When Justin Kinner sits in the host seat today for his daily show at ESPN WING 1410 in Dayton, he’ll be approximately 79 miles from Ohio Stadium in Columbus, the home of the Buckeyes, and 57 miles from Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, the home of the Bengals. Literally, he’s smack dab in the middle of one of the most popular college football programs in the country, as well as an NFL franchise with a large following.
In many ways, Dayton is a melting pot for various sports fans throughout the state of Ohio. The Buckeyes will always be the biggest news in the state, but the Browns, Bengals, Reds, Indians, Cavs and even Steelers all have a loyal following where Kinner calls home. Sure, that’s a blessing when considering you’re never short of topics, but also a challenge for a host, seeing as you have to be knowledgeable on several teams across the state.
Not only has Kinner accepted that challenge, he relishes the opportunity to do so. The once shy and quiet kid in high school that wasn’t outgoing, has now blossomed into an afternoon drive host, as well as the program director for ESPN WING 1410. The funny thing, is none of Kinner’s high school classmates foresaw him becoming a sports radio personality. At the time, it was a fair assumption, seeing as the business is normally reserved for more outgoing personalities. Kinner was anything but. But as a student at Wright State, he caught the sports radio fever while doing a show with the student radio station. It didn’t take him long to realize this was the career path he wanted to choose.
Anyone that’s ever went to college has skipped at least one class. We’re all human, right? Some of us did it because Thirsty Thursday at the local bar was too great of a time to reach that 8 a.m. class the next day. Some of us overslept from time to time, while others just woke up and realized they had better options that day than to attend class.
Whatever and how many of those excuses you used, skipping class one day ended up being one of the most important days of Kinner’s life. A big final was approaching and Kinner felt he needed more time to study for an exam in another class. So, he skipped one class to study for another. A really responsible excuse for not going, if you ask me. However, while sitting in his student radio office, an employee of the local ESPN radio affiliate in town walked in and asked if anyone was interested in doing fill in work for the station. Like a miracle happening right before his eyes, this was the opportunity he couldn’t pass up. Without any hesitation, Kinner jumped at the opportunity.
If it wasn’t for skipping class, Kinner would have never been in the situation to accept an offer from ESPN WING 1410. Conversely, he admits that he probably wouldn’t be in sports radio if that situation didn’t occur. Anyone believe things happen for a reason?
Shortly after, Kinner’s radio career began by doing part-time work at the station, which got him into sales. His workload consisted of hosting a Sunday morning show, high school football games and being the No. 1 fill-in for shows during the week. He was doing it all at the station and proving his worth as a valuable commodity to the company. His first break had already come, the second, was to come shortly after.
As such things happen in the business, the PD job at ESPN 1410 came open right when Kinner was starting to make a name for himself at the station. Maybe it was because he was already doing on-air work, maybe it was because he proved his worth early on. Maybe it was several reasons, regardless, Kinner was ultimately named program director at ESPN 1410. The once shy kid in high school had shocked everyone. Not only was he doing on-air work, he was now also making major decisions that influenced a radio station.
Today, you can hear Kinner on his show ‘Kinner and Schlemmer’ from 3-6 p.m. on ESPN 1410. The balance of covering several teams in the area is a challenge, but Kinner discusses how to appease the masses and still stay relevant, when you’re jammed in between two larger markets.
TM: How does the dynamic of being smack in the middle of Columbus and Cincinnati work? Do the Buckeyes or Bengals get more of your attention?
JK: Let’s not forget the Browns, because somehow, the Browns sneaked their way into this conversation. The one thing I love about doing a show in Dayton is the fact we’re Cincinnati Reds affiliate, we’re a Buckeye affiliate, so we get to talk about more than just one city full of teams.
But Ohio State rules everything around here. We’re in the heart of Buckeye Country. But with that being said, it’s the flavor of the day, whatever the big topic is, obviously with the Ohio State and Urban Meyer investigation, that’s just dominated sports talk around here. But on Monday, we did a show that the Browns and Bengals carried for three hours.
