It’s been a while since we passed along some UTR news. A few of these stories you may be aware of, some you might have missed, and a couple are brand new. Regardless, it never hurts to stay informed about what’s happening across the sports media business.
A reminder that it helps us a ton when you’re able to share information about yourself or your brand. We track down a lot of things thru researching and sourcing but if it’s going to become public news anyway, you might as well alert the industry in addition to your social media following. To have your news included in this column, send an email to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me.
Now here’s the latest!
Congrats goes out to Gregg Henson. The veteran sports radio host and program director has left Lincoln, Nebraska where he was hosting on Alpha Media‘s News/Talk station KFOR in order to join Entercom as program director of News/Talk WRVA and FOX Sports 910 in Richmond, Viriginia. Henson has already relocated and began his new assignment.
Another recipient of a PD promotion is Rob Thompson in San Antonio. The afternoon co-host of “The Blitz,” which includes Jason Minnix, was given the keys to the station’s programming department. Thompson’s station, ESPN 1250, is owned and operated by Alpha Media.
Word on the street is former 95.7 The Game program director Don Kollins is getting ready to tackle a new challenge. Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement on Kollins’ next assignment.
San Diego’s new FM sports station 97.3 The Fan has found the program director it’s been looking for. An official announcement will be made in the near future.
In Miami, Brian “The Beast” London has been elevated to Assistant Program Director of WQAM and 790 The Ticket. London remains involved on-air as well, co-hosting in middays on The Ticket alongside Brendan Tobin and Leroy Hoard. Both Miami sports stations are owned and operated by Entercom.
Further up the coast in Virginia, Nick Cattles has decided to leave his hometown of Boston to return to where he established himself as an afternoon drive host. Cattles has exited 98.5 The Sports Hub where he was a nightly contributor to Adam Jones‘ show to head back to Max Media’s ESPN Radio 94.1. Cattles’ return unfortunately means the end of Jeff Pantridge‘s run in Virginia Beach. Jeff is looking for his next opportunity and can be reached by clicking here.
Although Cattles’ exit leaves The Sports Hub down a staff member, the station did recently make a move adding Ty Anderson as a full-time contributor.
It’s good to see Rob Ellis back behind a microphone in Philadelphia. The sports radio veteran has returned to Sports Radio WIP. He was last heard in middays on 97.5 The Fanatic.
Ellis’ former home 97.5 The Fanatic has also made some moves. The radio station has paired Geoff Mosher and Devon Givens in evenings on the 6p-9p shift. Joe Tordy gets the call to host weeknights from 9p-12a.
After officially becoming a radio free agent, former 670 The Score talk show host Jason Goff will be doing a few shows this week in Charlotte on WFNZ. Goff will be working the midday shift alongside Chris Kroeger.
In other Chicago related news, the Chicago Sun-Times wrote a piece looking at the local battle between ESPN 1000 and 670 The Score. To read the article click here.
Although we don’t much on monthly ratings since quarterlies matter most, there were a few items worth passing along from the April book in Chicago. The return of the Chicago Cubs paid dividends for The Score but surprisingly Waddle and Silvy on 1000 pulled a 4.9 in PM drive which was equal to The Score’s share. That’s of interest because it marked the first month of Danny Parkins and Dan McNeil working together in afternoons (McNeil was sidelined for a while with vocal cord issues) and the Cubs cut into some portion of the afternoon schedule for ten dates during the month. In mornings the news wasn’t as positive for 1000 as Golic and Wingo were soundly defeated by Mully and Hanley.
Another ratings story worth sharing comes from Salt Lake City. 1280/97.5 The Zone finished the month of April 1st with Men 25-54 with just above an eight and a half share. The rise of Donovan Mitchell and another Utah Jazz playoff run certainly didn’t hurt business. The Zone’s closest competitors KSL and X96 trailed the Salt Lake sports talker by more than a full ratings point.
Jake Bockoven has signed off at 93.7 The Ticket in Lincoln, Nebraska. The station gave him a sendoff in early May. No word yet on what Bockoven has planned for his future. The Ticket has added Michael Snow to afternoons alongside Brett Kane to fill Bockoven’s position.
Another host with ties to 93.7 The Ticket is in the market for a new opportunity. Mike Welch was let go in Kansas City where he had been working on the morning show with Bob Fescoe and Josh Klingler for 610 Sports. To get in touch with Welch about future openings you can reach him by clicking here.
