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McNeil Ready For a Change

Jason Barrett

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Dan McNeil had a chance to return to his old turf.

WSCR 670 AM called a couple of weeks ago when former Bear Patrick Mannelly decided to walk away from his role as McNeil’s replacement on the midday show.

McNeil listened, but he said his mind already was made up. It was time to head in another direction.

Or as he says, “I knew I was ready for a change in the backdrop.”

Tuesday, it was announced officially McNeil will team with Pete McMurray for a new morning show on “The Drive,” WDRV-FM 97.1. Initially reported by Robert Feder, the pair will replace Steve Downes, who is retiring.

McNeil said the new show, which will begin in early March, will feature “a guy-talk format” on the classic rock station.

“I get excited talking about music and movies,” McNeil said. “You know, the type of stuff guys talk about with their buddies on the golf course. That’s what the show will sound like.”

Of course, there will be sports talk. McNeil figures Bears discussion will be prevalent on Mondays after a game. However, unlike his previous jobs, he won’t be involved in 24/7 chatter about who will fill the Bears’ holes at linebacker.

“We’re not going to ignore what a huge percentage of men want to talk about (the Bears),” McNeil said. “But let’s put it this way: I can kick around Jay Cutler for five minutes and say, ‘Here’s ACDC,'”

McNeil made his name during nearly 30 years in sports talk radio. His shows have delivered strong ratings at WSCR and WMVP-AM 1000. However, when he parted ways with WSCR in August, he said it had more to do than not coming to terms on a new contract. He walked away from a reported $350,000-400,000 per year offer.

McNeil describes himself as a “risk-taker” who gets “uncomfortable sometimes with routine.”

“The station was great to me, and (program director) Mitch Rosen has been as loyal to me as anyone in radio,” McNeil said. “There was nothing contentious in our parting of the ways. A lot of this was about me wanting to do (something different).”

In October, McNeil said he heard from Greg Solk, the senior vice president of programming for Hubbard Radio, about the possibility of coming to “The Drive.” Eventually, their discussions led to a new job that McNeil said “fulfills a dream I’ve had for close to a decade.”

“Anyone who knows me or has heard me won’t be surprised by this,” McNeil said. “My passion for music often exceeds that for ballgames. One of the biggest appeals to me was how fond I was of the station. It is a crown jewel of Chicago radio. It seemed like the perfect fit.”

It’s not all perfect. Pre-dawn wake-up calls will require a considerable lifestyle change for McNeil. That’s hardly a small detail considering his openly-acknowledged battles with depression and addiction problems.

McNeil said he already is adjusting his body clock by getting up early in anticipation of his new job.

“If I continue my mental health regime, I’m good,” McNeil said.

When told during a 8 a.m. interview on Tuesday that his day would be half-finished in his new role, McNeil laughed and tried to look at the bright side.

“Yeah, sometimes it’s going to suck waking up at 4,” McNeil said. “But being on the tee box at 11 doesn’t sound like a bad idea.”

Credit to the Chicago Tribune who originally published this article

Sports Radio News

Jonathan Zaslow No Longer With WQAM

An attempt to reach out to Zaslow for comment went unanswered.

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WQAM midday host Jonathan Zaslow is no longer with WQAM in Miami.

The radio station has removed his show from the website and references to him and his normal 10a-2p ET midday timeslot program have been scrubbed from the station website.

Zaslow tweeted at 5:19p ET confirming the news.

Whether or not this has any effect on his involvement with the Miami Heat broadcasts is unknown as of now.

Barry Jackson, a veteran journalist with the Miami Herald, reports that 790 The Ticket morning hosts Brendan Tobin and Leroy Hoard will move to that 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. WQAM slot during the week of Oct. 3.

In more station movement, Joe Rose’s WQAM morning show with Zach Krantz now will be simulcast on The Ticket, replacing the Tobin/Hoard program. Audacy, which owns both WQAM and The Ticket, also simulcast Marc Hochman’s and Channing Crowder’s afternoon show.

