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Under The Radar – April 4, 2018

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Welcome back to another week of UTR. Our mission with this column is to catch you up on some of the activity that may have slipped by you in sports media circles while you were busy trying to improve your radio station or show. If you have future news to share please pass a tip along via email to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me. Now, here are the latest developments.

New San Diego sports/talk/rock station 97.3 The Machine debuted March 2nd and in less than a month the brand has come under attack. Dan Sileo has been involved in a series of social media exchanges with Darren Smith and Scott Kaplan of Mighty 1090 and new morning host Kevin Klein earned himself a spot in hot water after posting an image of the Coronado Bridge with the caption “JUMP” and the additional text “to a new morning show.” The problem with that post is that the Coronado Bridge is known for having one of the highest suicide rates of any place in the country and using the word “jump” showed a lack of awareness. The poorly thought out post has resulted in local backlash, Klein’s morning show being delayed, and public comments from San Diego Padres CEO Ron Fowler who has expressed concern over the team being affiliated with station. “We’re going to get through this first home stand, then sit down and evaluate it (the relationship with The Machine),” said Fowler. “We’re going to assess our legal obligations. We just want a good radio partner that’s not offensive to the community.” Deadspin didn’t do the brand any favors either with this scathing review.

Boomer Esiason and Gregg Gionnatti are less than thrilled with Chris “Mad Dog” Russo of SiriusXM‘s “Mad Dog Radio” after the former FAN host took a few jabs at his former station’s lineup during a TV conversation with Mike Francesa on the MLB Network. During an on-air exchange between Russo and Francesa, Mad Dog joked that The Fan would soon have lineup openings. Francesa played along and asked “who’s leaving?” The comments ticked off WFAN‘s morning team, leading Esiason to label the duo as “classless” and point out how the two men are only in the news when they’re talking about their former station. To hear the comments made my both parties and my follow up opinion on the situation click here.

Speaking of WFAN, midday host Evan Roberts has launched a podcast. The new digital offering will allow Roberts to explore topics he doesn’t spend a ton of time on during his radio program with Joe Beningo such as pro wrestling, the baseball hall of fame, fatherhood, TV shows, and more. To hear the debut episode click here.

Congratulations are in order for Damon Bruce. The San Francisco afternoon host on 95.7 The Game recently signed a new three-year contract extension to remain installed as The Game’s homerun hitter in PM drive. Bruce joined the station in March 2014 after spending a decade at KNBR 680/1050.

Seven-time MLB All-Star Matt Holliday has taken the plunge into the broadcasting business. The former Rockie, Cardinal, Athletic and Yankee has joined SiriusXM‘s MLB Network Radio lineup. Future details of Holliday’s on-air involvement will be announced soon.

Following the exit of Ben Heisler, 610 Sports in Kansas City is shuffling the deck behind the scenes. APD and morning producer Steven Spector has moved into afternoons to oversee The Drive with CDot and Fanning. Ryan Witkowski who had been producing The Day Shift with Bink and Lake earns an earlier wakeup call and now starts his day alongside Bob Fescoe, Mike Welch and Josh Klingler. Taking Witkowski’s place in middays is Stephen Serda, who receives an internal promotion but still maintains involvement with Ron Hughley on the evening show.

Bomani Jones is back on the podcasting circuit. The former ESPN Radio afternoon host who remains involved on ESPN television and will soon co-host a daily TV show with Pablo Torre has produced a new episode of his podcast “The Right Time with Bomani Jones.” The plan is for the podcast to be made available bi-weekly. To hear the latest show click here.

Continuing with ESPN related news, former producer turned podcast host, speaker, and author Jason Romano is conducting a webinar on Thursday April 26th to teach people the 5 essential steps to breaking into the broadcasting/media business. For more information on how to sign up click here.

Kaila Burns-Heffner is transferring from ESPN’s Bristol headquarters to the company’s Charlotte location. Burns-Heffner is expected to contribute in event production on the network’s college sports programming.

After departing ESPN a few weeks ago, Jim Trotter has a new home. The talented football reporter has signed on with the NFL Network and NFL.com.

In addition to losing Trotter, ESPN now has a hole at The Undefeated. Talented writer Mike Wise has announced he’s leaving the website. In a post on social media, Wise said his three-plus years with The Undefeated paralleled some of the most chaotic, turbulent times he’s ever been a part of at a media company. Despite the drama, he felt the brand produced good work and a number of genuine friendships were made. Wise’s current plan is to work on a biography of 1964 10K Olympic champion Billy Mills, and hopes to share additional professional news in the near future.

Longtime Dallas sports media columnist Barry Horn is no longer with the Dallas Morning News. He had written about the business since the 1990’s. No word on if the newspaper will replace his position.

Sticking with the subject of sports media writers, after leaving Sports Illustrated for The Athletic, Richard Deitsch has started a new podcast. You can hear it by clicking here. Deitsch’s former teammate Jimmy Traina has taken over the SI Media Podcast. You can hear current and future episodes by clicking here.

In podcast promotional news, ESPN received some positive press from Time. The respected publication listed the network’s 30 for 30 podcast and The Lowe Post podcast with Zach Lowe as two of the best digital audio offerings available. To read the article click here.

St. Louis radio and television personality Angella Sharpe has added a new employer to her resume. The St. Louis Blues in-game arena host has accepted an opportunity with the Tampa Bay Rays to contribute as their in-game host and emcee. Sharpe says the position will not impact her duties with the Blues.

