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McKernan Hits Major Milestone

Jason Barrett

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Tim McKernan enjoys playing in the main event of the World Series of Poker, in Las Vegas. While chasing the huge payday there is a fun pursuit, he has cashed in nicely in St. Louis in his primary professional endeavor as he reaches a major milestone this weekend.

It is the 10th anniversary of the business he founded after leaving the St. Louis television sportscasting fray to go full-bore into radio. That led to the formation of what now is insideSTL Enterprises, LLC, which currently controls the weekday programming at radio station WGNU (920 AM), has the insideSTL.com website and also does promotional events associated with the company.

Sports is a focal point of the operation, but pop culture and general minutiae also are key elements of what is far from a traditional approach to the business.

The “Morning After” show, which airs from 7-10 a.m. weekdays, is the foundation of the company. McKernan and regular co-hosts Jim Hayes and Doug Vaughn (with Charlie Marlow often filling in) take an often irreverent approach that can veer into topics such as gambling, sex, drinking and the like. But there also are in-depth interviews of substance, as the company has found a successful, albeit unlikely, mix.

“It’s like a bizzaro-world variety show,” McKernan said this week. “Fortunately it works.”

The approach to the show, and the company, isn’t the typical corporate style associated with most stations. For instance, there is coarse language in online commentary and discussion of weird topics. It certainly isn’t for everybody. But there is a lot of interaction with the audience on many levels.

“Something has happened over the last couple years, (our audience has) gotten younger,” McKernan said. “It’s not like we’re all in our 20s — I’m the youngest guy on the show and I’m 38. But the audience — we still have the people who have listened for years — but when we do events it’s 20- and 30-somethings.

“The texting, tweeting and Facebook fan page … the audience is so involved in the show that they create” some of its content.

But it has been far from an easy ride, as the company has survived a series of wild twists that could only be described as soap-opera material — none bigger than the firestorm that erupted two summers ago when Jack Clark alleged on the air that fellow former Cardinal Albert Pujols used steroids.

THE BEGINNING

McKernan had realized his career dream, at least at the time, by being hired in 2000 as the No. 3 sportscaster at KMOV (Channel 4). But it became a dead-end spot — the chance of advancement was slim and the money wasn’t good. He began moonlighting in radio, doing sports at now-defunct KFNS (590 AM), and by 2005 he made the highly unusual full-time move then from TV to radio.

“Understandably people assume — and I think to this day — that television pays more than radio, and in many cases that is reality,” McKernan recalled. “However, fortunately, I was able to make a lot more money doing radio and I liked it a lot more.”There is much more time for personal expression on radio.

He was working on radio with fellow TV sportscasters Martin Kilcoyne and Hayes, on what then was known as the “Morning Grind.” Still, when he made the full-time switch to radio …

“I was thinking to myself, ‘What the hell am I going to do?’” he said. “‘I had been (at KMOV) five years and I already want to move away from it. But radio, doing a show with Martin and Jim — it was picking up in popularity, it was fun and financially it was more lucrative”” than TV.

But he quickly discovered that there is a tough side to the radio business, too, as he was told he had to do some weekend Rams shows because he no longer was in TV — much to his chagrin.

“It’s not the way you’d want to treat people,” he said.

A television opportunity developed in Denver, which included doing a baseball show that would air nationally on Fox cable outlets. This wasn’t long after insideSTL had started, and Cardinals outfielder Jim Edmonds had offered to buy in to the operation that was growing.

“My addiction is the ‘Morning After’/’Morning Grind,’” he said, turning down the TV offer.

But then a key producer on the radio show was fired and Kilcoyne quit in a dispute with management. McKernan wanted Vaughn brought in to replace Kilcoyne (“Doug was clearly the best guy for the job,” he said) but management instead also fired Hayes and brought Bob Fescoe in from Kansas City to work with McKernan. Despite McKernan saying Fescoe is “a very nice guy’’ McKernan was miserable. They didn’t mesh.

“I couldn’t do it, it was so depressing,” McKernan said. “There were times I would look at the clock and wonder how we would make it to a commercial break because we had nothing. The station was losing money. It was a chaotic time. At that point I was ready to leave radio.”

His agent helped get him an audition for a TV sportscasting job in New York, and he was offered a job.

