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NFL Draft Coverage Plans Across Sports Radio

Jason Barrett

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As the NFL Draft takes center stage tonight on sports radio stations across the nation, most brands will capture the excitement from the comfort of their own backyard. There’s less of an emphasis being placed on broadcasting live from the site of the draft and more attention given to using the evening to extend local relationships with fans and advertisers.

In my opinion, that strategy makes perfect sense.

The main reason so many will be deeply connected to sports radio stations tonight is because people want to hear who’s being picked by each team. Where the content originates from carries less importance. If listeners have a say in the matter, they’ll take hanging out and interacting with their favorite sports radio personalities at a local event over hearing them broadcast from hundreds or thousands of miles away at the host city of the NFL Draft.

That said, if stations feel it’s worth the expense to send their crew to Philadelphia to broadcast live, and it results in a ratings and revenue increase, then that too makes sense. There’s nothing wrong with that approach, as long as it works. My only counter is “would the brand achieve the same ratings and revenue gain if it didn’t make the trip?”

Some sports radio stations with baseball play by play deals will have no choice but to miss out on the on-air opportunities provided tonight by the NFL Draft. Those who aren’t blocked by local games will seek to take advantage of the three day stretch by creating original programming and trusting their best on-air talent to bring it to life.

To give you an idea of what you can expect across the dial, I’ve assembled a detailed layout of what a number of sports stations are planning for their 2017 NFL Draft coverage. My thanks to all of the programmer’s who took the time to pass along their information. Be advised that there are many more stations who are doing the same things so if I didn’t include the local station in your town in this column, be sure to check out their Twitter or Facebook page to find out how you can celebrate the evening with them.

This is a great night for the sports radio format. If you love this form of programming and live in a city and can’t show your support for your local station by attending their NFL Draft event, help them another way – put on the radio and say awhile. I promise you it’ll be an enjoyable listening experience.

FOX SPORTS RADIO:

FOX Sports Radio is broadcasting live from the Hard Rock Café in Philadelphia. Coverage starts tonight at 8pm ET. FSR’s programming will be hosted by NFL insider Jay Glazer, FOX Sports’ lead college football game analyst Joel Klatt and FOX Sports NFL and college football analyst Chris Spielman. Anthony Gargano, FSR’s weekend host and the morning man for 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia, will also host a two-hour pre-Draft show on Thursday starting at 6pm ET.

ESPN RADIO:

ESPN Radio will broadcast Rounds 1-3 of the 2017 NFL Draft from Philadelphia. Dari Nowkhah will host the network’s coverage alongside Pro Football Hall of Famer and NFL Front Office Insider Bill Polian, NFL Insider John Clayton and former NFL star and current ESPN New York 98.7FM host Chris Canty. The first night’s broadcast is scheduled to start at 7pm ET. Friday night’s program will begin thirty minutes earlier at 6:30pm ET.

SIRIUSXM NFL RADIO:

All three days of the draft will be presented on SiriusXM live from Philadelphia. Coverage airs Thursday and Friday night from 6pm-midnight, and Saturday from noon to 7pm ET. Listeners will be treated to the live announcements of all 32 teams’ selections through all seven rounds, plus interviews with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and dozens of draftees, general managers and coaches.

SiriusXM NFL Radio’s on-site broadcast team will include host Jason Horowitz, and former NFL executives and players Gil Brandt, Pat Kirwan, Jim Miller, and Phil Savage.

SIRIUSXM COLLEGE SPORTS NATION:

SXM College Sports Nation Channel 84 will air two nights of NFL Draft coverage starting at 7p ET Thursday and Friday night. David Moulton will anchor coverage along with former Tampa Bay Buccaneers GM & SiriusXM NFL analyst Mark Dominik & former college coach, SEC on CBS analyst, & College Sports Nation host Rick Neuheisel.

CBS SPORTS RADIO NETWORK:

The morning team of Gio and Jones will host a 4-hour draft night special for round 1. Coverage begins at 8pm ET. Prior to the draft show, Bill Reiter will host his evening show and set the scene for draft night from 6pm-8pm ET. Scott Ferrall takes over at Midnight to put a bow on the evening’s developments.

