Sports Radio News
Under The Radar – February 6, 2018
A week on radio row in Minneapolis was the focus for most sports radio broadcasters last week. While everyone was busy chasing down guests, riding roller coasters, braving the elements, and dining at Shake Shack, news was being made throughout the industry. Here are some of the developments you might have missed. As always, please pass along any news tips via email to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me.
Unrelated to this week’s UTR news, I want to applaud the city of Minneapolis for being a great Super Bowl host city. The people were friendly, transportation was readily available, security moved people along smoothly at the airport and the city looked fantastic. This was my third time visiting and I’ve enjoyed each experience.
I wish I could say the same for the NFL which doesn’t undervalues the support it receives from radio partners on radio row. Cramming 100+ stations into a tight space outside of a food court made it extremely difficult for hosts and guests to move around. It was even more noticeable when shows left their tables to grab a bite or use the bathroom during commercial breaks and had to fight crowds to get back on the air in time.
One particular story which was relayed to me involved a wounded warrior needing to get out of his wheelchair (it wouldn’t fit thru the small walking space) and crawl to a guest appearance a few tables away. I also personally witnessed a woman with an infant child in a stroller and young child holding her hand almost get trampled and have the stroller flipped by a mob of people trying to get close to Terrell Owens. I understand the public’s passion to meet players but people shouldn’t be put in a position of danger in the process.
I did like the visuals for stations broadcasting inside the Mall of America. It looked great on TV and social media. The check in process was much smoother and the back and forth jousting between Patriots and Eagles fans added additional entertainment value to the week. A verbal spat between two hosts/stations gave folks additional material to work with.
From a location standpoint, choosing the Mall of America made a ton of sense. What I don’t understand though is why the NFL didn’t work with the largest mall in the country to provide enough space for shows and stations to operate let alone be able to walk, store equipment or even stretch their arms or legs. These stations dedicate dollars, manpower, and hours of programming to selling the NFL’s final game of their season. Hopefully they take that into deeper consideration when planning future Super Bowl weeks.
Now on to the news!
680 The Fan has made a change to its weekday lineup. “The Front Row” which features Steak Shapiro, Brian Finneran and Sandra Golden has moved from middays to mornings. Chris Dimino and Nick Cellini shift from mornings to middays. The new schedule went into affect on Monday.
Congratulations to Dan Bennett, Jeff Catlin, Bruce Gilbert and the entire Cumulus Dallas team on the 24-year anniversary of Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket. The Dallas Morning News ran a few stories highlighting the station’s start and popular moments along the way. To read about the birth of the station click here. For insight on the creation and popularity of the Fake Jerry Jones click here. For a firsthand account of the station’s first 24-hours click here.
Red Zebra Broadcasting in Washington DC has chosen to re-brand ESPN 980. The radio station has dropped ESPN from its name and embraced the new moniker, The Team 980. The station planned to make the change last Wednesday morning but when the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on Tuesday night, on-air plans had to be changed and the station decided to let the cat out of the bag early. For more on the story click here.
WEEI in Boston has announced a renewal of Patriots Monday and Friday with the defending AFC champions. The partnership between Entercom Boston and the New England Patriots began in 1995 and expanded in 2008. It includes weekly appearances during the NFL season by Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and other Patriots players. The deal is said to be a multi-year agreement. For more click here.
Former WWE wrestler Mark Henry, who made a few hosting appearances in Austin, Texas on AM 1300 The Zone, has apparently caught the radio bug. “The World’s Strongest Man” has agreed to join SiriusXM‘s ‘Busted Open’ as a third host alongside David LaGreca and Bully Ray on Tuesdays. The show airs on SiriusXM Rush 93 from 9a-12p ET.
103.7 The Buzz in Little Rock, Arkansas came under fire for running its annual “Babe Bracket” contest. The promotion has been in existence for over two decades and pits 16 female anchors and reporters against each other with the audience determining who advances. A poll which ran afterwards asking local fans if the bracket should be ended produced a 60-40 result in favor of it continuing. To read more click here.
As bankruptcy issues occupy the focus of Cumulus Media, the situation created an opportunity for 670 The Score. The Chicago sports radio station was able to lure away the radio rights to the Chicago Bulls from Cumulus NewsTalk station WLS. The Bulls played their first game on The Score this past Saturday. Chuck Swirsky and Bill Wennington remain on board as the radio broadcast team.
Jim Henderson is riding off into the sunset. The longtime radio voice of the New Orleans Saints has decided it’s time to turn off his microphone and hand the reigns to someone else. Henderson had been part of the Saints broadcast on the team’s flagship station WWL since 1986.
Behind the scenes news worth sharing from Nashville. Congratulations to Chase McCabe of 102.5 The Game who was recently promoted to Assistant Program Director. McCabe has been with the station for six years and will be counted on by PD Ryan Porth to help the station continue growing. Part of his new responsibilities include serving as the Executive Producer of the station’s morning show.
