Since 2014, Chris Kroeger has been a mainstay on the Charlotte radio airwaves. The native Charlottean hosted afternoons on WFNZ before moving to middays in April, earning respect and admiration from local fans for his energetic, honest and passionate style and his vested interest in the success of the market’s local teams.
Now, the 31 year old Kroeger is about to take another step forward in his career.
It was announced this morning on WFNZ, that Kroeger has been named the new radio play by play voice of the Charlotte Hornets.
“We are thrilled to have Chris join the Charlotte Hornets on a full-time basis as our new radio play-by-play broadcaster,” said Hornets President & Vice Chairman Fred Whitfield. “Chris is a very talented broadcaster who brings a wide array of skills to our organization, while also being extremely passionate and knowledgeable about both our team and the NBA. He has cultivated a tremendous audience at WFNZ – one that shares his enthusiasm about Hornets basketball – and his joining our team only strengthens our relationship with our flagship station. I know the fans of Charlotte are looking forward to his expanded role as the new ‘voice of the Hornets.’”
“As someone that grew up in Charlotte, my earliest and greatest memories as a sports fan came at the Charlotte Coliseum and watching the Hornets,” said Kroeger. “Steve Martin narrated so many of those memories on radio and television. It truly is the opportunity of a lifetime to be his successor and to broadcast a new era of Hornets basketball for the next generation of fans. I can’t thank WFNZ enough for allowing me to build and connect with Charlotte sports fans over the last few years and I’m excited to continue to grow that relationship with the Hornets.”
Kroeger spent the past three seasons working on the team’s radio broadcasts as the pregame show host and sideline reporter. He steps in for legendary play by play announcer Steve Martin who retired following the 2017-2018 season. Martin spent fifty years in broadcasting, including calling every Hornets game in the franchise’s history.
In addition to serving as the radio play-by-play broadcaster, Kroeger will have an active role across the Hornets digital and social media platforms. He will contribute in various ways to team content, projects and initiatives via hornets.com, the team’s broadcasts and in-arena activations.
“We’re excited to see Chris grow with one of our finest partners,” said Matt Hanlon, Vice President, Market Manager for Entercom Charlotte. “There’s no one more qualified and passionate to represent the Hornets.”
Prior to the 2017-18 season, the Hornets and WFNZ reached a new multi-year agreement for WFNZ to remain the team’s flagship radio station. WFNZ is the official radio home of the Hornets, broadcasting all of the team’s preseason, regular-season and postseason games. All Hornets games are also streamed on WFNZ.com and the Hornets App. Additional Hornets elements on WFNZ include a 30-minute pregame show, a postgame call-in show and a weekly 60-minute coaches’ show.
UConn Basketball’s Mike Crispino Less Critical of Referees As Official Himself
“I’ve changed completely since I started doing this. Because I realize how hard it is.”
While basketball broadcasters may not have as contentious a relationship with referees as coaches, players, and fans, part of calling the action can involve criticizing a call. And with broadcasters typically positioned at courtside, there is certainly more opportunity for exchanges with officials than in football or hockey, for example.
But as David Borges writes in a feature for CT Insider, UConn men’s basketball play-by-play announcer Mike Crispino might go a bit easier on referees than his colleagues. And that’s because Crispino works as a referee himself when he’s not at the mic, officiating high school basketball and baseball games in Connecticut
Crispino has been a referee for 12 years and says it completely changed how he viewed officiating while calling play-by-play for the New York Knicks and UConn Huskies. Prior to donning the stripes, he would often question calls during a broadcast.
“I’ve changed completely since I started doing this,” Crispino told Borges. “Because I realize how hard it is. It’s not easy. You’re on-call all the time. You’ve got to have two hours of being sharp. You can’t get lazy, you can’t get distracted, you can’t listen to too many people barking about stuff. You have to be on it. Otherwise, you’re not doing the service that you’re getting paid to do.”
Despite having the perspective of a working referee, Crispino — who’s been broadcasting UConn men’s basketball for the past four years — still gets caught up in the moment and questions certain calls, sometimes with the officials standing right in front of him.
