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MLB Network Adds “MLB Central”

Jason Barrett

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MLB Network has picked out a name and set the talent lineup for its first-ever regular season morning show, The Wrap has learned exclusively.

On professional baseball’s highly anticipated Opening Day, Monday, April 6, “MLB Central” will debut with hosts Matt Vasgersian, Mark DeRosa and Lauren Shehadi.

“Fans are thirsting for baseball around the clock, and live is always better,” Coordinating Producer Josh Bernstein told TheWrap as he explained the programming decision and the show’s timing. “Starting our programming day a little bit earlier with live stuff — it’s exciting, and if news breaks in the middle of the night, if something changes in the morning, we’re there.”

Previously, the network rebroadcast highlights show “Quick Pitch” in the timeslot.

The three-hour morning show will be the first program to originate from MLB Network’s new, state-of-the-art 8,000 square foot Studio 21, named in honor of Hall-of-Fame baseball player Roberto Clemente’s number — a space that Bernstein promised is “mind-blowing.” The studio will also become home to the aforementioned “Quick Pitch” and the series “MLB Now.”

Of course, a huge set doesn’t solely launch a series, and Bernstein had equal praise for the trio they selected to man “MLB Central,” touting the “off-the-charts” chemistry of announcer Vasgersian, former long-term pro ballplayer DeRosa and internal talent Shehadi (“The Rundown,” “Hot Stove”).

Those three are pretty stoked for their new morning show too.

“I’m looking forward to the fact that this show is going to be a little bit different in that it’s not as tightly formatted based on games in progress,” Vasgersian told TheWrap. “I appreciate the collaboration element of this a lot, and we’ve all taken equal stakes in coming up with segment ideas in pre-production.”

“MLB Central” will air live each weekday morning, with updates and context on the latest news, on-field highlights, and long-form conversations with guests, celebrities, and insiders from around the league.

Each show will begin with “The Wake-Up Call,” a look at the biggest highlights and news stories in the game. DeRosa will give his opinion on the latest on-field performances in “The D-Train,” and the show’s analysts will offer their daily take on the hottest players and best moves in the world of fantasy baseball. Towards the end of the 180-minute block, as the 1 p.m. ET baseball games ready their first pitch, “MLB Central” will shift into pregame mode.

Other recurring features will include interviews with MLB players, managers and others inside the clubhouse and a segment inspired by the MLB Network trivia show “Baseball IQ.”

“We’re going to strike the right balance between entertainment and baseball,” Bernstein told TheWrap.

“Baseball is … America’s pastime and we breathe it here,” Bernstein concluded. “We serve the fans that are craving it. It’s never been better and that’s why the time has never been better to do the show.”

Credit to the Boston Herald who originally published this article

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Charles Barkley: ‘Morale Sucks – Plain and Simple,’ TNT Screwed Up NBA Media Rights Negotiations

“We just won the [Sports Emmy for] ‘Best Studio Show’ – but these fools turn us from Inglenook and Opus into damn Boone’s Farm and Ripple. It’s crazy.”

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Charles Barkley
Courtesy: Jamie Schwaberow, NBAE via Getty Images

As negotiations for media rights to the National Basketball Association continue throughout the postseason, there have been recent reports claiming that the league is formalizing deals with The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal and Amazon. The league ostensibly looks positioned to nearly triple its existing rights fee; however, the issue of Warner Bros. Discovery deciding to match an offer and the scope of such a right remains somewhat ambiguous. Nonetheless, many basketball fans are loathing a potential end to Inside the NBA, the Emmy Award-winning studio program within the NBA on TNT. Hall of Fame forward and studio analyst Charles Barkley recently appeared on the Dan Patrick Show to provide his perspective on the negotiations.

Barkley currently works alongside host Ernie Johnson and analysts Kenny “The Jet” Smith and Shaquille O’Neal on Inside the NBA, adeptly blending esoteric knowledge and lighthearted repartee to the set. The program is currently closing out its year covering the Western Conference Finals on location from Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn. while consistently receiving messages about its end. Patrick simply asked Barkley about the sentiment at the company, to which he gave a candid and straightforward response.

“Morale sucks – plain and simple,” Barkley said. “I just feel so bad for the people I work with, Dan. These people have families, and I just feel really bad for them right now, these people I work with. They screwed this thing up clearly. We don’t have zero idea what’s going to happen. I don’t feel good – I’m not going to lie – especially when they came out yesterday and said, ‘We bought college football.’ I was like, ‘Oh damn, they could have used that money to buy the NBA.’”

