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Karraker Toes The Line With Rams Address

Jason Barrett

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It was impassioned. It was pointed. And it sure seemed to be from the heart. But was Randy Karraker’s emotional speech Tuesday night — at the public forum the NFL held in St. Louis to address the team’s possible move back to Southern California — proper?

The session, at which he took shots at Rams owner Stan Kroenke and stuck up for St. Louis interests, was supposed to be for the general public — not members of the media. And Karraker is a prominent sports-talk show host at Rams flagship radio station WXOS (101.1 FM).

But Karraker, who has worked at other high-profile local stations over the years, doesn’t hide his St. Louis fandom on the air. And he said he took the microphone as a fan, not a sportscaster, saying he has been a season-ticket holder since the team arrived in town in 1995. And it was an emotional moment for him when he was called to speak.

“You can see the passion, I am a passionate football fan,” he told the committee members as he choked back tears and his voice cracked. He quickly gained his composure and went on to talk about Kroenke’s absence locally, how it has been nearly four years since Kroenke last addressed the team’s followers. He contrasted that to the public activities of Blues owner Tom Stillman and the Cardinals’ Bill DeWitt Jr.

“His detachment is a big reason … he’s trying to make it a bad football market,” Karraker said. “This is not a bad football market, it is a speculator football town.”

He added that St. Louis is in better financial shape than when Kroenke took control of the team in 2010, hinting that the LA plan already might have been in Kroenke’s thoughts then.

“If the market was so bad, why did he take a bad deal?” Karraker asked. “He’s a great businessman. … The market is less challenging now.”

Karraker also detailed some of the items in the NFL’s policy on teams moving and said the Rams “don’t meet 90 percent of relocation guidelines.”

His parting words were pointed:

“All we can ask for as fans is a chance and an opportunity from you, the league, because clearly we aren’t getting that from our owner.”

Karraker, in an interview, looked back at his night in the spotlight and said it was “complete luck” that he was called on to talk after he met a friend at the meeting, which was held at Peabody Opera House.

“Within minutes NFL people came to our section and asked if anyone wanted to speak,” Karraker said, adding he was surprised. “I went there with the idea I probably wouldn’t be able to speak. I was prepared for that, I was actually shocked when they came and made the offer.”

But was it right for him to accept? There’s a big difference between having an opinion on the air and becoming an activist, which could lead to listeners questioning his objectivity — and that of the station in general, which has a lot of its programming based around the Rams.

Karraker emphasized that he was speaking strictly as a fan.

“I made it a point to not even request (media) credentials,” he said. “If I didn’t get in as a fan, I wasn’t going to go. That’s why I introduced myself (at the podium) as a charter PSL holder. I went there with the idea that I wasn’t the guy who sits in the ‘Fast Lane’ chair every weekday from 3-7. I went there as the guy who sits in Section 413, Row A, Seats 10-11 every Sunday.”

On the air Wednesday, Karraker said he feels the fans’ frustrations.

“We are all in this same boat,” he said. “I’m glad they recognize I love them.”

But not everyone was impressed. KXFN (1380 AM) sports-talk host Kevin Slaten called Karraker a “crybaby” and unprofessional on the air. He added that it isn’t as if a relative had died, and belittled the entire tone of the event in which many fans spoke, some rambling. He said it made St. Louisans look like they were displaying a “hillbilly hoedown” atmosphere to the NFL.

Karraker, meanwhile, said the emotional start to his speech was a reaction to the energy in the room generated by Rams fans.

“The moment hit me,” he said in the interview. “I was thrilled at the response that Dave Peacock and Bob Blitz got. (They lead the movement to keep the NFL in St. Louis.) To feel the passion in that room, from those fans from so many different walks of life, it did hit me. Then when they started chanting my name — I’m not that big of a deal — that really hit me.”

 

To read the rest of the article visit STL Today where it was originally published

Sports Radio News

Danny Balis Joins 97.1 The Freak

“I feel kind of nervous because I haven’t done this in a long time. I thought this may not ever happen to me again, to do radio with people I’ve known for a very, very long time.”

