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Lance Zierlein – SportsTalk 790

Jason Barrett

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In the city of Houston there certainly isn’t a problem when it comes to finding an entertaining sports morning show to listen to. “The Proper Gentlemen of Sports” features Lance Zierlein and Adam Clanton and together they’ve been patrolling the airwaves of SportsTalk 790 since August 2013. In less than 1 year the show has experienced strong ratings growth including holding the #1 spot during the February 2014 book. For Zierlein it was the 4th time in his career that he’s had the highest rated morning show in the Houston market, a feat even more impressive when you take into account that he’s done it at 3 different stations.

When I’ve listened to Lance in the past there were a number of things that stood out that I believe make him successful at what he does. First and foremost, he’s got a passion and understanding of the NFL that’s impossible to ignore. Having grown up in a football family with a father who’s coached for over 30 seasons in college and the NFL, it’s easy to see why football is a big part of his life and a strong focus on his show. Read his website The Sideline View and you’ll see just how much time and effort he puts into studying the pro and college game. Now combine that football obsession with a fan base which cares deeply about the Houston Texans and you’ve got a winning combination.

lancez3Secondly, his quick wit and ability to be a natural smart ass makes listeners react both positively and negatively and that shows an ability to stir emotions and connect with an audience. On one particular day I listened in as Lance and Adam presented what they titled “The PGS Programming Survey” where listeners could call up and discuss what they loved or hated about the show and sports talk radio and after hearing one caller explain how he wanted less entertainment on the show and more “hot takes”, Lance and Adam instantly flipped the switch and turned into wide world of sports-like anchors delivering a very old-school style presentation that would bore today’s audience to tears. It was laugh out loud funny and it’s that type of quick thinking and ability to have fun on the air that keeps Lance’s audience engaged and curious. To hear it click here.

Last but not least, Lance is not afraid to take a stand and deliver some riveting rants (click here for his passionate rant last season on the Texans) yet he’s also quick to feed off the energy of the room and break into one of his many known characters and leave the room in stitches. His impressions of Jon Gruden, Wade Phillips and Phillip Rivers are outstanding and he’s also a master at creating characters such as the SEC guy and Communist News Network Spokesperson among others. Check out this video and you’ll get a better idea of how Lance brings his Wade Phillips impersonation into the on-air discussion.

I had the pleasure recently of reconnecting with Lance and we discussed his approach to entertaining, how he determines what’s most important to his audience and some areas of his game that he believes can still get better. Enjoy!

Q: If I asked a Houston sports radio listener to sum up the “Proper Gentlemen of Sports” by using 3 buzz words what would they be?

A: Entertaining, Energetic and Unique

pgs2Q: How do you determine which content gets featured the most on the show? Is there any research you use that supports why you go in a certain direction?

A: We visit with our PD and he’s able to monitor which show topics hit nerves with listeners through our PPM trends. By tracking individual shows – especially the ones that have seen spikes – we’re able to trust in the data and have a greater understanding of what hits with listeners in terms of “A” topics. As for the “B” topics – which are often the differentiators in ratings success if you do those topics well, they come from show prep on a variety of non-mainstream sites (Deadspin, Big Lead, etc.) and they’ll make their way onto the show when things start slowing down.

Q: When you listen to other local or national sports radio shows what draws you in and what sends you away?

A: What draws me in is spirited debate between the hosts or topics/angles that are unique. What drives me away is mindless topics that make me feel like the hosts are putting it on cruise control or when hosts have bad chemistry. If what I hear on the radio doesn’t sound like a conversation or banter I might hear between two or three people in a sports bar or sitting on a couch in someone’s living room, then I probably won’t stay for very long.

lancezQ: What is the most difficult part of your job?

A: I think one of the most difficult issues that I deal with is remembering that topics aren’t old to listeners just because I’m getting bored with them. Listeners are joining my show for the first time that day throughout the morning so staying disciplined and making sure to continue to hit the primary topics is something that can still be difficult. If I’m getting bored with a topic, I have to be able to either find a new angle to the topic, or come up with a segment that allows me to have fun and be creative before getting back to headliners. It’s like having my own recess but in the middle of a segment.

