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Shan Shariff – 105.3 The Fan

Jason Barrett

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Shan Shariff can be described as many things on the air. He can be sarcastic, funny, opinionated, creative and downright ballsy. I remember having a conversation with sports agent Craig Fenech once about Shan and he told me “this guy had the balls to pick up Mark Cuban’s tab at a restaurant“. When I asked Shan about it, he confirmed that it happened but said that he got lucky because Cuban that day had only ordered a chicken salad.

What I remember liking about that story was that this was relatively a short time after Shan had arrived in Dallas and I thought to myself “what better way to show that you’re determined to stand out in a new market than to get the attention of the Mavericks billionaire owner“.

shariff8While that story certainly got my attention, I was already familiar with Shan’s work. Prior to moving to Dallas, Shan worked for 610 Sports in Kansas City and local ESPN Radio affiliate in Maryland. I remember hearing his work for the first time courtesy of Jon Chelesnik at STAA Talent while Shan was in Maryland and when I listened to him I thought he was unique which was a good thing. There was a lot to like in the original presentation even though he was still a little green.

Shan’s profile would start to become more familiar to people in the sports radio industry when he landed a weekend slot with 106.7 The Fan. I remember David Brody of BMS calling me around that time to once again put him on my radar but I was in St. Louis and didn’t have a need so we agreed to keep in touch if things were to change in the future.

Shariff12As luck would have it, an opening would pop open in Kansas City and Shan’s work was recognized by Program Director Ryan Maguire who would hire him to host a 2-hour midday show for the radio station. From there, Shan’s career started to take off. He spent the next year working for 610 where he’d fine tune his craft, become more polished and start to gain some ratings traction and his hard work and success would draw the attention of Bruce Gilbert in Dallas who would make the decision to hire Shan and bring his “New School” style to Dallas where he’d team up with RJ Choppy for 105.3 The Fan.

Interesting enough, at the time when he was being hired in Dallas, I had a spot open up in St. Louis and I had contacted David Brody after listening to a few days of Shan’s shows in Kansas City. I told David I wanted to know a little more about Shan’s status but was told “I wish I could tell you but I can’t do that right now“.

David and I have known each other a long time and he’s been a great guy to network with so I knew this meant he had something bigger brewing for Shan which I was glad to hear. A few days later the news would come out that Shan was off to Dallas and he hasn’t slowed down since arriving on the scene in March of 2011.

shariff14Today when I listen to Shan’s show, I find it to be very entertaining, fast paced and built for Men 18-44. It has an element of unpredictability which I like and I think that’s important especially during morning drive. When you take into account that there are three competitive sports radio stations battling for every quarter hour of listening in the Dallas market, shows need to be unique to the local audience and Shan and RJ have found their place in the overall mix.

Aside from what you hear on the air, Shan is one of the most active personalities in the entire sports radio industry on social media. You may not listen to his show in Dallas if you live out of the market but if you follow him on Twitter you feel like you know everything that’s happening with the program. From morning to evening, he’s always engaging with his fans and that accessibility and willingness to interact is a big reason in my opinion while he’s built up great support for what he does.

I exchanged a few messages with Shan to get a sense of how he has approached blending into new markets, why he’s so active on social media, the competitive landscape of Dallas sports radio and what he believes is important in executing a 4-hour morning show and I think you’ll enjoy the results of that conversation.

shariff13Q: How did you get started in sports talk radio?

A: After college, I scalped a ticket to the Spurs-Nets NBA finals and recorded play-by-play on a mini-recorder. A buddy of mine who worked at a Baltimore television station was able to sync up my audio with the television broadcast and I had my VHS resume tape. The program director in my hometown of Cambridge, MD was impressed (with the editing more than anything) and hired me to host a three hour daily show on their ESPN affiliate.

Q: Who are some of your influences that got you interested in pursuing a sports broadcasting career?

A: Dan Patrick, Marv Albert, Dick Enberg, Colin Cowherd.

shariff15Q: After starting your career in Maryland, you left for Kansas City to host mid-days for 610 Sports. How difficult was it to enter the market as an outsider and attempt to win people over? How did you approach the situation to show people you were invested in the things they cared about?

A: It was a challenge at first, but I think the audience realized I could bring an objective view of their favorite teams. It would have been MUCH different if I was a Raiders fan in Chiefs territory, but they weren’t offended by my Redskins love.

