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Kings Radio Voice Nickson Entering Hall of Fame

Jason Barrett

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There are no bad hockey play-by-play men, especially on the radio. It’s the same reason there are no bad lion tamers. The bad ones don’t survive.

“I was a sophomore at Ithaca College when I did my first game,” Nick Nickson said. “We were playing Oswego State or somebody. They dropped the puck and it went from D to D to left wing. I had barely gotten out who won the faceoff, and now the puck was down here. How did it get here?

“That was my wake-up call. I said, hmmm, this is pretty fast. When the critical things happen — like the goals — get them right, but even then it’s tough. In San Jose, I thought either Tyler Toffoli or Christian Ehrhoff scored. It was Milan Lucic.”

A guy like Nickson smooths out the most jagged job that sports talkers have. The Kings’ radio play-by-play man thus receives the Foster Hewitt Award, for broadcasting excellence, at the Hockey Hall of Fame ceremonies in Toronto next week. That may be the very definition of talent: the knack of making hard things look easy.

In hockey, the subs don’t come to the scorer’s table. They don’t blow the whistle and say, “Now replacing Jeff Carter, here’s No. 11, Anze Kopitar.”

And Nickson is basically sitting at ceiling level, far enough from players to render them indistinguishable. Yet when the fourth-line center of the Carolina Hurricanes is out there, Nickson has to know him, even if he can’t spot the number.

“That goes back to preparation,” he said. “I know what the line combinations are. I probably prepare an hour for each hour of the game. I’m reading the TSN site, the team sites, anything to put together the pregame show and then the game.”

Nickson has done Kings’ games either as a simulcasting analyst next to Bob Miller or as a radio play-by-play man, for 34 years. That’s millions of words and, for a while, a multitude of losses. That changed, and the Kings’ Stanley Cup runs were picked up by the NHL Radio Network, and Nickson was heard throughout Canada.

That helped Nickson win the Hewitt, which Miller won in 2000. So did his punctuation of the Kings’ 2012 Stanley Cup: “The long wait is over. After 45 years, the Kings can wear their crown.”

“We played Phoenix in the first game of the conference finals and Chris Cuthbert was working it for TSN,” Nickson said. “I saw him during intermission and he said, ‘Well, have you thought about what you’ll say when you win the Cup?’”

When fans tell Nickson they still have his call on their ringtones, that hits home. Few know how he was guided, almost involuntarily, toward that moment.

His dad, also Nick, was a radio personality in Rochester, N.Y. and worked 60 years in the business. He was the late afternoon DJ. The kids called to request their favorite songs.

The son worked on the Ithaca College station. His dad told him Lanny Fratarre was leaving the Rochester Americans to do Pittsburgh Pirates games. Nick listened to a reel-to-reel tape of a college game he had done. It was painful. So he took a razor and Scotch tape, and spliced together the good parts. He got the job.

Then the New Haven Nighthawks called and wanted him to broadcast. And run group sales. And keep season ticket-holders happy. And sell ads.

“I was the fifth full-time employee there,” Nickson said. The Kings eventually used New Haven as an affiliate, and coach Parker MacDonald became an assistant in L.A. When Pete Weber left the Kings, MacDonald recommended Nickson.

That was 1982, the Miracle on Manchester. Daryl Evans beat Edmonton in overtime, 6-5, after the Oilers had led 5-0. “I just yelled,” Nickson said. “I said, pass, shot and then just started yelling at Bob.”

Now Evans is Nickson’s spectacularly-dressed analyst. Unlike today’s easily fascinated young voices, Nickson and Evans sound as if they’ve seen it all, which they have.

Nickson’s wife Carolyn was a school librarian. Older son Nick played hockey at USC and works at Disney, and younger son Tim is studying for a medical billing certificate.

A sports career has multiple families. Nickson, Evans, Miller and TV analyst Jim Fox have spent a lifetime together. They know that broadcasting a hockey game is like trying to herd sound waves.

“We’ll get on the bus and somebody will ask how it went,” Nickson said, smiling, looking down on amateurs shooting pucks at the big rink in El Segundo.

“Somebody will say, ‘Well, it wasn’t perfect. But it was close.’”

Only pros like Nickson can know how close.

