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Under The Radar – July 5, 2018

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It’s been a while since we brought you an Under The Radar column but to borrow a line from Mike Greenberg “we’re back and better than ever.” OK maybe that’s a stretch but if it’s sports media industry news you crave, then you’ve come to the right place.

The following message may sound repetitive if you’ve read this column before but it’s important that we get it out to keep you informed. The only way we can help tell your story is if you take the time to let us know about it. All it takes is sending an email to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me and including a few details about your individual or station’s news story, and when the next UTR piece comes out we’ll try to make sure you’re included. It’s that easy.

Now that we’ve tackled that issue, let’s move on to the latest news!

Friday marks the final day of Chris Oliviero‘s tenure as EVP of programming for Entercom. The highly respected radio executive announced on June 22nd that he’d be leaving the company to explore new opportunities. He is expected though to remain in an advisory role thru the remainder of the year. Prior to joining Entercom, Oliviero spent 22 years with CBS Radio, helping establish the company as one of the best in broadcasting. Many of the top sports talk brands in America have either been created, strengthened or rebuilt under his watchful eye. BSM wishes Chris the best in his future pursuits. To stay in touch with him via email click here.

As interest rapidly increases in sports betting content, VSiN have been on quite the roll. The Vegas Stats and Information Network has secured new radio partnerships with the Mighty 1090 in San Diego, 104.5 ESPN in Baton Rouge, FOX Sports 1290 in Wilmington, DE, FOX Sports 960 in Salisbury, MD and Sports Radio 1450 in Springfield, IL. That’s in addition to prior partnerships announced with 670 The Score in Chicago and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. A few other major market brands are expected to be announced soon once agreements are finalized. Some sports brands in states which have yet to legalize sports gambling have taken a wait and see approach towards increasing their sports betting content, but their tentativeness has opened the door for rock stations who also target the Male 25-54 demographic. The content after all appeals to both audiences. How that will factor into future partnerships with VSiN will be interesting to follow. One thing’s for certain, the interest level from brands is only going to increase as we inch closer to football season.

As great as Colin Cowherd is at delivering analogies and opinions, what he did on Thursday’s show to turn a lemon into lemonade was worth highlighting. It’s a great lesson for talk show hosts on how to handle things when a curveball gets thrown in your direction. Cowherd’s guest booker Dave Coelho asked Colin if he’d want former Laker great Norm Nixon on the show to discuss LeBron’s arrival in Los Angeles. Cowherd agreed and Coelho texted him to set it up and then sent a car to bring him to the studio. Except when Coelho went downstairs to meet Nixon to bring him to the studio he discovered that Nixon looked nothing like the guest he thought he had booked. It turned out that Norm Nixon Jr., an actor, writer, music producer and comedian, and the son of the Lakers great was the recipient of the texts. Cowherd said it was the first time in 30 years that he had ever experienced a situation like that. To watch the way it unfolded click here.

Sad news out of Charlotte. Entercom Charlotte digital director Nathan Richie lost his life in a motorcycle accident in mid-June. Richie spent over two decades working in the market including the past year with Entercom and was highly regarded. To show their respect for a fallen teammate, Market Manager Matt Hanlon and his programming teams utilized their on-air, online, and social platforms on all local brands to highlight the impact Richie made on those he came in contact with. It was a very classy gesture by the operation. A funeral service was also arranged by Richie’s family to allow those who knew him to say their final goodbyes.

Also in Charlotte, former WFNZ host turned Charlotte Hornets radio play by play voice Chris Kroeger has launched a podcast for his new NBA employer. Kroeger has made good use of his newfound access, sitting down with new GM Mitch Kupchak and head coach James Borrego, and visiting with this year’s draftees Miles Bridges and Devonte’ Graham. He’s also chatted with the franchise’s 1st ever draft selection Rex Chapman. To hear any of the episodes click here.

Chicago sports radio personality Jason Goff has been a busy man as of late. The former 670 The Score afternoon host has appeared on Laurence Holmes‘ “House of L Podcast” and been a frequent contributor on television, making visits to NBC Sports Chicago, ABC-7 and FOX-32. Goff has also spread his wings beyond the windy city hosting on WFNZ in Charlotte and Mad Dog Radio and the NBA Channel on SiriusXM.

Kate Scott made a return to the Bay Area radio airwaves for a fill-in assignment on her former station KNBR 680. Scott stepped in to host for Paul MacCaffrey on Tuesday July 3rd working alongside former morning colleague Brian Murphy.

Props to 790 The Ticket in Miami for once again providing live and local overnight programming on the night of NBA Free Agency. It was the 3rd straight year the station created a live show to report and let listeners sound-off on one of the biggest night’s of the NBA off-season. Despite the flood of news pouring in at midnight on Saturday/Sunday, a time when radio station’s don’t usually sell sponsorships, The Ticket’s sales team used the specialized the event to generated new revenue from three clients. A nice job by all involved.

Miami is also where you’ll find sports radio veteran Josh Darrow diving into the podcasting space. Darrow’s forthcoming digital audio offering will be titled “The 5 Rings” and will focus heavily on the Miami Hurricanes. The podcast will be part of the 5 Reasons Sports Network which was co-founded by former Miami Herald writer and 790 The Ticket afternoon host Ethan Skolnick.