The way I showed people I was invested was to work and prepare. I had to quickly learn everything possible about the football and basketball programs at Missouri, Kansas and Kansas State. Once they realized I knew their players and coaches, I think I was accepted.

Q: When you reflect back on your experiences in Kansas City, what stands out as the best and worst part of it?

A: Best part was having early success. My time spent listening was very high and I gained confidence that my style could work in an awesome sports market. Worst part was only having a two hour show.

shariff4Q: Following your stint in KC, you moved to Dallas where you’ve since worked for 2 great programmers (Bruce Gilbert and Gavin Spittle) at 105.3 The Fan. Share one thing they’ve taught you that you use in your approach each day?

A: Bruce preached likability while teaching me everything I know about Arbitron. From setting appointments to resetting, teasing, getting to the point or hooking the listener, Bruce always had new, creative ways to attack the PPM game.

I’ve never been looser as a host than now under Gavin. He encourages fun, lifestyle topics and bits that provide a nice release from hardcore sports during a four and a half hour show. I used to be afraid to do non-sports on a sports show. Gavin changed that way of thinking.

Q: You sang “Hail To The Redskins” to Jerry Jones while hosting your show on the radio home of the Dallas Cowboys. How much flack did you take from the team and your bosses for it? Were you at all worried about losing listeners as a result of cheering for the enemy?

A: There was only once instance where someone from the Cowboys gave me flack for being a Skins fan:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dc-sports-bog/post/dallas-radio-host-plays-hail-to-the-redskins-for-jerry-jones/2012/09/11/f96f48fa-fc41-11e1-a31e-804fccb658f9_blog.html

I never worried about losing listeners when I started because I never want to hide who I am, but I think it was a mistake. I probably overestimated the ability and willingness of some to separate my fandom from the way I covered the Cowboys. I just figured my honesty wouldn’t hurt me in Dallas because it didn’t in KC. Looking back, it probably cost me some listeners the minute I revealed my favorite team.

Shariff5Q: In your market there are 3 strong sports radio stations (The Fan, The Ticket, ESPN 103.3) – how is your show unique vs. your competition? What do you do regularly to stand out?

A: The biggest way I try to gain an advantage on competition is out-working everyone. I know I sleep less and read more than anyone. I always think about our next show and remain obsessed with higher ratings in this market.

I think the biggest difference between us and the competition is pace and energy. We’re never going to be a slow product that feels like it’s dragging. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, texts or taking calls, we interact with our audience more than any show in DFW, it’s not even close.

I also believe we’re more creative topic wise than anyone because we over prepare every single day. The greatest compliment I can get is “I never thought of it that way.”

Q: You currently work with RJ Choppy on a 2-man show but previously the program had a third member (Jasmine Sadry). Which setup do you prefer and how does your approach and preparation change when doing a 3-person show vs. a 2-person show?

A: Bruce Gilbert always wanted two voices to sound like four and four to sound like six. RJ and I have always been the primary voices but we also have producers chime in. It probably took me three years to get comfortable. I had trouble not taking over for three minutes and setting everyone up for air-time. Talking over each other is a turn-off to everyone and that only happens with multiple people in the room.

The positives are different viewpoints, having twice the prep work and it’s nice to regroup during a segment while the other is talking. I would probably prefer a two person show for more air-time but depending on how good the talent and chemistry are, three would also work. Our mid-day show has five voices.

Shariff10Shariff10shariff3Q: When it comes to executing a 4-hour show, how many guests do you like to have on, how many segments involve callers, how many features are included, etc? What’s the right type of balance in your opinion?

A: I would like to have three guests for a four hour show. If the guest list is like Dan Patrick, you can have five a day. I fight the caller debate every year. My recent bosses prefer less calls and more host. Yes, there are some hosts who lazily rely on open phone lines but I believe in empowering the audience.

One of the things I loved about hosting solo was the increased caller segments and interaction with listeners. There will always be calls that suck, but I always thought I could control the quality of them with the topics I set-up and questions I asked. Calls can also make a show sound busy and break up the monotony of a solo program.

Q: You’re on the air for 4.5 hours per day which equals 22.5 hours per week – are there any tricks you use to keep yourself mentally focused and engaged in every segment?

A: With multiple people on the show, I’ve never really had a problem with focus. I think it’s MUCH easier to stay engaged as the quarterback of the show with the additional responsibilities you have. I also take my job very seriously (probably too much), so I’m usually pretty intense while the red light is on.

