, investing, and a number of sports discussions. To hear it click here.

YES Network and ESPN play by play man Ryan Ruocco was profiled recently by Adweek. The article took a look at Ruocco’s rapid rise in the sports media business. To read it, click here.

Previously announced via Twitter, Michelle McMahon has joined NBC Sports Chicago covering the Chicago Blackhawks.

Robbie Hummel has decided to put his basketball career in the rear view mirror and turn his attention to working in sports media. Hummel has signed on with ESPN and the Big Ten Network to serve as a color analyst on college basketball games. He’ll also perform in-studio analyst duties as well.

In case you missed it, after being laid off by ESPN and going silent on social media for a few months, Marc Stein has returned. The longtime NBA insider is now covering the NBA for the New York Times. This season represents the 25th year that Stein has been covering professional basketball.

In the print world, Mike Jones has departed the Washington Post after a seven year stint. Jones has accepted an opportunity covering the NFL for the USA Today.

The Athletic stayed busy adding more help. The latest to join the company is Sarah Goldstein. She’s been added to the site’s NHL platform.

After losing a number of local writers, the Bay Area News Group is working on restocking its roster. The company’s latest addition is Logan Murdock, who has taken over as a multimedia reporter covering the Golden State Warriors.

FanRag Sports recently laid off a number of staffers. Adam Biggers, Bernie Pleskoff, Dave Hogg and John Perroto all confirmed their departures on Twitter. Despite the bad news for those men, FanRag has made a positive addition by striking a deal with Utah Jazz radio voice David Locke to bring his Locked on Podcast Network to their platform.

And Gator Country has added Eric Fawcett this season as a contributor to its coverage of Florida Gators Men’s basketball.

Sports Radio News

The Musers Mock Jim Nantz’s Farewell To Nick Faldo

“I’m telling you, Jim, he made it worse with his funeral director voice,” said co-host George Dunham.

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Nick Faldo

On Sunday, CBS Golf analyst Nick Faldo called his final tournament with CBS after sixteen years with the network. He was poised in the tower above the 18th green with Jim Nantz as he said his final goodbyes. It was an emotional moment that The Musers on The Ticket in Dallas had to comment on.

In the message, Faldo clearly has an issue getting thru the moment while Nantz tries to comfort his friend and buy him some time to regain his composure. However, The Musers thought it wasn’t helpful at all.

“I’m telling you, Jim, he made it worse with his funeral director voice,” said co-host George Dunham. “It sounded like he was going to say, ‘now, it’s time to send you to your happy place’. When he said that and when Nick said, in tears, ‘I’m ready,’ that made it sound like Jim was putting him to sleep.”

“(Australian accent) Go ahead and smother me, Jim,” Gordon Keith quipped, “go ahead and take that pillow over there and choke me out right now.”

“Nick are you ready for us to unplug the life support machine?” asked Dunham.

“Yeah, kick that thing right out the wall, mate.”

Dunham would later say, “I don’t think that any famous broadcaster has ever signed off in tears, proclaiming ‘I’m ready, I’m ready'”.

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Sports Radio News

Keyshawn Johnson: ‘I Don’t Like Sunday Night Baseball Putting Mics on Players’

“I’ve got an IFB in my ear and I’m trying to pay attention to the game and I’ve got air traffic control talking to me. There’s no way you can tell me that doesn’t affect you.”

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Most people seem to really like Sunday Night Baseball adding mics to players in the field this season. Fans and critics alike have commended ESPN for giving fans access that they have never had before. But don’t expect Keyshawn Johnson to join that praise chorus anytime soon.

“I don’t like the interaction with broadcast teams talking to players during the game, in the field,” he said on Monday morning’s edition of Keyshawn, JWill and Max.

The ESPN Radio morning man is convinced that eventually, the in-game conversations are going to cause a costly error.

Freddie Coleman, who was filling in for both Jay Williams and Max Kellerman, played a clip from Sunday night’s game for Johnson. In the clip, listeners could hear the Padres’ newly acquired slugger Juan Soto pleading with a ball hit by Cody Bellinger to stay in the park during the team’s 0-4 shutout loss to the Dodgers.

“I don’t like that as a player,” Johnson said. “I know the fans love it.”

He said that when he sees players mic’d up and answering a question during the game, he is constantly worried about how it will affect what happens on the field. He said he felt some empathy for the fielder on the mic once the ball is put into play, because if it comes that fielder’s way and he is distracted, the instant reaction from the crowd will be to question the player’s effort or ability rather than ask if the distraction is worth it.

Coleman pointed out that there is some very famous video of Keyshawn Johnson during his playing career mic’d up on the sidelines. Johnson defended NFL Films, saying that getting live sound of a game is very different than what Major League Baseball is making players do.

“That’s different than interacting with Karl Ravech and company in the booth. I’ve got an IFB in my ear and I’m trying to pay attention to the game and I’ve got air traffic control talking to me. There’s no way you can tell me that doesn’t affect you.”

The closing months of the regular season as playoff races start to take shape are not the ideal times for networks to be having conversations with guys in the middle of the field. That doesn’t mean it is never good content. Keyshawn Johnson said that as a viewer, he would welcome in-game interviews during Spring Training and the All-Star Game. He just has trouble believing players are happy to participate.

“It’s cool. I’m not mad that it’s being done. I just wouldn’t like it as a player,” he said.

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Sports Radio News

Rob Hipp Named New Voice of North Dakota State

In addition to his role as the play-by-play announcer for Bison football and basketball, Hipp will also serve as the Director of Operations for Bison 1660.

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Rob Hipp is the new “Voice of the Bison”.

The former Sam Houston State play-by-play announcer will serve in the same capacity for North Dakota State. He replaces Jeff Culhane, who left the position for a similar role at Florida State earlier this summer.

In addition to his role as the play-by-play announcer for Bison football and basketball, Hipp will also serve as the Director of Operations for Bison 1660.

“It’s an incredible opportunity and blessing to be here. The word that comes to mind with everything associated with NDSU is excellence,” Hipp said. “Matt Larsen, Coach (Matt) Entz, Coach (David) Richman, the support staff and everyone with Bison Sports Properties led by Josh Hartman made this a transparent and smooth process. I also want to thank Tom Boman with Learfield as well as Nancy Odney and the great people at Radio FM Media. My family and I are proud to be in Fargo!”

“We are thrilled to have Rob join the team at Radio FM Media as the new voice of the Bison, Director of Operations for Bison 1660-92.7, and Sports Director for our group,” said Radio FM COO Nancy Odney. “Rob is a very talented play-by-play announcer and a top sports radio host. His creative energy, new content, and passion for sports and broadcasting is going to be an exciting addition to the team.”

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