TM: I think most people recognize the Dayton Flyers as a good hoops program that are always in the mix for the NCAA Tournament. Is their football team though ever a big topic of conversation, seeing as you have the NFL and a major college football program so close?
JK: Rick Chamberlain is the Flyers’ head football coach, we have him on every Tuesday. He comes on, but it’s not like it’s a hot button topic. We just like to make sure we massage a lot of the local teams, whether they have a big following or not. But as far as college basketball, UD is as big in this town, basketball wise, as Ohio State football. The Buckeyes still get the nod, but UD basketball is a very close second.
TM: How much does your show change from football to basketball season? Are you full tilt UD hoops as well as everyone else in the conference?
JK: Oh yeah. There’s two D1 teams here in the city. It’s the greatest rivalry never played, at least here for a local topic, Wright State and UD. It’s the biggest rivalry that never comes to fruition on the court, because the argument of, oh, UD is too good to play Wright State, what would be the advantage of even playing them?
We do talk a lot of college basketball, just about how UD is doing, we look at the Atlantic 10, we look at Wright State, but a lot of times, we’re still talking heavy NFL during that time.
TM: What makes the Dayton market unique and something other sports talk radio personalities would be surprised to find out?
JK: To start, the most unique thing about the Dayton market is the fact that we have a lot of strong fan bases from various teams. You could even argue there’s a heavy Steelers fan base in this area, which is crazy. It’s just cool to not be handicapped on talking about one city full of teams. To me, I think that’s helped me as a host, because I’ve been able to rub by elbows with a lot of various topics and different teams. Whereas, if I just had a show in Cincinnati, it would just be about the Reds and Bengals.
Most people would look at a city with no pro sports team or high level power 5 program and think, wow, how boring is that? Dayton does not fit that narrative. I would put Dayton’s basketball fans up against any basketball (Pro or college) fan base in the country. Dayton is the host city for the NCAA First Four tournament, the host city for the ‘Flyin’ To The Hoop’ HS basketball showcase (2nd largest National HS Basketball showcase in the country), & two D1 college basketball programs. Dayton is a very passionate sports city.
TM: If you ever were to leave Dayton, how much do you think it would help you down the road having worked in a city where you’ve had to talk just about every single sport?
JK: I’m not going to say it’s hard to do a show here, it’s definitely not. I think the more topics you have make it easier. But, at the same time, I can’t be a pretend Browns analyst, because if I don’t know my stuff, there’s a heavy fan base that’s listening and going to call me out.
The main teams we talk about are the Bengals, Reds and Buckeyes, but there’s a lot of other fans that trickle in with other teams. If you try to pretend you know the other teams when you don’t, you don’t come across as credible to your listeners. But it does help me. If I sit down in an interview in another city or market, I can say I was able to balance a lot of teams in other various cities, as well as being able to deliver the local teams in the market. I think it’s definitely prepared me for whatever my next job would be.
TM: What do game day weekends look like for your station, seeing as you’re so keyed in on the Buckeyes and Bengals? Do you go to either of the two cities to do pregame shows?
JK: In my mind, just because we talk Buckeyes, Reds and Bengals, that doesn’t mean we have to go to Cincinnati, Columbus or Cleveland for the Browns to make it happen. As many that are in our city, that’s very important to me, in realizing that, okay, they’re not the Dayton Browns or the Dayton Buckeyes but there’s a ton of Ohio State and NFL fans here.
A lot of people that live in Dayton, rather than them having to go to Columbus or Cincinnati to enjoy those experiences, I make sure we do local Buckeye pregame shows at a sports bar. We do watch parties. Former Ohio State Buckeye Keith Byars, who nearly won a Heisman in the 80’s, he does a show with us and we do watch parties with him. The diehard Ohio State fan that lives in Dayton can now experience the thrill of game day, right here.
TM: Tell me about your show.
JK: My co-host has been called an ancient curmudgeon and I’ve been called a clueless millennial. The gap in age has brought two different generations of sports fans together and it definitely provides you with a very entertaining 3 hour show with screaming, laughter, happiness and at times anger.
