Connect with us
Jim Cutler Demos

Sports Radio News

Rodgers Wakes Up L.A Sports Fans

Jason Barrett

Published

on

By the time 4:30 in the morning rolls around, LA Live morphs into LA Lifeless.

Travis Rodgers now has visual confirmation.

“There’s not a soul around — except maybe some guy is cleaning, buffing, scooping,” the new KSPN-AM (710) early morning weekday drive co-host admitted about the otherwise neon-lit, fan-flash favorite gathering area across the street from Staples Center.

“I did see someone early one morning in the Starbucks, and I thought, ‘Oh, maybe I can hit that on the way up the elevator.’ Nope. It’s not open until 5.”

When you beat the opening of a Starbucks to work — which is when Rodgers and partner Kelvin Washington must do to be in the ESPN Radio studios in the offices right next door — you’re officially on the zombie shift.

The intent behind raising the shade on an L.A.-based sports-talk station before dawn is simple: Find another entry point on a more intimate basis with whomever is out on the Southern California freeways heading to their jobs, or perhaps dragging themselves home from their previous endeavors. The success of this leap of ratings fate may not be deemed success/failure for another 16 to 18 months, according to station program director Mike Thompson. That’s the nature of this beast.

KFWB-AM (980), recently rebranded as “The Beast” all-sports format, has already been asking Jeanne Zelasko, Marques Johnson and Sam Farber to time-slip their lives and start a show that starts at 5:30 a.m., jump-starting Jim Rome’s 9 a.m. arrival. Early ratings for the show, as well as the station, aren’t much of a ripple.

And it has been tried before. In the late 1990s, Brian Golden used to do a live 4-to-6 a.m. “Early Morning Sports Page” show for KAVL-AM (610), based in Palmdale and a Fox Radio Dodgers’ affiliate, trying to synch up with the thousands of commuters who made the daily trip between Kern County and the Newhall Pass.

But other than that, this KSPN innovation/experiment requires Rodgers and Washington to take one for the team. Whatever financial compensation is involved can be parlayed into a stock purchase of a local caffeine-driven company.

As Rodgers emerges at 11 a.m. from the ESPN Radio studios just before the lunch crowd hits LA Live — that adds up to six straight hours of sports yammering, including his syndicated Yahoo! Sports Radio shift from — it’s a bit of an eye opener as he heads home to Orange County to see his wife and three kids.

“Maybe I’m not a morning person — I know when I was 20, I wasn’t,” the 43-year-old admitted. “You just get up and do it.

“This is something I’m ridiculously excited about. ESPN is obviously a huge opportunity, a station that rates well in the market, they’re committed to succeed, grew up 20 minutes from here, I get talk about the teams obsessed with when I was a kid,”

For KSPN, the other purpose of having Rodgers-Washington start the on-air conversation from 5 to 7 a.m. on something called “ESPNLA Morning Show,” with the suggestion it become “Rise and Grind” leading into Colin Cowherd’s national show, is that it keeps things going when it moves to a 7-to-9 a.m. livestream on the company website and the ESPN app. Those technically-advanced in the male 18-34 and 25-54 age targeted demographics have another choice.

“Radio has become more like TV has been for years, where we have shows on multiple platforms that many times compete with each other,” said Thompson, who has been arriving himself at about 4:30 a.m. each day lately to help the launch that began last Monday.

KSPN, owned and operated by ESPN, had carried the solid national show hosted by Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg for years on the 710 signal until it was decided it could be shifted to the other ESPN affiliate in Southern California, Angels-owned KLAA-AM (830), when Thompson wanted to give local voices a try.

Rodgers had been that local KLAA voice for the last couple of years, based in studios at Angel Stadium, and solicited Thompson to include him in the new KSPN plans, making this look like a straight-up show swap.

To create this, however, Thompson decided to let go of highly-regarded sports news anchors/reporters Beto Duran, Pete Fox and Dave Joseph. The time taken for the top-of-the-hour update segments has been morphed into the existing KSPN sports-talk shows, thus smoothing over any sort of abrupt breaks — or opportunities for listeners to leave. Thompson points out other stations in this 80-station market have gone to a similar philosophy.

So enter Rodgers, whose sense of humor and even his facial features may remind you of comedian Seth MacFarlane. Rodgers’ backward career curve to this place of local recognition comes not long after 15 years of a wildly successful run as the driving producer for Rome’s burgeoning sports-talk empire, which lead to a syndication drive with the Premiere Radio Network.

