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ESPN To Launch “30 for 30 Podcasts” in June

Jason Barrett

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If you’ve loved ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 on television, the worldwide leader in sports is hoping you’ll equally enjoy the programming in audio form. The company announced yesterday at a SXSW panel that they intend to launch 30 for 30 Podcasts starting in June. The series will tell original, high-quality sports stories in the likeness of the acclaimed 30 for 30 documentaries, but made exclusively for audio, according to ESPN Media Zone.

Two stories which will be featured in the first season of 30 for 30 Podcasts will be: “Dan and Dave Revisited,” the true story of the massive 1990’s marketing campaign around the world’s two best decathletes, and “On the Ice,” the story of how a group of amateur Brits became the first all-women’s team to make it to the North Pole.

“ESPN Films is continuing to push boundaries in the storytelling space, and we’re excited to further evolve the 30 for 30 brand,” said Libby Geist, vice president and executive producer, ESPN Films and Original Content. “These audio documentaries will break new ground for ESPN while also bringing our signature long-form archival-based approach to the podcasting arena.”

30 for 30 launched in 2009 with 30 one-hour sports documentaries. Since then, ESPN Films has gone on to produce and air more than 100 sports documentaries including the Academy Award-winning documentary “O.J.: Made in America”, a plethora of 90-minute and two-hour films, 30 for 30 Shorts, and spinoffs such as Nine for IX and SEC Storied.

ESPN Audio’s senior vice president Traug Keller added,  “Our initial forays into long-form storytelling – Dunkumentaries and Pin Kings – were top quality and smashing successes, thanks to great collaboration across ESPN. There’s no doubt the ESPN Films’ track record augurs well and 30 for 30 Podcasts will be compelling and relevant must-listen content.”

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Boomer Esiason: ‘Michael Malone’s Response to Reporter Was Ridiculous’

“Everybody wants to beat you; everybody wants to give you their best effort.”

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Boomer Esiason
Courtesy: Gail Schulman, CBS

The matchups for both the Eastern and Western Conference Finals in the NBA were solidified on Sunday to narrow the field to four teams remaining looking to capture a league championship. The early game resulted in a 21-point win for the Indiana Pacers over the New York Knicks. Later in the day, the Minnesota Timberwolves overcame a 20-point deficit to eliminate the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets, gaining key contributions from several members of the team. With the Nuggets having a double-digit lead in the third quarter and losing the game by seven points, the swing surprised many basketball fans and left Ball Arena in a state of shock.

After the game concluded, Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone fielded questions from members of the media about the game and season as a whole. One reporter asked him about how it felt to process a loss of this magnitude, especially when the team had held a substantial lead in the second half of the game. Malone responded with ostensible indignation and disappointment, immediately articulating to move on to the next question.

“The season’s over – that’s what’s hard,” Malone said. “F**k being up 20. The season’s over – you don’t understand that. The season’s over – it’s hard. Stupid ass questions.”

On Monday morning, the Boomer & Gio morning show on WFAN and CBS Sports Network played audio of Malone providing the response, something that was met with incredulity and surprise in the studio. Update anchor Jerry Recco explained the paradox of these athletes being tired from playing heavy minutes in the playoffs, yet taking the court over the summer anyway rather than resting. Throughout the series against the Timberwolves, three-time NBA most valuable player Nikola Jokić averaged 40.2 minutes per game and star guard Jamal Murray averaged 38.2 minutes per contest, both in the upper echelon among the rest of the league. Even so, Malone emitted choleric towards the season coming to a close.

“I can’t believe Mike Malone would do that,” co-host Boomer Esiason said. “I just can’t believe it. You’re in the NBA freaking Playoffs. You have to play, you have to be tired. I mean, you just have to go – you got to go 100 mph, and you know what, because you’re the defending NBA champions, you got the target on your back. Everybody wants to beat you; everybody wants to give you their best effort. I can’t believe he said a ‘stupid ass question;’ that’s ridiculous.”

Co-host Gregg Giannotti agreed with Esiason’s point of view, especially when Malone has a team and standout player who is expected by many basketball fans to win multiple championships. The Nuggets finished as the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference after hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy last year and were considered as a legitimate threat to secure a second consecutive league championship.

“They got embarrassed in this game because they were up 20, ended up losing the game [by] seven at home, and I think he’s grasping at straws and coming up with excuses to cover his own ass for coming up short,” Giannotti said. “That’s really what it is.”

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Rich Shertenlieb: ‘If This Fails, It’s My Name on It, But It’s What I’ve Always Wanted’

“We’re going to complain about the Bruins, we’re going to celebrate the Celtics and analyze the new ‘Road House’ movie like it’s the Zapruder film.”

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Rich Shertenlieb
Courtesy: Rich Shertenlieb on X

After approximately six months off the Boston radio airwaves, Rich Shertenlieb made his long-anticipated return with the launch of his new program, The Rich Shertenlieb Show, on Monday morning on 100.7 WZLX, an iHeartMedia-owned station. Shertenlieb will bring sports and entertainment talk to the classic rock-formatted station on weekday mornings from 6 to 10 a.m. EST, along with an array of co-hosts from various areas in media.