Shariff6Q: You’re extremely active on social media (one of the busiest in the format). Why do you believe that’s important for an on-air personality?

A: I want the audience to know I’m not too cool for them. I care about what they have to say. I’ll never forget the Twitter joy I had in being followed by Adam Schefter so if I can follow someone back or like their Facebook comment, maybe they’ll appreciate it and be more invested as a listener.

One major thing I think hosts overlook is the brainstorming and topic ideas you can get through social networking. If two heads are better than one, isn’t 14,000 better than two? If a listener comes up with a great topic or sports question, I let them know they’re getting the credit tomorrow morning and hopefully they set the appointment for the tune in!

Q: When it comes to the critiquing process, how do you, RJ, Gavin and your support staff measure whether or not you’re making progress with the show?

A: I’m probably our biggest critic. From Ryan Maguire, Bruce Gilbert, Gavin Spittle and David Brody, I feel like I’ve already worked under some of the best minds in the business and can judge good or bad radio. We also have a daily meeting with Gavin where we review the show.

shariff2Q: You’ve advanced in your career and during the process, have used an agent to assist you. Do you believe an agent is necessary? What is the downside of using representation?

A: I don’t believe an agent is necessary, but there are certainly benefits. I went from Cambridge, MD to Kansas City because my agent had a relationship with the PD. Without that connection, I wouldn’t have been found. I HATE the thought of negotiating so having someone to handle the back and forth is always a relief for me.

The downside is you better hope your agent is respected, competent and gets along with management. The worst part is obviously paying their commission.

Q: For someone who’s considering a career in our industry, what piece of advice would you like to share based on your own experiences that may be helpful to them?

A: Work harder than everyone and be willing to start from the bottom.  I can’t tell you how many kids I’ve seen in Dallas who are unsatisfied and feel held back (AND THEY’RE ON AIR!!!).  They’re unwilling to move and have no idea what it’s like to make $20,000 while calling local little league games five years into your career. Be willing to accept and embrace coaching while reading more and sleeping less than your competition.

Shan Shariff can be heard weekday mornings on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. To learn more about his show click here. You can also follow Shan on Twitter by clicking here.

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Jeremy Conn: “How Pissed Would You Be if You Didn’t Have Apple Tonight?”

“It’s just this is how it’s going to be moving forward. If you don’t get in line and adjust to it, you’re going to be left out.”

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Graphic for the Big Bad Morning Show

The Big Bad Morning Show, featuring Rob Long, Ed Norris and Jeremy Conn, on 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore this morning discussed the upcoming home debut of No. 1 baseball prospect Jackson Holliday. That game will take place tonight, however, for those who cannot make it to the game, they will need Apple TV+ in order to view it.

Host Rob Long said, “I am going to see it because I am going to be there live, but some aren’t going to be able to see it because it is on Apple TV+ tonight instead of on MASN. This is not an Orioles thing folks. This is Major League Baseball. Are they making a mistake with these Apple and Peacock games?”

Co-host Ed Norris said, “I don’t know if they are making a mistake, it’s just the way we live now, it’s the way it is done. I don’t think so because I think by now people have gotten very used to this.”

Jeremy Conn added, “No they are not making a mistake, this is the money-making part of this business, and this is what’s going to keep happening across sports. It’s here guys and it’s either adjust or get left behind. “I’m sorry, I’m not even trying to be rude to people that can’t afford these things. It’s just this is how it’s going to be moving forward. If you don’t get in line and adjust to it, you’re going to be left out.

“It sucks for everyone out there who can’t afford those things and can’t do it, but there’s a reason why Apple is paying so much money to have these games, because people are going to subscribe to watch.”

Rob Long pointed out some statistics showing 4 of the top 10 and 10 of the top 25 shows were carried by networks which exclusively stream. “If these shows are so popular, who doesn’t have streaming?” he said.

Conn then used tonight’s Orioles game as the example of times when we will see people very upset with Major League Baseball even though it is one game out of 162 regular season games the Orioles will play this year. “I’m not trying to be a jerk by saying either get in line or get left behind, because that’s what happening,” said Conn. “…You’ll still be able to see some baseball games…a lot of them…but how pissed would you be…if you didn’t have Apple tonight to watch this?”

