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Under The Radar – November 2, 2018

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It’s been a while since we produced an Under The Radar column. Although there’s always noise being made inside sports media circles, we’d rather put a bunch of notes together and feed you one big main course meal than five or six appetizers. As usual, if you work in the sports media business and have news to share, please pass it along via email at JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me. DM’s on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin are also acceptable.

With that out of the way, let’s dive into the latest news.

If you work in the sports media industry and wish to further educate yourself on the business, the 2019 BSM Summit is coming to the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles. Colin Cowherd, Jason Whitlock, Eric Bischoff, Jorge Sedano, Brian Musburger, and Norm Pattiz are just some of the speakers who will be part of our annual conference. Other announcements are forthcoming. This is an industry only event open to radio and television programmers, market managers, on-air talent, producers, salespeople, digital directors, corporate executives, agents, etc.. Tickets are discounted until November 30th. They’ll increase in price on December 1st. To purchase yours and be in attendance for this great event, email JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me.

A change has been made in Dallas to the midday show on 103.3 ESPN. Will Chambers is no longer with the station and has since launched a podcast The Lounge with Will Chambers. Taking his place alongside Jean-Jacques Taylor is Matt McClearin. McClearin had been part of the station’s Cowboys Pre and Post Game coverage, and hosted The Show on Saturday afternoons in addition to filling in on weekday programs. Before joining 103.3 ESPN, McClearin spent time hosting for WJOX in Birmingham. He also has worked in Gainesville, FL and as the pre and post-game host for the Dallas Stars.

VSiN morning show host Paul Howard had a pretty great day at work recently after it initially started off bad. Howard was running late on Friday morning October 19th causing him to miss the start of the show. He was told by Mitch Moss and the morning crew to join the program after the first segment. A few days earlier, Howard had been busting Westgate Casino manager John Murray’s chops on the air for sounding groggy and bragged that he had never been late for a show. Since Howard had now screwed up, Moss spent the first few minutes of the show busting his chops for not being on time and discussed a prop bet he came up with a year earlier about who would be the first member of the show to oversleep or miss the show. Michael Lombardi phoned in and suggested sending Howard home for the day. But while waiting to get on the air to defend himself, Howard stopped by a video poker machine. He hit a royal flush, won $5,000 dollars, and walked in next segment waving a bundle of cash in his co-workers direction. Needless to say, Howard’s late arrival allowed him to get the last laugh.

Condolences go out to San Diego sports radio veteran Dave Palet and his family. Palet’s son Jake recently passed away unexpectedly. A celebration of the young man’s life is being held this Sunday for family and friends. To offer your support to Dave and his family reach out by clicking here.

After losing sports director Brendan McCaffrey to SiriusXM in New York, 670 The Score program director Mitch Rosen had to search internally and externally to find a qualified replacement. Well, Rosen found his man, and he didn’t have to look far to find him. Shane Riordan has been promoted at The Score to assume a heavier workload in operations. Riordan had previously served as a producer for Rosen.

Tom Carroll has left Boston for St. Louis to reunite with his former ESPN Radio colleague Michelle Smallmon. Carroll has been named the brand new producer of the Bernie Miklasz Show on 101 ESPN.

A tip of the cap to Andy Massaua. The veteran Boston sports radio producer recently left WEEI after a two decade run. He joined the station in 1998, working over the years with more than 100 different full and part time producers, board ops, and audio production people. Prior to departing, Andy expressed his gratitude on Twitter to Glenn Ordway and Jason Wolfe for giving him an opportunity twenty years earlier. He says his exit is the result of accepting a new multimedia production job outside of sports radio.

Talented sports radio producer Jason Stewart has left AM 570 LA Sports to join FOX Sports 1. Stewart, who worked earlier in his career with Jim Rome, is being tasked with supporting FS1’s weekday lineup of programs including Undisputed, The Herd, Speak For Yourself, and others.

Mike Mayer has also decided it’s time for a change. After working behind the scenes for FOX Sports Radio in Los Angeles, Mayer has decided to head east to join SiriusXM. He’s scheduled to start his new job with the satellite radio company on November 5th.