97.5 THE FANATIC:

The Fanatic is seizing the opportunity of having the NFL Draft in town by presenting two 3-hour shows for the draft’s first two nights. The station will go live from the site of the draft from 6p-9p with Geoff Mosher, Adam Caplan, and Joe Tordy. The trio of Devon Givens, Michael Bradley and Seth Joyner take over from Sugarhouse Casino from 9p-midnight. Additionally, former Eagles RB Brian Westbrook and afternoon host Mike Missanelli will take part in an exclusive ticketed event at Chima Steakhouse on Thursday night. The event runs from 7pm-9pm ET.

SPORTS RADIO 94WIP:

The Eagles flagship station will have a heavy presence on site at the NFL Draft. For round 1, former Eagles Ike Reese and Jamaal Jackson and Glen Macnow will contribute to the on-air coverage. A few special guests are expected to stop by during the course of the show. The station also plans to broadcast on location during days two and three, and says they’ll be heavily active capturing fan experiences and key draft day moments on Facebook Live.

FOX SPORTS RADIO 920 THE JERSEY:

With 920 being located just outside of Philadelphia, the radio station will take full advantage of the draft’s local proximity and send the Zach Gelb Show to broadcast his afternoon program on-site on Thursday and Friday. Gelb’s show will air 4pm-6pm ET both days.

97.3 ESPN:

The Atlantic City sports radio station will dedicate a big chunk of their programming time to covering the draft. Mike Gill’s afternoon show will also be live on location on Friday for an NFL Draft Party to recap round 1 and look ahead to the mid/late rounds.

SPORTSTALK 790:

The Houston sports radio brand may not have the Texans, but they do have a host with a connection to Philadelphia – Josh Innes. 790 will look to create a spark by sending Innes and former NFL defensive end Sean Jones to Philadelphia to broadcast live on location. Jones will be involved in middays with Adam Clanton, and Innes will host the afternoon show. Given Josh’s history in the city it should be an interesting few days.

WQAM:

In Miami, the home of the Dolphins will be dedicating six hours of coverage to the draft’s first night. WQAM plans to provide live cut ins from the Dolphins War Room in Davie (the team facility) while broadcasting on-site from the official team draft party at Hard Rock Stadium.

WBAL:

The flagship station of the Baltimore Ravens will broadcast from the Ravens Under Armour facility in Owings Mills. The station will have a talent on hand at the Ravens Draft Party for Round 1 providing live cut ins. On Saturday WBAL will provide on-site support from M & T Bank Stadium. The station says in total it will deliver 15 hours of coverage over all 3 days.

1010XL:

With the Jaguars picking 4th in this year’s draft, their local radio station plans to fire up the local fan base by hosting a joint broadcast with the team from Everbank Field. The event runs from 6pm-10pm ET on the first night of the draft. In addition, 1010XL will send a reporter to Philadelphia to provide on-site reports.

DENVER SPORTS 760:

iHeartmedia will lend support to the Denver Broncos by developing draft night coverage on two of its stations, Denver Sports 760, and flagship station KOA. Both brands will originate their programming from Centennial Lanes, the site of this year’s draft party. A minimum of 20 Broncos players are expected to be present at the event.

KFAN:

With no 1st round pick in this year’s draft, things should be less chaotic for the Minnesota Vikings. As a result, flagship station KFAN is easing into its coverage. The station usually broadcasts live from the Vikings draft party on the first night, but this year they’ll provide studio support for round 1. KFAN will add an on-site presence at US Bank Stadium on Saturday for the final day of the draft.

107.5/1070 THE FAN:

The Fan has a big draft party planned at a local venue in Indianapolis. Afternoon host JMV will lead the station’s coverage alongside midday host and former NFL player Big Joe Staysniak, Colts analyst and former NFL/college football coach Rick Venturi, and on-air host and station program director Greg Rakestraw. The show runs from 7pm-10pm CT. Colts players Jack Doyle and Darius Butler are scheduled to appear and sign autographs and pose for photos with fans.