Credit to the Los Angeles Daily News who originally published this article

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The Blitz 1170 in Tulsa to Cease Operations

“The company decided the sports format wasn’t working and they’re going to take the signal in another direction.”

Barrett Sports Media

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the blitz logo

After just under three years in the format, Griffin Media is pulling the plug on The Blitz 1170 in Tulsa.

Social media posts from the station’s local hosts reveal that The Blitz will be moving away from its sports format on Wednesday, June 26th.

“There’s some news from our part of the world. Griffin Media has made the decision to eliminate The Blitz 1170 and those of us working there after June 26,” wrote morning host Rick Couri. “The company decided the sports format wasn’t working and they’re going to take the signal in another direction.

“This will likely bring my 42 year career of being on the air in Tulsa to an end, I don’t see a lot of other options for several reasons. I will still be broadcasting Tulsa University and Union football and who knows what else might come along. Until then I want to say thank you to everyone who has listened along the way and those incredible people I’ve worked with. It’s been quite an adventure with many amazing opportunities and experiences to be forever grateful for.”

The station featured Couri in mornings, followed by The Dan Patrick Show and The Rich Eisen Show. Afternoon drive was helmed by Colby Daniels and Program Director Jeremie “Pop” Polin from 3-6 PM. Daniels shared a similar post on social media as Couri.

The Blitz 1170 will be changing formats in a couple weeks. While I’m very sad about this news, I’m more thankful for having this opportunity and establishing friendships that will continue beyond the airwaves. I’m proud of this entire team and can’t say enough positive things about everyone I had the privilege to work with. I appreciate all the listeners supporting the Blitz every day,” Daniels wrote. “Some followed me to this signal and others welcomed me to Tulsa radio with open arms. You all have a special place in my heart.

“I feel like I’m at a major crossroads in my broadcasting career and I don’t know what my next step will be. I know I have so much more to offer but will have to carefully weigh whatever options emerge. It’s rare in this business to be given the opportunity to finish out the last 2 weeks. Our final show will be June 26th so let’s have fun doing what we love until then.”

According to a report from RadioInsight, the station recently changed its call letters to KOTV-AM, to replicate the same branding used by the company’s TV outlet in the market.

Griffin Media has yet to announce plans for the station after flipping away from the sports format on June 26th.

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ESPN LA 710 to Broadcast USC Athletics

“We’re excited to collaborate with ESPN LA 710 AM to advance the USC Athletics brand and connect with fans across the Greater Los Angeles media market.”

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ESPN LA 710

The University of Southern California and ESPN LA 710 have agreed to a deal that will expand their broadcast partnership starting in the 2024 season. ESPN LA 710 will be the flagship station for USC Trojans football and men’s basketball games throughout the season in addition to adding women’s basketball games on the airwaves as well. Beginning in the fall, listeners will be able to hear all of the games on 710 AM, the ESPN LA Trojans Radio Network, in addition to within the USC Trojans Game Day app, the USC Trojans website and the ESPN LA app.

As USC prepares to move to the Big Ten Conference for the season, games will continue to air on the USC Trojans Media Network, which includes affiliates KSZL Barstow 1230 AM, KJJZ-HD3 102.7 Thousand Palms, KSHP Las Vegas 1400 AM and 107.1 FM and the Hawaiian Sports Radio Network on KGU 95.1 FM and 760 AM. Spanish language broadcasts of USC Football will be available on the ESPN LA app and USC Trojans app as well. The USC Trojans Media Network will also air basketball games as new men’s head coach Eric Musselman starts his tenure at the university and the women’s team welcomes transfer forward Kiki Iriafen from Stanford.

“We’re excited to collaborate with ESPN LA 710 AM to advance the USC Athletics brand and connect with fans across the Greater Los Angeles media market,” Jen Cohen, director of athletics at the University of Southern California, said in a statement. “As we move into a new era of Trojan Athletics, identifying partners who can help us provide our student-athletes with the platform to make their mark on collegiate athletics and reach new generations of supporters is critical. From the addition of play-by-play coverage for our women’s basketball program and Spanish-language coverage for football, to the reach and brand equity established by ESPN Radio in Los Angeles, we’re confident this partnership will help us achieve our goals.”

