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Under The Radar – May 1, 2017

Jason Barrett

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Although the cuts at ESPN dominated the sports media coverage last week, there were a few other stories that took place too which received less attention. A reminder, you can pass along news, tips, press releases and promotional items via email at JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me. Now on to this week’s developments.

ESPN Syracuse host Brent Axe conducted an excellent interview with former ESPN executive John Wildhack who now serves as Syracuse’s Athletic Director. Wildhack, who was part of the inner circle that made key business decisions on retaining the network’s play by play deals with the NFL, NBA and MLB, explained why those deals made sense, and addressed some of the differences between opinion and journalism and why FOX Sports 1 isn’t on the same level with the worldwide leader in sports. To hear the conversation, click here. The ESPN discussion occurs thirteen minutes into the interview.

Speaking of ESPN cuts, after being fed the grim news last week that his run with the network had come to an end, longtime NFL reporter Ed Werder is jumping right back into action. Werder has teamed with former ESPN Dallas radio host Matt Mosley to create The Doomsday Podcast. An episode is expected to launch on Monday with Werder addressing his departure from the company. To hear it click here.

A tip of the cap to Arizona Sports 98.7FM who received positive praise from their local audience for their NFL Draft coverage. The radio station featured afternoon hosts Dave Burns and John Gambadoro, morning man and former NFL player Ron Wolfley, and longtime ESPN College Football analyst Mark May who was recently part of the network’s cuts. Not only did Gambadoro break the news of who the Cardinals were selecting, but the blend of all four men on the broadcast resulted in numerous social media responses from listeners adding that they were enjoying the draft with the volume down so that they could enjoy hearing what the group were providing on the radio station.

WFAN is celebrating 30 years of sports broadcasting excellence. As part of it, the radio station has created a web page which features classic audio moments throughout the years, and poll questions built around memorable teams and athletes from the past three decades. The Fan has also announced a special 30-year Anniversary Show will take place on June 22nd live from Grand Central Station in New York City. One former personality who has confirmed he’ll appear at the event is WABC midday host, and former WFAN host Sid Rosenberg. For more information on The Fan’s anniversary click here.

Former Cleveland Browns GM Phil Savage, who was also part of ESPN’s cuts last week, yet remains involved hosting shows for SiriusXM NFL Radio and serving as Alabama football’s color analyst, has published a new book “4th and Goal Every Day.” Savage is making media appearances in support of the new book. To reach him click here.

92.9 The Game in Atlanta and evening host Mark Zinno have ended their relationship. No word yet on who will take over evenings for The Game, Zinno meanwhile is looking for his next opportunity. The talented host can be reached by email by clicking here.

Moving north to the nation’s capital, 106.7 The Fan will hold its 4th annual Fan Fest event this Saturday at the Nova Field House. The event is free to the public and runs from noon to 3pm ET. Included in the day’s festivities are a Nationals youth baseball clinic, PGA Golf instruction, and autograph sessions with current and former Redskins players Josh Norman, Doug Williams, and Mark Rypien. The Fan’s on-air personalities will also be present. For more information click here.

Rogers Media has acquired Adult Standards CSIL 650 AM from the Newfoundland Capital Corporation. As part of the purchase, Rogers is expected to flip the radio station’s format to sports sometime this fall. Rogers landed the radio rights to the Vancouver Canucks this past March.

Congratulations is in order for Julie DiCaro of 670 The Score and ESPN Radio‘s Sarah Spain. The two Chicago based sports personalities earned a Peabody award in the public service category for their video which shined the light on harassment of women in sports. To see the video click here.

In addition to contributing to 106.7 The Fan on a part time basis, former ESPN 980 host Nick Ashooh has been hired by CSN Mid Atlantic to provide digital content to its platforms.

Staying in the digital space, some unfortunate news to share out of New York City. Jake Brown who had spent the past 3 years working for CBS Radio as its Digital Content Manager was laid off last week due to budget cuts. Brown’s show will continue on CBS’ Play.it but he’s looking for his next opportunity. To reach him by email click here.

