On the surface, everything seemed ideal. After nearly two decades away, veteran sports talk show host Tony Bruno returned to CBS Radio’s Sportsradio 94 WIP in January to team up with brash, upstart Josh Innes. In a little more than five months, the duo overtook rival Mike Missanelli of 97.5 The Fanatic in what had been a bitter afternoon drive ratings war.
But behind the scenes, Bruno, 63, had tired of the grind of doing a daily five-hour show and didn’t like what sports talk radio had become. So after four decades spent working for large conglomerates, Bruno abruptly tendered his resignation earlier this month via email as Innes ranted about the situation on the air.
So what’s next for the long-time sportscaster? Bruno said he will turn his focus to podcasting rather than seek a return to terrestrial radio.
Do you regret going back to WIP after leaving The Fanatic last year?
I don’t regret coming back to WIP. I had left 97.5 and I heard Josh a few times at night. I did a few shows with him and it was fun. But once we started, there was all of this constant nonsense. But I would come to work and wonder what was going to happen today. It wasn’t like we didn’t get along. It wasn’t cause he was the alpha dog.
Josh always put people on who were going to rip him. Back in the day, you could have someone disagree with you without hating you. Every time I would go out somewhere, people would tell me how much they hated Josh. But they were listening. And we climbed to the top of the ratings. It’s not the reason I left but it was part of it.
Then why did you leave?
I was worn out from the daily nonsense and the podcasting was growing. I was putting in 10 hour days and coming home exhausted. I thought afternoons would be easier but you can’t do anything during the day, you come home at 7 p.m. and you are exhausted. It was really a quality of life issue for me. I am 63. I am not going to be one of those guys who is going to do this forever. I don’t want to die on the air. When I turn 65, I’m shutting this down completely and enjoying myself. But in the meantime, I can do the podcasts.
How tough is it to replace a host from a business standpoint?
You don’t need to be number one in the market to make a lot of money for your station. I was able to generate more money [via endorsements for sponsors] than they were paying me. So they didn’t want to see me go.
The biggest problem is from a sales standpoint is what happens to the endorsements when someone leaves. I had 13 different endorsements. So I am sure the sales department is disappointed with my departure because there is no guarantee they will hold on to those relationships. Anthony Gargano had a lot of endorsement relationships when he left WIP and I know there was concern that they would follow him to The Fanatic. It’s a big issue.
You can’t have Josh read 20 endorsements in five hours. He would be doing nothing but that. You need more than one person. When you hear the morning show, you hear Angelo [Cataldi], Al [Morganti], Rhea [Hughes] and even Keith Jones doing spots for different sponsors. So there could be a ripple effect. Do you replace 13 clients or will 97.5 swoop in and try and recruit them.
What’s the business model of podcasting?
The business model relies on whether you can sell it. Rita’s Water Ice signed on for six shows with me. I go out to their locations like it’s a public appearance. Except we do a show there and people can interact with us there and ask questions. There are no commercial breaks. I might read something from [a sponsor such as] FanDuel.com.
Podcasts can also tell exactly how many people are listening. And podcast listeners tend to be more loyal and likely to listen to your sponsor reads. They don’t tune out. I heard a stat that 24 percent of listeners to terrestrial radio buy the products of sponsors. For podcasts, that number is 75 percent.
So you can make significant money podcasting?
Adam Corolla makes $5 million a year with podcasting. So, yes. I’ve been doing it since October and it’s been growing, even while I was working full-time. And I’ve seen tremendous growth potential just over the last month. It’s like what DVR or Netflix are for television. People can listen whenever they want. I do one or two shows a week. I have a studio in my home and we also take it on the road. Sometimes it’s sports-related and sometime not.
What is the key to making it successful?
With podcasting, I control the content, brand and marketing. The success is contingent on how hard you are willing to work on it and you don’t have to deal with executives up this massive food chain. You don’t have any overhead. I do it for two hours. I get tons of calls. People want options and they want convenience. Terrestrial radio is about crunching numbers. This is the future.
Credit to the Philadelphia Business Journal who originally published this article
Peter Schrager: ‘Next Good Morning Football Host Has Massive Shoes To Fill’
“I don’t know where they are going for that and I don’t play coach or GM. I’m just going to sit back and if they ask my opinion, I’ll give it.”
This week, Good Morning Football ended up winning a Sports Emmy for the best daily studio show. It is a show that has turned into part most football fans’ morning routines. However, there will be new people on the panel eventually with the departures of Nate Burleson and Kay Adams.
This week, one of those left, Peter Schrager, was on The Pat McAfee Show. He did not have a name for McAfee that would fill the role Adams leaves behind and he isn’t going to interfere in the process of the executives picking the next host.
“I would think that there is going to be a long line of people who will want that,” he said. “Those are massive shoes to fill. I don’t know where they are going for that and I don’t play coach or GM. I’m just going to sit back and if they ask my opinion, I’ll give it. But, for now, I trust the executives to hire someone who is going to take care of that hosting job.”
As for Burleson’s seat, the show has used a number of ex-players to fill-in. Schrager likes it that way because he can learn many different stories each week:
“Nate and I can finish each other’s sentences. Now, you have a guy I don’t know the story this player is going to tell. I don’t know where he’s going to take it and I think it’s kind of cool for us.”
Last summer, Schrager hosted The Flying Coach podcast on The Ringer with Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay. Unfortunately, there will be no season 2 of that show this summer. That doesn’t mean there won’t be another season of the podcast in the future though.
