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Orlando Alzugaray, a Fixture on Miami Sports Radio

Jason Barrett

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As football season steps into overdrive and we all start hemming and hawing about our favorite college and pro teams, I called an old friend who is quite knowledgeable about sports and treated myself to a rainy afternoon sports jam session (or descarga, as we like to say in Spanish) over a delectable stogie at a tucked away cigar shop in Kendall.

The difference between my sports chat and the thousands of others taking place that very drizzly afternoon in South Florida is that I was conversing with none other than WQAM’s sports talk host Orlando “the big O” Alzugaray — and what a treat it was.

The “Big O” as he is affectionately called by listeners, has been a fixture on South Florida’s radio waves for over two decades. Consistently offering a local take on the Dolphins, Heat, Canes, Marlins and Panthers, Alzugaray is as down home Miami as you can get — a homer, a fan, the kind of guy you want to tailgate with.

Part of Alzugaray’s success in connecting with his listeners has been the fact that he feels the same pain we do when our local teams flop. “I love the home teams. I feel the pain the average fan feels, though I try to be analytical and realistic,” Alzugaray explained between puffs of his aromatic cigar. “And no matter how much I try to take a step back and be impartial,” he confided, “sometimes I too can be a ‘blind ass fan’ (a term that he has popularized on his show).”

It is precisely that “blind” passionate flare for local sports that keeps listeners like me tuning in every day.

In a market full of transplants, particularly from the Northeast, Alzugaray is refreshingly native. From his distinct musical rejoiners to references to events of Miami’s past, Alzugaray provides a rarity in South Florida media, a connection to our history — to events on and off sports fields.

“I’ve had a chance to go elsewhere,” he told me, “but Miami is where I want to be. It’s where my wife and I are raising our daughter. It’s home.”

The Big O is sometimes abrasive and challenging. However, it’s always done in the most unpretentious of ways. When you tune in to his show (weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) you’ll never hear him auditioning to get a network gig. He is as non-politically-correct as any radio talent in this market since the late, great Neil Rogers — quite refreshing in today’s cookie cutter, homogenous world of entertainment.

I began my own career in media over 20 years ago covering sports on the same station alongside the Big O and what impressed me about him then is still true about him today: He is tireless when it comes to watching, breaking down and analyzing sports. This guy really does his homework.

An example of this is his yearly trip to the college football Senior Bowl—an all-star game for college seniors, where pro scouts gather to evaluate talent. Alzugaray has been a mainstay at this bowl game in Mobile, Ala., and especially the week of practice leading up to the game for over 15 years — for most of those, he has paid his own way

“Actually, cigars have gone a long way for me in building relationships with lots of NFL scouts and general managers,” Alzugaray confided. “I stock up on stogies when I go up to Mobile and spend the week having after-hour cigars with many decision makers in the NFL. That’s how I’ve built some great relationships over the years. “

That is a testament to his work ethic and his desire to learn more about the game he talks about on the air, and the deep respect he has for the listeners who are intrigued by the inside information that the Big O gathers and shares with them on the air — or while enjoying a good cigar.

Read more at the Miami Herald which is where this article was originally published

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Sports Media Reacts to the Possibility of Losing ‘Inside the NBA’

“It’s must-see television, it always is.”

Barrett Sports Media

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Photos of Shaquille O'Neal, Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley
Photo Courtesy: TNT Sports

Many in sports media have reacted to the news today that NBC will claim the final NBA media rights package. This means that longtime NBA partner TNT is out after next season and, most likely, Inside the NBA will come to an end next year as well.

On 670 The Score in Chicago, Dan Bernstein said, “I’m genuinely unhappy about it because it appears that the last season of the NBA on TNT and Inside the NBA is next year and then it’s over. Unless somebody just throws a ton of money and picks that whole show up and grabs it and says, ‘What’s your number’ for everybody we want to just take the whole show, everybody involved and make it part of what we do…it sounds like it’s over and that sucks. That’s the best sports studio show ever.”

Steak Shapiro from 92.9 The Game in Atlanta said upon reading the news, “That stinks… What great entertainment does is allow you to be entertained and take a deep breath and say, ‘I just enjoy this, this is my hour and a half or two hours watching Shaq, Kenny, Charles and Ernie Johnson Jr. hanging out.'”

Rich Eisen spent time on his show talking about it and said, ” I’m telling you guys I would be stunned if they were all a package deal going somewhere else.” He later added, about the show, “It’s must-see television, it always is.”

Several others took to social media to post about the show:

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Andy Gresh: ‘Greg Olsen Got Pushed Out for the Greatest Player in the History of the Game’

“Even in the world of tight ends he doesn’t scratch the surface of where Tom Brady has been.”