Welch isn’t the only person in Kansas City to have their situation change. After 18 years with Sports Radio 810 WHB, Danny Clinkscale has left the station due to what he labeled on Twitter “downsizing.” Clinkscale says he’s not finished working in the format and is appreciative of having a chance to spend close to two decades working for one employer.
Cincinnati sports radio listeners now have another local program to listen to. Kentucky Sports Radio featuring Matt Jones has been added in the market on 1360AM FOX Sports Radio. Jones’ show originates out of Kentucky and is heard in 41 markets and throughout 4 states.
The Star-Telegram produced a great read on 105.3 The Fan‘s afternoon team, Ben & Skin. To become more familiar with their sports radio journey click here.
Continuing with profile pieces, Newsday in New York published a piece on Mike Francesa’s producer Brian Monzo. To get a better read on Monzo’s career click here.
In South Carolina, 105.5 The Roar has added a new weekend program. Kelly Gramlich has been given a hosting opportunity on Saturday mornings at 10am.
ESPN 700 in Salt Lake City has named Mitch Harper as the station’s Executive Producer. Harper is expected to work closely with midday host, program director and Utah play by play voice Bill Riley.
Behind the scenes support has been added as well at Orange and Blue 760 in Denver. PD Tim Spence has hired Michael Coover to serve as the station’s Executive Producer. Coover returns to Denver where he previously worked for 104.3 The Fan. He had recently been working as a talent booker for Envision Networks in New York City.
Speaking of 104.3 The Fan, a tip of the cap to the station’s digital team which put together a fantastic video featuring local listener, Corporal Jason Rump, who served in the military and listened to the station regularly while serving overseas. The serviceman presented hosts Zach Bye and Brandon Stokley with an American flag which flew on a base in Afghanistan. To see how the station honored Corporal Rump and made use of the flag click here.
Kudos to 710 ESPN in Seattle who tried something different in morning drive on Memorial Day. With Brock Huard and Mike Salk off, 710 turned mornings over to two women, Lydia Cruz and Stacy Rost. Cruz hosts weekday mornings from 6a-7a and Rost writes for the station’s website MyNorthwest.com.
Congratulations is in order for Sports Radio 1560 afternoon host Mark Moses. The Florida based talk show host received the Radio Alumni of the Year award from his alma mater Western Illinois University.
Longtime voice of the San Jose Earthquakes Hal Ramey returned to the booth on Saturday, calling the Quakes game as part of a special Saturday Retro night match. Quakes games air in the Bay Area on KNBR 1050.
Nate Bukaty was on the receiving end of a welcomed phone call. The 810 WHB host was called on to pinch-hit on FS1‘s coverage of Sporting Kansas City vs. Columbus Crew SC. Bukaty called the opportunity to perform before a national audience a childhood dream come true.
Sticking with soccer, ESPN 94.9 The Game 2 in Nashville will carry at least 20 matches featuring the United Soccer League’s Nashville SC. The Game is owned and operated by The Cromwell Group.
99.9 The Fan in Raleigh went all in on the ACC Baseball Championship tournament, which featured games involving the University of North Carolina, North Carolina State, and Duke. The Fan aired a total of twelve games, while it’s sister station 620 The Ticket carried six. The Fan’s Adam Gold who co-hosts the afternoon show, contributed to the play by play along with Baseball America’s Michael Lananna, UNC baseball play-by-play mane Dave Nathan, and Duke baseball voice Chris Edwards.
Congratulations to Maria Marino. The SiriusXM and NBC Sports Radio anchor and FNTSY Sports Network host and analyst has been added as a contributor on SNY. Marino made her debut on the channel last week.
The Washington Post recently published an excellent profile on Barstool Sports personality PFT Commenter. If you haven’t seen it you can read it by clicking here.
The Athletic is continuing its hiring spree. The sports website has added former ESPN and Sports Illustrated scribe and personality Rick Reilly, well known college football reporter Bruce Feldman, Stephen Cohen as senior editor in Seattle, and Ryan Clark as a beat reporter for the Colorado Avalanche.
One talented writer who The Athletic has yet to scoop up and is now available is Alex Marvez. Marvez’s time at Sporting News has unfortunately come to an end. He remains involved still on radio with SiriusXM and said on Twitter that he’s not sure when/where he’ll write again but given his talent and track record it’d be surprising if other groups weren’t interested in retaining his services.