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Longtime Sportsradio 96.7/1310 The Ticket producer Danny Balis is joining 97.1 The Freak in Dallas.

Balis was introduced Monday as the newest member of The Downbeat cast, which already features Mike Rhyner, Mike Sirois, and Michael Gruber.

“He was the one I want, and I get what I want here,” Rhyner said during Monday’s announcement.

“I’m excited,” said Balis. “I feel kind of nervous because I haven’t done this in a long time. I thought this may not ever happen to me again, to do radio with people I’ve known for a very, very long time.”

Balis left The Ticket in May, citing an interest in focusing on other areas of his life outside of radio. He served as a producer at the station for 22 years before stepping aside. At the time, he said “The room for growth for me up here is not going to open up until all you knuckleheads retire,” the 54-year-old joked.

In addition to his work with The Freak, Balis continues to co-own the Twilite Lounge in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

97.1 The Freak launched in October, and features a “broad-based, personality driven format” that features several former Dallas sports radio personalities including Rhyner, and Ben and Skin among others.

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Sports Radio News

Shan & RJ: We Have Questions About Jerry Jones But Washington Post Report Isn’t One of Them

“We all have some skeletons in our closet, but to throw the weight of the word racist on anyone, you’re gonna have to come with more than that.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones found himself in the headlines last week ahead of the team’s Thanksgiving Day game, but it was largely seen as something that didn’t need to be dragged out into the spotlight, and 105.3 The Fan hosts Shan and RJ agreed.

The Washington Post last week published a photo from 1957 showing a 14-year-old Jones among a crowd of onlookers as white students tried to block the path of some Black students attempting to enter his North Little Rock, Arkansas high school.

The piece focused on Jones, who is the Cowboys general manager, never hiring a Black head coach in the entire time he’s owned the franchise.

On Monday, Shan Shariff said it seemed a bit much to use that photo and article to paint Jones as some sort of racist.

“There’s certainly a bunch of stories out there that we know on and off the record about Jerry Jones that makes me question his morals,” he said. “We all have some skeletons in our closet, but to throw the weight of the word racist on anyone, you’re gonna have to come with more than that.”

Cowboys insider Bobby Belt, who was filling in for co-host RJ Choppy on Shan & RJ, said Jones has likely evolved like a lot of people do over time. He didn’t think it was fair to necessarily say Jones was racist.

“I’m not gonna speak for anyone else but I don’t believe he’s racist,” Belt said. “I think there are enough people who have dealt with him who are African American who would tell you they don’t think he’s racist. But it’s still not a thing that you can just write off to ‘Oh I was just standing there.'”

Jones admitted to the Post that his football coach at the time told him and other players not to get involved or be among the crowd for that moment, but he went anyway.

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Sports Radio News

DiPietro & Rothenberg: NFL TV Partners Should Schedule Jets and Giants at Opposite Times

Jordan Bondurant

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For the first time in a long time, both the New York Giants and the New York Jets are factors in the NFL playoff picture. After years of both franchises occupying the bottom portions of the league standings, fans in New York and the surrounding area have a reason to believe. On DiPietro & Rothenberg on ESPN New York, Dave Rothenberg said he thinks the league should put both teams in more marquee windows.

“When you start to think about flexing games, you start to think about you know what, the Giants and Jets should be flexed into better time slots,” he said.

Co-host Rick DiPietro said it sucks now that both teams are playing well, fans are essentially forced to flip back and forth between games.

“It’s awful. It really is,” he said. “I wouldn’t say that it ruins the Sunday because that would be hard. But it’s not my favorite.”

Still, it’s not lost on Rothenberg that football fans in the city now have something to cheer for NFL wise as the last chunk of the regular season approaches.

“When was the last time the Jets and Giants in December had meaningful football games?” Rothenberg asked. “Years and years and years.”

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