The door may have closed for Eytan Shander at 97.5 The Fanatic, but it didn’t take long for a new one to open. Shander has been added to 97.3 ESPN in Atlantic City. He’s signed on in a part-time role, joining Mike Gill on the station’s afternoon show. Shander previously worked for the station earlier in his career.

A couple of contract extensions have been inked at the CBS Sports Radio network. Congrats to both Brandon Tierney and Amy Lawrence who recently signed new deals to continue in their current roles. The network has also added Alyssa Rose to the network roster as an on-air sports anchor.

Meanwhile at FOX Sports Radio, Bernie Fratto has been given an opportunity to share his insights and opinions with a national audience. The Las Vegas based personality is hosting a new late night Saturday/Sunday show from 11p-Midnight PT/2a-3a ET. The program features prognostications from the “Voice of Vegas” RJ Bell, and betting experts Brad Powers and Steve Fezzik.

If you’ve been driving around on the weekend listening to ESPN Radio and wondering who that familiar voice is on evening programming, that would be Tim Montemayor. ‘Monty’ as he’s known to sports radio audiences has worked in Phoenix, Sacramento, San Francisco, Chicago, and Salt Lake City. No word on if it’ll be a regular situation, but for now, Monty’s just enjoying the ride and trying to make the most of each opportunity.

Continuing on the national circuit, a tip of the cap goes out to Marissa Rives, who was recently promoted to program director of SiriusXM‘s Fight Nation, channel 93. Rives has been with the channel since 2010. Prior to earning the PD stripes she served as executive producer.

Further north, Ryan Fabro has taken a step into management. After 11 years of producing, Fabro has been named the Assistant Program Director of Sportsnet 590 The Fan. Fabro will work in tandem with PD Dave Cadeau.

Tim Donnelly is the new host of the afternoon show on 101.7 CBS Sports Radio in Blacksburg, VA. Donnelly previously served as host and operations manager for ESPN Ithaca. To fll Donnelly’s seat in Ithaca, station management has promoted Nick Karski.

After leaving WKNR in Cleveland to join 96.7/1670 The Zone in Madison, WI, Danny Cunningham has decided it’s time for a new challenge. Cunningham announced his departure from The Zone on Twitter, but says he has something in the works which will be revealed at a later time.

Six years in Cleveland at 92.3 The Fan was great, but all good things eventually come to an end. Alex Hooper has confirmed his exit from the radio station. Hooper says he wants to join his fiancee in Florida to support her as she pursues her doctorate.

1500 ESPN‘s Purple Podcast has been received so well, that station management has decided to deliver a live version of the show Tuesday night’s on the radio. Hosted by Matthew Coller, the Tuesday night special includes on-air co-hosting contributions from ESPN’s Courtney Cronin. The station has also elevated Dane Moore to contribute to the station’s written and audio content.

Former college basketball and NBA head coach Rick Pitino is the latest sports figure to take the plunge into podcasting. Pitino has released a few episodes so far, one of which includes a great conversation with OKC Thunder head coach and former Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan. To check out the podcast click here.

Following his exit from SiriusXM‘s Mad Dog Radio, Ric Bucher has invaded the podcast space. Bucher and Friends has been launched as a daily program. The podcast includes regular appearances from Bucher’s former radio partner Nicole Zaloumis, former NBA player Ryan Hollins, and NFL Network analyst Will Blackmon. To hear it and subscribe and click here.

Elsewhere in sports podcasting, WIP host Rob Ellis has launched The Sitdown. Ellis’ newest episode features a lengthy conversation with WIP morning host Al Morganti who offers his thoughts on the sports media business, the end of Wing Bowl, life philosophy, Philadelphia’s sports teams, and more. To hear it click here.

If you’re interested in keeping up to date on news from the podcasting world, Podcast Business Journal is launching on November 19th. To sign up for the site’s daily emails click here. The new website is expected to feature an exclusive interview with wrestling superstar turned podcasting sensation Chris Jericho for its debut.

Bleacher Report received some great exposure recently from Adweek. The publication place B/R on their Hot List, dubbing them the hottest brand in sports. Among the reasons for highlighting them, “their engagement numbers are rivaled only by President Trump, and nearly 85% of their audience is under 35.”

