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Jersey Sports Rant Debuts Monday

Jason Barrett

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New Jersey-centric sports talk is coming to MyCentralJersey.com.

Gannett is launching the Jersey Sports Rant with Joey Wahler this Monday. The fast-paced and interactive online video show, which aims to fill the void left by New York- and Philadelphia-based sports talk, will stream live Monday through Thursday from 6:30 to 7 p.m.

A nine-time New York Emmy Award nominee and veteran voice on WFAN and CBS Sports Radio in New York, Wahler notes that Garden State sports topics rarely are discussed in the current sports talk landscape and reaction to the new venture has been positive.

“New Jerseyans feel they’ll finally have a sports talk show to call their own,” Wahler said. “From fans I’ve spoken to, to those working and competing in the state’s sports community, people are looking forward to being part of it.”

This show will shine the spotlight on Garden State-based sports franchises, like Rutgers football and the New Jersey Devils, as well as other professional, collegiate and high school topics from around the state.

Wahler will be the on-camera host, leading the festivities from the heart of the new Asbury Park Press newsroom in Neptune.

“Sure, we’ll cover the pros and major college sports,” Wahler said. “But no college, or high school, or sport is too small if there’s a compelling story there. And while we’re broadcasting from the Asbury Park Press, we’re striving to have state-wide appeal.”

Guests will include athletes, coaches and personalities from throughout the New Jersey sports scene, as well as Gannett’s sports reporters from its six state newspapers. Guests will appear in-person and by phone, while Wahler will interact live with the audience.

Fans can post questions and comments using a live chat box on the screen during the show, and can post remarks on Twitter and in the chat using #JSRant.

For more on this story visit My Central Jersey where it was originally published

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Merrill Reese: I Treat Every Broadcast Like Its Biggest of My Career

“As a radio broadcaster, you call almost every step and every yard line.”

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Merrill Reese
Courtesy: Philadelphia Eagles

Merrill Reese has been calling games for the Philadelphia Eagles since 1977, and he is in the midst of chronicling what could end up becoming a storybook season for the team. The Eagles are off to a 10-1 start, and many experts around the league surmise that the team could be a favorite to qualify, and ultimately win, Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas.

He recently participated in an interview with Richard Deitsch of The Athletic, during which the venerated radio play-by-play voice was asked if he feels he can still improve as a broadcaster.

Within his answer, he described a book he read about former New York Yankees outfielder Joe DiMaggio, which divulged that “The Yankee Clipper” would feel as nervous before every game as he did during his rookie season in 1936. He can relate to the mindset approaching every game as he prepares to take the air. In fact, he views the weekly matchup as the most important game he has ever done in his career.

“I feel that way about a preseason game or a Super Bowl,” Reese said. “During the summer, I will go through three or four games and jot down notes how I used this word too often or I didn’t pick something up the way I wanted to. I don’t think my voice has changed. My eyesight is very good. I feel great. I’m doing what I’d rather do than anything else in the world.”

Although he had several opportunities to take his talents to the national level, Merrill Reese conveyed that he feels he has been fairly compensated enough not to leave the locale. At the same time, he also understands the unique facets of a radio broadcast that render it compatible with and enjoyable to the listeners.

“I love the fact that radio broadcasting is painting a picture,” Merrill Reese said. “I think the television guys do a great job, but it’s a little bit of a different job where you are captioning the picture. As a radio broadcaster, you call almost every step and every yard line.”

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Damon Bruce After KNBR Cuts: ‘Radio’s Over, It’s Dead’

“A person who’s never listened to a show – not for a single day in their life – some accountant in another city somewhere just saw a number that they drew a red line through.”

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Damon Bruce
Courtesy: Audacy

KNBR in San Francisco recently engaged in a round of layoffs that has affected the on-air lineup. Various on-air hosts from competitor 95.7 The Game addressed the staff cuts both during their programs and in social media posts. Damon Bruce formerly worked for the outlet and was let go as part of a lineup change earlier in the year. Since then, he has hosted his own independent programming distributed via digital platforms and took time to comment on what took place at KNBR, a station he used to work for as a producer.

“I don’t know if there’s a good time to lay anyone off, but just about to get into the month of December in-between the holidays is the biggest dickhead move any corporation can make,” Bruce said, “and you can see that these radio stations are owned by dickhead corporations.”

Bruce listed the employees and areas of the radio station that were affected by the move, including a producer and the outlet’s digital department. In fact, he chided the outlet for eliminating this facet of their coverage, referring to them as “morons” amid an era where digital content has been substantiated and inculcated within various sectors of the industry. For Brian Murphy, in particular, he just lost his morning partner of 18 years, something Bruce affirmed McCaffrey should be saluted for.