And Matt Lombardo has landed a new opportunity. The former 97.5 The Fanatic host, update anchor and Eagles reporter has joined the Star-Ledger as a reporter working on the New York Giants beat.

Sports Radio News

Tony Bruno Relives Favorite Moments With Angelo Cataldi on 94 WIP

“I loved every day. We did stuff that put Sports Radio in Philly on the map and I’m proud of that.”

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Tony Bruno has been a staple of the sports radio business for decades. Bruno is from Philadelphia and was teamed up in the early nineties with a duo still dominating the local airwaves there today, Angelo Cataldi and Al Morganti. The three reunited Thursday morning on 94 WIP to remember the glory days of their partnership and friendship.

One of the first moments Cataldi asked Bruno if he remembered was the update he did from a tree outside of their studio and the answer was an emphatic yes.

“Absolutely, it’s one of the highlights of my life – other than interviewing four Presidents and every sports athlete in history – there’s no bigger moment than me climbing up in the tree, which was obstructing our view of William Penn and the city skyline. That’s what I do, I was a man of action. I’m not one of these guys that talks the talk, I climb the tree to do whatever is necessary.”

More frivolity followed when Cataldi harkened back to a segment of ‘Damsels in Distress’ and a time in which Bruno was sent on the street during a snowstorm to help shovel people out of their driveways. Bruno quickly recalled, “Man of the people. I should run for – I should of run for Governor of Pennsylvania or Senate or something.”

Bruno added that his favorite rant (and one that Cataldi loved too) wasn’t about the Cowboys or sports at all. “My favorite was my Infinity Broadcasting rant where I went on one day and even ripped our bosses, all the way up to the top of Infinity Broadcasting.” Cataldi cackled and praised Bruno’s rants more before being interrupted by Bruno saying, “yeah, my only regret is I never really ripped Al (Morganti) the way I should have ripped him. I let him of the hook so many times.”

An insightful moment came at the end of the call when Cataldi asked rhetorically if Bruno ever thought they (Cataldi & Morganti) would still be doing this thirty years later and then asked if Tony ever regretted leaving.

“It was a tough decision, Ang,” Bruno answered. “I was given an ultimatum. When I came to work with you guys, I loved every day. Every day we had fun. We did stuff that put Sports Radio in Philly on the map and I’m proud of that. It wasn’t one of those, ‘oh I got to go; I’m too big for these guys’. I even turned the ESPN job down a couple of times.

“My kids were still younger then, I didn’t want to move. I didn’t have to move. They said just come up here on weekends and that’s how ESPN Radio started. So I was doing weekends and Tom Bigby (Program Director) didn’t like that either, told me it wasn’t going to work. It was a philosophical thing. When he told me, ‘you should go because we are not going to pay you what they’re paying you,’ I said ok.

Cataldi began to sign off with Bruno with genuine thanks: “I got to tell you something Tone, we are indebted to you for the rest of our lives because we both learned so much from you and you are one of the great talents that radio has ever had.”

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Sports Radio News

Dodgers Temporarily Pull Broadcasters Off Road

“If the broadcasters’ are not dealing with severe cases of Covid and they have cleared health and safety protocols, it appears the team is open to sending them back out on the road.”

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When the Los Angeles Dodgers visit the East Coast later this week, the men that call the action on TV and radio will not be with them. The games will instead be broadcast on AM570 LA Sports and SportsNet LA from their respective studios.

“Due to a few members of the Dodgers’ broadcast team having recently tested positive for COVID-19, and out of an abundance of caution, the Dodgers have decided to not travel their broadcasters to upcoming games in Philadelphia and Washington,” the Dodgers announced in a statement. Similar to the 2020 and 2021 MLB seasons, the games will be broadcast from Los Angeles,” reads a statement on the team’s Twitter account.

No further details are available, so the severity and the number of cases remain unknown.

Last September, both members of the Dodgers’ television play-by-play crew were forced into quarantine. Joe Davis was the first to test positive, followed later that month by Orel Hershiser.

On Wednesday, manager Dave Roberts told the media that the Dodgers’ roster and coaching staff are not effected.

“There’s there’s no symptoms in the clubhouse. I think that as far as the upstairs, as an organization, we’re all just trying to be very cautious. But as far as in the clubhouse, coaches, training staff, nothing like that.”

If the broadcasters’ are not dealing with severe cases of Covid and they have cleared health and safety protocols, it appears the team is open to sending them back out on the road. 2022 was supposed to be a return to normal for the Dodgers and many other teams after not letting broadcasters travel in 2020 and 2021.

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Sports Radio News

Pat McAfee: ‘No One Will Disrespect Jim Rome On My Show’

“That’s because you need to respect the f–king jungle.”

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Jim Rome is a sports radio icon and Pat McAfee recognizes that.

On The Pat McAfee Show on Wednesday, McAfee was talking to co-host A.J. Hawk about how Rome trended recently on Twitter.

This happened after news of Tom Brady’s FOX Sports deal surfaced, and a list of the top paid sports media personalities was compiled. Rome came in behind Brady at number two making a reported $30 million a year, and many were surprised by that number. McAfee wasn’t.

“That’s because you need to respect the f–king jungle,” he said. “I have nothing but respect for Jim Rome.”

McAfee gave props to Rome, 57, saying he’s been doing sports talk probably longer than anyone. He’s one of the most widely distributed hosts in the country. Pat said he won’t tolerate anyone talking smack about the Smack-Off King.

“No disrespect will be said on this show of Jim Rome, ever,” he said. “Love that man.”

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