Sports Radio News
A Look Inside The Lineup Changes At Sports Radio 610
Sports Radio 610 has enjoyed a long storied run as the premier sports radio brand in Houston. But in recent months, local competitors have been making their reign at the top a little unsettling.
When Nick Wright announced plans to depart the radio station to join Fox Sports 1, it created an opportunity for Program Director Ryan McCredden to take stock of his inventory. The lineup was performing fine, but with a couple of adjustments, could the brand ascend to an even higher level?
One way to get a read on how the audience felt about the radio station’s personalities was to give them a chance to express it by taking part in a promotion titled “Trade Deadline”. The station received tons of feedback, and for one on-air broadcast day, mixed up their lineup combinations, and placed a few of their key people in different timeslots, and roles. This served as a great opportunity for McCredden to hear some of his key people in different situations.
Over the course of the next two months, McCredden would exhaust numerous options to retool the lineup at Sports Radio 610. Internal candidates were given a look, in-market options were discussed, and out of town personalities were talked to, and flown in for auditions. Many of them with proven track records in other top markets. BSM is aware of at least eight candidates who received consideration.
“As a programmer, it gave me a lot of joy to know that there were a lot of really strong young talent out there”, said McCredden. “The process was extensive, and I learned a lot about a lot of people, but ultimately I felt like we had a lot of the answers under our own roof. Unfortunately there isn’t any silver medal available for the person who comes in second”.
610 has done an excellent job at developing talent over the past few years. No better example exists than that of the station’s former midday show “MaD Radio” hosted by Mike Meltser and Seth Payne, which is now moving into mornings. The program earlier this year was identified by Barrett Sports Media’s panel of programmers as one of the top 20 midday shows in the country.
What convinced McCredden though that the duo would be well suited for a move to the earlier timeslot?
“Mornings tend to be a timeslot where people want to laugh and be entertained,” said McCredden. “Mike and Seth can certainly make you laugh, and their chemistry is excellent. There were a few days when John was off, and I moved them into mornings, and I heard the energy, and the fun, and they sounded like they belonged in there.”
By moving up Meltser and Payne though, that would create a hole in middays, and leave John Lopez in limbo. McCredden tested Lopez with some out of town personalities, and had to decide whether to bring in a more polished out of town host, or roll the dice on a young talent inside his building.
The one personality that jumped out the most from his roster was Cody Stoots. Lopez and Stoots had a great relationship which helped, but it was something Stoots said during the process which struck a chord with McCredden.
“Cody told me, the Astros took a chance on a young shortstop Carlos Correa and it’s paid off. The Texans are taking a chance on a young Quarterback (Brock Osweiler) who doesn’t have a lot of experience, and they’re hoping it pays off. I just hope you’d be willing to do the same with me because I believe it’d pay off”.
Feeling good about Stoots and Lopez, McCredden still had a hunch about someone else he spoke to during the process. That person was Houston native, and former Texas A&M Aggie, and former NFL wide receiver and special teams superstar Dante Hall. The questions though were whether or not Dante could transition into talking all-sports five days per week, where would he fit best, and would a trio be the right mix in middays?
McCredden explained his logic. “The way the mornings were set up, I didn’t think that was the best fit because then we’d have 5 voices on the show, and that’s too many (Jim Mudd, and Robert Henslee are also involved as contributors). I also felt Mike and Seth were ready for that jump”.
“When it came to Dante, his confidence gave me confidence,” McCredden continued. “His desire to do this was overwhelming. The positivity he has is impressive. He’s personable, and although our listeners don’t know him well, I think he’s going to really connect with them. He may be raw but he has a lot of natural talent and energy, and I think he’s going to have a bright future with us.”
After giving it a lot of thought and talking to a large pool of candidates, it became clear that “In The Loop” with Lopez, Hall, and Stoots were the fit McCredden was looking for in middays. The show may not have the immediate polish of Meltser and Payne, and it may lack experience that a few others have, but that hasn’t reduced McCredden’s enthusiasm.
“There were guys who were more polished, but everyone needs an opportunity to show what they’re made of,” added McCredden. “Cody has the skills to do great work, and with John and Dante involved it will help him grow even more into the position. Lopez is a big fan of Cody’s, and sees him as one of the fastest growing young talents in the market. What I really love about this show, is that it’s a hardcore Houston show. I think the audience is going to enjoy it”.