Meanwhile in Cleveland, former Detroit Sports 105.1 host and contributor Jake Chapman has been named executive producer of 92.3 The Fan‘s midday show, ‘Baskin and Phelps’ and the Cleveland Browns radio network. For Chapman it’s an opportunity to return to his home state after stints in Michigan and Florida.
In the Pacific Northwest, the Seattle Mariners have confirmed the addition of Gary Hill Jr. as the team’s new Executive Producer of Mariners broadcasts. Seattle’s games are heard on radio on 710 ESPN Seattle.
AJ Hawk will reunite with Anthony Rothman on 97.1 The Fan in Columbus starting March 5th. “Off-Season with AJ Hawk” will air each Monday from noon to 1pm ET. The show will be part of the station’s schedule until late August. Hawk will also join Rothman and his on-air partner Bobby Carpenter on Football Friday’s during the fall.
Lineup changes were made in Phoenix at 1580 The Fanatic. Shawn Crespin is now teaming in mornings with Michael Bauer. Craig Fouhy is hosting 12p-1p after previously working the 9a-10a shift. Tim and Jake Montemayor and Jeff Dean are no longer part of the M-F lineup. No word on why the station elected to switch things up.
The Pioneer Press in Minneapolis wrote a good piece on broadcasting from radio row during the week of the Super Bowl. To check it out click here.
MLS broadcasting news out of Atlanta. Mike Conti has been named the new play by play voice of the Atlanta United. Jason Longshore returns for his second season as the team’s color analyst. United games air locally on 92.9 The Game.
Townsquare Media’s 92.9 The Ticket has signed on as the new Boston Red Sox affiliate in Bangor, ME. The Sox previously aired their games on The Pulse 620AM WZON which recently underwent a format change.
All the best to Rob Johnson on his new opportunity hosting weekdays from 4p-6p CT on Sports Radio KMIS 1050AM/103.9FM in southeast Missouri. Johnson’s program ‘Making The Play’ was added to the station’s lineup yesterday.
Good news has found its way to Jake Brown‘s doorstep. The CBS Radio digital host and contributor has accepted an opportunity with MLB.com to become an Associate Site Manager. Brown says the new position won’t affect his ability to continue hosting ‘The Jake Brown Show’ for Radio.com or contributing for SNY.
In minor league baseball broadcasting news, Melanie Newman has been hired by the Frisco Rough Riders as their #2 broadcaster. Newman will be counted on to provide human interest and video pieces for the team and FOX Sports Southwest.
Switching to the television world, Michelle Margaux has been named the new in-game reporter for the Tampa Bay Rays. Rays games air in the Tampa market on FOX Sports Sun.
Jeff Wallner has been added to WCPO‘s coverage of the Cincinnati Reds for the 2018 season. Wallner says he’ll contribute more features and analysis this season than nuts and bolts game coverage.
In the Bay Area, Kerry Crowley has signed on as the new San Francisco Giants beat reporter for the Bay Area News Group. Crowley’s written, audio and video work will appear in both the Mercury News and East Bay Times.
And Nashville’s A to Z Sports has announced that Zach Ragan has signed on to cover the Tennessee Titans and Volunteers. Ragan’s first piece for A to Z’s website was published last week.
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Sports Radio News
Mike Florio: Chris Simms Isn’t Desensitized to Internet Criticism
“Chris takes a lot of crap. I take a lot of crap. I’ve been doing it a lot longer than Chris, and I think sometimes Chris just kind of reaches the end of the rope.”
Chris Simms caught some heat this week while discussing the death of Miami Dolphins fan Eric Carmona. Carmona was the brain behind the Tuanon viral videos, which featured him in a Dolphin mask attacking critics of Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Simms was one of his frequent targets.
Carmona was killed in a motorcycle accident last week. He leaves behind a wife and four children. He was just 30 years old.
Mike Florio brought the story up on Pro Football Talk Live, because Tagovailoa himself donated $10,000 to a GoFundMe campaign to support Carmona’s family. Simms responded by noting that Carmona was a frequent critic of his.
Florio pushed back saying that trolling is better than being ignored. People are passionate about their teams and if they are passionate about attacking you for criticizing their teams, it means you matter to them.
“This is a deep subject and I think it’s societal and I won’t go into it because I’m only going to get myself in trouble,” Simms responded. “We’re also setting an example like, ‘Hey here’s money to a guy who was very negative too.’ That’s all I’m saying.”
On Friday, Florio made his weekly appearance on WQAM in Miami. Morning show host Joe Rose asked Florio what Simms was thinking with those comments.
“I don’t know. That’s a question for Chris, and you could invite him on and he could talk about that,” Florio answered. “And I’m not trying to be flippant by saying that. I understand the way he feels from my perspective.”
He did try to explain the point he was making to Simms in saying that being trolled is better than being ignored. He reminded Rose that there is a thick skin required to having the kind of jobs they do.
