Scott Van Pelt is in his eighth year of hosting the late night SportsCenter with SVP on ESPN and it’s a show that he never thought would actually happen, but ESPN believed he can host SportsCenter a little bit differently and it has allowed him to connect with his audience and be more personal:
Van Pelt was a guest on The Dave Pasch Podcast this week and he mentioned the idea for the new SportsCenter came when Van Pelt had a conversation with then ESPN executive John Wildhack and then ESPN president John Skipper about bringing what he did with Ryen Russillo on SVP & Russillo on ESPN Radio to television:
“The conversation was just kind of an organic what do you want to do sort of a thing? I said it would be pretty cool to take the idea of radio and bring it to SportsCenter and have it a little bit less structured, but not just entirely abandon the notion of who won the games and what were the cool things that happened.
“It was the type of thing where I never thought they would do it. SportsCenter, as you know, has always been this sacred sort of a brand. The idea that they give me the keys to the car so to speak and let me go where I wanted, I just didn’t think it would happen. To John’s [Wildhack’s] credit, he said to use the car analogy, I don’t want you to stay in the middle lane. Treat it like there is a lot of lanes that you can explore and see what works and what doesn’t. It was just kind of born out of the idea that maybe it could work.”
Van Pelt did mention that being on radio helped him because he wants his audience to get to know him as a person.
“Enormously because what you learn in radio, which I’ve said was the hardest thing that I did and I don’t know what else can be harder in this field because it requires hours and hours and hours of interesting conversation and it’s everyday. Russillo helped me massively. I’ve always credited him for saying ok, we’ll talk about Bears-Patriots in the A block, but what’s the topic? What’s interesting about the topic? Narrowing that down.
“Anyone on radio can talk about sports. What you get to share there is who you are, what you think, what matters to you. I don’t mind being vulnerable and sharing, it’s part of my life. The highs and lows, talking about losing our dog Otis this past spring. You are going to bare your soul. I sat on television and bawled about my dog. I was at a Maryland football game this weekend and strangers come up to me and they say the thing you did about your dog, that thing you say about Otis, they know his name.
“When you share yourself the way Mike & Mike did in the mornings about their children and watching their kids grow up and sharing that part of their lives, if you are willing, to the audience gets to know you as a human and not just some person on television and they care about your life if you are willing to share it. Undoubtedly, that part has helped.”
While Van Pelt thinks it’s easier than ever to have a show, he thinks it’s even harder to connect with an audience:
“I think people recognize that I like sports. I tell them where I’m from. They know I’m a Terp…That coupled with having done SportsCenter for a long time, getting to sit alongside Neil Everett and Stuart Scott, you have all these different ways that you can connect to an audience. Radio is the one that made it really personal and that’s been a huge, huge help because now it’s harder than ever. It’s easier than ever to have a show, harder than ever to connect with people because there’s so many of them to sort of choose from.”
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.
Fred Toucher Tells Paul Finebaum: Your Greatest Talent Is Not Losing It On Callers
“What you’re actually taught in radio — and not to the benefit of people — is to move things along and cut people off.”
98.5 The Sports Hub morning show Toucher & Rich has frequently pointed out the absurdity of callers into The Paul Finebaum Show. Thursday morning, the Boston show welcomed in the southern college football host to discuss what makes his show tick.
“I can’t tell you how big a thrill this is for me, because I didn’t realize how funny our show was until I started listening to you guys,” Finebaum joked.
“Part of the brilliance of your show is you just let these people go,” Fred Toucher said. “For those that don’t know, the instinct in what you’re actually taught in radio — and not to the benefit of people — is to move things along and cut people off. At what point did you realize ‘I’m just gonna let these dudes talk and see where they take it’?”
“I listened to all these radio goobs — I mean all these people in the corner office — tell us how to do it and I realized I can’t do that. I didn’t have the radio voice, I didn’t have the style, I didn’t have the energy. So I just sat there and literally listened to callers ramble on and I started to find the humor in it.
“It hit me one day that these people don’t have a voice,” Finebaum continued. “Especially in the south where we don’t have six or seven professional sports franchises. Callers started becoming famous and becoming a part of the show. We started having lunches with them for Christmas and various other things and days and I think we realized what we had and we made the most of it. Some of these callers really defy logic. I think I’ve given four or five eulogies at various callers funerals and I think that there’s a connection there.”
Finebaum then mentioned one of his more notorious callers, Legend. The caller actually spent more than 20 years in prison after shooting someone six times. Toucher said Legend has actually called into their show but they have never taken his call.
