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Francesa and CBS At Odds

Jason Barrett

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Mike Francesa first went public about his frayed relationship with CBS Radio seven months ago. On Wednesday, he made it clear that time has not healed any of the wounds.

The WFAN host called his relationship with executives at CBS Radio, which owns WFAN, “very poor,” “awful” and “terrible” and said it has “never been worse.”

Speaking during a break in his show at the Hard Rock Cafe in Manhattan, Francesa said that for legal reasons he cannot go into detail about the nature of the dispute.

But he acknowledged one source of tension is his ongoing frustration over his often pre-empted simulcast on Fox Sports 1 and 2, and CBS’ inability or unwillingness to find a contractual solution.

“We have a difference of opinion on a number of issues now, and Fox is one of them, yes,” he said. “But I’ve been asked not to discuss it in any detail and I’m going to abide by what I was asked not to do.”

In September, he said on the air that he had received a letter from CBS threatening to sue if he continued complaining about the simulcast. CBS said there had been no discussion of a lawsuit, causing him to fire back and insist there had been.

Francesa continues to produce strong ratings and is under contract for another three years, but he appears to be in an unhappy business marriage.

“My relationship with the people who I deal with is awful right now; it’s terrible,” he said. “We don’t agree on philosophy. Nothing’s changed. It’s what it is. I do my show. They didn’t have any interest in fixing what I wanted fixed.”

The simulcast situation has been helped somewhat by the improved distribution and channel position of FS2. But pre-emptions continue, usually for international soccer games that draw good ratings.

“If there’s anyone who can see the show who couldn’t see it in the past, that’s a positive,” he said, “but Fox and I are not going to agree, and CBS and Fox and I are not going to agree on this. I’ve come to that conclusion.”

Francesa did not name the executives with whom he is at odds, but he excluded CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves, who was a target of harsh criticism from him after Moonves fired Don Imus in 2007.

What does Moonves make of Francesa’s status with CBS in 2015?

“We love Mike,” he said. “He’s done a great job . . . Let him keep doing what he’s doing and getting the ratings he’s doing and I’m very happy with him.”

Moonves said he is no stranger to criticism from employees, including Howard Stern and David Letterman. “What makes these the interesting personalities that they are is it’s important to take shots at ‘The Man,’ ” he said. “It just sort of goes with the territory.

“Howard Stern went on the David Letterman show when they were both working for me wearing a picture of me and my wife and underneath it said, ‘I hate Les Moonves’ on his T-shirt. It doesn’t get much worse than that.”

Francesa said he always will be indebted to Moonves, whom he called a “genius in this business.” He credited Moonves for meeting with him for three hours to discuss the Imus firing and for “doing things for me on my contract two times ago [in 2008] that no one had ever done for me in my life.”

He added, “This has nothing to do with Les Moonves. As far as with the guys I deal with [regularly], my relationship has never been worse.”

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Charles Barkley: ‘I Would Listen’ Before Making Decisions About NBA Broadcast Future

“For the people I work with, man, it just sucks right now.”

Barrett Sports Media

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Charles Barkley
Courtesy: Stephen Lovekin, Getty Images

The NBA is reportedly formalizing deals with The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal and Amazon for its next television media rights contract that would take effect beginning in the 2025-26 season. If Warner Bros. Discovery is unable to match or decides not to engage in such discussions, the company would lose broadcasting rights to the NBA and terminate a 40-year relationship that dates back to the 1984-85 campaign. At the same time, this has caused many sports fans to ponder over the future of Inside the NBA, a multiple-time Emmy Award-winning studio show featuring Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny “The Jet” Smith and Shaquille O’Neal.

Barkley, who signed a 10-year contract extension along with his colleagues on the show, confirmed in a recent interview on ESPN Cleveland that he has an opt-out in his deal should TNT Sports lose broadcasting rights to the NBA. Smith and O’Neal reportedly hold a similar clause with the future of Inside the NBA and the NBA on TNT remaining unknown. Barkley appeared on SiriusXM NBA Radio following the report from Tom Friend of Sports Business Journal on Wednesday morning and described the sentiment surrounding these negotiations.

“It sucks right now,” Barkley said. “For the people I work with, man, it just sucks right now. There’s nothing I can say because I worry about all the people I work with.”

Barkley explained that he enjoys golfing and/or fishing on a daily basis and does not look at losing the NBA as being fired. In fact, he hopes the Western Conference Finals quickly conclude so he can go back to playing golf every day over the next four months. The part that concerns him is the fact that he estimates 200 people could lose their jobs at the company should the relationship with the NBA come to a close. Although it remains unknown if anyone would sign with another network, the widespread perception is that all four members of the show would be coveted free agents.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen with Amazon, ESPN or if we lose it to NBC, so I’m not sure how to answer that question,” Barley said. “I just don’t know. Ernie [Johnson] would not go to another network – I’m damn sure about that. But I would listen; I would listen before I made any decisions.”