TNT Sports will be sublicensing College Football Playoff games from ESPN under a five-year agreement ahead of the tournament’s expansion to 12 teams. Under the deal, TNT Sports will broadcast two first-round College Football Playoff games during the 2024 and 2025 seasons, along with two additional quarterfinal games beginning in 2026 and ending in the 2028 season. As soon as the deal was closed, Barkley thought about how the money could have been allocated to fund a new NBA media rights deal. Warner Bros. Discovery entities – which began with TBS – have been broadcasting NBA games since the 1984-85 season, rendering the venture the longest-standing rightsholder.

Patrick then offered the idea of Barkley, Smith, Johnson and O’Neal to start a production company and continue to broadcast Inside the NBA in Atlanta, Ga. with the existing personnel. From there, the program could be licensed to NBC or Amazon while owning the production company itself. Barkley replied by stating that he had spoken to his colleagues about signing with his production company and would love to do it should TNT Sports lose the rights to the league. He first saw the suggestion on the internet and thought of it to be a great idea.

“My two favorite wines are Inglewood and Opus, and these clowns I work for, they’ve turned us into Ripple and Boone’s Farm and Thunderbird,” Barkley said. “We’ve got the best studio show. It’s so funny – we just won the [Sports Emmy for] ‘Best Studio Show’ – but these fools turn us from Inglenook and Opus into damn Boone’s Farm and Ripple. It’s crazy.”

Patrick perceived Barkley to be genuinely angry, a sentiment that he confirmed in his subsequent response. He reminisced about how he has seen the crew grow around Inside the NBA over his 24 years with the network and watching their children progress as they visit the studio. Barkley remembers meeting newborn children and seeing them years later as college graduates.

The familial relationship that has been formed around the show is something he evidently cherishes, and he would be disappointed to see the program end. It led Patrick to ponder over just how TNT Sports erred in the negotiations, leading Barkley to reference a previous comment made by David Zaslav, Warner Bros. Discovery president and chief executive officer, at an RBC investor conference in 2022.

“When we merged, that’s the first thing our boss said [was] ‘We don’t need the NBA,’” Barkley explained. “Well, he don’t need it, but the rest of the people – me, Kenny, Shaq and Ernie and the people who work there – we need it, so it just sucks right now.”

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SiriusXM Signs Exclusive Podcast Agreement with Dirty Mo Media

“We are very excited to team up with Dale Jr. and the team at Dirty Mo to bring several of the leading NASCAR podcasts into the SiriusXM Podcast Network.”

Barrett Sports Media

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SiriusXM; Dirty Mo Media
(Illustration) | SiriusXM Logo – Courtesy: SiriusXM | Dirty Mo Media Logo – Courtesy: Dirty Mo Media

SiriusXM has reached a new, exclusive podcast agreement with Dirty Mo Media, the multimedia content platform founded by Hall of Fame NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. This new deal will provide exclusive advertising and distribution rights to Dirty Mo Media for its slate of programming on the SiriusXM Podcast Network, along with opportunities for crossover events between Dirty Mo Media and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Earnhardt Jr.’s podcast, the Dale Jr. Download, will also air twice per week on the SiriusXM NASCAR Radio channel beginning in early June. Both entities will collaborate on special event broadcasts during the year as well, including at the forthcoming Daytona 500.

“This is a great day for our company,” Earnhardt Jr. said in a statement. “This agreement allows us to continue producing the shows we want to produce and telling the stories we want to tell to an audience that values our brand of originality, passion and candor. This also brings my relationship with SiriusXM full circle. I first started hosting my own show nearly two decades ago on XM Satellite Radio. We did it for a couple years. Since then, nothing has changed other than I’m now a married father of two, I don’t race as much, XM is called SiriusXM, and I am bringing an entire media company back with me.”

Earnhardt Jr., along with executive producer Mike Davis, founded Dirty Mo Media in 2013 and has become an enduring, impactful platform in sports media. In addition to constructing its podcast network, Dirty Mo Media also created and produced a television series titled Lost Speedways where Earnhardt visited and explored several abandoned racetracks across the United States. The company is also working with Amazon’s Prime Video and Imagine Documentaries on a four-part documentary that will tell the story of his father, legendary racecar driver Dale Earnhardt Sr. Earnhardt Jr. will also serve as an analyst for coverage of NASCAR racing for Prime Video and TNT Sports beginning in 2025, concurrent with the start of its new seven-year media rights deal reportedly worth a total of $7.7 billion.

