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Under The Radar – July 5, 2018

Jason Barrett

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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

Brian Gebhardt to Serve as Program Director of Sactown Sports 1140

“Learning under skilled leaders such as Terry Foxx, Sean Thompson, Reggie Rouse, and Mike Conti helped prepare Gebhardt for the next step.”

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Sactown Sports 1140 has found their next program director. After an extensive search, GM Steve Cottingim and Bonneville Sacramento’s Group Director of Programming Chad Rufer have found their next leader in Atlanta, GA, tabbing Brian Gebhardt to guide the brand’s programming department.

Gebhardt heads west to join Bonneville Sacramento after enjoying over seven years of success at 92.9 The Game. He has served recently as the Executive Producer of the ‘Andy & Randy’ show featuring Randy McMichael and Andy Bunker. During his time with the Atlanta sports station, Gebhardt has learned under skilled leaders such as Terry Foxx, Sean Thompson, Reggie Rouse, and Mike Conti. Those experiences prepared Gebhardt for the next step, as did working with numerous on-air talents who have helped The Game become a model of consistency in Georgia.

“Brian’s experience working with both premiere talent and professional sports franchises will help us help the Sactown Sports brand grow both on-air and on-line ,” said Cottingim.

“Brian demonstrated to us a real passion for leading extraordinary talent,” shared Rufer. “We are very confident that he will help us grow Sactown Sports into Sacramento’s premiere sports brand.”

“I can’t wait to get started and I am beyond excited to be working with Bonneville,” added Gebhardt.  

The hiring of the Georgia native as new PD allows Nick Cattles to focus exclusively on hosting the station’s afternoon show, a role he’s wanted to invest more time. Cattles joined Sactown Sports in November 2021 and has pulled double duty since arriving in Northern California. He hired Ramie Makhlouf as his afternoon drive co-host and the duo have built a solid foundation in afternoons. Having the ability now to focus solely on the show should allow Cattles and Ramie to elevate their program even more.

The first day on the job for Gebhardt will be Monday February 3rd. Depending on what develops with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC playoffs, there’s a possibility he could be walking into two straight weeks of Super Bowl planning. Regardless, Gebhardt has a new market to learn, a new team to meet, a new company to deliver results for, and an opportunity to take a big step in his radio career.

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Sports Radio News

DNVR Sports Files Injunction Against Bonneville Over Denver Sports Brand

“We can’t allow someone that represents the exact opposite of us to damage the goodwill of our brand or create confusion in the community.”

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After Bonneville International unveiled new branding for its Denver Sports properties, digital outlet DNVR Sports has filed an injunction to stop the radio company from utilizing the brand and logos.

In a Twitter thread, ALLCITY Network CEO Brandon Spano claimed DNVR Sports has already seen listeners, viewers, and readers confuse the two brands. “We can’t allow someone that represents the exact opposite of us to damage the goodwill of our brand or create confusion in the community,” Spano tweeted.

“Our branding was created purposefully, to be different from the way sports networks traditionally looked,” he said in another tweet. “To represent the city of Denver in a simple way while removing us from the gloss and pretentiousness of sports media. To create something that brings people together.”

Spano added that ALLCITY sent Bonneville a cease-and-desist letter last week, but claims the company failed to respond, so an injunction has been filed.

The Denver Sports branding utilized by Bonneville — which encompasses 104.3 The Fan and ESPN Denver — features a black and white city skyline as well as the Rocky Mountains inside a hexagon with block lettering. The DNVR Sports logo is a rectangle, similar to the city of Denver flag, with the sun centered between the mountain peaks and a block “DNVR” below the rectangle.

The complaint filed by StudioIP LLC — the law firm representing ALLCITY — claims the branding used by Bonneville constitutes “trademark infringement, unfair competition, trade dress infringement, dilution by tarnishment, and tortious interference arising out of Bonneville’s trademark infringement of Plaintiff’s trademarks,” according to Westword.

Bonneville has denied any wrongdoing, saying the accusations “have absolutely no merit, and our legal counsel is preparing a formal response. Denver Sports remains committed to delivering the most in-depth and inclusive local sports content for all Denver sports fans.”

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Sports Radio News

Ray Didinger Returning to 94WIP

“Didinger will be a member of the new morning show with Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie on 94WIP once Angelo Cataldi officially retires.”

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Longtime Philadelphia sports personality Ray Didinger stepped away from his media roles at NBC Sports Philadelphia and 94WIP in 2022, but he couldn’t stay away forever.

Didinger will be a member of the new morning show with Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie on 94WIP once Angelo Cataldi officially retires.

The 75-year-old returned to NBC Sports Philadelphia late in 2022 as a member of the Eagles Postgame show and decided to return to the venerable Philadelphia sports radio station as well.

Didinger will work on an as-needed basis for DeCamara and Ritchie, contributing to news surrounding the Eagles. Known for his yellow notepad, Didinger has covered the franchise for more than 50 years.

After his retirement, Didinger was the subject of an episode of NFL Films Presents… in December, at the time telling Cataldi he had stayed busy in retirement.

“It’s been busier than I thought,” Didinger said. “Just because of the way things have gone in the city. The Phillies going to the World Series, the Eagles are 10-1, I don’t think any of us thought it was going to be this kind of run.

“Consequently, my phone hasn’t stopped ringing. I had no idea everyone in the world has a podcast so I’ve been getting all those calls. My name and my phone number are on way too many rolodexes all around the country. When somebody says ‘Hey, let’s do a piece about Philly’, my phone rings. It’s been busy but it’s been good. It’s been great to see what this has meant to the city.”

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