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Chris LoPresti: Brendan Burke Ranks First in Yankees Radio Announcer Rotation

“For me to critique anyone – the last play-by-play I did was women’s hockey at Quinnipiac like 15 to 18 – no, got to be almost 20 years ago now – so what do I know?”

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Chris LoPresti

As the New York Yankees continue the 2024 season, game broadcasts on WFAN are utilizing a rotation of play-by-play announcers. This came after the retirement of John Sterling in April following 36 years calling games for the organization. Within the rotation over the last few seasons when Sterling was unable to make a game are Justin Shackil, Rickie Ricardo, Brendan Burke and Emmanuel Berbari. A successor for the position has not yet been named, nor is it known when such a move could happen; however, there has been discussion pertaining to the broadcasts themselves on Boomer & Gio in morning drive on WFAN.

Last week, co-host Gregg Giannotti offered Berbari constructive criticism towards his home run call and stated that there was room for improvement. He ultimately wanted him to find a middle ground between his “Gone, goodbye” home run call and the signature call Sterling delivered for Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. After playing another clip of Berbari announcing a home run this week, Giannotti asked anchor Chris LoPresti to rank the four Yankees play-by-play announcers in the rotation.

“I’ve got to go Brendan Burke first,” LoPresti replied. “I’ll be honest – I have a lot of respect for Rickie [Ricardo]; he’s been doing it a long time. I haven’t heard enough of him because I don’t generally listen to the Spanish broadcast obviously and he hasn’t done that many games regularly on the Fan.”

Giannotti then asked LoPresti if he was taking Ricardo out of consideration for the list, to which he replied that it was not the case. Conversely, LoPresti felt that he was not able to provide an informed opinion on the matter, but followed up by articulating that Ricardo could rank at the top of the list if it was based on the energy they bring to the broadcast. Co-host Boomer Esiason explained that LoPresti had just said he didn’t listen to him, leading Giannotti to ask again how he would rank the rest of them.

“I’ll go [Justin] Shackil, Rickie [Ricardo], Emmanuel [Berbari],” LoPresti said, “and I love Emmanuel…. Again, he’s relatively new to doing the Yankee broadcasts – obviously he has minor league experience. For me to critique anyone – the last play-by-play I did was women’s hockey at Quinnipiac like 15 to 18 – no, got to be almost 20 years ago now – so what do I know?”

Giannotti and Esiason both emphasized that LoPresti is a consumer of the broadcasts and a baseball fan, hence why he is offering his opinion on the matter. LoPresti previously worked with Shackil at SiriusXM and has known him longer than Berbari; however, he has worked with Berbari more in recent years.

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Kirk Minihane: The Rich Shertenlieb Show on WZLX ‘Is a Disaster’

“It would be like me going somewhere and doing a radio show about foreign languages or about religion. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Barrett Sports Media

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Screengrabs of Kirk Minihane and Rich Shertenlieb
Screengrabs from Barstool Sports and CBS Boston

As one could most likely guess, former WEEI Boston sports radio talker Kirk Minihane is no fan of former 98.5 The Sports Hub host Rich Shertenlieb’s new morning show on classic rock station 100.7 WZLX.

Minihane explained the situation to his audience which led to Shertenlieb starting a new show on a music station, thus being the third sports morning show in the market. Minihane had said back in March his sources were telling him Shertenlieb would be doing the afternoon show on WEEI. That, obviously, did not turn out to be the case.

“Rich Shertenlieb is a radio producer, he shouldn’t be on the air, he’s a bits guy,” said Minihane.

The show played audio of the very beginning of Shertenlieb’s debut show which had some technical problems where music was playing over a sports report.

“This sounds like a college radio station,” Minihane said. “What the fu** is this? This is the beginning of Rich Shertenlieb saying ‘Hey, I’m going to war with you Fred Toucher? I’m getting paid to do a morning show in Boston. What is this?”

Minihane was even more harsh on some of the cast members Shertenlieb and the station have assembled, calling one of them “a moron” and saying another is “an awful person, terrible on the air.” “Everybody turned him down,” Minihane said before he declared, “That show is dead. That show has no chance. It is a disaster…It would be like me going somewhere and doing a radio show about foreign languages or about religion. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Minihane would later add, “They’re going to listen to that for a day and say ‘Oh this is like when Fred wasn’t here, and Rich had his own little planet.”

Another audio clip was played of Fred Toucher taking a shot at Shertenlieb on his morning show. To show he is an equal opportunity critic, Minihane offered about the clip from 98.5 The Sports Hub, “Hardy doesn’t work on that show. He feels uncomfortable. You can tell he doesn’t feel comfortable. What a feeling it’s gotta be if you’re Fred and you know that’s the show [you’re going up against].”

After discussing what he would do if he were to be hosting the third sports morning show in the market and how he would win the timeslot, Minihane said, “I would honestly rather blow my fu**ing brains out than sit with Ted Johnson and Charlotte Wilder and pretend to care about playing the Timberwolves or the Mavericks.”

Minihane later added his prediction for the show. “A year from now, the Rich Shertenlieb morning show will be 6th or 7th or 8th in the ratings. That’s a disaster.”

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