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.
Greg Hill to Jeff Van Gundy: ‘You Sounded Like You Were on the Bucks’ Payroll’
“After a pregnant pause, Van Gundy answered through laughter, throwing a zinger right back at Hill and crew.”
They are nothing if not blunt in Boston. That was the case Tuesday morning when The Greg Hill Show welcomed ABC/ESPN NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy to the program to preview the Eastern Conference Finals.
Overall, it was a cordial visit. Questions mostly focused on the headlines related to officiating throughout the playoffs and what the Celtics would have to do to make it to the NBA Finals, which Van Gundy thinks will happen.
“I think Boston’s been the best team in the league,” he said. “I think they’re gonna win it all this year.”
Greg Hill said after the conference semi-finals matchup with Milwaukee, he was surprised to hear Jeff Van Gundy felt that way.
“Jeez, I’m glad to hear you say that,” Hill told Van Gundy. “It almost sounded like you were on the Bucks’ payroll at times during that last series.”
After a pregnant pause, Van Gundy answered through laughter, throwing a zinger right back at Hill and crew.
“You know what? I get used to that and then the Bucks people say I want Boston to win. Not that you guys would be homers or anything.”
Jeff Van Gundy will join Mike Breen and Mark Jackson at the broadcast table for the Eastern Conference Finals on ABC and ESPN. Game 1 between the Celtics and Heat is scheduled for Tuesday night at 8:30 in Miami.
99.7 The Fox Becomes New Carolina Panthers Flagship
“The new deal represents a return to The Fox for the Panthers. The station was the team’s flagship from 2000 through 2004.”
The Carolina Panthers are on the move in Charlotte. The team is leaving WBT. Their new radio home will be 99.7 The Fox, iHeartMedia’s classic rock station.
The station will carry all Panthers game broadcasts, the Panthers pregame and postgame shows as well the team’s weekly coach’s show. There will also be an on-site presence for every home game at Bank of America Stadium.
“We are thrilled to increase iHeartSports NFL partnerships with the addition of the Carolina Panthers. The passion between a sports team and its fan base is one-of-a-kind, and we’re thrilled to expand the Carolina Panthers’ reach to their passionate supporters with our new multi-media deal,” Kevin LeGrett, President of iHeartMedia Sports, said in a press release. “iHeart’s reach in Charlotte is unprecedented, meaning more fans will hear their favorite team than ever before. The partnership will include broadcast, streaming, podcast, events, marketing and promotional elements which will drive results for the Panthers!”
“The team at 99.7 The Fox is delighted to once again be the broadcast home of the Carolina Panthers, bringing best-in-class content from the team to its dedicated and passionate fans,” Dave Carwile, President of iHeartMedia Multi-Platform Group – Charlotte, added. “We know how special the relationship and connection between the city of Charlotte, the Panthers and the fan base is, and we’re thrilled to enhance that bond with an expanded coverage area reaching more fans on 99.7 The Fox. We can’t wait to get started.”
The new deal represents a return to The Fox for the Panthers. The station was the team’s flagship from 2000 through 2004. Every other year of the franchise’s existence, their games have been heard on WBT.
“The Panthers are incredibly grateful for our partnership with Radio One, and the role that WBT has played in sharing some of the greatest moments in franchise history for 22 seasons, including each of the past 17,” Jake Burns, Chief Commercial Officer for the Carolina Panthers, said.
Indiana Sports Talk Station Set To Flip Formats
“The promos say that station owner Woof Boom Broadcasting is “building a new radio station for Muncie and Delaware County”.
Sports fans in Muncie, Indiana may soon lose their favorite sports station. Listeners to Muncie Sports 92.5 have heard promos teasing a new station coming to the frequency.
The promos say that station owner Woof Boom Broadcasting is “building a new radio station for Muncie and Delaware County”. The station has also changed its call letters. What was WXFN is now WMUN.
Muncie Sports 92.5 airs on two signals. 1340 AM is a 1000 watt station. 92.5 FM is a translator signal.
The station airs an hour-long local show hosted by Mark Foerster on weekdays at 4 pm. It carries syndicated programming from FOX Sports Radio and is the local affiliate for the Indianapolis Colts, Indiana Pacers, Cincinnati Reds, IndyCar Series, Ball State University football and women’s basketball, and three local high schools.
ESPN 680 is still available from nearby Marion,IN. Two Indianapolis sports talk stations are strong enough to be heard in the town as well according to Radio Locator.