Barrett Sports Media

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Photos of Andy Gresh and Greg Olsen and a logo for WEEI
Gresh Photo Courtesy: Audacy Olsen Photo Courtesy: FOX Sports

The Sports Emmy Awards were handed out last night and one particular award caught the attention of WEEI’s Gresh & Fauria show in Boston. Hosts Andy Gresh and Christian Fauria talked about the category of Outstanding Personality/Event Analyst where the nominees were Troy Aikman, Cris Collinsworth, Greg Olsen, Bill Raftery, John Smoltz and Tom Verducci.

Olsen won the award, and the show played the audio from his acceptance speech. “I think there’s a lot of people wondering what I’m going to say right now,” Olsen said. “Coming into tonight, people asked me, they say, ‘What’s your biggest threat to your future in the business?’ And everyone’s like, ‘Oh, Brady and this,’ and I think it’s Andy from ‘Toy Story.’ If he gets in, (Cris) Collinsworth, (Troy) Aikman, we’re dead. But I really appreciate it.”

Olsen later added, “I don’t know what the future holds, all I know is I love talking football, I love talking ball, I love studying it, I love seeing where the game is going. Wherever that takes me, whatever level it is, I’m more committed to the game of football now.”

It was the “I don’t know what the future holds” part of what Olsen said that caught the host’s attention. They took that as Olsen pouting and not being happy to be on the No. 2 FOX Sports NFL team. Fauria used the term “pushed out” and Gresh wanted to make a point about that.

“Again, Greg Olsen got pushed out for the greatest player in the history of the game,” Gresh said. “And they’re not firing him, they’re moving him to the No. 2 spot… and guess what, if you don’t keep that gig, the only thing that’ll be on the epitaph of the career resume is that you got bumped by Tom Brady. You’re good, settle in for No. 2, wait your turn somewhere else…but even in the world of tight ends he doesn’t scratch the surface of where Tom Brady has been.”

Fauria painted the picture a little differently as he is not of the belief Tom Brady is going to be a great NFL analyst. “It’s funny because here comes a guy who was just recognized by all his peers…deciding between all these guys, he was the best one,” he said. “And he got pushed out for a guy who has never done it before…and there is not some sort of given that he is even going to be good at it. He could suck at it.”

Gresh replied back, “If you are at the FOX upfronts and you got a chance to go in a room, are you going to pick the one with Greg Olsen or the one with Tom Brady? …Brady is not going to let himself fail at this. He is not going to look like a big idiot.”

“Just the assumption that Brady is going to be great at this I think is a stretch” replied Fauria.

As for Olsen, Fauria believes if he continues the way he has started, he will come out on top in the end. “I guarantee you at some point in time, when his contract runs out, and he tells all the streaming services that all exist now, he ends up being the guy. He’s fine. And he lost his job to the greatest football player ever.”

Gresh is not nearly as big of an Olsen fan and said, “If Greg Olsen was so great, are the other networks going to fall all over themselves to try and hire this guy? Will ESPN say, ‘maybe we will get rid of Aikman and put Olsen in there?'”

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Charles Barkley: ‘I Would Listen’ Before Making Decisions About NBA Broadcast Future

“For the people I work with, man, it just sucks right now.”

Barrett Sports Media

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Charles Barkley
Courtesy: Stephen Lovekin, Getty Images

The NBA is reportedly formalizing deals with The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal and Amazon for its next television media rights contract that would take effect beginning in the 2025-26 season. If Warner Bros. Discovery is unable to match or decides not to engage in such discussions, the company would lose broadcasting rights to the NBA and terminate a 40-year relationship that dates back to the 1984-85 campaign. At the same time, this has caused many sports fans to ponder over the future of Inside the NBA, a multiple-time Emmy Award-winning studio show featuring Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny “The Jet” Smith and Shaquille O’Neal.

Barkley, who signed a 10-year contract extension along with his colleagues on the show, confirmed in a recent interview on ESPN Cleveland that he has an opt-out in his deal should TNT Sports lose broadcasting rights to the NBA. Smith and O’Neal reportedly hold a similar clause with the future of Inside the NBA and the NBA on TNT remaining unknown. Barkley appeared on SiriusXM NBA Radio following the report from Tom Friend of Sports Business Journal on Wednesday morning and described the sentiment surrounding these negotiations.

“It sucks right now,” Barkley said. “For the people I work with, man, it just sucks right now. There’s nothing I can say because I worry about all the people I work with.”

Barkley explained that he enjoys golfing and/or fishing on a daily basis and does not look at losing the NBA as being fired. In fact, he hopes the Western Conference Finals quickly conclude so he can go back to playing golf every day over the next four months. The part that concerns him is the fact that he estimates 200 people could lose their jobs at the company should the relationship with the NBA come to a close. Although it remains unknown if anyone would sign with another network, the widespread perception is that all four members of the show would be coveted free agents.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen with Amazon, ESPN or if we lose it to NBC, so I’m not sure how to answer that question,” Barley said. “I just don’t know. Ernie [Johnson] would not go to another network – I’m damn sure about that. But I would listen; I would listen before I made any decisions.”

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