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McKernan Hits Major Milestone

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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

Jeff Rickard Named Program Director of WFNZ in Charlotte

“After our first conversation I knew Jeff was the one to take us to the next level.”

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Jeff Rickard is headed to Charlotte. The sports radio veteran has been named the new program director of WFNZ, one of the Southeast’s premier sports radio brands.

Rickard replaces Terry Foxx who announced in February that he was leaving Charlotte to take over KUT in Austin. 

“We are committed to making sports radio even bigger in Charlotte, adding the 92.7 FM signal in March was just the beginning of that commitment,” Marsha Landess, Regional Vice President of Radio One, said in a press release. “Having a successful veteran like Jeff Rickard join our team will help take us to the level that a passionate sports city like Charlotte deserves. Jeff brings to WFNZ extensive sports experience, talent, drive, and a passion for success. He will be a great complement to our incredibly talented local Charlotte on-air team. After our first conversation I knew he was the one to take us to the next level. As the flagship station for the Charlotte Hornets as well as Charlotte FC we are looking forward to an incredibly successful future with Jeff leading the charge.”

Rickard’s resume in sports radio speaks for itself. He was most recently the brand manager at WEEI in Boston, a role he exited in January. Prior to that, he spent six years at 107.5 The Fan in Indianapolis serving as both a weekday host and the station’s program director. He has also worked nationally for ESPN Radio, FOX Sports Radio, and SiriusXM, and spent time during the early part of his career working in Denver and Salt Lake City.

“I had been planning on taking a professional sabbatical this year but after meeting with Marsha Landess and learning more about Radio One, I began to get more excited to get back to work,” shared Rickard. “Radio One as a company, combined with Marsha’s leadership and the potential for WFNZ, was just too appealing to not be a part of. I am extremely grateful to Radio One for this opportunity and can’t wait to start working with the talented staff in Charlotte. My family and I are all in on this situation and can’t wait to get started on this new chapter.”

Not one to waste time diving in, Rickard officially stepped into the Charlotte offices today to meet his new staff.

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Sports Radio News

Kirk Herbstriet Wants To Be Held To Same Standard For NFL As College Football

“Herbstreit was on The Pat McAfee Show on Friday and he said he is already at Pro Football Focus in Cincinnati doing his research.”

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The NFL schedule was released last week, and Thursday Night Football has a lot of interesting matchups for its first year on Amazon Prime. It is also a new broadcast booth with Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit on the call. 

With Herbstreit now adding Thursday Night Football to College Gameday, he has already started preparing for the upcoming season. Herbstreit was on The Pat McAfee Show on Friday and he said he is already at Pro Football Focus in Cincinnati doing his research.

“I’m just trying to lay a foundation,” said Herbstreit. 

Herbstreit told McAfee that whenever anyone asks him to talk about a college team, he can quickly tell them what the DNA of that team is. Now he wants to bring that level of preparation to his NFL broadcasts. He will look at a different matchup every week this summer to get a more detailed idea of what each team is about: 

As for his connection with Al Michaels, Herbstreit mentioned he has gone out to dinner with him a couple of times and he wants to make going out to eat with his broadcast partner a frequent deal.

“Hung out with him 2-3 times. Had a chance just to get to know him. When you go into a new deal, I love like Wednesday night dinner, I want to make a staple and just hang out and get to know him and hopefully he will get to know me. When you do that, it allows you to have natural chemistry.”

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Sports Radio News

Andrew Mason To Succeed John Clayton At 104.3 The Fan

“Mason comes to The Fan from DNVR, a digital outlet where he provided written and audio content for the last three seasons.”

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John Clayton passed away earlier this year. That left 104.3 The Fan without a lead Broncos writer for the 2022 season. On Monday, the station announced that it had hired a successor in Andrew Mason.

Mason comes to The Fan from DNVR, a digital outlet where he provided written and audio content for the last three seasons.

“Mase’s work speaks for itself as one of the market’s most respected analysts when it comes to writing about and discussing the Broncos,” Raj Sharan, The Fan’s program director, said in a press release. “Replacing someone of the legendary stature of John Clayton was not something we took lightly, and we believe Mase is the perfect person to pick up that mantle and bring tremendous credibility and content to our rapidly growing digital platforms.”

Andrew Mason has a lot of credibility with Broncos fans. He has covered the team for 19 years. He has also written a book called Tales from the Denver Broncos Sideline.

The Fan won’t be his first foray into Denver radio either. Mason has previously been a host on Mile High Sports Radio and the defunct KDSP- AM.

“I’m thrilled to join The Fan team and add what I can to the efforts of building Denver’s premier online destination for Denver fans,” said Mason. “Being tasked with replacing a legend like John Clayton is a responsibility I take very seriously, and I’m honored The Fan has entrusted me with this opportunity.”

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