But at the same time in 2007, KSLG (1380 AM) was building what for a time was a St. Louis sports powerhouse lineup. McKernan and company were wanted there, and would be able to get out of the KFNS deal. So he had the choice of doing AM radio at 1380 or going to New York to do TV.

“Any observer in broadcasting goes, ‘OK, that’s a no-brainer,’’ McKernan recalls.

However …

“I love the (radio) show and we had a business that was starting to gain traction,” he said. “So I turned down New York — and my agent went ballistic.”

Continue reading the rest of the story by visiting STL Today where it was originally published

Sports Radio News

Andrew Fillipponi: Peter Burns Made ‘Innocuous Joke’ To Ben Watson

“So wait a minute? Because you believe in Jesus Christ you care about your wife more than other people? What are you talking about?”

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The on-air spat between SEC Network host Peter Burns and analyst Ben Watson continues to be bandied about in sports media circles, with 93.7 The Fan hosts Andrew Fillipponi and Chris Mueller discussing the topic Tuesday.

“I’m on Team Burns,” Fillipponi said.

“Forget who’s team you’re on,” Chris Mueller said. “I think you’ve do have to keep the wives and children out of this.”

“What are you talking about, keep the wives and out of it?!,” Fillipponi asked.

“Do we believe this is work or shoot here?,” Mueller wondered.

“Oh, I think this is real,” Fillpponi added, which Mueller agreed.

“Do you think a close fist from Ben Watson hit Peter Burns?,” Mueller asked.

“No, I think he picked him up by the lapels,” Fillipponi said.

When the subject of Watson’s religion was brought up, Fillipponi then pointed out the absurdity of the situation.

“So wait a minute? Because you believe in Jesus Christ you care about your wife more than other people? What are you talking about?”

“I think he might have a shorter fuse and not taking in humor that Peter Burns was giving out,” Mueller said.

“It was an innocuous joke!,” Fillipponi stated. “It wasn’t a joke! Why is it in bad taste?”

Mueller then added the idea of Watson’s wife texting Burns insinuates there’s an inappropriate relationship.

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Sports Radio News

Craig Carton: Booger McFarland’s Zach Wilson Analysis ‘An Embarrasment’

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Craig Carton

ESPN NFL analyst Booger McFarland raised eyebrows on Monday Night Countdown this week by saying New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson has never been held accountable for his actions because he was a “young man who grew up with a lot of money”. WFAN afternoon host Craig Carton called out McFarland’s comments Tuesday as outlandish.

“It was an embarrasment,” Carton said. “Someone should ask Booger McFarland if his kids — who grew up with amazing wealth — have accountability in their lives or if having a little bit of money in your pocket immediately discounts the possibility to have accountability. He’s an idiot and we learned that last night.”

“It’s funny that Steve Young was on the other side of it,” Evan Roberts noted. “Because a long time ago, Steve Young criticized Chris Simms because he’s the son of a famous quarterback.”

“You don’t have to invent reasons for why Zach Wilson isn’t playing well,” added Carton. “Just watch his tape. He’s not playing well. Maybe he’s just not good!”

Carton later said NFL reporters “will try to make a name for themselves by putting out a story” about quarterbacks who take responsibility for their teams failures, while Wilson wouldn’t accept the blame.

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Sports Radio News

Greg Hill: Ben Watson, Peter Burns Drama Was A Bit

“Be careful when you’re talking about somebody’s wife and their kids. ‘Cause not everybody jokes the same way.”

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Peter Burns and Ben Watson shared an awkward exchange during the halftime show of an SEC Network football game over the weekend, and many are still debating whether Watson walking off the set was serious or not. Count part of the cast of The Greg Hill Show on WEEI as doubters.

“That was a a bit,” Courtney Cox said. “That was absolutely a bit.”

“Yeah, unlike the Chris Rock/Will Smith thing, I assume that was a bit,” Hill said. “I can’t believe that Ben Watson is really angry about that.”

“I dunno, man. There’s been a lot of speculation that it isn’t,” Jermaine Wiggins added. “There are people who are very sensitive about you clowning on them or joking with them. Especially with joking about their wife. Some people can’t handle jokes like that.”

After a back-and-forth with Cox about the legitimacy of the joke, Wiggins concluded by saying for some folks family is off limits.

“I’ve learned something in my 47 years on this Earth: be careful when you’re talking about somebody’s wife and their kids. ‘Cause not everybody jokes the same way.”

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