Q: How often do aircheck yourself or listen to audio with your PD or show unit?

A: I don’t aircheck myself as often as I used to. When my PD airchecks us after the show, it is usually not a good thing because that means he’s getting ready to make a point. I think airchecks are essential in the formative years for a host and they were very helpful for me at that time. To be honest, I should probably do it more often than I do right now.

Q: Over the years you’ve developed a ton of characters and included them in your show and they seem to have connected well with your audience. What is the hardest part about creating a character and what advice would you give to someone who’s trying to add that type of creativity and fun into their show?

A: The hardest part about creating a character is finding the right voice and personality for the character that will allow the character to become memorable for listeners. I also feel like it is important to create quirky characters with over-the-top personality traits so that layers can be added to the character and storylines can be fleshed out. When listeners feel like they are “in on” the bits, they become more loyal listeners. These characters become something they can share with their friends either over the phone (‘hey did you hear what happened on the show today?’) or via podcast links.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjf_skDzbmA

Q: How often do you involve characters in your show and how do you decide what’s enough, not enough and/or too much on the show?

A: I like to let the character involvement happen organically. I don’t like to be forced into doing the characters or I feel like it becomes more forced than fun. I will be doing SEC Guy or Gruden or Philip Rivers during the football season but will only bring them out on rare occasions outside of football.  Often, I will just see an opening for a character to call in and I will literally dial the hotline on my cell phone as I’m leaving the studio towards the hall. I’ll conduct my call from the hall and then hang up and jump back onto the show. Program directors and other hosts have wanted me to do these character much more frequently but I try to be cognizant of not doing them to death and over-saturating the listener.

lancez2Q: Having ascended to #1 in the ratings in your time slot, what are you doing different today then you were doing 5 years earlier that’s helped you have success?

A: I was #1 in my time slot five years earlier at another station so I will change the question. What am I doing differently now than two years ago? I would say the key to my ratings re-emergence has been getting back to doing unpredictable, entertaining radio. There is an artificial ceiling on shows that follow the same script and formula each day. Once I decided to take the lead and trust my own instincts and talent rather than trying to just blend in and do what others were doing, it all clicked for me once again. Your advice to take the lead played a big role in the way I started approaching the show. I’ve always done fun, memorable shows that rated well but I got into a funk for about 3 years and was being bounced from show to show and I’m finally locking in on doing what I do best once again.

Q: Having established a strong brand in your market, which area of your game do you believe still needs improvement and how can your PD, Producer and Co-Host help you in the process?

A: There is no question that my interviewing skills need so much more work despite the time I’ve put in on the radio. I can ask good questions and I can transition from topic to topic effectively with a guest but I take entirely too long to ask the questions sometimes. The best way a PD could help me is to simply pull an aircheck of when he hears me going long with questions.

To learn more about Lance’s morning show on SportsTalk 790 in Houston click here. You can also discover more information about Lance himself by checking out his website The Sideline View or by reading up on his wikipedia page. 

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Tom Crean Added to SiriusXM NBA Draft Coverage

The former Marquette, Indiana, and Georgia men’s basketball coach will co-host SiriusXM’s NBA Draft Preview Show, alongside Eddie Johnson and Justin Termine.

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NBA Draft logo, SiriusXM logo and a photo of Tom Crean

The 78th edition of the NBA Draft will be the first to be held over two days. The first round will take place on Wednesday June 26 and will be followed by the second round on Thursday June 27. The draft will be held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. SiriusXM will provide full coverage on SiriusXM NBA Radio channel 86, and they have announced Tom Crean will take part in a preview show prior to each round.

The former Marquette, Indiana, and Georgia men’s basketball coach will co-host SiriusXM’s NBA Draft Preview Show, alongside Eddie Johnson and Justin Termine, on Tuesday, June 25 on Wednesday, June 26 prior to Round 1 at 4 p.m. ET, and on Thursday, June 27, prior to Round 2 at 2 p.m. ET.

Crean returned to ESPN as a college basketball analyst in December 2022 after having worked for them previously during the 2017-2018 season. Crean was fired after four seasons at Georgia, prior to his ESPN return.