The hosts talked about baseball needing to attract the younger audience and pointed out that streaming platforms is where those younger fans can be reached. They also wondered why more heat isn’t thrown at the NFL, where one or two games carried exclusively by a streamer is a much higher percentage of a team’s games than if baseball does the same

Ed Norris added, “The NFL has paved the way for this so people are used to it. I think it sucks a little more in baseball because there’s so many games. I don’t want to have to chase the team all over…if it’s going to be on Apple and Peacock and Prime, I don’t want to be purchasing all of these.”

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Spike Eskin: Chris Oliviero ‘On the Precipice’ of Deciding Next WFAN Program Director

“For the sake of the place and you guys, he should know that it’s not just lunacy here every day.”

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Spike Eskin

Audacy is in the midst of its search for a new program director for WFAN, borne out of Spike Eskin returning to SportsRadio 94WIP to serve as an afternoon drive co-host. It was revealed on Thursday that Jon “Stugotz” Weiner, member of The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz and various other programs through Meadowlark Media, was offered the position but ultimately turned it down.

Weiner called into the Boomer & Gio morning show on Thursday to explain his rationale, citing his family and desire to take the air as part of the reasons why he decided to decline the opportunity. Eskin himself joined the morning show live in the studio on Friday while wearing an Iron Maiden T-shirt, prompting speculation as to whether or not it was his last day on the job.

Eskin confirmed that he would be at the station next week, but he did acknowledge that his tenure at the outlet is coming to a close. Morning program co-host Gregg Giannotti explained that whenever he was asked when Eskin was leaving the station, he told people that it would be when he wore the Iron Maiden T-shirt. Giannotti then wanted to know if Eskin wearing the T-shirt was a ceremonial selection ahead of his final days at the station.

“I felt like a Friday shirt – maybe not ceremonial, but certainly on the precipice of – as you were talking to Stugotz yesterday, obviously Chris is on the precipice of deciding who the next program director will be,” Eskin said.

Eskin went on to explain that he understood the upside of deciding to hire Weiner to take over the responsibilities of program director. Morning co-host Boomer Esiason then reflected on when Eskin was hired for the job last May, explaining that he did not initially know that much about him within the sports media industry.

“I took one look at you and thought you were some sort of meth addict because all the [tattoos] and all that stuff, but it turned out that you were actually a great guy and you turned out to be [a] really, really great program director and got this whole station back on track, I believe,” Esiason said. “A big part of Boomer & Gio Live, which has been great, and now I hear that they got Mark Chernoff possibly coming back in – is he going to fill in until the new guy is hired or a new person is hired?”

“I do not comment on any of those,” Eskin said. “That is for the Architect to comment on.”

Audacy has yet to announce a new hire to fill Eskin’s position with the company, but Giannotti felt that the process is taking longer than anyone expected. As a result, he perceived that Audacy New York market manager Chris Oliviero may have felt bad about that and wanted to get him to Philadelphia rather than having him train the new hire. Eskin, however, said that he will be able to assist the new hire nonetheless and help them become familiar with the outlet. From there, he commented on Weiner saying that Eskin did not make the program director job sound more attractive, a proposition with which he disagreed.

“I told him it was the best programming job in America without question… and I said it’s a lot of fun, but I assured him it is an actual job that has emails and meetings and salespeople and all of those things,” Eskin said. “For the sake of the place and you guys, he should know that it’s not just lunacy here every day.”

Esiason reflected on a caller from the Thursday show who stated that Weiner is lazy, meaning that he would be unable to assume the position Eskin is leaving behind. Eskin responded by yielding that it would be a difficult job for a lazy person to adequately perform. From there, Giannotti repeated the syllogism explained by Weiner that he was unsure if he would be able to resist finding a spot on the air if he were to have programming responsibilities at the outlet.

“I talked to Stugotz for a while, [and] I reported back to Chris [Oliviero] what I thought, and I was positive about the conversation,” Eskin articulated. “I said, ‘One thing I am thinking though,’ I said, ‘You know, I guess it’s possible that he’s just coming here to [wait] for an air job to open up, and then you lose a program director.’”

“It was 100% trojan horse,” Esiason concurred. “Just get in the building and wait until somebody either dies – me – or somebody else is going to leave or say something stupid – Sal [Licata] – on the air.”

