It’s a weekday morning less than a month before the start of college football season, and Teddy Heffner and Rick Sanford, aka “Dr. Rick,” are – no surprise – disagreeing about something on their “Talkin’ Sports” radio talk show.
This day, though, the topic is not Steve Spurrier or Dabo Swinney, but the just-announced nickname of Columbia’s new minor league baseball team.
Heffner, 64 and a veteran of 25-plus years in sports radio, is not exactly enamored of the name “Fireflies,” which will debut in 2016. “Why don’t you call ’em ‘Lightning Bugs’? Who in the South says ‘Fireflies’?” he says, all but shouting.
Sanford, 57, who has as a sponsor Spirit Communications, the company whose name will grace the minor league team’s under-construction stadium, fires back. “Don’t be dissing the Fireflies,” he says with a laugh.
For long-time listeners to “Talkin’ Sports,” it’s nothing new. But, in fact, it is.
Heffner and Sanford are in their sixth month with WGCV-AM 620 and FM 105.1 (full disclosure: this writer is a weekly guest on the show). For years, they were part of an all-sports lineup at then-Clear Channel Broadcasting’s “SportsRadio 560 The Team,” until management fired virtually its entire local lineup last October, putting Heffner and Sanford on the street.
To say they’re happy to be back on the air – they were absent four months – would be a wild understatement. But there’s still this: Not everyone who listened to them before knows they’re back.
“I still have friends who say, ‘What are you doing now?’” Heffner said. “Or callers who say, ‘I just found y’all on the air.’” Four months is a lifetime in local radio.
That’s why, when Glory Communications agreed to bring them aboard, it was both a financial and emotional lifeline, especially for Heffner. “(Glory owner) Alex Snipe took a gamble on us, and I think they’re pleased with us so far,” he said.
Now, they have to keep it going. That means, Heffner knows, they have to have more listeners, and more sponsors.
“We’re not going to challenge 107.5,” he said, referring to Columbia’s 400-pound gorilla of a sports-talk station, which owns radio rights to University of South Carolina athletics. “Heck, they put us out of business at (Clear Channel).
“But we think there’s still a need for local talk radio. We want to give listeners a choice.”
Sanford, a former USC and NFL defensive back, as well as a chiropractor (hence “Dr. Rick”), says his football experience – and the “he said-he said” chemistry between the two – is part of that. “I think what we offer is, we do our homework and we’re informative,” he said.
“We keep up on local sports, and I’m going to tell you what I think – which might anger some of my USC fans when I say Clemson can be a top-10 team this year. I have no problem saying that (because) it’s true.”
Gary Pozsik, a longtime host on WGCV, served as go-between to bring the duo and the station together. Alexis Campbell, Glory’s general sales manager for 17 of her 19 years at the station, says choosing to do so wasn’t automatic, though.
“We had a morning show of inspirational music, and the concern was, with an older audience, would we lose them,” she said. “Because we have all-talk from 10 a.m.-7 p.m., though, we thought sports would be a good transition. And we didn’t lose that audience.”
“Talkin’ Sports” remains an underdog in the battle for Midlands listeners. Heffner and Sanford have put together a lineup of fall regulars that includes ex-USC linebacker (and WACH-TV sportscaster) Corey Miller and former Gamecocks and Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, as well as regulars Kirk Burnett (Airport High coach) and referee Dennis O’Keefe.
And Sanford can point to his past analyses of the Gamecocks, Heffner said. “Last fall, when everyone was saying USC was a top-10 team, Rick was saying, ‘I don’t know about that defense.’” The 7-6 Gamecocks were one of the SEC’s worst defenses, “so Rick knew what he was talking about.”
That means little if the show doesn’t draw listeners and sponsors. Campbell says WGCV has vigorously promoted “Talkin’ Sports” on social media and is negotiating a billboard campaign, “to rebrand who we are.” She says she wants the show to survive, and thrive. “They’re part of the family now,” she said.