Unlike broadcasting, where young announcers are always trying to break into the industry, Crispino is concerned about the future of officiating. He says fewer people work as referees because of stories about angry parents and coaches.
Of course, Crispino has also experienced such exchanges from the other side with high school coaches disputing his calls as a referee. But he’s only issued one ejection during his officiating career, along with just a few technical fouls. Seeing referees work at the college and NBA levels as a broadcaster has helped him understand how to deal with such situations. That perspective has clearly been beneficial in both jobs.
Pat McAfee Irritated At Fans’ ‘Throw Rogan’ Nickname For Aaron Rodgers
“His haters got very loud.”
Many NFL fans, both casual and diehard, were ready with jeers and nicknames for Aaron Rodgers following the Green Bay Packers’ 13-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Saturday’s NFL divisional playoff game.
As Pat McAfee pointed out on his show Monday, fans were eager to throw insults at Rodgers, waiting for the opportunity like a batter waiting for the ideal pitch to hit.
“People were sitting on ‘Throw Rogan,'” said McAfee, who naturally supported the person who appears on The Pat McAfee Show every week and made those conversations must-see viewing.
That particular nickname is a play on Joe Rogan, the popular podcast host whose advice Rodgers followed for batting COVID-19. As Rogan recommended, Rodgers took the drug Ivermectin, which is typically used to treat roundworms and other parasites.
McAfee cited last week’s ESPN.com feature on Rodgers by Kevin Van Valkenburg in which the reporter detailed the turn perception has taken toward the Packers QB this season and Rodgers’ strident belief in himself as a free thinker and intellectual.
Co-host A.J. Hawk agreed, adding another popular nickname posted to social media Saturday. “QAaron Rodgers” mocks the quarterback’s stated belief in conspiracy theories regarding the vaccine.
On the field, the Packers were the No. 1 seed in the NFC and considered in prime position to advance to the Super Bowl. Rodgers will likely win the NFL Most Valuable Player award (despite some voters feeling otherwise) for the second consecutive season after passing for 4,115 yards and 37 touchdowns (to just seven interceptions), while completing 68.9 percent of his throws and leading Green Bay to a 13-4 regular-season record.
But off the field, Rodgers gained national notoriety and became a controversial figure for his stance on the COVID-19 vaccine. Rodgers refused to get vaccinated, which put him at odds with many throughout the country. But what became the subject of national outrage and discussion was the quarterback giving the impression that he’d been vaccinated by saying he was “immunized” against the virus.
That turned many people against Rodgers for the past three months and those fans took delight from him losing in the playoffs. (The quarterback also lost some fans for trying to force a trade during the offseason and it’s possible Rodgers played his final game in Green Bay on Saturday.) And they flooded social media with nicknames.
“His haters got very loud,” said McAfee. “But I will say, I don’t think he has a lot of haters in general managers around the NFL on whether or not they can get him in the building.”
The trade rumors will begin gaining heat soon. Will fans tossing out derisive nicknames right now — especially those supporting the Broncos, Raiders, Giants, Saints, and Steelers — eventually embrace him as their quarterback? You know the answer to that.
Jeff Rickard Out At WEEI (Update)
“In the memo, new Audacy Boston market manager Mike Thomas says that the station will be naming a new brand manager in the future.”
Jeff Rickard’s tenure in Boston did not last long. Chad Finn of the Boston Globe tweeted yesterday that the WEEI brand manager has left Audacy and intends to return to Indianapolis.
Rickard was announced as the new brand manager of the legendary Boston sports talker in August. He left his role as morning show host and PD at The Fan in Indianapolis at that time.
In the memo, new Audacy Boston market manager Mike Thomas says that the station will be naming a new brand manager in the future.
In the meantime, Ken Laird has been promoted to operations manager for the station. Laird announced yesterday that this means he is leaving the Greg Hill Show, which will be on the lookout for a new producer.
On Monday, Jeff Rickard took to Twitter to update fans and followers on his situation. He did not have anything negative to say about WEEI, Audacy, or anyone involved with him coming to Boston. He even noted that this move is likely what is best for him and his family.
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