Outside of live game broadcasts for USC football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball, ESPN LA 710 will also air a new weekly program titled Trojans Live. The show will be broadcast on ESPN LA 710 AM from 6 to 7 p.m. EST starting on Monday, Aug. 26 and running through Monday, Dec. 9. ESPN LA 710 previously broadcast USC Trojans Athletics from 2006 to 2019 and is also the flagship home of the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles FC.

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Bob Fescoe: Charles Barkley is Irreplaceable

“How many people want to do that as well, just kind of walk away and say, ‘You know what? I put in my time and I am done here, and now I have the ability to walk away…'”

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Bob Fescoe
Courtesy: 610 Sports Radio

Charles Barkley announced that he would be retiring from television following the 2024-25 season on Saturday night. The TNT Sports analyst revealed the news during a postgame show on NBA TV after Game 4 of the NBA Finals, in which the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Boston Celtics to remain standing in the best-of-seven series. Within his discourse, Barkley emphasized that he made the decision himself and that next year would be his last no matter what happens.

Moreover, he stated that he has talked with other networks who have approached him as reports indicate that Warner Bros. Discovery could be losing broadcasting rights for the NBA following next season. Bob Fescoe and Josh Klingler played the audio of Barkley’s retirement announcement on 610 Sports Radio during the Fescoe in the Morning program on Monday.

Barkley emphasized that he would pass the baton to either Jamal Crawford, Vince Carter or Steve Smith when he retires from television next year. For the last 24 years, Barkley has been a member of Inside the NBA, the award-winning studio program hosted by Ernie Johnson with analysts Kenny “The Jet” Smith and Shaquille O’Neal. There were rumors about Barkley leaving Warner Bros. Discovery to take a role with the LIV Golf Tour; however, he decided to cut off those talks and stated that he would finish his television career with the Turner Sports division.

The NBA is now reportedly in the process of formalizing new media rights contracts with The Walt Disney Company (ESPN/ABC), NBCUniversal and Amazon’s Prime Video said to be worth a collective $7.6 billion. Throughout the process, Barkley has been interviewed several times across different media platforms and expressed his feelings on the matter, including questioning the rationale of Warner Bros. Discovery chief executive officer and president David Zaslav.

“I feel like he’s just tired of being asked about it,’” Klingler said. “He’s like, ‘You know what? I don’t care where it goes – I’m done.’”

Fescoe questioned if anyone could blame Barkley for what he has decided to do, especially receiving firsthand knowledge on how everything is playing out. Over the last several months, Inside the NBA has been a topic of discussion, part of which has presumably been about its future on television. If Barkley follows through with his decision, it would mark the end of the studio program as currently constructed, and Fescoe believes that Barkley has ultimately had enough of dealing with the speculation and ambiguity.

“How many people want to do that as well, just kind of walk away and say, ‘You know what? I put in my time and I am done here, and now I have the ability to walk away,’” Fescoe questioned, “and not many people work for the love of the job anymore, right, and it seems like what they’ve gone through and what they’ve been drug through with all of this rights fee stuff is management getting in the way of them doing what they love doing.”

Part of Fescoe’s logic pertaining to why Barkley has decided to move on from television after next year is that he could be reading the writing on the wall. In mentioning that he has spoken with other networks, Fescoe presumed that ESPN would have Barkley work more hours and that he would not be interested in doing that. Barkley is a sports media professional Fescoe considers to be irreplaceable, much like his co-host Josh Klingler, who is leaving the show on 610 Sports Radio next month.

“Greg Olsen, I guess, is considered replaceable at FOX by Tom Brady, and they just move analysts out and bring guys in all the time, but there are some people that are not replaceable,” Fescoe said, “and if you’re going to keep that Inside the NBA show, you can keep it in name, but if you don’t have Charles Barkley, no offense to anybody else up there, it’s just not the same type of show and it’s just not going to be as good as if Charles Barkley is there.”

Klingler is not sure that Barkley will end up retiring and believes that he will be back in some capacity. Additionally, he mentioned that it could be a means of putting TNT on the hot seat by putting pressure on the company to retain broadcast rights to the league. Fescoe replied by articulating that it could be Barkley putting ESPN on the hot seat to make him a lucrative contract offer and consider signing with the network.

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