“I won’t do it without McVay. I begged him. He’s just out….He’s getting married this offseason. He’s got his honeymoon. He’s like, we’ll pick it up another offseason. I’m upset. I love doing it. All these new coaches, Sean and I would have had a good time with it and we talked about it, but it’s his decision and he’s saying no and I totally get it. He’s really good at it and he liked it. He’ll have opportunities and you see some of these numbers that these guys are getting. Trust me, he’s aware.”
Shan & RJ: ‘Inside The NBA Was Trying To Prevent A Riot Last Night’
“You know that moment? Everyone’s joking around. Everyone’s having fun, then someone doesn’t take the joke as a joke anymore and all the fun is sucked out of the room and things are awkward and serious?”
Things were very far from normal on Thursday night on the set of Inside the NBA. During the postgame show, Warriors fans threw objects at Charles Barkley as TNT was broadcasting live outside of the Chase Center in San Francisco.
Friday morning on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, Shan and RJ discussed the scene and said things felt out of the ordinary long before anything was even thrown.
“You know that moment? Everyone’s joking around. Everyone’s having fun, then someone doesn’t take the joke as a joke anymore and all the fun is sucked out of the room and things are awkward and serious?” Shan Shariff said. “That’s what happened yesterday on Inside the NBA both in the pregame and the postgame.”
Barkley had been picking on Warriors fans calling them annoying and describing San Francisco as having “dirty ass streets full of homeless people” throughout the series.
Shariff said even in the pregame show, it seemed that the Inside the NBA crew was wary of the crowd gathered behind them.
“It felt like yesterday instead of having fun and cutting loose, it felt like they were trying to prevent a riot.”
After a rolled-up t-shirt struck Barkley, he got up and acted as if he was going to throw a ceramic coffee mug into the crowd. Shariff said it was clear that Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith thought Barkley was about to be involved in an altercation of some sort.
RJ Choppy disagreed though. His immediate thought in seeing the video was that Barkley was just taking his ribbing of the crowd to the next level like a WWE superstar might.
“I think he knew the wrestling role, but I don’t think the other guys did,” Choppy said.
Sean and RJ expounded on the wrestling comparison, saying that he had a specific event in mind. He compared the way the crowd treated Barkley on Thursday night to how the crowd at ECW’s One Night Stand in 2006 treated John Cena. Cena and security may have thought they knew what was coming, but it was clear when fans started throwing chairs at the WWE champ that their ire was more serious than anticipated.
There can be peace for the time being. TNT’s NBA season ends at the conclusion of the Western Conference Finals. It will be interesting to see if this animosity returns in the 2022-23 season.
Don La Greca: ‘Howie Rose Was The Only Sports Talk Host As Passionate About Hockey As Me’
“When you look at the history of sports radio, the only person that I can think of that called games and was [as] passionate about hockey as I am that had a regular radio show was Howie Rose.”
Don LaGreca has been working on Rangers radio broadcasts since 2005, and has served as the backup play-by-play announcer for the last few seasons, filling in for Kenny Albert when he is unable to be on the call. Because of Albert’s responsibilities in calling national playoff games on television amid the new media rights agreement between the league and its partners (ESPN and Turner Sports), La Greca has called more Rangers games of late, and received positive reviews.
Yesterday on The Michael Kay Show on 98.7 ESPN New York, Kay mentioned the compliments callers have been giving La Greca for his ability to call hockey games, some of whom credit him for introducing them to the sport.
“The one thing hockey is is underexposed,” said La Greca. “Because you hear a lot of people say, ‘Boy, I didn’t realize how much fun this sport is; how great it is to go to a game,’ because a lot of us don’t grow up around it.”
La Greca realizes that he is in a unique position being the co-host of a sports radio show and an NHL play-by-play announcer, giving him a responsibility to communicate and opine on the game of hockey to his listening audience at large. He considers himself the second person to have such a distinction – the pioneer of which, while he may no longer be calling hockey games, still frequently discusses the sport on Twitter.
“When you look at the history of sports radio, the only person that I can think of that called games and was [as] passionate about hockey as I am that had a regular radio show was Howie Rose,” said La Greca. “And Howie Rose has been out of the sports radio game for 25 years.”
Rose was with WFAN from its launch on July 1, 1987 as its weekday nighttime host. Additionally, he served in the same role as La Greca, backing up Kenny Albert’s father Marv on Rangers radio broadcasts – where, in 1994, he delivered the illustrious call of Stephane Matteau’s game-winning, double-overtime goal in game 7 that sent the team to the Stanley Cup Finals. One year later, Rose left WFAN to begin calling games for the NHL’s New York Islanders on Sportschannel, and did not host a sports radio show during his time as a lead hockey play-by-play announcer.
While there are other sports radio hosts in the New York marketplace that exhibit a passion for hockey such as Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti, La Greca is the only one who actively calls the games – akin to how Michael Kay is the only active New York sports radio host who regularly calls professional baseball.
“You don’t have somebody who is as close to the sport as I am to have this kind of forum, so maybe there are a few people like, ‘Hey, I’m a fan of Don. I really don’t like hockey, but he calls a few games so let me listen,’ and it kind of opened a door that otherwise wouldn’t have been opened” said La Greca. “….I don’t think it’s anything that I’m doing. It’s just an opportunity that I have, and it is humbling and it’s pretty cool to hear and I hope those people stick with the sport.”