790 THE TICKET:

The Ticket may not be the official radio partner of the Dolphins but that won’t stop them from acting like it. 790 will send a reporter to Dolphins HQ to provide cut ins, and broadcast live from Dave & Buster’s for round 1. To help their coverage stand out, The Ticket will utilize former Miami Hurricanes and current FIU coach Butch Davis, and former Hurricanes and NFL star DJ Williams. Both men have been frequent contributors to the station’s programming.

105.3 THE FAN:

Being the home of the Cowboys has its privileges. One of those perks includes broadcasting from the Star in Frisco on draft night. In addition, The Fan will also be heavily involved hosting draft parties throughout Dallas in conjunction with Pluckers wing bar. The station will be active at seven locations with on-air personalities making appearances at different locations.

SPORTS RADIO 1310 THE TICKET:

The Ticket will provide wall to wall coverage of the 2017 NFL Draft from start to finish. Norm Hitzges and Donovan Lewis will be live in Philadelphia broadcasting their midday show. Bob Sturm, David Newbury and Corby Davidson analyze the action from the Ticket’s studios, and David Moore and George Dunham will stake out positions inside the Cowboys Star in Frisco. Coverage times for The Ticket’s shows are 6:30pm CT on Thursday, 5:30pm CT on Friday, and 10:30am CT on Saturday.

93.7 THE FAN:

The Fan will host a live draft show from a remote location from 6p-midnight on the first night of the draft. Hosting the program will be Andrew Fillipponi, Dorin Dickerson and Paul Zeise. The Fan says they will also use a live podium feed to air each pick. Additionally, Filliponi will host a draft focused program on Saturday from 1pm-5:30pm ET.

104.3 THE FAN:

Denver’s sports radio leader is hosting a local draft party with afternoon hosts D-Mac and Big Al anchoring their coverage. Broncos safety Justin Simmons will make an on-site appearance and sign autographs for fans, and the station will have two insiders on location at the Broncos facility, and another stationed in Philadelphia providing on-site reports. The Fan will also dedicate studio and on location coverage for the second and third days of the draft.

SB NATION RADIO/ESPN HOUSTON 97.5:

Gow Media’s national network will provide live programming from Philadelphia in order to keep fans across the country informed of the latest selections during each round. On the local level, ESPN Houston 97.5 will send The Blitz with Fred Faour and AJ Hoffman on location to broadcast their show from the Saloon Door Brewery. Fred and AJ will be on site from 4pm-7pm CT and then it’s time to celebrate with local fans when each selection comes in.

SPORTS RADIO 930:

The Jacksonville sports station isn’t broadcasting live, and instead plans to capture the excitement of the draft’s first night differently. 930 will Facebook Live with fans inside of Everbank Stadium, offering instant reaction following the team’s 1st round selection. The station employed this strategy last year and felt encouraged by the results. You can learn more by checking out this link. https://www.facebook.com/SportsRadio930/videos/1034078463306115/

MIGHTY 1090:

Despite the Chargers bolting to Los Angeles, 1090 will host a special draft party from the Tilted Kilt in San Diego. Scott and BR will kick things off with a live broadcast of their afternoon show, before turning the airwaves over to Dan Sileo and Burt Grossman. The station will give listeners an opportunity to win a big screen TV at the event.

97.1 THE FAN:

Columbus’ sports radio station will take over Brew Brothers at Scioto Downs and turn it into their draft night headquarters. Beanie Wells, Tim Hall and Jeff Thitoff will broadcast a special NFL Draft pre-show from 6pm-7pm ET before the madness of the first round begins.

107.5 THE FAN:

The Green Bay sports radio station will camp out at Lambeau Field on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday to make sure Packers fans are updated on the latest NFL draft developments! Part of the plan includes on-site giveaways, live coverage of each pick, and on-air analysis, insight and opinion on each Packers move from Bill, Rookie and Marques.