Rodgers broke off from Rome’s run in 2009, mostly because he wanted to see if he could do this talking thing on his own. It was a difficult breakup, but like any marriage, “if it’s not going to end badly, then it’s not going to end,” Rodgers said.

After a stop in Houston, and then engaging with The Sporting News Radio Network that has since before Yahoo Sports Radio, Rodgers understands his solo career may need more than just a six-year span to fully separate from the perceived Rome influence.

“I still get questions all the time about Jim,” said the Arcadia native and UC Santa Barbara grad, “and I guess I have to steal a line that he has used when people still ask him if he’s the ‘Jim Everett guy’ (a reference to a confrontation Rome had with the former Rams quarterback while on an ESPN TV show in 1994).

“Jim would always say: Yeah, but there was a lot more to it than what you think happened. I’m really proud of what we did together. Now, I’m just trying this. I’m a work in progress.

“The thing that really gets me is when people say I’m trying to do a Rome impression. I mean, we worked intimately together for 15 years, and some of him rubbed off on me, and me on him. But stylistically we’re pretty different.”

The transition from producer to on-air talent was hardly as smooth as anticipated for Rodgers, who out of college aspired to be a local TV sportscaster.

“There’s a reason why those jobs are separate,” he said. “My role with Jim wasn’t a traditional producer, just booking guests or screening calls, I was more into content creation and shaping conversations, much more collaborative. That was my value to him.

“I saw when Jim used to get frustrated about things but I never understood why from the producer side. But now that I’m here, it makes perfect sense. When it’s your responsibility and your voice out there, and you make a mistake, it’s on you. That took me a while to figure out.

“It’s one of those things now that feels like going from an assistant coach to a head coach. Sure, I know how to draw up plays. But where I already held Jim in high regard for how he did his show, that respect goes to a whole new level for me now.”

Rodgers still spends his 9-to-11 a.m. window weekdays continuing to do his Yahoo Sports Radio show called “Travis Rodgers Now,” available on the Yahoo Sports app and YahooSportsRadio.com in L.A.

But even with the new wake-up call, Rodgers doesn’t turn in until shortly after 10 p.m. so he can follow L.A.-based games to their conclusion. So now, afternoon naps are schedule.

“When I did the show at KLAA (from 6 to 9 a.m.), it was just a 25-minute commute from my home in Laguna Niguel,” said Rodgers. “I could get up at 4:15 — again, no one should be up at that time — and have no problem.

“This is a little more of a drive, and I’m up at 3. But the difference between 3 and 4 is negligible — they’re both awful. But I’m happy to do it.

“I know the people on the road when we are on the air care about sports the same way someone who drives to work at 8 in the morning. I’ve always kind of wondered why there aren’t more local morning shows done like this.”

Let the other sports-talk station program directors sleep on that one.

Credit to the LA Times who originally published this story

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Sports Radio News

Ken Carman: Cavaliers-Magic Blackout Was a ‘Bleep You to Everybody for the Night’

“It is the internet – you can’t fix that type of mistake quickly?”

Published

on

Ken Carman
Courtesy: Audacy

As the Cleveland Cavaliers took a two-game lead in the first round of the NBA playoffs against the Orlando Magic, several fans of the teams were incensed because of their inability to access the game. On Monday night, fans within the home marketplaces for the Cavaliers and Magic were blacked out from watching the game on NBA.TV both through the cable channel and utilizing an NBA League Pass subscription. Ken Carman, morning show host on 92.3 The Fan, was among the people affected by this circumstance.

When Carman was doing the preview show for the NFL Draft, he turned his television from NBA.TV to another channel and then checked social media where he saw complaints. From there, he placed his television back on NBA.TV to discover that he too was blacked out and unable to watch the game, despite being a regular cable subscriber amid an era predicated by hastened cord cutting. Carman then asked if there were people who had the Bally Sports app and were also blacked out from watching the contest. Carman’s co-host Anthony Lima then explained he had learned of an issue with the geotracking that was not recognizing the locale where devices from which users were trying to access the game.