As a member of the local media always says when calling into the show. “The Knuckle Head factor has just got taken to another level.” It’s a very interactive call in show. Some of our callers have been tagged with nicknames over the years. You will hear names such as “Back Porch”, “Porkchop”, “The Comrade”, “Wrestling Guru”, “The SEC Commissioner” & so on. At times, they are almost like part time characters that add to the fun of the show.
Tyler McComas is a columnist for BSM and a sports radio talk show host in Norman, OK where he hosts afternoon drive for SportsTalk 1400. You can find him on Twitter @Tyler_McComas or you can email him at TylerMcComas08@yahoo.com.
Mike Tirico Has ‘Never Pretended to Be Friends’ With Athletes
“I like having a healthy relationship where if I need something, I can ask whether it’s for on-air or for background and build trust.”
Mike Tirico has been covering sports on network television for 32 years. Over those 3+ decades, he has made it a point to not be so close with the athletes he covers in whichever sport he is broadcasting.
Tirico was a guest on the most recent episode of the GOLF’s Subpar podcast with Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz. While Tirico knows he is not doing extensive journalism work, he wants to make sure that he can be able to ask the hard questions if he has to any athlete.
“I never pretend to be friends with the athletes I cover. I like having a healthy relationship where if I need something, I can ask whether it’s for on-air or for background and build trust. I’m not in a position where I’m working for Outside the Lines at my old place, ESPN. It’s not a knock. It’s just you’re not in a position where you have to do these journalistic-type interviews all the time, but there are times you have to ask hard questions. I always try to keep a little bit of a buffer or a distance.”
The context of that question came when Tirico was asked about how good of a relationship he has with Tiger Woods.
“It’s good….If I reach out, he will usually get back to me. He’s been really good and really nice along the way.”
As for broadcasting sports in this day and age of social media, Tirico believes that it can make a broadcaster better whether or not the complaint from someone on Twitter is real or not.
“It makes us better because you know that people are going to catch you. If something is artificial or not, real or not, embraced or not, it forces you to be better at what you do.”
For that same reason, Tirico thinks that LIV Golf is going to make the PGA Tour have to be better going forward because now they have another tour to go up against.
“I think LIV Golf, and we all have our own opinions on it, is going to force the PGA Tour to be better. Competition is good. Checks and balances are really good.”
Even though Tirico doesn’t feel nervous about many broadcasts anymore, there was one event in the last decade where the nerves kicked in when he was hosting his first Olympics at NBC.
“The only time in the last 10 years that I’ve been nervous was coming on for the first time hosting the Olympics because Bob Costas has done that since most of us have been alive and most people had never seen anyone but Bob Costas host the Olympics in primetime…2 minutes before, I’m like ‘should I be this? Should I have fun?’ and then the minute before, I cracked a joke in the studio.”
Ricky Keeler is a reporter for BSM with a primary focus on sports media podcasts and national personalities. He is also an active podcaster with an interest in pursuing a career in sports media. You can find him on Twitter @Rickinator555 or reach him by email at RickJKeeler@gmail.com.
Kyle Brandt’s Rant a Reminder to Consider the Messenger
This doesn’t mean Brandt is wrong or even that he is being told to echo the NFL’s position, it’s to note that he took a very powerful stance on a very powerful platform and they both matter.
This week, a massive announcement was made in the National Football League regarding the immediate future of Deshaun Watson. Judge Sue L. Robinson recommended a six -game suspension with no additional monetary fine for the quarterback. While the NFL mulls what it will say further, most others didn’t, including a really prominent personality: Kyle Brandt.
Brandt, a co-host on Good Morning Football, reacted like a lot of people did upon hearing the decision: forcefully. On Monday, Brandt denounced the decision to limit Watson’s suspension to six games, saying in part, “…I look at six and I find it very light. I hope it doesn’t stay that way personally. I think that Deshaun Watson leveraged his status as an NFL player against women. In my opinion. And I think it happened more than one time and I think it was was in closed doors in small rooms against women who were probably intimidated. And it pisses me off to even talk about it. And frankly it pisses me off to see the number six. And I don’t think it’s going to stay that way and I hope it doesn’t.”