“Now I can speak from experience as someone who’s been laid off by a terrible corporation that I guarantee you what happened to Paul McCaffrey is the same thing that happened to me,” Bruce said. “A person who’s never listened to a show – not for a single day in their life – some accountant in another city somewhere just saw a number that they drew a red line through. Goodbye, Paul McCaffrey.”

Since the layoffs were announced, Bruce has reached out to McCaffrey and Santangelo and stated that he planned to put a call into Hammer. Moreover, he spoke with Murphy, who he surmises is going to take a few days to cool down before returning to the station.

A part of the layoffs that particularly bothered Bruce was the end of the 6 to 10 PM timeslot, which he used to host while at the outlet. Within his commentary, he conveyed that if KNBR had found a way to fairly compensate him, he would have remained in the timeslot for 35 to 40 years and been content with his role.

“I love an evening of taking calls and talking to fans and doing interviews and having an entire day of sports to look back on and an entire day of sports to preview,” Bruce said. “I love that timeslot, and it’s gone.”

Bruce is disappointed in the ramifications these layoffs have for the industry as a whole and expressed his concerns over finding the next generation of talent. He did acknowledge, however, that there are a variety of prospective talent hosting programming in the evenings and working to prove themselves. His concern in all of this is where young broadcasters will be able to broadcast on the air due to the elimination of evening and weekend programming.

“If all you’ve got on a radio dial is morning, middays and afternoon drive, those are usually always occupied by experienced people,” Bruce said. “How do you get experience? So we now live in a world where YouTube is going to matter more than ever before to not just up-and-coming broadcasters, but broadcasters that have been disregarded; broadcasters that have been laid off and people who want to do this.”

Within his YouTube segment, Bruce spoke directly to hosts in the San Francisco market from his experience and explained how a round of layoffs from five to eight years ago that let well-compensated professionals let go caused them to be replaced by young, inexperienced decision-makers. Because of the lack of experience and proficiency in the craft, he affirms that the new people in charge do not know what they are doing because they have not done it long enough and are simply focused on profitability and the bottom line.

“Radio’s over; it’s dead,” Bruce said. “And if anyone at 95.7 The Game is listening to me right now, if any remaining host at KNBR is listening to me right now, if any actual radio host is listening to me right now, I’m telling you you get your backup plan ready because that red line is coming for you. And it’s coming for you because there is middle-management corporate bloat that is part of the reason why these stations can’t figure it out.”

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95.7 The Game’s Bonta Hill, Joe Shasky and Matt Nahigian Address KNBR Cuts

Jordan Bondurant

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A photo of Bonta Hill
(Photo: Bonta Hill)

Bay Area sports station KNBR parted ways with several staffers this week including morning show co-host Paul McCaffrey. The departures took many in sports media by surprise, including 95.7 The Game morning host Bonta Hill.

Hill, who worked at KNBR on the Murph and Mac show, felt obligated to discuss McCaffrey’s exit on The Morning Roast on Thursday, offering his condolences.

“Whenever I worked with him on that morning show as a board op or producer, I always left with a smile on my face,” Hill said. “They made me laugh, they treated me right, they taught me the ropes. And when you have an 18-year run together, that is legendary. Legendary.”

“Morning radio, that’s what we grew up on, and he was a pioneer,” Bonta added.

Bonta Hill shared that Mac was one of his favorite people at the station, and that he did and continues to look up to him.

“I just feel bad, man. Christmas is around the corner, and people are losing their jobs,” Hill said. “You never want to see that. You never want to see that, but Paulie Mac, Murph, those guys are one of one. They are. They truly are man.”

“Murph and Mac is the combo in this market in terms of longevity, excellence, what they symbolized with that Giants run and how we gravitated towards them,” co-host Joe Shasky chipped in. “All of my sports radio love came through those guys’ love for each other. And you could feel it.”

95.7 The Game brand manager Matt Nahigian echoed the sentiments from Hill during a video commentary on X. He said despite the two stations being fierce competitors, there’s a mutual respect between leadership, talent and staff.

“I think it’s important to point out that the stations compete against each other hardcore,” Nahigian said. “We want to beat each other every month in the ratings and the whole bit. But all of us for the most part get along really well.”

“KNBR didn’t gloat and celebrate when we made changes in March, and we won’t do that either,” he added. “Onward and upward. Great run by Paulie Mac, Murph and Mac.”

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