“It seems like they were there, and there were people who were not cable subscribers who said that they were blacked out, and then there were people who said they had Fubo,” Carman explained. “So I have somebody here who says that they have Fubo and they were able to watch it, but I know for a fact there were people who said they had Fubo and they were not able to watch that game last night. That is a miss.”

Lima continued by stating that he had never before received such a deluge of texts pertaining to a big game in the Cleveland area. People were evidently wondering how they would be able to access the game, leading some users to experiment utilizing VPNs to try and watch.

“I saw people, influencers, making screaming videos, and I understand the frustration, but we know – me and you know – we have to be able to have every game available to us, so that’s why we get cable,” Lima said, addressing Carman in his comments. “I don’t know what to tell people who somehow, someway – unless there was a legitimate mistake made – did people think they were going to be able to get NBA.TV?”

“It is the internet – you can’t fix that type of mistake quickly?,” Carman replied. “That’s just a solid bleep you to everybody for the night.”

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading

Sports Radio News

iHeartMedia to Launch Women’s Sports Audio Network with Deep Blue Sports + Entertainment

“This partnership effectively moves the coverage of women’s sports from 15% to 90% overnight through the power of audio.”

Published

on

Logos for iHeartMedia and Deep Blue Sports and Entertainment

iHeartMedia announced it is partnering with Deep Blue Sports + Entertainment to launch the Women’s Sports Audio Network (WSAN). Deep Blue is led by Founder/CEO Laura Correnti and former WNBA star Sue Bird as Chief Strategy Officer.

The brand is described as the first-ever audio platform dedicated exclusively to women’s sports podcasts, daily sports reports, spotlights and audio vignettes, social content, promotion and industry event presence, and will be available across iHeartMedia’s broadcast, digital and podcast platforms and everywhere podcasts are heard.

The new network will offer talent and programming year-round with talent such as former ESPN personality Sarah Spain and former WNBA and US Olympic Basketball star Sheryl Swoopes. iHeart has committed to running dedicated women’s sports reports daily across its network of over 500 stations and digital streams.

iHeartMedia Chief Marketing Officer Gayle Troberman said, “Women’s sports are on fire and so is audio. The timing is perfect to deliver on the massive fan excitement today and most importantly use the power of iHeart’s massive audience reach to ensure women’s sports gets the attention it deserves. We all win when the athletes, the fans and the brands get to play together every day in the biggest audio arena on the planet at iHeart.”

Deep Blue CEO Correnti stated, “While women’s sports continue to break ratings and attendance records on a seemingly regular basis – it’s imperative the media marketplace and commercial investment keep pace to not just meet consumer demand, but sustain this growth market. By partnering with iHeartMedia, we’re unlocking the ability to immediately share more women’s sports stories with more fans while addressing the need for more discovery, visibility and scale – a common pain point for the advertising and media marketplace in this space. This partnership effectively moves the coverage of women’s sports from 15% to 90% overnight through the power of audio.”

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading

Sports Radio News

Audacy Launches Audacy Sports

“We’re thrilled to bring together our unrivaled sports portfolio under Audacy Sports.”

Published

on

Graphic for Audacy Sports
Courtesy: Audacy

Audacy announced it is launching Audacy Sports, a new name which covers their over-the-air, streaming, podcasts and live events. Audacy has 40 owned-and-operated all-sports radio stations along with 160 sports streaming channels on the Audacy app and a sports podcast network featuring over 600 titles and live events. This announcement follows Audacy’s recent unveiling of Audacy Podcasts.

“We’re thrilled to bring together our unrivaled sports portfolio under Audacy Sports,” said Lee Davis, Senior Vice President of Sports Monetization, Audacy. “Consolidating our cross-platform sellable assets under one name creates a compelling opportunity for brands to connect with listeners at scale – through our digital and broadcast network platforms or locally, through our owned sports stations – wherever and whenever they tune into Audacy content.”

Audacy Sports also serves as the home to 150 professional and collegiate teams and produces two national multiplatform sports networks, Infinity Sports Network and BetQL Network.

Audacy Sports launches at the NFL Draft in Detroit as it will have five stations broadcasting from the same location near the draft. 670 The Score in Chicago, WEEI in Boston, 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, 106.7 The Fan and The Team 980 in Washington D.C. will all take part in special draft week broadcasts.

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading
Advertisement

Advertisement

Upcoming Events

Barrett Media Writers

Copyright © 2024 Barrett Media.