“Chris takes a lot of crap. I take a lot of crap. I’ve been doing it a lot longer than Chris, and I think sometimes Chris just kind of reaches the end of the rope. He doesn’t actively participate in Twitter. He has one of the producers at NBC that primarily updates his account. So I don’t think he’s become as desensitized to it as I have over the years.”
Simms caught heat earlier this week from another fan base. Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie of the WIP Morning Show ripped the NBC analyst for ranking Jalen Hurts as the seventh best QB in the league.
Sports Radio News
Stoney & Jansen Baffled By NBA Finals TV Schedule
“They’ve got to get up early on the [West] Coast. We’ve got to stay up late because Monday Night Football can’t start until 8:30. It goes both ways.”
The NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Final continue with games taking place this weekend, and many basketball and hockey fans are expected to tune in to watch the action. The Denver Nuggets will try to take a 3-1 series lead on the Miami Heat, while the Vegas Golden Knights will look to rebound from an overtime loss to return home one win away from a championship. Aside from the pomp and circumstance, there is considerable intrigue pertaining to the action on both the court and the ice. The challenging part of the entire situation is knowing when the games are played due to the disjointed nature of the schedule.
Throughout the NBA Finals, games have taken place three days apart from one another, while the Stanley Cup Final has followed a similar pattern but both avoid playing games on Sundays. As a result, there were only two days between the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals, but three for the remainder should it reach a deciding seventh game. Similarly in basketball, the first three games of the NBA Finals were played every other day, but the remainder of the series is scheduled with two days of rest. There is a chance the decision was made to accommodate travel schedules, as both series are aligned in a 2-2-1-1-1 pattern, meaning the first two games are played in one city; the next two are played in the other; and then they continue to alternate until a champion is crowned.
“I don’t know why the NBA’s not playing on Sunday,” 97.1 The Ticket morning co-host Mike Stoney said. “That big travel day – because you really need travel days nowadays with your private planes to fly from Miami to Denver.”
Show co-host Jon Jansen, who played 10 seasons in the NFL as an offensive tackle with Washington and Detroit, expressed how some players may need to acclimate themselves to the altitude in Denver, Colo. The city is located 5,280 feet, or one mile, above sea level, making the air thinner and dryer and presenting some visitors with difficulty breathing. Jansen never felt the effects of altitude sickness, claiming that it was never a big deal for him, but obviously, everyone reacts to things differently.
“Basketball in particular and hockey because it’s constant running, especially at your position,” Stoney proposed. “You’re not running like madmen [in football] like they do in basketball where I think it affects you the most.”
The schedule also presents challenges for consumers around the United States living in different time zones. The NBA Finals do not begin until 8:30 p.m. EST, and the games often do not include until close to midnight. Especially on weeknights, asking East Coast fans to stay up late and then go to work early in the morning limits the amount of sleep they can receive. Meanwhile, those on the West Coast are just returning home from a standard eight-hour workday and may have other tasks to carry out.
“They’ve got to get up early on the [West] Coast,” Jansen said. “We’ve got to stay up late because Monday Night Football can’t start until 8:30. It goes both ways.”
There is no perfect time slot that will appease all consumers, but even so, ratings for this year’s NBA Finals have exceeded most expectations. Game 3 attracted an average audience of 11.2 million viewers and peaked at a figure of 12.4 million, down 2.5% from last year’s third game of the NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors. Viewership for the first three games of the NBA Finals is averaging 11.6 million, representing a nearly 2% decline from last year’s numbers. ESPN reported its most-watched playoffs across its platforms in the last 11 years, with the total playoff viewership audience averaging approximately 6.1 million people.
Sports Radio News
Colin Cowherd: I Have Tried to Invest in MLS Teams Twice
“I think they’re smart. I think they’re boutique stadiums, their fanbases feel European. The in-game environment’s excellent.”
Could we have seen FOX Sports Radio host Colin Cowherd having some sort of ownership stake in an MLS team? Cowherd said he tried, and then he tried again.
Talking about Inter Miami adding global superstar Lionel Messi on Thursday, Cowherd mentioned that he inquired about getting involved with the league, but the asking price at this point is too much for him.
“I have twice tried to invest in the MLS, and I just can’t afford it,” Cowherd said. “I think they’re smart. I think they’re boutique stadiums, their fanbases feel European. The in-game environment’s excellent. The academy is slowly becoming something, but it is becoming something their academy system. And they are now on a regular basis going and getting the world’s biggest soccer stars.”
Colin pointed out that Messi is the most popular athlete in the world, boasting social media followings and name recognition that easily eclipses that of superstar athletes like LeBron James and celebrities like the Kardashians and Beyonce. So not only is Messi’s signing a monumental moment for Inter Miami owner David Beckham, but it’s a feather in the cap signing for Major League Soccer as a whole.
“Messi is massive for the MLS. It’s the biggest moment in the history of the franchise,” he said. “Think Beckham times two. And Beckham was big when he arrived here in the States.”
“I think it’s cool that the MLS, our domestic soccer league, can go out and bring a superstar – not a star, a mega superstar on our soil regularly,” he added.
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.