The final layer of the 610 puzzle to solve was finding a way to further capitalize on the relationship between the radio station, and its flagship partner, the Houston Texans. As they worked on stabilizing their daytime lineup, conversations also took place with the football team to make them a bigger part of their daily programming.
The result was turning “Texans All Access” into a nightly program from 6pm to 7pm. The voice of the Texans Marc Vandermeer will continue serving as host of the show. Vandermeer is also a former weekday host on Sports Radio 610.
The afternoon show (Triple Threat), featuring Rich Lord, Ted Johnson, and Sean Pendergast, and the evening program (Gallant At Night) hosted by Paul Gallant remain unchanged.
As Sports Radio 610 celebrates their new day today, they do so while knowing that a long and extensive process was necessary to make sure the right formula was discovered. If McCredden’s instincts are right, the real winners in all of this will be the Houston sports radio audience. It’s now up to Meltser, Payne, Stoots, Lopez, and Hall to prove him right.
Here’s a complete look at SportsRadio 610’s new programming lineup:
6:00-10:00AM – MAD RADIO
10:00AM-2:00PM – IN THE LOOP
2:00-6:00PM – TRIPLE THREAT
6:00-7:00PM – TEXANS ALL ACCESS
7:00-11:00PM – GALLANT AT NIGHT
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Sports Radio News
Chris Russo: Immediacy of News Has Hurt Sports Radio
“I mean, if something happens tonight at 7:00 that’s huge, by the time I get out of here 3:00 tomorrow afternoon, people may you might want to hear my take on it.”
Sports radio has changed since the heyday of Mike & the Mad Dog. It was something Chris Russo reflected on this week during an appearance on the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast.
Host Jimmy Traina, who grew up listening to Russo and Mike Francesa on WFAN in New York, said that he does not hear as much sports as he used to on sports radio. On Mike & The Mad Dog, talk about subjects outside of sports was a rare treat. Now, those subjects are part of every show every day.
Russo says he has noticed the same thing. Some of that is about the crowded market place for sports talk and athlete and team-owned media limiting opportunities to land headlining guests. Chris Russo says there is another reality that should be acknowledged with sports radio.
“I think a little something to do with it is there may be less, quote unquote, big time sports guys who are big fans doing the shows,” he said. “You’ll remember, I’m a big fan. Mike was a big fan. You’re a big fan. A lot of guys hosting shows across America right now, they like sports, but they don’t live it like some of us do.”
Traina noted that another factor is the changing pace of information. In the 90s, New Yorkers relied on Mike & the Mad Dog for the full story of the previous night’s game or details that had developed on a bigger story. Now, everyone has the internet at their finger tips and on their phones.
“I think the immediacy has hurt the guy doing a regular show,” Russio agreed. “I mean, if something happens tonight at 7:00 that’s huge, by the time I get out of here 3:00 tomorrow afternoon, people may you might want to hear my take on it. I’ll give them a take, but I’m not going to get 4 hours out of it.”
Takes have always been the lifeblood of sports radio. Russo said in an age where everyone has the basic information and fewer people live and breathe sports, radio was bound to change.
“They’re more guy talk. So they bounce around and they do culture as much as they do sports. They do Brady and his ex-wife, instead of talking about Brady and what he did against Green Bay.”
Another side effect of so much access to information is that even the most unique sports take doesn’t always stand out. Chris Russo noted that the only thing a radio show has that is truly unique now is the hosts themselves.
Listeners form a bond with the host and want to hear more about his or her life. He learned that last week when he posted a picture of his son Tim signing a contract to be an assistant basketball coach at the University of Northern Arizona.
“A lot of guys out there who listen on our radio show feel part of a unit. They feel part of a group. They feel part of the channel. They feel part of the crew,” he said. “So as a result, where are they going to get information about Timmy, getting a Northern Arizona job? I’m only one.”
Sports Radio News
Mike Mulligan: Jeff Van Gundy is Terrible & ‘That Broadcast is Bad’
“Unfortunately, my mind turned off when it was his voice.”
