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Under The Radar – August 15, 2016

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Sports media news has been surfacing across the country once again. Here are the latest developments for you to be aware of. As a reminder, if you have a news tip or promotion to share, you can email it to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me. I’m also reachable on Twitter @sportsradiopd.

  • Drew Olson has left Milwaukee sports radio station ESPN 540, a place he has called home since 2004. Olson broadcasted his final show on Friday alongside on-air partner Dan Needles. He says he’s planning to focus on his sports media training company, Crush It. Needles will remain on the radio station, joining forces with Bryan Dee who will take over for Olson.
  • In May, 1320 The Fan in Salt Lake City dropped local host Tim Lewis and elected to carry CBS Sports Radio’s “Tiki and Tierney” on an interim basis during morning drive. Well now it seems the radio station has gone outside the box to find a solution. The Fan has added “The Bob and Tom Show” to morning drive, hoping to differentiate its programming from other local market brands 700 ESPN and 1280 The Zone.
  • A change in morning drive has been made in Portland once again on Rip City Radio. The iHeart sports station featured the team of “Bunker and Danforth” in mornings from February 2015 to June 2016. But then Andy Bunker announced he was leaving the radio station to move to Atlanta. Taylor Danforth moved forward with new partner Dan Sheldon, but apparently that experiment is over, as Danforth left the radio station in July, one month after Bunker. As of now the station is promoting “Rip City Mornings” as its local show but no names are featured on the station’s website or social media pages. Once we have a future announcement to pass along we’ll fill you in.
  • Speaking of mornings, ESPN LA 710 has been rumored to be adding more local programming to its lineup. A few notable names have been in recently including Ryen Russillo, Jorge Sedano, Marc James, Robin Lundberg and Jonathan Hood. The station is searching for a partner to work alongside afternoon host Marcellus Wiley, but is also taking a look at extending mornings. One name that has surfaced as a possibility to be part of the mix is former ESPN NFL Analyst Keyshawn Johnson. Bristol sources say that the company is open to continuing a relationship with the former wide receiver despite not keeping him on Sunday NFL Countdown.
  • After being rumored to call Los Angeles Rams radio broadcasts, Andrew Siciliano didn’t sign on to call the action during the regular season, but he has agreed to serve as play by play man for the team during the pre-season. The NFL Network host is calling pre-season games on television alongside Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk.
  • Here’s one story that seems to surface every six months – sports radio personality Kevin Slaten has left 590 The Fan KFNS in St. Louis…AGAIN. Slaten who has bounced around the local market now says he plans to return to political talk with the Insane Broadcasting Company which is owned by Bob Romanik. New KFNS boss Tim McKernan has yet to announce who will fill afternoons but after a prior bad episode with Slaten while running CBS Sports Radio 920, this allows McKernan to move in a different direction.
  • Longtime WWLS Sports Animal talk show host Al Eschbach will celebrate 40 years on the air in Oklahoma City with a special show this Wednesday from 4p-8p. His guests will include OU men’s basketball coach Lon Kruger, OU football coach Bob Stoops, former OU basketball coach Billy Tubbs, former OU football coach Barry Switzer, Houston basketball coach Kelvin Sampson, and a slew of others.
  • FOX Sports 920 The Jersey has reached a deal to carry Rutgers football on the radio station. The brand will partner with IMG to provide Rutgers coverage for the 2016 college football season.
  • Sports Radio 1340 The Fan in Lubbock, Texas has signed on for a third straight season as an affiliate of the Denver Broncos. The Townsquare radio station will carry all pre-season, regular season, and playoff games, along with a two-hour pre-game show and one-hour post-game show. Coverage is supplied by the Broncos Radio Network which originates out of Denver on 850 KOA. The company’s sister station Awesome 98 is also a Houston Texans affiliate.
  • ESPN West Palm 106.3 is also adding an affiliation. The radio station has signed on as a play by play affiliate for Miami Dolphins broadcasts. The Good Karma sports station will also feature a Thursday night call-in with Dolphins General Manager Mike Tannenbaum.
  • Shifting to Nashville, 102.5 The Game has moved former afternoon host Willy Daunic to middays alongside Darren McFarland, and former Titans wide receiver Derrick Mason. The trio will be re-branded as “3-D, Darren, Derrick and Daunic”. Daunic previously hosted with George Plaster, and former Titans GM Floyd Reese.
  • The Midday 180 in Nashville needs a new producer. Former producer Steve Ulrey worked his final shift on Friday August 12th. Ulrey is apparently launching a business. The Midday 180 are presently one of the highest rated midday shows in the sports talk radio format.
  • Speaking of the Midday 180, one of the show’s hosts, Chad Withrow, has signed on to be the new TV host for a Saturday morning program titled “Varsity XTRA”. The show will air in the Nashville area on MyTV30.
  • Steve Lippo has been named the new Executive Producer for NBC Sports in Chicago. Lippo had been working as a producer for Laurence Holmes’ show on 120 Sports.
  • Congratulations to Ryan Cooley who has accepted a new opportunity in sales at WEEI in Boston. Cooley announced on Facebook that he was leaving his position as 1080 The Fan’s Sales Manager in Portland, Oregon to move to the northeast and join the Boston sports radio station.