SPORTS RADIO 610:

The radio home of the Texans will broadcast 1st round coverage live from NRG Stadium, the site of the Texans annual draft party. Players and cheerleaders are expected to be present. The event is already sold out.

104.5 THE ZONE:

Nashville’s radio home for the Tennessee Titans will be on site broadcasting live from the team’s draft party at Nissan Stadium. Coverage airs between 6pm-9pm and in addition to keeping fans up to date on what the Titans do with their two first round selections, other perks will be available on site including locker room tours, inflatables, and appearances by Titans alumni.

105.7 THE FAN:

The Milwaukee sports radio station will celebrate the first round of the NFL Draft by broadcasting live from Cue Cub of Wisconsin. Afternoon hosts Gary Ellerson, Steve “Sparky” Fifer and Ramie Makhlouf will broadcast their program followed by an NFL Draft special that runs from 6pm-10pm CT.

Sports Radio News

Mike Felger: Radio Row Allows Us to Do Something Different

“We don’t do a lot of guests…I don’t like having guests on. Let’s face it. Most guests don’t say anything anyway.”

Ricky Keeler

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When you are doing something you love as a job or when it gets very busy at your place of employment, the day can tend to go quicker than usual. While a four-hour show may seem like a long time to talk about sports, it can be the quickest part of the day for others. Mike Felger, the co-host of Felger and Mazz on 98.5 The Sports Hub, was a guest on The Press Box Podcast with Bryan Curtis this week and he said that the show is the quickest four hours of his day and it’s because of the prep that the guys put into the show.

“Quickest 4 hours of my day. It flies. We try to keep it moving, We put a lot into it. I think one of the reasons it goes quickly for me because we are pretty much working the whole time. We sort of map out the whole show before. All 16 segments, they are not scripted, but we will talk about this here, that there. We put something into all 16 segments.

“Mostly, if there is a game the night before, we will either have watched the game or portions of the game, we will have either watched or read the postgame press conferences, we will have read some of the coverage, and the trick there is to find something there that bugs you even if they won. What did you see in the game that you didn’t like? What did someone write that you thought was stupid or off the mark? Did someone say something that bothered you in the postgame? We put effort into the sports part of it and then we grind it out the next day. It goes quickly because we put a lot into it.”

The show is at the Super Bowl this week in Arizona as a part of Radio Row and Felger mentioned it allows the show to do something different since they don’t usually have guests on.

“For us, it’s a chance to get out of the studio, do something different, and talk to a few people. We are kind of a rare sports talk show where we don’t do a lot of guests. I don’t like having guests on. I don’t like phoners, I think it interrupts the momentum of a show, the flow of the show. Let’s face it. Most guests don’t say anything anyway.

“We don’t really do guests. We will go weeks at a time without a single phone guest or someone from outside the show. This sort of forces us to sit down and talk to some other people. It’s also just a change of scenery. We are also simulcast so it’s also a different backdrop, we are out of the studio. It’s just a little something different for us.”

While the show doesn’t have a lot of guests on, they will take a good amount of callers. With that being said, in Felger’s mind, the calls have to be quick and a good point has to be made for the show to have a good tempo.

“I like the way we do them. It’s 30 seconds. You get 30 seconds. At most, if it’s good, we will let you go to 45. It’s rare that a caller is on for a minute. If you suck, we will drop it at 12 seconds. It’s about tempo and pace of the show. I think calls are good if you go from one to the next to the next and they have to be good. If listeners can’t hear you, can’t do it. We have to hear you and you have to have a point. If you don’t have any of those things, I’m sorry, I love you, but you are gone.

“I think calls are valuable for how they pace the show. They bring tempo to the show if you do it quickly and pointedly.”

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ESPN 660 Orlando Officially Launches

“ESPN Radio offers the access to play-by-play, nationally known talent, and athletes that cannot be replicated.”

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ESPN Radio has returned to Orlando with the launch of ESPN 660 Orlando from JVC Broadcasting.