“We don’t take Legend because we’re not gonna do as good a job with him,” Toucher said. “I told our producer, I do not want to take Legend.”
“Paul’s a master with him,” Rich Shertenlieb added.
Gregg Giannotti: CBS Won’t Show Deshaun Watson Accusers Sunday
“I think people know what’s going on. You’re not gonna show them and start trashing them on the broadcast.”
Quarterback Deshaun Watson is set to make his 2022 season debut against his former team on Sunday following an 11-game suspension. Watson has been accused of sexual misconduct, and 10 of the women who believe the now-Cleveland Browns QB preyed upon them are planning to attend the game in Houston. On Boomer & Gio on WFAN on Wednesday, co-host Gregg Giannotti had a thought on CBS cameras dedicating a snippet of the game broadcast to showing the women in attendance.
“I wonder does like the broadcast show them?” Gio asked to co-host Boomer Esiason. “Are you guys gonna have to talk about that on The NFL Today?”
“I have no idea,” Esiason responded. Boomer explained that they hadn’t had their production meeting for this week’s show, but he felt like beyond that he and Gio had already discussed the Watson situation at great length.
Still, Gio said if he were in charge of the CBS broadcast, he would find a way to show the alleged victims’ faces.
“I mean you could show them and explain the situation,” he said. “I think people know what’s going on. You’re not gonna show them and start trashing them on the broadcast.”
Once the 2022 NFL season started, and Watson accepted the suspension and began going through the various processes he needed to go through in order to be reinstated, the focus shifted away from the story. But Gio added that now that Watson is ready to play, the story gets thrust back into the limelight.
“Nobody was talking about it for weeks and weeks and weeks, and now he’s back,” he said. “And now it’s back.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He works full-time as a multimedia specialist at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, while also putting in part-time work for News Radio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond. Additionally, you can find Jordan contributing coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and ABC 8News. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
98.7 ESPN New York Shuffles Lineup, DiPietro & Rothenberg Expanding To Four Hours
DiPietro & Rothenberg will now move to 6:00-10:00 AM to compete directly with WFAN morning show Boomer & Gio.
Andrew Marchand and Ryan Glasspiegel of The New York Post reported yesterday and ESPN has since confirmed that 98.7 ESPN New York is expanding its local programming. The station’s morning show DiPietro & Rothenberg will increase to four hours as part of a revamped daily lineup which will go into effect on January 3rd.
DiPietro & Rothenberg currently airs on the station from 5a-8a while ESPN Radio’s national morning show — Keyshawn, JWill, & Max — airs from 8a-10a. By extending the local show, 98.7 ESPN New York will now look to compete locally in all four hours with WFAN’s Boomer & Gio.
Vinny DiMarco, market manager, ESPN New York said, “Our fans will have the opportunity to listen to local coverage on 98.7 ESPN FM all throughout the day.” He continued, “Both DiPietro & Rothenberg as well as Bart & Hahn will give fans valuable insight, expertise, and live reaction about all things New York sports. The change also provides more opportunities for our partners to align with the station and achieve their marketing goals and objectives.”
Additionally, ESPN Radio’s Bart & Hahn will move back to 98.7 ESPN New York as an exclusively local show. Bart Scott played a portion of his NFL career for the New York Jets, and worked at both WFAN and 98.7 ESPN New York before the show moved to the national stage. Alan Hahn has spent more than 25 years working in New York media with Newsday, MSG Network, and 98.7 ESPN New York.
“We are always looking for the best ways to serve sports fans and we are excited to bring even more New York flavor and content to local fans throughout their day on 98.7,” said Scott McCarthy, vice president, ESPN Audio. “Expanding DiPietro & Rothenberg in morning drive, being fortunate enough to have Bart & Hahn back as a local New York show, and continuing with all of our other outstanding local shows will create consistency for listeners and give our hosts a greater opportunity to engage with audiences, and each other, on the day’s top stories.”
The local changes do require some additional adjustments on ESPN Radio’s side as well. The national network will install Jason Fitz and Harry Douglas into the newly opened 12p-3p slot. The 7p-9p evening show will now belong to the team of Joe Fortenbaugh and Amber Wilson. They fill the void created by Sarah Spain who recently announced her departure.
Greeny — hosted by Mike Greenberg — will remain in its current 10a-12p timeslot on the station. However, the move to a local morning show on 98.7 ESPN New York does raise questions about KJM‘s future on ESPN Radio.
The Michael Kay Show, and the station’s other local programs hosted by Dan Graca, Larry Hardesty and Gordon Damer all remained unchanged.