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Frank Beckmann, Longtime Voice of Michigan and Detroit Sports, Passes Away

“Frank was a vital, energetic, driven, and larger-than-life personality, and having him be struck down like this is very difficult for everybody that knew him.”

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WJR

Detroit radio — and listeners throughout the state of Michigan — lost a legendary voice on Saturday.

Frank Beckmann was an institution at WJR (760 AM) for 48 years (and worked in broadcasting for 52 years), known to many as the radio voice of Michigan football, which he called for 32 years from 1981 through 2013. He also called play-by-play for the Detroit Lions from 1979 through 1988 and the Detroit Tigers from 1995 through 2003.

A longtime sports director at “The Great Voice of the Great Lakes” and its 50,000-watt signal, Beckmann hosted a sports talk show before sports radio as we know it became a nationally viable format. He launched Sportswrap in 1981 after eight years at WJR as a reporter, providing a ravenous Detroit sports fandom with news, commentary, analysis, and interviews that couldn’t be heard elsewhere on the dial. (All-sports WDFN didn’t launch in the market until 1994.)

How highly regarded was Beckmann as the voice of Michigan football? When WJR lost the broadcast rights in 2005, the station allowed Beckmann to continue calling Michigan football games for rival WWJ-AM and the Michigan Gameday Radio Network.

“It’s just so sad losing Frank,” Beckmann’s longtime broadcast partner Jim Brandstatter told the Detroit News. “Frank was a vital, energetic, driven, and larger-than-life personality, and having him be struck down like this is very difficult for everybody that knew him.”

Beckmann’s wife of 49 years, Karen, informed local media outlets that he suffered from vascular dementia and had several strokes since retiring. He was in hospice care when he passed away.

Called “the Swiss Army Knife of broadcasters” by WJR host and former TV anchor Guy Gordon, Beckmann called Detroit Pistons and Detroit Red Wings broadcasts early in his career. (Generations of Pistons fans are surely grateful to Beckmann for hiring the Pistons’ longtime radio and TV play-by-play broadcaster George Blaha.) And he demonstrated his versatility to listeners by taking over as the radio voice for the Detroit Tigers in 1995.

Beckmann brought familiarity and comfort to Tigers fans unsettled by WJR not renewing Ernie Harwell’s contract and bringing in Rick Rizzs and Bob Rathbun, out-of-towners who never connected with the audience. Two years after that experiment ended, Beckmann took the play-by-play mic and made the Tigers broadcasts feel like home again. When Harwell returned to the team’s radio booth in 1999, Beckmann called Tigers broadcasts on WKBD-TV.

After his Tigers broadcasting days were finished, Beckmann hosted a daily morning talk show on WJR and surprised some fans and media observers with a conservative viewpoint and sometimes cranky disposition. But even those who didn’t agree with his views (he considered running for U.S. Senate in 2011) still enjoyed Beckmann for his strong interview skills with public figures and local politicians, kindness with people promoting events and charities, and his rapport with callers.

Beckmann retired from WJR nearly a year ago in March 2021. During his career, he was a three-time winner of the Michigan Sportscaster of the Year award, and is a member of both the Michigan Sports and Michigan Broadcasting Halls of Fame.

He is survived by wife Karen, son Jonathan, daughter Tori Kughn, and three grandchildren.

Sports Radio News

Jonathan Peterlin Takes Over Night Show On 92.3 The Fan

“”Being the guy that you turn on after a day of listening to Ken and Anthony or Andy and Jeff or Nick and Dustin is truly an honor and a privilege. I won’t take that for granted.””

Jordan Bondurant

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92.3 The Fan in Cleveland now has a permanent host for its nightly show in Jonathan Peterlin.

Peterlin wrote in a post for the Audacy station’s website on Tuesday that his show will be called Overtime with Jonathan Peterlin and will air each night starting at 7 p.m.

“This is a dream job,” he said. “Being the guy that you turn on after a day of listening to Ken and Anthony or Andy and Jeff or Nick and Dustin is truly an honor and a privilege. I won’t take that for granted.”

Peterlin had been the afternoon update anchor at 92.3 The Fan since 2016, even hosting on weekends and on a fill-in basis. Prior to that, he spent three years in a similar role at Yahoo Sports Radio.

He wrote that listeners in Cleveland will not need an introduction or reintroduction to who he is.

“You know me and I know you,” he said. “We’ve spent the past nearly 7 years getting to know each other on a daily basis…We were there for each other. Along the way I hope that I’ve earned your trust. Through the good times and the bad, the ups and the downs.”

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Sports Radio News

Layoffs Hit Pro Football Focus

“The reduction in workforce comes less than 18 months after securing a $50 million investment from Silver Lake.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Pro Football Focus has laid off 16 employees, according to a report from Front Office Sports.

The reduction in workforce comes less than 18 months after securing a $50 million investment from Silver Lake.

The company, which Sunday Night Football analyst Cris Collinsworth owns a majority, still employs just over 200 people.

NFL reporter Doug Kyed was among the layoffs. Kyed had been at PFF since July 2021.

Additionally, 11 interns were also let go.

While PFF remains popular and profitable from a football analytics perspective, there had been a shift since the Silver Lake investment into attracting more sports betting and fantasy football customers. The FOS report indicated a chunk of the $50 million funding was used to develop an iPhone app.

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Sports Radio News

Laurence Holmes: Tim Jenkins Twitter Beef With Mike North Proves The Score Has Gotten Smarter

“Where now every show has a film guy. Like we’re not just out here just guessing. To a certain extent we are, but we go get confirmation and information from people who are smarter than us.”

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Former NFL quarterback Tim Jenkins had an interesting back and forth on Twitter with former 670 The Score host Mike North over Bears quarterback Justin Fields. Jenkins broke down a piece of film from Chicago’s game against Green Bay on Sunday, saying he didn’t agree with the notion that Fields doesn’t go through his progressions and is more of a runner.

North disagreed, saying wide receiver Dante Pettis was wide open on that particular play, and that Fields missed him.

Jenkins responded, saying North’s take was “not intellectually honest.”

In his weekly appearance on Bernstein & Holmes on The Score, Jenkins talked about the exchange not knowing North’s connection to the station.

“There’s a radio guy up there, Mike North, he was real mad,” Jenkins said. “And I tried to handle it gently because like listen, the first thing in his bio was he was born in 1952. And if my grand-pappy is on Twitter roasting somebody, I hope to handle them gently. And I tried to.”

Host Laurence Holmes said it was truly a meta moment for their show and the station. He talked about how having access to a guy like Jenkins is a sign the station, like many others have done across the country, have grown with the game.

“It speaks to the evolution of this radio station,” Holmes said. “Where now every show has a film guy. Like we’re not just out here just guessing. To a certain extent we are, but we go get confirmation and information from people who are smarter than us.”

The discussion turned to the evolution of the quarterback position in the NFL, and Holmes noted that there are some who just don’t recognize that the game has changed and called for a quarterback to be able to throw accurately but pick up yards and keep plays going with their legs.

“I’m here for the nuance, but people continue to ignore what is a trend,” Holmes said. “And I don’t mean that as a pejorative. The trend in the NFL is dual-threat quarterbacks. Look up and down the rosters.”

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