Two years of making videos for SB Nation has paid off for Jessica Smetana. Smetana has accepted a producer/show runner opportunity with Sports Illustrated.

Amanda Borges continues to advance her career. Borges has enjoyed roles with 1010XL and the New York Rangers, and now has taken on a role with Yahoo Sports. Borges has been hired to serve as a host of the site’s new program ‘The Spin’.

Nice job by the KNBR digital team in San Francisco highlighting the 10-year anniversary of Mike Singletary’s infamous postgame press conference which has supplied sports radio programs across the nation with numerous audio drops for the past decade. To watch the classic Singletary video with added text captioning click here.

In sports television circles, Rachel Bonnetta has landed a new three year deal with FOX Sports. Bonnetta hosts FS1’s sports betting show Lock It In with Todd Fuhrman, Cousin Sal, and Clay Travis.

Also at FOX Sports, John Fanta has been added to the network’s college basketball coverage. Fanta will be providing play by play on select games.

Congratulations to former ESPN television executive Jay Levy. Levy has launched Levy Media Productions to better serve colleges and conferences with live event broadcasting, and multi-platform video content development. For further information on Levy’s company, click here.

The good news continues with Dave ‘Deuce’ Mason earning the role of play by play voice for the Stockton Kings of the NBA’s G League. Mason will call the action with Morgan Ragan serving as color analyst. Fans will have an opportunity to watch games via Facebook Watch, ESPNU, ESPN+, NBA TV, Eleven Sports or at the Stockton Arena.

Jessica Kleinschmidt has accepted a full-time role with NBC Sports Bay Area. Kleinschmidt remained involved with Cut4 thru the World Series ends, but is now ready to dive in on the next chapter of her career.

Speaking of NBC Sports Bay Area, former executive producer Chris Olivere has a new opportunity. Olivere was hired recently by the NFL Network to serve as Senior Producer of the expanded Good Morning Football weekend brand.

Veteran radio programmer and host Dave Shore is involved in a new project with the Netcast Sports Network. Shore has begun taping television interviews and recently spent time at Duke University sitting down with legendary basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski. To stay updated on Shore’s project follow him here.

106.7 The Fan host Nick Ashooh has spread his wings into television. Ashooh has been added by NBC Sports Washington to their Wizards pre/post show Wizards Outsiders which includes Wes Hall.

You may have already heard about Jeff Pearlman‘s new USFL book Football For a Buck: The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL. Pearlman has been making the radio rounds to help promote it. If your station is interested in scheduling an appearance with Jeff, reach out via email by clicking here.

As first reported by Ryan Glasspiegel of The Big Lead, Keith Smith has joined Yahoo Sports. The news of Smith’s addition was confirmed by Yahoo’s Chris Haynes. Smith is expected to provide salary cap analysis to Yahoo’s NBA platform.

A productive run with the Dallas News has put Jori Epstein in position to have her work enjoyed by an even larger audience. Epstein has been hired by the USA Today to cover the NFL, and the Dallas Cowboys.

Lance Lysowski has left DK Pittsburgh Sports where he served as the site’s Pirates writer. To fill the void, DKPS has hired John Perrotto.

A new beat reporter has been hired to cover the Tampa Bay Lightning. Diana Nearhos has landed the role, and is now covering the Eastern Conference’s Stanley Cup representative for the Tampa Bay Times.

Michael Singer has signed on to cover the Nuggets for the Denver Post. Singer joins the newspaper after delivering four years of NBA coverage for the USA Today.

In Memphis, David Cobb has signed on to cover the Memphis Grizzlies for the Commercial Appeal. Cobb begins his new assignment on November 5th.

And we couldn’t complete a UTR column without listing a few of the new additions at The Athletic. Steve Buckley has joined the site in Boston. Jason Smith and John Martin have agreed to contribute in Memphis. Jesse Granger has been added to the site’s Las Vegas platform covering the Golden Knights. Jason Quick is handling the Trail Blazers beat for The Athletic’s Oregon portal, and Joe Ostrowski is writing a sports betting column for the Chicago division.

 

Sports Radio News

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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. 

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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.”

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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. 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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