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Bensinger’s In-Depth Rolls On

Jason Barrett

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St. Louisan Graham Bensinger has begun the fifth season of his nationally syndicated sports interview TV show, and for now can put his monetary worries to rest.

He said “In Depth with Graham Bensinger” has stabilized financially after some rough times last year, when he greatly expanded the operation by adding staff and affiliates. That came after he was a one-man show in the early days, when he not only was conducting the interviews but also was selling advertising and lining up outlets to carry the program plus booking travel and guests. Now he has nine full-time staffers.

“Everything’s going in the right direction,’’ he said Thursday. “It’s been a bit of a battle. There’s been financial pressure in growing it.”

That sounds like an understatement. Bensinger, 28, said after making a small profit the first three seasons when the show was on a smaller scale, last year was a loser. That’s when he syndicated the show, which had been on cable and the internet, to over-the-air stations across the country.

It was a big risk.

Last year he said he funded the expanded business with “the money I had made to that point plus my life savings. I said, ‘What the hell, I want to give this a shot.’’’

A long shot?

“Without a doubt this past year has been the toughest of my life,’’ he said. “I don’t think I ever realized how much the financial pressure would impact me. I’d go to bed thinking about it, get up thinking about it. That was pretty much the life I lived the last year.

“It was entirely self induced. I made the decision to invest every last dollar I could into the show, whether it be in production quality or hiring additional people. I believe that was necessary to grow it. If I had reined it in slightly, there wouldn’t have been the financial pressure. But looking back, I’m glad I made the decisions I made. But it definitely taught me a valuable lesson in that I never want to have to go through that again.”

He was on vacation with his parents this summer when he finalized a sponsorship deal that would not only put him into the black for the coming season, but assure that he also would cover last season’s losses. It was an emotional experience.

“Never in a million years would I have expected this reaction, but I just went down to tell my mom and burst out crying because it’s just been a long path to get to this place,’’ Bensinger said.

He is in a more prominent time slot locally this season, at 10:35 p.m. Sundays on KTVI (Channel 2) after being on at 6:30 a.m. Saturdays last year.

Basketball personality Charles Barkley was the subject last week in the season debut of the half-hour program, with tennis’ Caroline Wozniacki the focus this week. Among topics she discusses is golfer Rory McIIroy recently breaking off their engagement. Football’s Emmitt Smith and Ray Lewis follow next.

It’s been a prominent — albeit different — path for Bensinger, who at one time seemed to be gliding on the fast track to a network reporter’s role. At age 19, he scored a big interview for ESPN with receiver Terrell Owens, who in the conversation talked his way out of a job with the Philadelphia Eagles. He also did other reports for the network.

But he always had wanted to try to make his mark on his own, not by working for someone else.

“Had I looked for an opportunity where I would have been employed by a media outlet, it would have been more financially lucrative the past several years,’’ he said. “So it has been exciting to get (the show) to the place where it is now.

“It’s still far and away the most satisfying work I’ve ever done. In prior roles, I’d only conduct an interview or book an interview. Now I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in every facet of building this.”

And there is a key bottom line.

“It’s exciting that there’s no longer the day-to-day financial pressure that there has been in the past,’’ he said. “It’s been a long five years.”

For more, read Dan Caesar’s column at STL Today where this was originally published

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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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Steve ‘Sparky’ Fifer to Host Daily Show on 1250 The Fan in Milwaukee

“I’m super excited to be hosting ‘Wisconsin Sports Daily,’ and I can’t wait to talk about our favorite sports teams with our loyal listeners.”

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Logo of 1250 The Fan in Milwaukee

Steve ‘Sparky’ Fifer will host a new local weekday afternoon show on 1250 The Fan in Milwaukee station owner Audacy announced today. Wisconsin Sports Daily will air weekdays from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. CT beginning April 15. 

“I’m super excited to be hosting ‘Wisconsin Sports Daily,’ and I can’t wait to talk about our favorite sports teams with our loyal listeners,” said Fifer. “The opportunity to host great guests to add to our conversations is a plus. Let’s bring some passion back into sports talk radio in Milwaukee!”

As the first daily show since August 2022, “Wisconsin Sports Daily” will fill weekdays with discussions about Milwaukee sports, guest interviews and interactions between Fifer and his listeners.

Fifer is also the Assistant Program Director for the station and covers the Milwaukee Bucks, Green Bay Packers and Professional Bowlers Association . He has been with the station since its start in January 2005. He also helps run Audacy’s BetQL Network in other markets.

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Dan Le Batard: Stugotz Turned Down WFAN Because “He Didn’t Want to Work That Hard”

“It would have been interesting. It would have been different.”

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Stugotz
Courtesy: Meadowlark Media

Two weeks ago, WFAN host Gregg Giannotti hinted there was a “bombshell candidate” in the search for a new program director. Today, we learned officially that candidate was Jon Weiner, aka Stugotz from The Dan Le Batard Show, and he will not be taking the position.

“We talked about the bombshell program director candidate a couple of weeks ago,” Giannotti said this morning on Boomer & Gio. “Well, I can report a couple of things…The process is not over…The bombshell of the world is out…There was mutual interest on both sides, there was a lot of discussions back and forth, they really tried to make it work, creative ways to see if it could happen, it just ultimately in the end did not happen…I do know it did not work out and there is one less candidate. So now the focus has gone from bombshell to more mainstream [candidates].

“I can’t answer many questions about it…but as of right now I can only say, this is the bombshell candidate, and he is now out and his name is Stugotz. Jon Weiner was the bombshell candidate, and he loves this place, and they had a lot of discussions…but he is now out. There was a point I thought it was going to happen.”

Dan Le Batard also discussed the topic on his show this morning and made his listeners and some of his staff aware of how qualified Stugotz was for the job.

“The industry Stugotz helped build should feel flattered that he would entertain the idea of coming back to be a power broker, lazy and fat and comfortable. Boomer Esiason just got done telling Stugotz that now, unfortunately they are going to have a professional environment.

“Stugotz kind of helped invent the revolution of sports radio in Miami. Where Miami had been doing sports radio the way New York did it and Stugotz hired a whole bunch of young people and created a radio station that was doing it different entirely than the generation of people who were doing it all over the country.”

“I remember thinking to myself ‘there has to be a younger, hipper, cooler way of doing this in Miami,'” Stugotz said.

“I hope New York radio is flattered that someone who helped shape and shake this industry was willing to consider it at 50, but he didn’t want to work that hard,” Le Batard said.

“Well, that hard for that amount of money,” Stugotz replied.

So, the search continues to find the replacement for Spike Eskin who will soon be headed back to Philadelphia. Giannotti said a few weeks ago he believes Spike Eskin’s contract expires with WFAN on June 20th.

In mid-December it was announced Eskin would return to SportsRadio 94WIP in Philadelphia as afternoon drive co-host. Eskin will leave his current position, which he has held since July, 2021. At the time of that announcement, it was said Eskin would return to the WIP airwaves, on a full-time basis, once his successor at WFAN and CBS Sports Radio has been found.

As for the what if of Stugotz having taken the job, Giannotti said, “It would have been interesting. It would have been different.”

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