The shift officially took place this morning, with former “Florida Man Radio” — a “guy-talk” and politics format — being moved to an FM translator.

“ESPN Radio offers the access to play-by-play, nationally known talent, and athletes that cannot be replicated,” JVC Director of Programming Stevie Demann said. “ESPN 660 Orlando will air events like the Daytona 500 and the College Football Playoffs, giving radio listeners long-awaited access to these ‘must listen to’ sports, that previously were not available in Central Florida. We will have the largest selection of compelling sports content on ESPN 660 Orlando.”

The ESPN Radio brand was last seen in the market on 580 WDBO until it flipped to a news/talk format in June 2020.

“I’m thrilled with the partnership our Orlando team put together with ESPN Radio. ESPN 660 Orlando brings the biggest sporting events in the world to the Central Florida radio audience,” said JVC President and CEO John Caracciolo. “A market like Orlando is on the go all the time.  This is a great chance for our business partners to reach mobile sports fans across the region and giving radio listeners access to their favorite games on one radio station!”

ESPN 660 Orlando becomes the second sports station in the market, competing with iHeartMedia-owned 96.9 The Game, the flagship station for the Orlando Magic Radio Network.

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Sports Radio News

Toucher & Rich Continue Fake Liner Gag With Super Bowl Players

“There’s always a moment when their about three-fourths of the way down where they kind of look up at you like ‘What’s happening?'”

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Toucher and Rich

Super Bowl Opening Night is an eclectic mix of hardworking, serious journalists, mixed with interesting characters. It is safe to say 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich fall into the latter category.

As an ongoing gag, the show asks lower-profile players from the teams participating in the Super Bowl to record liners for their show. However, it isn’t for their show, it’s for fake shows that do not exist, with ridiculous taglines. The show’s Rich Shertenlieb said the premise is quite easy to pull off.

“Everyone is available for interview and only 11 people are at those big important podiums and everyone else just kind of wanders,” Shertenlieb — who is at Radio Row in Arizona while Fred Toucher remained in Boston — said. “You can just go up and speak to them and interview them.”

The first victim of the gag was Grant Calcaterra, a backup tight end for the Eagles. After a quick interview, Shertenlieb asked him to read a liner for a show that doesn’t exist.

“Hey this is Grant Calcaterra, and you’re listening to Captain Fiddlesticks and the Banjo Bandit. All aboard the hot take train. Woo Woo.”

“There’s always a moment when their about three-fourths of the way down where they kind of look up at you like ‘What’s happening?’ and then you just grab it and go ‘Thanks!’ and you walk away and find yourself buried in the crowd and hope they don’t see you again,” Shertenlieb said.

Tyrese Robinson, a rookie offensive lineman for the Eagles, was also recorded by the show.

“Hey this is Tyrese Robinson and you’re listening to Wilford Brimley and the Quaker Oats Kid. Want sports for breakfast? Why not? You’re already obese,” the Eagles rookie said.

“He caught on to your game,” Toucher said.

“By the time he got to ‘obese’, he just handed me the paper and walked away,” added Shertenlieb.

Eagles safety Reed Blankenship was interviewed by Shertenlieb, where he was asked to record a liner reading “Hey this is Reed Blankenship and you’re listening to Nard Farnsworth and Bill the Sad Hobo on 98.3 The Goat. It’s hobo-rific.”

“That is a guy that did not think you were kidding,” joked Toucher.

Another Eagles offensive lineman — Andre Dillard — was quickly interviewed by Shertenlieb. The 98.5 The Sports Hub host asked Dillard to read “Hey this is Andre Dillard and you’re listening to The DA Show. Hope you like feet,” to which Dillard responded “Wait, what?!” while reading the line. “Because DA really likes feet. Foot-tastic.”

One of the higher profile players the show recorded was Eagles backup quarterback Gardner Minshew, who incorrectly pronounced one of the words in the read.

“Hey this is Gardner Minshew and you’re listening to The Syracuse Guys, dudes in suites (sic) with nice teeth. We love lukewarm takes, safe hip hop, and The Bachelor.”

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