Some of these include former 98.5 The Sports Hub personalities Michael Hurley and Ted Johnson, who were part of the debut episode on Monday. Other contributors include former NFL Network reporter Mike Giardi and former Sports Illustrated reporter Charlotte Wilder, the latter of whom will also continue working as a contributor on Meadowlark Media’s show, The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz.

To open his show on Monday, Shertenlieb expressed how much he had missed talking with listeners in the Boston area and stated that there was a lot to discuss. Additionally, he hinted at the return of popular segments that aired during his time at 98.5 The Sports Hub, some of which include audio from Celtics fans on the street and humorous calls to 9-1-1. Shertenlieb previously worked with Fred Toucher on the popular Toucher & Rich show, which first launched on rock station 104.1 WBCN.

The show moved to 98.5 The Sports Hub upon the launch of the station in 2009 and was frequently on top of the ratings books, building and sustaining a loyal and dedicated audience. Beasley Media Group said in a statement that it had offered Shertenlieb a multi-year contract extension to which he never accepted, and there was apparent ambiguity surrounding his sudden exit from the station.

“Better opportunity, and it’s that easy,” Shertenlieb said in an interview with CBS Boston. “I really liked where I worked – I liked a lot of the people over there – but sometimes you get presented with something as cool as this and you just can’t say ‘No.’ I know that that’s not what people want to hear, but it’s the truth.”

Shertenlieb explained that the program will discuss sports and a variety of other topics, working to build a new on-air product akin to the beginning of his time with 98.5 The Sports Hub. Toucher had previously stated that he believed Shertenlieb should find an opportunity outside of sports radio through which he would be able to demonstrate his penchant for comedy and simply have fun.

Toucher is now hosting morning drive with Rob “Hardy” Poole in morning drive as part of the new Toucher & Hardy show, which made its debut in early January. On WZLX, Shertenlieb, Hurley and a rotation of co-hosts and show contributors will seek to foster a new sound in the Boston marketplace on the classic rock station as a part of morning drive.

“It’s awesome, but you know all the pressure’s on,” Shertenlieb said. “If this fails, it’s my name on it, but you know what, it’s what I’ve always wanted. It’s what I’ve worked my whole career towards, and I’m glad that [W]ZLX and iHeart were able to give it to me.”

There were other opportunities within the process that Shertenlieb was offered, and he may be open to discussing some of them down the road. There had been speculation that he was being considered for an afternoon drive program on WEEI, with several industry professionals predicting that the outcome would render itself a reality. In an interview with Chad Finn of Boston.com, Shertenlieb explained that he considered other opportunities when previously signing contracts with 98.5 The Sports Hub. In launching something new, he is excited to make an impact and construct a new product in the city.

“We’re going to complain about the Bruins, we’re going to celebrate the Celtics and analyze the new ‘Road House’ movie like it’s the Zapruder film,” Shertenlieb said.

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Mike Florio: Giving Teams Too Many Prime-Time Games ‘Compromises the Integrity of the Game’

“At some point it’s just going to be whatever we think every week is going to lead to the biggest ratings and the biggest numbers and the most money, that’s what we’re going to do and it’s unfair to certain teams to do that.”

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Mike Florio
Courtesy: Denny Medley, USA TODAY Sports

Mike Florio spent time on his Pro Football Talk Live show talking about the NFL schedule which was released in full earlier this week. The focus of the discussion was on the New York Jets schedule, however the topic related to many of the top teams in football. With the league wanting to maximize revenue there are more stand-alone games, which Florio says have “an extra layer of stress and strain.”

The Jets will have six prime-time games over the team’s first 11 weeks of the season. This includes an opening week Monday Night Football road game on the other side of the country against the San Franciso 49ers, two Sunday Night Football games, a Thursday Night Football game, one other appearance on Monday Night Football and a trip to London to play the Vikings.

Florio believes it is unfair to have teams with this much travel and this many featured games. “See, this is a TV show,” he said. “This is where the pursuit of money, the pursuit of maximum ratings, laying the foundation for putting all of the TV contracts out to bid again after the 2029 season, it gets in the way of giving teams a fair shake.”

He later added, “The truth is, the broadcast partners are clamoring for Aaron Rodgers…so they loaded it up early before the Jets have the wheels come off…The problem is they’re kicking the wheels off by doing this. By having them hopscotch the country and play short weeks twice and all of these prime-time games. There’s an extra layer of stress and strain that goes into all of these stand-alone games and all of this travel early in the season.”

Rodgers is coming off missing an entire season due to an Achilles injury and will turn 41 in early December. “Let’s be realistic about it, you’re putting him in a position where this 40-year-old body is going to be strained beyond reasonable limits from all these games on short [rest],” Florio said. “…It’s dangerous to Aaron Rodgers and its disadvantageous to the Jets and it compromises the integrity of the game.

“You still have an obligation to balance things out. It can’t be ‘let’s have the best possible TV audiences, that can’t be the driving factor…It should be a fair balance for all teams…At some point it’s just going to be whatever we think every week is going to lead to the biggest ratings and the biggest numbers and the most money, that’s what we’re going to do and it’s unfair to certain teams to do that.”

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