Shifting gears to sports agency news. ICM Partners have signed ESPN host Jonathan Coachman and NFL Network host Erin Coscarelli. Coachman will be represented by Ted Chervin, Heather Karpas, Matt Sorger and Mark Zimmerman. Coscarelli will have Zimmerman, and Lou Oppenheim, Courtny Catzel, Will Horowitz, Justin Ianda, and Tyler Kroos handling her affairs.

The MLB Network added former Indians, Phillies and White Sox slugger Jim Thome as an analyst last week. Thome will contribute on a part-time basis. He also serves as a special assistant to White Sox GM Rick Hahn.

Stephen Cohen is leaving the Seattle Seahawks beat to focus on general news reporting at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Michael-Shawn Dugar will take over for Cohen.

After nine years at The Big Lead, Tyler Duffy has announced he’s leaving the website. Duffy recently served as the site’s Senior Writer.

Brian Dunshee has announced that he’s joining SB Nation’s On The Banks where he’ll contribute to the site’s coverage of Rutgers football.

Congratulations goes out to Kyle Crooks who was added as a new play by play broadcaster at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Sports Radio News

Steak Shapiro Apologizes, Says He Didn’t Think Stetson Bennett Criticism Was ‘That Inflamatory’

“You were just trying to play music and not ignore the fans. Still don’t think it was a great speech, but again, you’re the biggest football hero in Georgia football history.”

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Wednesday’s edition of The Steakhouse was one Atlanta sports fans were waiting for. Late Tuesday night, Steak Shapiro took to Twitter to promise that he would address Stetson Bennett IV’s reaction to his criticism of the way the quarterback behaved at Georgia’s National Championship parade on Saturday.

“The notion is that Steak was basically roasted,” he said of the coverage the social media spat received. “He was put on the grill and taken to task.”

Shapiro had tweeted that he did not think it was a good look for Bennett to be on his phone during the championship parade and that his speech seemed more about settling old grudges than it was about celebrating the team or the fans. In a message on Twitter, which began by addressing Shapiro as “Mr. Med Rare”, Bennett explained that he was using his phone to play music in the car he was riding in. He was not ignoring the moment or the fans.

After giving Bennett credit for coming up with a funny nickname, Steak Shapiro said that he was surprised that the quarterback took the criticism so personally.

“My job is to give an opinion. I didn’t think it was that inflammatory. I didn’t think it was that dramatic.”

He added that has no problem with Stetson’s disdain for the media. He just thought the parade should have been about the fans and the accomplishment rather than Stetson Bennett IV trying to settle old grudges. Still, Shapiro wanted to make it clear that he does not hate the Georgia quarterback. He remains one of Bennett’s most vocal fans.

“On three or four occasions, I was lambasted because I said I thought he was the greatest player in Georgia history, and I said that before he won the national title,” Shapiro said. “I said that when they had the undefeated regular season, and then people started saying ‘stop saying that about Stetson’ or ‘Stetson’s overrated’. I just kinda had his back the entire year and probably had his back the last two years. I just didn’t think Saturday was a great day. That is what I have been saying, and I stand by it. I just didn’t think it was a great-looking day.”

Steak Shapiro did offer an apology to Bennett. He said that if the quarterback was just trying to play music on his phone, that isn’t that big of a deal, and if he had known that is what was happening, his reaction may have been different.

“My bad,” he concluded. “You were just trying to play music and not ignore the fans. Still don’t think it was a great speech, but again, you’re the biggest football hero in Georgia football history. You’re one of the iconic sports figures — maybe number one — in a town of Hank Aaron, and Chipper Jones, and Domonique Wilkins, and Matt Ryan, and Deion Sanders. You’re probably number one all time.”

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Sports Radio News

Brian Gebhardt to Serve as Program Director of Sactown Sports 1140

“Learning under skilled leaders such as Terry Foxx, Sean Thompson, Reggie Rouse, and Mike Conti helped prepare Gebhardt for the next step.”