“One of our main areas of emphasis over the past year has been increasing our collaborations and expanding relationships,” Davis said in a statement. “A lot of that is simply knowing who we are, what we are trying to be and where we can be most effective. For Dirty Mo Media, we are a relatable, personality-driven brand of content creators and documentarians. Combine that with the reach, resources and credibility of SiriusXM, this relationship will produce fruit and serve our fans well.”

SiriusXM Media, the advertising division of the company, has gained exclusive global advertising sales rights to the Dirty Mo Media lineup of sports podcasts. These include the aforementioned Dale Jr. Download, Door Bumper Clear and Actions Detrimental with Denny Hamlin among others. The podcasts will join the SiriusXM Podcast Network, which the company states reaches one in two podcast listeners in the United States every month.

“We are very excited to team up with Dale Jr. and the team at Dirty Mo to bring several of the leading NASCAR podcasts into the SiriusXM Podcast Network,” Sarah Van Mosel, senior vice president of podcast strategy at SiriusXM, said in a statement. “This not only bolsters the strength of our podcast offerings, but the addition of the ‘Dale Jr. Download’ to the SiriusXM NASCAR Radio channel enhances the programming available to our SiriusXM subscribers. This is another great example of the unique ways SiriusXM and talented creators like Dale and his team can work together.”

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Mike Felger: iHeartMedia Adding ‘The Rich Shertenlieb Show’ is a Good Sign

“Anything that gets people to turn the radio on I am for.”

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Screengrab of The Off Air Show with Mike Felger joined by Kendra Middleton
Screengrab from 98.5 The Sports Hub Facebook

Mike Felger had Kendra Middleton as his guest on the latest edition of The Off-Air Show on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Facebook page. In between finding out about Middelton’s influencer career and the dirty pics she gets sent to her from men, the subject of The Rich Shertenlieb Show came up. Shertenlieb started this week on Boston classic rock station 100.7 WZLX after being off the air for over six months since he left The Sports Hub and show partner Fred Toucher.

About the new show, Felger said, “I’ve sampled it, I think it sounds good. It sounds like Rich. It sounds like what it would sound like when Fred was off, and Rich was in.”

Felger has talked before on the show about wanting the industry as a whole to be successful and that was what stood out to him about iHeartMedia adding Shertenlieb to mornings. “I’m glad that he got that gig…Anything that gets people to turn the radio on I am for,” he continued. “I just want the industry to be good, I want radio to be strong, the industry to be strong, I want people to listen to the radio. I want radio companies hiring radio hosts to do radio shows. I take that whole thing as being healthy.”

While Felger wants his company to win, he wants the other companies to have just enough success to continue doing what they are doing. “I hope Fred and Hardy beat him soundly in the morning in the ratings, but I want Rich to do well, do well enough,” he said. “I want ZLX and iHeart to do well and do well enough. I want them to have a good business and a strong revenue stream. I am rooting for that and Rich personally as well, who I know, and I wish personal success to him. I’m more interested in iHeart hiring a real radio host to do a real radio show in Boston and obviously paying him enough to it. That’s a good sign and I hope it does well enough that more radio stations keep doing that and whatever gets you to turn on the radio, I am for.”

Middleton said she had not yet heard the new show but said, “I think the rotating third chair is an interesting concept. I was shocked to see Ted [Johnson] go. The rotating third chair is going to be an interesting thing in the industry.”

The pair talked about rumors ZLX might flip to all sports eventually and try to get the Boston Red Sox play-by-play rights, which are not up again until after the 2028 season. Felger asked Middleton if all of that were to happen, “Is that a good or bad thing for The Sports Hub?”

“I think both,” she said. “Obviously it’s going to pull listeners away from The Sports Hub, but it’s doing that already in the mornings because the nature of another show being in town. But I think the competitiveness and forcing people here to be on their ‘A game’…I don’t think that’s ever a bad thing. Competition is never bad.”

Felger later added, “Sports radio is so lucrative that a third company has decided to come in and do it, that’s how I read that, that’s good…I want radio to be strong. Radio, not just The Sports Hub, radio as a medium, as a business. So, if iHeart flipping to sports means sports radio is strong, I am for it.”

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