1010XL in Jacksonville recently made some internal adjustments. The station has moved afternoon personality Lauren Brooks into mornings alongside Jeff Prosser and Dan Hicken. A few producer moves have occurred as well. Midday producer Andrew Gibson has shifted to afternoons, morning producer Tyler Devitte has moved to middays, and afternoon producer Ryan “Big Country” Bonifant has taken on new responsibilities behind the scenes and left the afternoon show.

The stars continue to align for former 1010XL on-air contributor MacKenzie Thirkill. Thirkill announced in late June on social media that after two and a half years working with the Orlando City Soccer Club she was leaving her on-air position for a new opportunity. That new opportunity involves reporting and hosting for the Orlando Magic on their digital platforms. Thirkill says she’ll also make television appearances on FOX Sports Florida during the NBA regular season.

The end of the line has been reached by John Semar in St. Louis. After ten years behind the scenes working for 101 ESPN and 590 The Fan in St. Louis and 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, “The Sea Monster” as he was known to colleagues has decided to leave the radio business. During his career Semar produced shows featuring Bryan Burwell, Bob Stelton, Pat Parris, Tim McKernan, Zach McCrite, Rick Venturi and the Rise Guys.

Continuing in St. Louis, congrats are in order for former Jim Rome Show producer Austin Huff. The Mizzou graduate has accepted a position working for 101 ESPN. Huff spent three years in California on Rome’s program after starting his radio career in Nashville working for both 104.5 The Zone and 102.5 The Game. While at The Game he served as an EP for FOX Sports Radio personality Steve Gorman.

SB Nation Radio is undergoing a lineup overhaul. The network is searching for a new afternoon host after Sean Salisbury left for SportsTalk 790 in Houston. That isn’t the only drive time affected though. Mornings are changing too after the network made the decision to pull the plug on its previous show featuring Steve Solomon, Tim Murray, and Scott Linn. In order to figure out the best way forward, SB Nation Radio is bringing in Jason Page, Carter Bryant and Eytan Shander for fill-in shows. Other names may also be added to the mix as time progresses.

Staying in Houston, Sports Radio 610 host Marc Ryan has earned an opportunity to expand his presence on the national circuit. Ryan has been tabbed by the CBS Sports Radio Network to make his on-air debut this Sunday night from 6p-10p ET. Among his scheduled guests for his debut program include actor Seth Rogen, Kristen Ledlow and Ryan’s former Tampa radio teammate and new Monday Night Football sideline analyst Anthony “Booger” McFarland.

Also in Houston, former SB Nation Radio producer Joe George has moved over to Sports Radio 610. Meanwhile his former SB Nation Radio teammate Adam Sager who produced Sean Salisbury’s show has seen his time at the network come to an end after four years. Sources say there could be interest from 790 to bring Sager on board but as of now he remains a free agent. You can contact him for opportunities by clicking here.

Ann Meyers Drysdale and John Ramsey are the newest members of the So Cal Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame. The duo will be inducted at the 28th annual SCSB Awards Luncheon on January 2019. Drysdale enjoyed a long broadcasting career working for the UCLA Radio Network, Pac-12 Network, ESPN, the LA Sparks and covered a number of Olympic games for ABC, NBC and TNT. Ramsey was the original public address announcer for the Angels, Dodgers, Kings, Lakers and L.A. Raiders as well as the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, five Super Bowls including the first Super Bowl, seven World Series, two Major League All Star Games, two NBA All Star Games and ten NBA finals. For more information click here.

Some unfortunate news for Molly Sullivan. After six years on the sidelines with the Philadelphia 76ers, Sullivan was informed by NBC Sports Philadelphia that she wasn’t being brought back. The decision caught her off guard and has led to Philadelphia sports fans being upset by the decision. For a deeper read and listen to Sullivan’s side of the story with Richard Deitsch of The Athletic click here.

Sullivan wasn’t the only one covering the Sixers to be let go by NBC Sports Philadelphia. Jessica Camerato announced on Twitter on Thursday that she too was informed her time had come to an end after two and a half years.

National Sports TV interviewer Graham Bensinger has announced that his program In Depth with Graham Bensinger is now available in podcast form. The full uninterrupted interviews that Bensinger conducts with high profile national sports figures can be heard by clicking here.

In writing news, the Chicago-Tribune has named Jimmy Greenfield their new Chicago Blackhawks beat reporter. The Athletic has hired Antonio Morales to cover USC Football for their Los Angeles outlet, and the Arizona Cardinals have added radio veterans Mike Jurecki and Craig Giralou to their digital team. Both men will host podcasts, videos, and pre/post game shows for the Cardinals. Meanwhile the Boston Globe .

And finally, Amanda Stein has agreed to join the New Jersey Devils full-time as their All-Access host and digital reporter.

Sports Radio News

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.”

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@mikecrispinonyk on Twitter

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.

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Sports Radio News

Pat McAfee Irritated At Fans’ ‘Throw Rogan’ Nickname For Aaron Rodgers

“His haters got very loud.”

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The Pat McAfee Show

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.

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Sports Radio News

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.”

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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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