Zaslow had been with 790 the Ticket since 2004. He was transitioned from Audacy-owned 790 to sister station AM 560 Sports WQAM last October. During his tenure he has worked with a number of established local voices including Joy Taylor, Amber Wilson, Brett Romberg, and Brendan Tobin amongst others.

WQAM has gone thru a number of changes, including a rebranding effort to call the station “560 The Joe”. That ended last year with the station returning to the AM 560 Sports WQAM brand listeners were more familiar with. What they have planned next in Zaslow’s timeslot is unclear but local listeners will likely get some answers next week.

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Sports Radio News

Vanessa Richardson Named Houston Rockets Sideline Reporter, Paul Gallant to Host Solo on ESPN 97.5

Vanessa Richardson will be on the sidelines for the Houston Rockets and Paul Gallant will host solo show on ESPN 97.5.

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Vanessa and Gallant

Changes are taking place in Houston sports media. First, the Houston Rockets will have a new television sideline reporter this season, and she’s a familiar name to Houston sports fans.

Vanessa Richardson, the now former co-host of ESPN 97.5’s Vanessa and Gallant, revealed that she will be on the sidelines for the NBA franchise covering the team for AT&T SportsNet Southwest.

She tweeted the news saying, “Elated to be the new Houston Rockets sideline reporter! I can’t wait to travel the country & share the stories of this dynamic team during 80+ games on AT&T SportsNet Southwest. I’ll continue to fill-in as a host/reporter for Astros broadcasts as well.”

Richardson’s co-host, Paul Gallant, tweeted that with Richardson leaving the show for the Rockets sideline gig, Vanessa and Gallant will become the Paul Gallant Show. The solo show led by Gallant begins Monday September 26th.

“We’re excited to have Paul host his own show”, said Todd Farquharson, General Manager of ESPN 97.5 & 92.5.  “He’s super creative, energetic, and likeable.  He’ll get the audience involved and have fun.”

Paul commented, “You know what I’ve always loved about sports talk radio?  That it’s interactive.  Whether through a phone call, text message, tweet or on Twitch, it’s the best place for sports fans to come together and celebrate…or vent.  And that’s what The Paul Gallant Show is going to be…Houston’s platform to talk about its teams. THE most interactive sports talk show in Houston.”

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Sports Radio News

Ken Carman: Al Michaels ‘Feels Untethered’ On Amazon Prime Video

“The thing that stuck out was Kirk Herbstreit ripping the elf,” said Carman. “Don’t be ripping Brownie the Elf, man.”

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The Cleveland Browns defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers during Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime Video. 92.3 The Fan morning host Ken Carman applauded Al Michaels for his performance during the presentation.

“Al Michaels feels untethered for the first time. He’s not network television anymore and he can say whatever he wants. We interviewed him on the pregame show and I was nervous,” Carman said.

“He’s a legend,” co-host Anthony Lima added.

During the final play of the game, the Steelers fumbled a lateral into the endzone which the Browns recovered to make the final score 29-17. Michaels said “that may be meaningful to some of you. And you know who I mean”, alluding to people who had placed wagers on the game.

Carman, who hosts two-hours of pre-game coverage on the Browns Radio Network, continued to discuss how nervous he was interviewing Michaels. He also discussed how impressive Amazon’s behind-the-scenes production was, pointing out the only football broadcast with more cameras is the Super Bowl. More than 400 people work behind the scenes for Amazon Prime Video.

“The thing that stuck out was Kirk Herbstreit ripping the elf,” said Carman. “Don’t be ripping Brownie the Elf, man.”

Carman later said people angry that Michaels misspoke by saying the Pro Football Hall of Fame is “down I-71” instead of I-77 were unreasonable, and joked “Al Michaels hasn’t been on a highway in 20 years”.

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