If you want to enjoy a good read on what it takes to climb the ladder in sports media, check out this piece on Leanne Cozart. It captures her stops at ESPN, NFL Network, the Oakland Raiders, Golden State Warriors, and 95.7 The Game.
Yahoo Sports is bolstering its NFL coverage with the addition of Terez Paylor. Paylor has signed on as the website’s senior NFL writer.
Rising baseball writer/reporter Chris Cotillo is taking on a new challenge. Cotillo has signed on with MassLive.com as the website’s Boston Red Sox reporter. He starts his new assignment on May 29th. The Boston outlet has also added Matt Vautour as a sports columnist. Vatour spent twenty years writing for the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
In case you missed it, ESPN decided to end the experiment of utilizing a public editor. Jim Brady left his post in March. The network has decided to discontinue the position.
The Los Angeles Times has lost Lindsey Thiry. After four years with the paper, Thiry is joining ESPN to cover the Los Angeles Rams.
And finally, NBC Sports Chicago has hired Bryan Perez. Perez will contribute to NBC’s Chicago Bears coverage.
49ers-Cowboys Wild Card Game Draws Over 41 Million Viewers For CBS, Nickelodeon
The main CBS broadcast and alternate telecast on Nickelodeon combined to average 41.496 million viewers.
Sunday’s NFL Wild Card playoff game between the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys was bound to attract a large audience.
The game featured a classic matchup between two of the league’s most accomplished teams. The Cowboys are always a big television draw. Add the 4:30 p.m. ET kickoff that appears to be most fans’ ideal viewing time and everything was in place for big ratings.
Sure enough, CBS was rewarded with huge numbers for Sunday’s telecast. According to the network, the 49ers-Cowboys game earned the highest viewership for an NFL Wild Card playoff game since 2015. (Dallas played the Detroit Lions in that context, televised on Fox.)
The main CBS broadcast and alternate telecast on Nickelodeon combined to average 41.496 million viewers. What became a close, thrilling game resulting in a 23-17 49ers victory attracted 50.229 million viewers at its conclusion.
That viewership is a 35 percent increase from the audience for the networks’ Wild Card game (a less appealing matchup between the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints). And for CBS, it was the network’s most-watched Wild Card playoff game in 10 years. (Pittsburgh-Denver averaged 42.371 viewers in 2012.)
The 49ers-Cowboys broadcast also drew big numbers for ViacomCBS’s Paramount+ streaming service, notching the largest audience for a non-Super Bowl game.
NBC also drew an impressive for its Sunday night Wild Card playoff broadcast. The Steelers-Chiefs primetime matchup averaged 30.5 million viewers across the regular NBC telecast, in addition to the Telemundo, Peacock, NBC Sports Digital, and NFL Digital platforms. NBC’s audience of 28.9 million viewers was the highest primetime TV audience since last year’s Super Bowl LV.
Adam Schefter Still Yet To Finish ESPN Orientation
“All of a sudden, I get a text saying we need you on SportsCenter, Plaxico Burress just got arrested.”
When Adam Schefter joined ESPN in August 2009, he was supposed to go into Bristol one day for his orientation. But then, NFL news happened which caused his orientation to be delayed and, well, it has never happened since.
Schefter talked about that experience on his podcast, The Adam Schefter Podcast, when he was interviewing the newest member of the ESPN team, college football senior writer Pete Thamel. Thamel was starting his orientation this week. However, since college football is in the early stages of its offseason, it is less likely that his orientation will be halted by major breaking news.
Here is what Schefter had to say about why he had to miss orientation:
“When I was doing orientation, the plan was to drive to Bristol and then Tuesday, August 20, at 9 AM, I was going to go through orientation. Monday morning, as I was driving up to Bristol from New York, Brett Favre took off from Mississippi to land in Minnesota to sign with the Vikings and I’m doing live hits.”
“The next day, when I was supposed to do my orientation at 9 AM, I showed up at the front door about 8:50 right above the café and all of a sudden, I get a text saying we need you on SportsCenter, Plaxico Burress just got arrested (pled guilty to weapons charge) … I said to the orientators, excuse me, I have to go do SportsCenter. 12.5, 13 years later, I still have not had my orientation at ESPN.”
