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KFAN Ascends To #1 In Morning Drive

Jason Barrett

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As the late great Yogi Berra reminded us, nothing’s over until it’s over. And with 92 KQRS’ legendary personality Tom Barnard showing no signs of hitting the terminal cough button, the fight for morning drive supremacy in Twin Cities radio isn’t over yet, no matter how pleased KFAN is with itself.

Only the most culturally isolated don’t know who Barnard is by now — and that his dominance of the metro radio audience over the past 25 years is one of the most remarkable runs in the entire country.

Last year, he signed a new five­-year contract with KQ owner Cumulus Media. So it is of more than a little interest that this past summer, KFAN­-FM, the sports-talk station owned by iHeartRadio (formerly Clear Channel) beat Barnard as No. 1 in the demographic the two stations care about most — and not just for a month, but the entire summer … before football season (sports talk radio’s raison d’être) really kicked in.

The gulf between Barnard and KFAN’s morning show is not large. But “The Power Trip,” currently hosted by Chis Hawkey, Cory Cove and Paul “Meatsauce” Lambert, with a supporting cast that includes Mark Rosen from WCCO-­TV — a key figure in Barnard’s ascension to dominance three decades ago — has now demonstrated enough staying power to settle any question that there’s any fluke at play here.

The basic numbers for 6 a.m. – 9 a.m. weekdays, men 25-­54:

Spring 2015 

KFAN: 13.0
KQRS: 14.4

Summer 2015
KFAN: 13.6
KQRS: 13.1

Repeated calls to KQRS operations manager Scott Jameson never resulted in a connection. But KFAN’s program director, Chad Abbott, was more than happy to chat, emphasizing that, yes, he expects the tide to continue running high and suggesting that Cove, Lambert, Hawkey et al.’s “high energy” delivery probably best explained the show’s growing appeal.

While KQRS’ format is officially defined as “classic rock,” Barnard’s show has almost nothing to do with 30-year­-old Heart and Boston cuts and everything to do with Barnard’s persona: a combination of a world-­weary natural intelligence, eclectic interests, hair-trigger disdain, unapologetic biases and the unfailing appeal of an implicit message that real men can’t get a break in this world anymore. By contrast, the “Power Trip” crowd’s act is pretty much pure escapism. Sports, goofy stuff in the news, guy-­jiving and plenty of pop culture.

 

By coincidence, I had a quick conversation with Mick Anselmo, the former GM at the local Clear Channel group who is now GM for CBS Radio’s local stations, including WCCO­-AM. He expressed little surprise at KFAN’s good fortune, complimenting the station’s management team, many of whom he hired, and arguing as he often does that the key to successful radio in an age where people can carry 3,000-­song playlists on their phones and listen to podcasts free of 25 minutes an hour of commercials is “the sense a station offers listeners that they are part of a community. You can’t get that from an MP3 player or streaming or a podcast. People like the feeling of being connected and the good operators learn how to give it to them.”

To read the full article visit MinnPost where it was originally published

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Fred Toucher: If Sean Grande is Not Retiring After Sign-Off Message, He is a ‘Pretentious Lunatic’

“They just won the championship; it has nothing to do with you.”

Barrett Sports Media

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Sean Grande
Courtesy: Jim Davis, Boston Globe

The Boston Celtics won the NBA Championship on Monday night, securing the 18th banner in the history of the organization and officially claiming the title of the franchise with the most championships in league history. Celtics radio play-by-play announcer Sean Grande delivered a final call encapsulating the moment on 98.5 The Sports Hub and then commenced postgame coverage with color commentator Cedric Maxwell. To close the broadcast, Grande delivered an emotional sign-off message to the listeners in which he told Maxwell that he loved him and thanked the listeners for tuning into the broadcasts. Fred Toucher played the audio of the sign-off on Wednesday morning’s edition of Toucher & Hardy on 98.5 The Sports Hub and proceeded to deliver his opinion on the matter.

“The 23 years I’ve spent with you guys has been, with the exception of being a dad, has been the honor of my life, and I wouldn’t trade any of it,” Grande said on Monday night. “I recognize that being the voice of the Boston Celtics is probably the first line of my obituary one day. It has been an honor in every way, shape and form an honor could be.”

At the moment, it is not clear whether Grande is retiring from his job as the radio play-by-play announcer for Boston Celtics games. Earlier in the year, he did not receive the television play-by-play job for the team following the retirement of Mike Gorman at the end of the season. The way in which he signed off, however, resembled what one would say on their last broadcast, according to Toucher, considering the remarks about his time with the team and his obituary.

“If he’s not leaving and that was just the end of the season, he’s an absolute lunatic,” Toucher said. “And quote it, say I’m a di-k, I don’t care. I thought about it overnight – I’m even more convinced than ever. If he’s not leaving, he’s a pretentious lunatic. That’s lunacy to make that about yourself at the end.”

As Toucher gave his opinion, he articulated that Gorman was not comfortable making the broadcast about himself at the conclusion of the first round of the playoffs. While he recognizes that Grande deserves a sign off if it is indeed his last broadcast, not revealing whether or not he is retiring has elicited speculation. Co-host Rob “Hardy” Poole asked if Grande genuinely does not know if he will be back, leading Toucher to express that he should not have signed off in that manner if it was the case.

“Putting myself in his position and having sort of the same job – talking on the radio – it’s insanity,” Toucher said. “It’s insanity. They just won the championship; it has nothing to do with you.”