Sports Radio News

Peter Schrager: ‘Next Good Morning Football Host Has Massive Shoes To Fill’

“I don’t know where they are going for that and I don’t play coach or GM. I’m just going to sit back and if they ask my opinion, I’ll give it.”

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This week, Good Morning Football ended up winning a Sports Emmy for the best daily studio show. It is a show that has turned into part most football fans’ morning routines. However, there will be new people on the panel eventually with the departures of Nate Burleson and Kay Adams

This week, one of those left, Peter Schrager, was on The Pat McAfee Show. He did not have a name for McAfee that would fill the role Adams leaves behind and he isn’t going to interfere in the process of the executives picking the next host. 

“I would think that there is going to be a long line of people who will want that,” he said. “Those are massive shoes to fill. I don’t know where they are going for that and I don’t play coach or GM. I’m just going to sit back and if they ask my opinion, I’ll give it. But, for now, I trust the executives to hire someone who is going to take care of that hosting job.” 

As for Burleson’s seat, the show has used a number of ex-players to fill-in. Schrager likes it that way because he can learn many different stories each week: 

“Nate and I can finish each other’s sentences. Now, you have a guy I don’t know the story this player is going to tell. I don’t know where he’s going to take it and I think it’s kind of cool for us.” 

Last summer, Schrager hosted The Flying Coach podcast on The Ringer with Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay. Unfortunately, there will be no season 2 of that show this summer. That doesn’t mean there won’t be another season of the podcast in the future though. 

“I won’t do it without McVay. I begged him. He’s just out….He’s getting married this offseason. He’s got his honeymoon. He’s like, we’ll pick it up another offseason. I’m upset. I love doing it. All these new coaches, Sean and I would have had a good time with it and we talked about it, but it’s his decision and he’s saying no and I totally get it. He’s really good at it and he liked it. He’ll have opportunities and you see some of these numbers that these guys are getting. Trust me, he’s aware.”

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Sports Radio News

Shan & RJ: ‘Inside The NBA Was Trying To Prevent A Riot Last Night’

“You know that moment? Everyone’s joking around. Everyone’s having fun, then someone doesn’t take the joke as a joke anymore and all the fun is sucked out of the room and things are awkward and serious?”

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Things were very far from normal on Thursday night on the set of Inside the NBA. During the postgame show, Warriors fans threw objects at Charles Barkley as TNT was broadcasting live outside of the Chase Center in San Francisco.

Friday morning on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, Shan and RJ discussed the scene and said things felt out of the ordinary long before anything was even thrown.

“You know that moment? Everyone’s joking around. Everyone’s having fun, then someone doesn’t take the joke as a joke anymore and all the fun is sucked out of the room and things are awkward and serious?” Shan Shariff said. “That’s what happened yesterday on Inside the NBA both in the pregame and the postgame.”