Mike Mulligan dislikes everything about Jeff Van Gundy. At the end of Thursday’s edition of Mully & Haugh, the 670 The Score morning man reacted with disgust to audio of the ABC analyst suggesting that an assist should be awarded to a player that passes to a teammate that is fouled if the teammate hits his free throws.
Dan Bernstein, who was in studio for the crossover segment, asked Mully if he really hates the suggestion or does he just hate that it is coming from Van Gundy.
“Unfortunately, my mind turned off when it was his voice,” Mully responded. “So, I don’t even know what we’re talking about.”
Others in the studio suggested that the disdain stems from the fact that Jeff Van Gundy was the coach of the Knicks, a team Mully hates. He disagreed.
“I think he’s terrible, and I think that broadcast is bad,” he said.
Bernstein noted that he is a huge fan of Stan Van Gundy’s work for TNT. He asked Mike Mulligan if his hate covers all of the Van Gundys or did it just apply to Jeff.
“Stan seems like a decent guy,” Mulligan answered. “I don’t adore his brother, but I do like his brother.”
Sports Radio News
Adam Silver: Networks Will Always Focus on Most Popular Players & Teams
“In fairness to them, the ‘Joker’ hasn’t been in the Finals before.”
The first two games of the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets have attracted a larger than anticipated audience. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver shared with Dan Patrick that he has attended the first three NBA Finals games, and the atmosphere inside both arenas has been electrifying. The same seems to be true from the media angle with comparable ratings to last year’s matchup featuring the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors, a pleasantly surprising outcome marking sustainability and viability the league has worked to strengthen over the last decade.
“Probably after last night, we’re going to be up a little bit, which says a lot about the league that you have two midsize markets,” Silver said. “A popular team in Miami, and a Nuggets team that has never been in the Finals, and the fans are responding.”
Silver became the commissioner of the league in 2014, and since then has been a part of the league expanding its digital footprint. The NBA national media rights deal with The Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros. Discovery expires at the conclusion of the 2024-25 season, and speculation has already begun as to which entities will bid to present league games.
Patrick asked Silver how the Association can do a better job in utilizing its national media rights to market superstar players in smaller markets. Prior to the NBA Finals, Nikola Jokić was a two-time recipient of the Most Valuable Player award and a five-time NBA All-Star, but was only ninth in social media views. Over the last 30 days, Jokić has skyrocketed to No. 1 on the list, drawing more than 300 million video views across the NBA’s social media platforms.
“We have some influence,” replied Silver. “It’s interesting. To the networks, they do focus on the teams and players that they think are going to be most popular. In fairness to them, the ‘Joker’ hasn’t been in the Finals before.”
On Wednesday, ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy appeared on The Dan Patrick Show and reiterated ideas he has previously stated about modernizing basketball. Some of these ideas included doing away with halftime, offensive goaltending and changing the rules on free throws. Silver heard these remarks before appearing with Patrick on Thursday, and responded to the inquiry with intrigue regarding halftime.
“When we’ve looked to shorten it a bit – because I think you know we changed the format of the last two minutes a couple of years ago to speed the game along – and I think we forget sometimes that the guys really do need the break,” Silver said. “Put aside the programming at halftime; the commercials… maybe you could shorten it slightly. But I think it is meaningful to the players in addition to the coaching that goes on at halftime, [plus] the opportunity to get a breather.”
Silver also commented on the recent merger between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf, which has come under scrutiny because of human rights violations in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) owns a majority stake in LIV Golf, and has made lucrative offers to external golfers in an attempt to lure them to the entity. Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, along with several other golfers, took the money, and PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan is coming off as hypocritical after making remarks about how the deal comes off to families of survivors of the September 11 attacks. Silver divulged how the fund has not tried to make an offer for an NBA team; yet even so, the league only permits individuals to buy teams at the moment.
“When the Saudis invest in sports, it gets outsized attention,” Silver said. “I don’t want to complain about that because we want to get outsized attention. On the other hand, somebody could go down the list – they are investors in some of our largest American corporations. Some of the most well-known brands have investments from them…. With a sport like basketball, our Finals are distributed virtually everywhere in the world where the sport is played. It’s an opportunity to bring people together.”