Show anchor Jon Wallach, who has filled in on Celtics broadcasts in the past and has always wanted to be the voice of the team, shared that he had not heard anything. Additionally, he spoke with Maxwell on Tuesday and learned that he was not aware of any potential change taking place.

“Sean has signed off similarly in the past,” Wallach said. “This one was a little bit more, I don’t know if ‘dramatic’ is the right word, but this one he seemed more choked up than in previous years, but similarly he’s said things like, ‘Thank you or going on this ride with us. It’s been an honor.’ That kind of stuff.”

Toucher thought that Grande should have ended the broadcast by congratulating the Boston Celtics for winning the NBA Finals and conveying that they would be remembered for the rest of their lives. Instead, the minute-long monologue about the honor he has to call Celtics games and work with Maxwell is a decision he regarded as insane. In fact, if Grande was sitting in front of him in the radio studio, Toucher said that he would have expressed the same thing and does not feel badly about his opinion.

“If he’s retiring, I wish he would have said he was retiring, and then he could be honored like he deserves for having the job for 23 years,” Toucher said, “but if he’s not retiring, he’s a lunatic.”

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Boomer Esiason and Phil Simms Reunite on WFAN

“I watch your show sometimes with you in the morning, it’s terrible.”

Barrett Sports Media

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Graphic for Boomer & Gio on WFAN and a photo of Phil Simms
Phil Simms Photo Courtesy: CBS

Phil Simms and Boomer Esiason were back together again this morning as Simms was a guest on Boomer & Gio on WFAN. Simms called in to talk with Esiason and his morning partner Greg Giannotti about the New York Giants ‘A Night with Legends’ event tomorrow night to celebrate 100 seasons of New York Giants football.

The interview was mostly a couple of buddies making fun of one another and having some good laughs. It got off to a rather hilarious start when Giannotti read off what would be happening at the Giants event. He transitioned from that read to the introduction of Simms by saying, “…there will also be artifacts from the Pro Football Fall of Fame and one of those artifacts is on the line with us right now, Phil Simms.”

Prior to Simms coming on, Esiason was told who the next guest was and quipped, “Can my day get any worse?”

Simms then started the interview by saying, “Boomer, you want to make your day worse, just look in the mirror that will get you going.”

Simms and Esiason of course worked together for many years on the set of The NFL Today on CBS. Simms spent 26 years with the network and Esiason was a part of it for 22 years, starting in 2001. However, both will not be retained by CBS as they decided to bring in fresh blood and hired Matt Ryan to be the voice of the quarterback on the show.

Hearing the two back together even for a short time on the radio, brought back memories of the back and forth they would share on Sunday mornings.

“I watch your show sometimes with you in the morning, it’s terrible,” Simms said about catching Boomer & Gio on CBS Sports Network. “I don’t know what else to say. You sit there with like a blank stare.”

“I sat with you all those years and all I had to listen to was Giants story here, Giants story there, this guy here, Parcells, Belichick, Lawrence Taylor, it goes on and on and on,” Esiason replied.

“You’re so full of it,” Simms countered. “You’re still the same. Nobody talks about themselves more than you, so I don’t want to hear it.”

As part of the 100 years of New York Giants football, the team will be releasing a list of “Top 100 Players” beginning in July and going throughout the summer. The conversation moved to where Simms might fall on that list and Esiason told Simms, “I think you are one of the most underrated players who has ever played.”

“That must have been like vinegar in your mouth,” Simms replied.

Simms told a good Bill Parcells story about a game where he threw three interceptions and after the third, he was expecting to get chewed out when he came to the sidelines. Parcells instead calmly asked Simms if he was watching the same game that Parcells and the offensive coordinator were watching.

Then, as the interview started to wrap up, Simms said, “I only got another minute or so because I gotta go down and start painting the garage and finish it up because that is what my life is now about.”

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Scott Kaplan Signs Multi-Year Extension with ESPN Los Angeles

“More than anything, I am just happy to be part of this team. ESPN LA and Good Karma Brands do things right, it’s a great partnership.

Barrett Sports Media

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Graphic with the logo for ESPN LA and a photo of host Scott Kaplan making an announcement about his contract extension
Graphic Courtesy: ESPN LA

It has been a week of announcements so far for ESPN LA. Earlier this week the station announced it would be the flagship station for USC Trojans football and men’s and women’s basketball games. Yesterday, the station announced a new contract extension for afternoon drive co-host Scott Kaplan.

If you listen to or know about the programming at ESPN LA, you can imagine they have had some fun with these announcements. Kaplan’s contract situation coinciding with the Lakers searching for a new head coach allowed for some crossover conversation and a tongue-in-cheek announcement quote that read, “I have decided NOT to take the Lakers head coaching job, and keep my talents at ESPN LA.”

Chris Morales did the honors on the air after teasing the big announcement.

“It is an honor and a privilege to say that Scott Kaplan has finally done what is right,” he said. “And we open up the major announcement case and we say…Congratulations Scott Kaplan on a multi-year deal that will keep you on the LA Afternoon Drive Takeover…and at 710 ESPN for years to come.”

A standing ovation and hugs followed.

BSM spoke with Kaplan, and he said, “More than anything, I am just happy to be part of this team. ESPN LA and Good Karma Brands do things right, it’s a great partnership. I love what we have and will continue to do build.”

Kaplan, who had a 19-year run at the Mighty 1090 in San Diego that ended in April 2019, has been with ESPN LA since August 2020. Kaplan also previously worked at WQAM in Miami and WNEW in New York and also has done work with CBS Sports and Westwood One.

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