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Bill Michaels Steps Up To Help Waukesha Victims & Families

“When people ask why do this? I say, because we need to.”

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Wisconsin sports radio host Bill Michaels is stepping up to help Waukesha, Wisconsin. The small Wisconsin town has earned a flood of media attention recently after Darrell Brooks Jr. drove his SUV thru the town’s Christmas parade, killing six people, including an 8-year old boy, Jackson Sparks. Brooks has been charged with six counts of first-degree intentional homicide. He is being held in a Wisconsin jail on five million dollars bail and faces a mandatory life sentence if convicted.

With so many impacted by the tragedy, Michaels decided to use his radio platform to help raise funds for the victims and their families.

On Tuesday, the Wisconsin sports voice called on his audience and local people to join him in making donations to help those affected. Michaels broadcasted from Nice Ash Cigar Bar, and encouraged people to donate to the Waukesha Foundation Fund. He shared on the air that he was headed to the Christmas parade on November 21st, when he learned that something had gone awry at the event.

“We’re out here today raising funds for the victims, their families, and those in need down here,” shared Michaels on his radio program ‘The Bill Michaels Show’. “This is one of those situations where people say ‘thoughts and prayers’ which is great, but you need to do something. When people ask why do this? I say, because we need to,” Michaels added.

As of Monday afternoon, seven children were still hospitalized at Children’s Wisconsin.

To help raise awareness for Jackson Sparks, the eight year old boy who was killed in the senseless tragedy, Wisconsin native and Texas resident Todd Ahrens took to social media asking people to wear baseball jerseys on Friday in honor of the boy’s love for the sport. The social post created by Ahrens has gone viral, being shared and liked by thousands all across the country.

Those interested in making a contribution to the Waukesha Foundation Fund to help the families and victims affected, can do so by clicking here.

Sports Radio News

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. Marney 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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Toucher & Rich: Why Can’t Reporters Retaliate When Athletes Are Rude to Them?

“What gives them the right to being able to say what they want but as a reporter, you can’t say anything back?”

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Testy exchanges between reporters and athletes or coaches often make for compelling highlights. Fans generally don’t care if the media is being mistreated. It’s part of the job, in their view, and reporters should ask tough questions. Plus, people don’t seem to like the press much.

But there are occasions when someone responds to a question in an insulting fashion, intending to belittle or humiliate a reporter. Those incidents tend to stand out, and cast the person being hostile in a bad light.

Wednesday’s Toucher and Rich show discussed this dynamic, first with a local example of Celtics guard telling the Boston Globe‘s Gary Washburn that he asked a stupid question.

“At some point, you’re a human being too,” said Rich Shertenlieb. “What gives them the right to being able to say what they want but as a reporter, you can’t say anything back?”

Toucher agreed, saying adults should talk to each other and such. And ultimately, being adults means moving past such exchanges and getting on with work. But there are occasions when a sports figure is acting particularly rude, and that’s when it can feel like a line has been crossed.

From there, Shertenlieb brought up Leon Draisaitl’s response to a question from Hockey Hall of Fame reporter Jim Matheson following the Edmonton Oilers’ Tuesday practice. The Oilers have been one of the NHL’s most disappointing teams, winning only three games since Dec. 1.

Draisaitl sarcastically told Matheson he knows everything when asked to expand on a “we have to get better at everything” answer. Matheson then asked Draisaitl, “Why are you so pissy?”

Fred Toucher then wondered if any Boston reporter would be that aggressive in questioning one of the city’s professional athletes or coaches. Imagine someone asking New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, “Why are you so pissy?”

But the Draisaitl-Matheson exchange highlighted a key difference in how athletes and the media deal with each other when they speak in press conference situations necessitated by COVID protocols rather than more private locker room conversations.

Tensions are now out in the open, when they might have previously happened in a corner, away from everyone’s attention. And when these dialogues become public, people feel the need to take sides with the reporter or the athlete. Which side you’re on as a fan likely depends on your perception of the media.

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