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Dan Woike: ‘I Can’t Imagine’ JJ Redick and LeBron James Podcast Will Continue

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JJ Redick
Courtesy: Phil Ellsworth, ESPN Images

Following the conclusion of the 2024 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks, JJ Redick has reportedly agreed to a contract to serve as the next head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. Redick, who recently broadcast the best-of-seven series for ESPN on ABC with play-by-play announcer Mike Breen, analyst Doris Burke and reporter Lisa Salters, is reportedly in the process of compiling his coaching staff for his first season leading the Lakers. Although Redick does not have any NBA coaching experience, he played 15 seasons in the league with six teams and has been an analyst for ESPN over parts of the last four years. Outside of his work with ESPN, Redick also built his ThreeFourTwo Productions company and co-hosted The Old Man and the Three podcast.

This past March, Redick launched a new podcast with Lakers forward and four-time NBA champion LeBron James titled Mind the Game. Episodes of the show contained nuanced basketball discussions that some people feel gave Redick an inherent edge in the head coaching search. Dan Patrick recently had Dan Woike, Lakers beat writer for the Los Angeles Times, on his program, the Dan Patrick Show, and asked about the future of the podcast with James.

“I can’t imagine it’s going to continue,” Woike said. “Sad, right? We might get a season finale episode…. Who knows what’s going to happen here.”

Woike spoke about Redick’s eclectic interests that include basketball, broadcasting, golf, wine and fancy suits. Part of this transition that Woike will be watching is how Redick makes the adjustments and focuses the energy that he has. The organization, he stated, is not hiring a podcaster and believes that Redick has an aptitude and shrewdness towards basketball and is serious about the endeavor. While Redick and James have a good relationship with strong rapport, it is relatively new and something Woike perceives as critical to everything going on. Nonetheless, he does not think they can continue the show because it would be an “unnecessary distraction” to the team.

“They’re paying him to coach, they’re not paying him to podcast,” Woike said. “His divestment from his podcast empire is sort of an interesting media side-note to this to see kind of how much he steps back and kind of what happens to it because it’s been really successful for him.”

Rather than asking him another question, Patrick presented Woike with a sentence and asked him to complete it. The statement was, “If he doesn’t have the podcast with LeBron…,” and Woike proceeded to outline that the Lakers would then have more questions about his ability to coach James. Patrick then immediately followed up by asking if he still would have landed the Lakers’ head coaching job if he did not have the podcast, to which Woike replied that he believed it would still be possible. Former Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski was reportedly advising the organization throughout its head coaching search, and Redick previously played for him at the university.

Woike referenced a specific clip from the podcast in which Redick and James were discussing analytics and three-point shooting. At one point, James pushed back against the analytics by asking what would happen if a team missed 27 straight three-point shots, as the Houston Rockets did in Game 7 of the 2018 Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors. Redick quickly replied by asking if it had happened since, leading James to admit that he was right.

“Now how that plays in the locker room at halftime when you’re down 17 to the Charlotte Hornets and everybody’s tired, who knows,” Woike said. “That is a huge question, but I think, to be quite fair, there was going to be elements of question with that with Dan Hurley too.”

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ESPN LA 710 Announces New Fall Lineup

This follows announcements made earlier in the week which saw play-by-play partnerships added with USC and the LA Kings and a new contract for afternoon show co-host Scott Kaplan.

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Logo for ESPN LA 710 and a graphic for their new fall lineup
Graphic Courtesy: ESPN LA 710

ESPN LA 710 announced more news today, introducing a new lineup which will start on Monday, September 9. This follows announcements made earlier in the week which saw play-by-play partnerships added with USC and the LA Kings and a new contract for afternoon show co-host Scott Kaplan.

The new lineup will see morning drive start with Mike Greenberg’s Greeny , followed by Travis Rodgers and Allen Sliwa moving back an hour to start at 9a PT. Steve Mason and John Ireland will then air from 12p to 3p PT followed by the afternoon team of Jorge Sedano and Scott Kaplan moving to 3p-6p PT.

In addition to USC and the Kings, the station has play-by-play agreements with the Lakers, the Rams, the Angels and LAFC.

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