As for the future, “we’re trying to make a living, have fun, and give Columbia sports fans an alternative,” Heffner said. “You can switch to 107.5, or to us, or both.
“We just want (listeners) to know we’re here.”
Credit to The State who originally published this article
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at [email protected].
Jim Rome: I Don’t Want to Talk About How the NFL Sucks Every Day
Rome argued that “hate is the new dopamine” while noting that he doesn’t want to talk about what he hates all day.
Jim Rome didn’t want to have to be that guy on Tuesday, but he had no choice.
Rome opened his CBS Sports Radio show by prefacing his comments on Monday night’s Bears/Vikings game by saying his goal isn’t to just ridicule the NFL schedule into oblivion.
“I don’t come in here every single day looking to bag on and hate on NFL primetime games,” Rome said. “And yes, I’m the one who said it – hate is the new dopamine. But that’s not how I get down. That’s not my deal.”
Jim Rome added that just saying everything sucks isn’t a sports take. But he pivoted from there saying that it’s OK to say 95% of the primetime games in the NFL suck because it’s true.
“Then not only is it a take, it’s the only take,” he said. “How are these games actually managing in primetime to get worse and worse? And how is anything going to top the atrocity that we sat through last night?”
Fans in theory should get a more competitive, high-scoring affair on Thursday night when the Seahawks take on the Cowboys. But Rome just couldn’t believe how torturous Monday night’s contest really was.
“Technically, the Bears did win that game. But technically, really, we all lost,” he said.
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
Mad Dog: Gus Johnson ‘Bothered The Hell Out of Me’ Saturday
“For crying out loud, Michigan/Ohio State isn’t even better than North Carolina/Duke, who play twice a year. So let’s be careful with the hype machine.”
FOX Sports college football voice Gus Johnson has made no bones about his affinity for Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. However, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo has heard enough.
During his Mad Dog Unleashed program on SiriusXM, Russo shared that not only was Johnson obnoxious for the constant use of a nickname he bestowed up Harrison, but he was also misguided for calling Ohio State/Michigan the greatest rivalry in sports.
“Gus Johnson — the hype machine that he is — please, when you broadcast a ballgame, I don’t need to hear about Maserati Marv, number one. And number two, that’s not the greatest rivalry in sports history. Have you heard of the Yankees and the Red Sox? Giants and the Dodgers? How about Bears/Packers? Have you heard about that?
“For crying out loud, Michigan/Ohio State isn’t even better than North Carolina/Duke, who play twice a year. So let’s be careful with the hype machine. That bothered the hell out of me.”
When a caller pushed back on Russo’s opinion on the Michigan/Ohio State rivalry, he continued by saying “That rivalry’s not Yankees/Red Sox. To compare college football to the Yankees and the Red Sox is ludicrous.”
Nashville Predators Radio Voice Pete Weber Calling 2,000th Game Tuesday
“I always wanted to be there for the birth of a team. I feel like I’ve been a pretty fair midwife here.”
Nashville Predators radio voice Pete Weber is set to hit a career milestone Tuesday, as he’ll call his 2,000th game for the NHL franchise.
Weber told The Tennessean that he has relished the opportunity to be the voice of a team since its inception. He claimed he applied for and was a finalist for the radio play-by-play job when the Carolina Panthers were conceived, before ultimately landing with the Predators.
“I always wanted to be there for the birth of a team,” said Weber. “I feel like I’ve been a pretty fair midwife here.”
Despite missing time late last season due to a rare brain condition, Weber said he has no plans of retiring anytime soon.
“I have not thought about it, other than when I thought about how (former Philadelphia Phillies announcer) Harry Kalas was carried dead out of the broadcast booth in Washington,” Pete Weber said. “I thought, ‘Well, that’s an interesting way to go. I don’t necessarily know that I want to do it like that. But it could happen. I’m not going to say no.”
Weber’s 2,000th game will come as the Nashville Predators play host to the Pittsburgh Penguins. 102.5 The Game is the flagship home of the Predators Radio Network.