Barkley had been picking on Warriors fans calling them annoying and describing San Francisco as having “dirty ass streets full of homeless people” throughout the series.

Shariff said even in the pregame show, it seemed that the Inside the NBA crew was wary of the crowd gathered behind them.

“It felt like yesterday instead of having fun and cutting loose, it felt like they were trying to prevent a riot.”

After a rolled-up t-shirt struck Barkley, he got up and acted as if he was going to throw a ceramic coffee mug into the crowd. Shariff said it was clear that Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith thought Barkley was about to be involved in an altercation of some sort.

RJ Choppy disagreed though. His immediate thought in seeing the video was that Barkley was just taking his ribbing of the crowd to the next level like a WWE superstar might.

“I think he knew the wrestling role, but I don’t think the other guys did,” Choppy said.

Sean and RJ expounded on the wrestling comparison, saying that he had a specific event in mind. He compared the way the crowd treated Barkley on Thursday night to how the crowd at ECW’s One Night Stand in 2006 treated John Cena. Cena and security may have thought they knew what was coming, but it was clear when fans started throwing chairs at the WWE champ that their ire was more serious than anticipated.

There can be peace for the time being. TNT’s NBA season ends at the conclusion of the Western Conference Finals. It will be interesting to see if this animosity returns in the 2022-23 season.

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Sports Radio News

Don La Greca: ‘Howie Rose Was The Only Sports Talk Host As Passionate About Hockey As Me’

“When you look at the history of sports radio, the only person that I can think of that called games and was [as] passionate about hockey as I am that had a regular radio show was Howie Rose.”

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Don LaGreca has been working on Rangers radio broadcasts since 2005, and has served as the backup play-by-play announcer for the last few seasons, filling in for Kenny Albert when he is unable to be on the call. Because of Albert’s responsibilities in calling national playoff games on television amid the new media rights agreement between the league and its partners (ESPN and Turner Sports), La Greca has called more Rangers games of late, and received positive reviews.

Yesterday on The Michael Kay Show on 98.7 ESPN New York, Kay mentioned the compliments callers have been giving La Greca for his ability to call hockey games, some of whom credit him for introducing them to the sport.

“The one thing hockey is is underexposed,” said La Greca. “Because you hear a lot of people say, ‘Boy, I didn’t realize how much fun this sport is; how great it is to go to a game,’ because a lot of us don’t grow up around it.”

La Greca realizes that he is in a unique position being the co-host of a sports radio show and an NHL play-by-play announcer, giving him a responsibility to communicate and opine on the game of hockey to his listening audience at large. He considers himself the second person to have such a distinction – the pioneer of which, while he may no longer be calling hockey games, still frequently discusses the sport on Twitter.

“When you look at the history of sports radio, the only person that I can think of that called games and was [as] passionate about hockey as I am that had a regular radio show was Howie Rose,” said La Greca. “And Howie Rose has been out of the sports radio game for 25 years.”

Rose was with WFAN from its launch on July 1, 1987 as its weekday nighttime host. Additionally, he served in the same role as La Greca, backing up Kenny Albert’s father Marv on Rangers radio broadcasts – where, in 1994, he delivered the illustrious call of Stephane Matteau’s game-winning, double-overtime goal in game 7 that sent the team to the Stanley Cup Finals. One year later, Rose left WFAN to begin calling games for the NHL’s New York Islanders on Sportschannel, and did not host a sports radio show during his time as a lead hockey play-by-play announcer.

While there are other sports radio hosts in the New York marketplace that exhibit a passion for hockey such as Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti, La Greca is the only one who actively calls the games – akin to how Michael Kay is the only active New York sports radio host who regularly calls professional baseball.

“You don’t have somebody who is as close to the sport as I am to have this kind of forum, so maybe there are a few people like, ‘Hey, I’m a fan of Don. I really don’t like hockey, but he calls a few games so let me listen,’ and it kind of opened a door that otherwise wouldn’t have been opened” said La Greca. “….I don’t think it’s anything that I’m doing. It’s just an opportunity that I have, and it is humbling and it’s pretty cool to hear and I hope those people stick with the sport.”

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