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Sactown Sports 1140 has found their next program director. After an extensive search, GM Steve Cottingim and Bonneville Sacramento’s Group Director of Programming Chad Rufer have found their next leader in Atlanta, GA, tabbing Brian Gebhardt to guide the brand’s programming department.

Gebhardt heads west to join Bonneville Sacramento after enjoying over seven years of success at 92.9 The Game. He has served recently as the Executive Producer of the ‘Andy & Randy’ show featuring Randy McMichael and Andy Bunker. During his time with the Atlanta sports station, Gebhardt has learned under skilled leaders such as Terry Foxx, Sean Thompson, Reggie Rouse, and Mike Conti. Those experiences prepared Gebhardt for the next step, as did working with numerous on-air talents who have helped The Game become a model of consistency in Georgia.

“Brian’s experience working with both premiere talent and professional sports franchises will help us help the Sactown Sports brand grow both on-air and on-line ,” said Cottingim.

“Brian demonstrated to us a real passion for leading extraordinary talent,” shared Rufer. “We are very confident that he will help us grow Sactown Sports into Sacramento’s premiere sports brand.”

“I can’t wait to get started and I am beyond excited to be working with Bonneville,” added Gebhardt.  

The hiring of the Georgia native as new PD allows Nick Cattles to focus exclusively on hosting the station’s afternoon show, a role he’s wanted to invest more time. Cattles joined Sactown Sports in November 2021 and has pulled double duty since arriving in Northern California. He hired Ramie Makhlouf as his afternoon drive co-host and the duo have built a solid foundation in afternoons. Having the ability now to focus solely on the show should allow Cattles and Ramie to elevate their program even more.

The first day on the job for Gebhardt will be Monday February 3rd. Depending on what develops with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC playoffs, there’s a possibility he could be walking into two straight weeks of Super Bowl planning. Regardless, Gebhardt has a new market to learn, a new team to meet, a new company to deliver results for, and an opportunity to take a big step in his radio career.

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DNVR Sports Files Injunction Against Bonneville Over Denver Sports Brand

“We can’t allow someone that represents the exact opposite of us to damage the goodwill of our brand or create confusion in the community.”

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After Bonneville International unveiled new branding for its Denver Sports properties, digital outlet DNVR Sports has filed an injunction to stop the radio company from utilizing the brand and logos.

In a Twitter thread, ALLCITY Network CEO Brandon Spano claimed DNVR Sports has already seen listeners, viewers, and readers confuse the two brands. “We can’t allow someone that represents the exact opposite of us to damage the goodwill of our brand or create confusion in the community,” Spano tweeted.

“Our branding was created purposefully, to be different from the way sports networks traditionally looked,” he said in another tweet. “To represent the city of Denver in a simple way while removing us from the gloss and pretentiousness of sports media. To create something that brings people together.”

Spano added that ALLCITY sent Bonneville a cease-and-desist letter last week, but claims the company failed to respond, so an injunction has been filed.

The Denver Sports branding utilized by Bonneville — which encompasses 104.3 The Fan and ESPN Denver — features a black and white city skyline as well as the Rocky Mountains inside a hexagon with block lettering. The DNVR Sports logo is a rectangle, similar to the city of Denver flag, with the sun centered between the mountain peaks and a block “DNVR” below the rectangle.

The complaint filed by StudioIP LLC — the law firm representing ALLCITY — claims the branding used by Bonneville constitutes “trademark infringement, unfair competition, trade dress infringement, dilution by tarnishment, and tortious interference arising out of Bonneville’s trademark infringement of Plaintiff’s trademarks,” according to Westword.

Bonneville has denied any wrongdoing, saying the accusations “have absolutely no merit, and our legal counsel is preparing a formal response. Denver Sports remains committed to delivering the most in-depth and inclusive local sports content for all Denver sports fans.”

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