As for Thamel, he is looking forward to a new challenge at ESPN after writing for established places such as The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, and Yahoo! Thamel is looking forward to being able to do more television and video with his reporting and has received help from other notable ESPN insiders:
“I just think having a new forum to tell stories in a different vehicle and a different way and maybe do some video storytelling, maybe utilizing information in different ways other than Twitter. Mastering a new skill, quite frankly. I’ve been on television, video, but I think that becoming a part of what I do is going to be a really fun challenge.”
“I know enough of that space to know that it is not hard to be okay, but it is hard to be great. It’s going to take a lot of reps and a lot of coaching. Many people at ESPN volunteered to be my coaches on that stuff. Jeff Passan has been great giving advice. Woj has obviously been awesome in that space. There will be a learning curve and the difference here is there is no delete button for your mistake.”
So, what is Thamel looking to accomplish while at ESPN? He wants to help people enjoy college sports differently:
“I expect to help the viewers and the readers enjoy college sports in a different way through information and storytelling. I expect and hope to really utilize all the different arms of ESPN to help enhance people’s enjoyment of college football. I hope to channel the energy of my passion and use the power of ESPN’s reach to tell great stories, to give great information, and help make the games a little better, the characters a little bit more alive.”
This episode provides a good mix of the listener learning more about ESPN’s new college football senior writer and Schefter telling stories about his early days at ESPN, sharing a funny experience like missing his orientation.
Power Trip Wants To Know Why Marney Gellnar Kept NSMA Award Secret
“Gellner disclosed that she had known about the honor weeks prior to it being announced via a phone call she received.”
The National Sports Media Association announced its yearly award winners at both the state and national levels Tuesday afternoon. KFAN’s The Power Trip spoke to one of their colleagues who serves as a field/sideline reporter for the MLB’s Minnesota Twins and NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves on Bally Sports North, and as the play-by-play voice for the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx. Marney Gellner has been working professionally in sports media since 1996, and was just named Minnesota Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. In her normal Wednesday morning shift on KFAN, her colleagues congratulated her on the honor and turned it into on-air banter centered around technicalities and betting.
“We’re very happy for you, but we’re a little confused,” said on-air host Cory Cove, who has been with KFAN since 2002. “We’re all Minnesota broadcasters, so… we’re proud of you, but by default since you won ‘Minnesota Sports Broadcaster of the Year,’ then technically the five of us are losers because we should have been at least nominated or considered but we [got] our asses kicked by you.”
“I was thinking it, but I didn’t want to say it,” Gellner responded.
Gellner disclosed that she had known about the honor weeks prior to it being announced via a phone call she received. With the increasing prevalence of sports betting within the sports media landscape, the hosts of The Power Trip were disappointed in the fact that they were not afforded this insider information.
“You’ve been sitting on it for two weeks,” said Paul “Meatsauce” Lambert, co-host of The Power Trip. “Why didn’t you tell us so we could bet on it?”
Betting with inside information about the most likely outcome provoked Cove’s reminiscence of a previous bet he made with longtime KFAN host Mark Rosen about Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl LII Halftime Show performance in Minnesota.
While Rosen has never admitted it, Cove claims that he had inside information about the plans for the halftime show, most notably that Prince was going to be referenced by Timberlake. When the opportunity presented itself to make a bet on the late Minneapolis native being mentioned, he swiftly put down $100 on it.
“He knew Prince was going to be referenced at the Justin Timberlake halftime show here,” explained Cove. “He 1000% deserved to take my money because if you can’t stop the sucker within the first thirty minutes at the table, then you are the sucker. I walked right into the trap.”
While Gellner did not bet on herself winning the Minnesota Sports Broadcaster of the Year Award, she claimed to have received a million dollars in prize money on the air, something that caused Paul “Meatsauce” Lambert to worry about the “size of her head.”
“I would be,” replied Gellner. “Starting to look like ‘Sauce over here.”
The studio erupted with laughter after that punchline, with its meaning being interpreted more literally than figuratively. Nonetheless, Gellner’s Minnesota Sportscaster of the Year win marks the first of her career, putting her on a list with another prominent broadcaster and colleague.
“You know who has won the Minnesota Sports Broadcaster of the Year before? [Rosen.] 15 times, I think. He’s got $15 million because of it,” remarked Gellner.
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