Eskin assuaged Esiason’s fears of Audacy hiring someone who is coming to the station not genuinely wanting to perform the programming job, conveying that he did not have anything to worry about. After that, Esiason asked Eskin if he knew who the program director was, to which he replied, “Maybe.” To close the segment, Giannotti outlined the moment that he is eagerly anticipating upon the start of the new vice president of programming.

“Whoever this is, I just can’t wait for this first real ‘has to ask Boomer something’ interaction, because I was talking to Al,” Giannotti explained. “You had been in the business; your father was in the business for a long time. I knew you had – and you had dealt with Angelo Cataldi – I knew you had that in you, so I wasn’t as excited about your first interaction with Boomer as I am this one because whoever this person is is going to have to ask him to do something at some point, and I just can’t wait to see it.”

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Mike Evans: ‘NBA Unplugged’ is ‘Kind of a Rip Off of the Manningcast’

“Guys like Kevin Hart and Cedric, stick to entertaining because you clearly aren’t good basketball fans.”

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Mike Evans
Courtesy: Denver Sports 104.3 The Fan

The Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves took the court on Wednesday night in a matchup between the two top teams in the Western Conference. On the strength of a 41-point game by center and two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokić, the Nuggets secured the 116-107 victory and propelled themselves to the No. 1 seed in the conference. During the preceding game between the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat, ESPN2 broadcast NBA Unplugged with Kevin Hart, a new alternate broadcast that premiered earlier in the season. During the second quarter appearance from Cedric the Entertainer, there was a conversation pertaining to if Jokić should be named the league MVP for the third consecutive year.

Hart stated that the NBA cannot grant Jokić another MVP award, stating that it would not be good for the Association. The conversation continued to see if he would be allowed to win a Finals MVP award should the Nuggets qualify in the final round. Cedric the Entertainer ultimately agreed that Jokić could not garner the MVP and stated that it did not feel like he was having as much of a dominant year. Denver Sports 104.3 The Fan morning program Schlereth and Evans played the audio after reviewing a quote from Nuggets head coach Michael Malone where he expressed that he hoped the national audience would recognize the greatness of the center.

“I get a little pissy about people out there in the NBA universe who just refuse to acknowledge what’s so obvious in front of us,” co-host Mike Evans said to lead into the sound. “During the Dallas game that was broadcast earlier in the night, their NBA Unplugged, it’s kind of a rip-off of the whole Manningcast, they had Kevin Hart and Cedric the Entertainer on chopping it up about basketball; a couple of basketball experts.”

Evans went on to explain that he believes there are four reasons why people diminish Jokić and his ability to earn a third-consecutive NBA MVP award. The first of which is that he plays in a small marketplace, something that could have precipitated the comment from Nuggets head coach Michael Malone during his postgame press conference.

“I do think that if Nikola Jokić was doing what he’s been doing the last several years – if he was doing it in Boston, New York, Chicago, Philly, LA – it’d be a completely different narrative around him,” Evans said. “That’s one – Denver, sorry, just being honest.”

The second point Evans made pertained to Jokić’s style of play, much of which comes under the rim and involves setting up his teammates. Jokić is a skilled mid-range and three-point shooter as well, but he tends not to have jaw-dropping plays in this regard. As a result, Evans stated that he is not a dream for someone trying to compile a highlight package for an ESPN program. The latter two points related to the fact that he is European and white, and Evans proceeded to explain that there is prejudice, bigotry and racism in the world.

“The only guys who don’t say he’s the best player in the NBA that are NBA players are former NBA players,” co-host Mark Schlereth added. “Have you noticed that?”

In response to Schlereth, Evans stated that former point guard Gilbert Arenas has been vocal about Jokić lately, but that people who are still playing or recently retired recognize and acknowledge the prowess of the Nuggets center. He then concluded the segment by thanking Jokić for continuing to drive people crazy, but not before he delivered a parting message to Kevin Hart and Cedric the Entertainer. In fact, he began to refer to Cedric the Entertainer as “Cedric” because of what he had to say during his NBA Unplugged appearance.

“Guys like Kevin Hart and Cedric, stick to entertaining because you clearly aren’t good basketball fans,” Evans said.

ESPN, Hartbeat and Omaha Productions announced in December that NBA Unplugged with Kevin Hart was scheduled to broadcast seven episodes during the NBA season. Earlier this week, ESPN and Omaha Productions agreed to a nine-year media rights extension, extending their partnership which has included alternate broadcasts, original podcasts and content exclusive to ESPN+ since beginning their collaboration a few years prior.

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