Those words resonated. Once they were said, the clip was grabbed from the show and then distributed on Brandt’s Twitter account which reaches 333,000+ followers and on his Instagram which speaks to 96,000+ followers. That video has been seen over two million times. Viral, they say. Here it is if you did happen to miss it. Passionate stuff from Brandt.
If you believe in the message, it’s an easy to like, retweet or share idea. It’s not a hot take, frankly, because there is a large section of those that have been following this story that agree. Deshaun Watson is settling cases because people believe he did something bad. Something bad enough that judge did seem fit to point it out and recommend what is generally speaking, a strong suspension. The only problem here is the platform hosting the message.
This is not a Kyle Brandt-bashing piece. He isn’t the platform. If anything, he’s the vessel of this message he wants out. He also, very likely, feels exactly the way he said he did in the above tweeted video. In fact, the next day, Tuesday, Brandt doubled down on his opinion. The newer video was viewed over 400,000 times. You can check it out right below these words.
The distinction needs to be noted that the message Brandt is delivering, is the NFL’s message. It is what Roger Goodell wants to be the prevailing wisdom regarding how we feel about the current state of Watson’s suspension. That message is being amplified by a very popular co-host, on a very popular morning television show that is seen by a lot of people and that is owned by the National Football League.
Again, I am here waving to you wildly to say that I have no reason to believe that Brandt is being told this particular messaging needs to be voiced. But, I do know that the NFL has until Thursday to appeal the decision. Three days is a lot of time to gather data on whether or not the public might support you appealing for more games, something that the league most certainly will look into judging by their statement released shortly after the ruling.
I also know that the NFL was seeking a much longer suspension as well as a hefty fine to be issued to Watson. The NFL has taken a lot of hits for how it has handled players violating league rules and the player conduct policy. No matter which case you look at, comparing it to the one previous or the one right after is an exercise is madness. The one common theme seems to be is that when the NFL feels like it is delving out punishment, it wants to be severe, no matter the consistency. Remember, Tom Brady was a short ‘yes’ answer away from appealing his case to the Supreme Court. The NFL isn’t particularly interested in just letting things go.
It is well within the realm of possibility that the NFL is getting what it rarely gets: an overwhelming opinion that actually sides with it in terms of punishment. For the majority of the modern cases I can remember, more fans than not disagreed with the NFL’s stance on a case. This time, they might have the court of public opinion on their side. I hear far more ‘kick him outs’ in reference to Watson than I do ‘no suspensions’.
We might have the perfect storm for the NFL in terms of support and Kyle Brandt’s message lines up exactly with the leagues desires, no matter how they may have gotten there. Both want more punishment for the Cleveland quarterback. Brandt can hope, the NFL can fight.
This doesn’t mean Brandt is wrong or even that he is being told to echo the NFL’s position, it’s to note that he took a very powerful stance on a very powerful platform and they both matter.
Arky Shea serves as BSM’s evening editor, a daily news writer, and a weekly media columnist. He has previously worked for Outkick, 97.7 The Zone, 740 Sports Radio, and 730 The Ump where he held roles as the station’s program director, afternoon host, and producer. To connect, find Arky on Twitter @ArkyShea.
Producers Podcast Episode 6: Jackson Safon, The Volume
Jackson Safon has produced for a number of high profile digital networks. Now, as a freelancer, The Volume has put its faith in him to get the most out of Draymond Green, and CC Sabathia and Ryan Ruocco have trusted him to make R2C2 the best it can be.
Brady Farkas is a sports radio professional with 5+ years of experience as a Program Director, On-Air Personality, Assistant Program Director and Producer in Burlington, VT and Albany, NY. He’s well versed in content creation, developing ideas to generate ratings and revenue, working in a team environment, and improving and growing digital content thru the use of social media, audio/video, and station websites. His primary goal is to host a daily sports talk program for a company/station that is dedicated to serving sports fans. You can find him on Twitter @WDEVRadioBrady and reach him by email at email@example.com.