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SportsTalk 790 To Undergo Drive Time Changes

Jason Barrett

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The mood is about to change on the airwaves of SportsTalk 790. And the expected changes will have an impact on morning and afternoon drive on the Houston sports radio station.

BSM reported earlier that morning host Lance Zierlein informed 790 executives of his intentions to let his contract expire this summer and become a free agent. He has since confirmed the news on social media.

790 and Zierlein are both open to continuing a part-time relationship. Whether or not that will come to fruition remains to be seen. Sports Radio 610 and Gow Media have previously served as employer’s of Zierlein’s and depending on their local needs, could also be interested.

In recent years, the popular Houston radio personality has begun contributing as an NFL Draft Analyst for the NFL Network and NFL.com. He’s seen as an emerging talent by network officials and is expected to remain involved on multiple platforms with the network. Zierlein has hosted the morning show on 790 since 2011, working with different partners including Adam Clanton and his current partner Matt Thomas.

With Zierlein leaving, BSM has learned that 790 plans to move Josh Innes into morning drive. The change isn’t expected to occur until the summer, just in time for football season. Innes’ move earlier in the day will create an opening in afternoons. Sources I spoke with said former host Charlie Pallilo is not expected to be part of the new afternoon mix.

Since returning to Houston, Innes has been a magnet for local media attention. His ratings haven’t yet sent a jolt into the marketplace but his talent is undeniable. 790 is hoping that a move earlier in the day will allow Innes to further move the ratings needle and lift the station back to a stronger overall position.

Given the stylistic differences in the way Innes hosts his show compared to 610’s MaD Radio, Houston sports radio listeners will soon have different options to consider when listening each morning. Add to the equation 97.5 ESPN, who are losing Mike and Mike as a result of ESPN splitting up the long time duo, and the fall should produce an interesting report card for mornings in Houston.

The one situation which will be clarified soon is Matt Thomas’ role with 790. Thomas is currently paired with Zierlein on the morning show and contributes as a public address and radio play by play announcer for the Houston Rockets. It’s possible the station could shift him to afternoons or return him to a midday position. Sources close to the situation were unsure of the station’s plans for him but said he would not be paired with Innes.

Sports Radio News

Zolak and Bertrand Broadcast During Patriots/Panthers Fights

“I’ve never seen anything like this at a camp… this is great today,” beamed Zolak.

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Zolak and Bertrand

Scott Zolak and Marc Bertrand were broadcasting live from the New England Patriots’ joint practice with the Carolina Panthers. During their show, things got heated between the two teams, multiple times, and the show was there to call it all.

Bertrand was bringing the show back from commercial break and noted that there had just been a fight moments before Zolak and Bertrand were live.

“This drill got escalated by the Panthers here,” said co-host and former Patriots quarterback. “This is number three (fights)in a freaking kickoff drill. A kickoff drill!”

Shortly after, Bertrand was describing the efforts to separate the two teams when even more chaos erupted.

“They’ve separated all the players,” began Bertrand, sensing some calm was being restored. “They’ve sent them on their way to the next period so you’ve got — and now here comes another fight. Another major fight! It’s happening right in front of the stands.”

“These guys are a-holes man,” spoke Zolak. “Get these clowns out of here. All they want to do is fight. This is unreal. I’ve never seen anything like this.”

“What a scene,” said Bertrand.

“I’ve never seen anything like this at a camp… this is great today,” beamed Zolak. “Thank God we’re down here!”

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Sports Radio News

1140 The Bet Cancels ‘The Playmakers’

The show, hosted by Lindsey Brown and Adrian Hernandez, aired from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM.

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In another cut from Audacy, 1140 The Bet has cancelled The Playmakers on their Las Vegas station.

The show, hosted by Lindsey Brown and Adrian Hernandez, aired from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM.

Brown tweeted the news, saying “Sadly I have been informed that yesterday was our final show. I am thankful for the people it brought into my life & the experiences we created I am incredibly proud of our work & the boundaries we are eager to push in sportz radio. Today is a tough day. Tomorrow is on the way.”

Hernandez followed up by tweeting “I can’t put into words right now how I feel right now but in my radio journey from College in Tampa to Phoenix and now Las Vegas you were the best teammate I’ve ever had in radio and more importantly a great person. I appreciate and will miss you Badass Brown.”

According to the station’s website, it will replace The Playmakers with You Better You Bet from the BetQL Network.

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Sports Radio News

1250-AM The Fan in Milwaukee Reportedly Cancels Local Programming

The station is streaming CBS Sports and has removed the local daily lineup from the 1250 AM The Fan website.

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1250 AM The Fan

Stunning sports radio news out of Milwaukee. 1250-AM The Fan has suddenly removed all of its local programming and switched over to CBS Sports Radio.

The news came as a shock to local listeners but even more surprising to the station’s staff. Here’s a tweet from Evan Heffelfinger noting that today was “everyone’s” last day at the station.

The station’s stream is currently airing CBS Sports Radio. The local daily lineup has also been removed from the 1250 The Fan website although show podcasts still remain.

In regards to the station’s talent, most have been quiet since the news began to trickle out. The Milwaukee Business Journal reported that recent NFL Hall of Famer and former Green Bay Packer LeRoy Butler was part of the cuts. Bart Winkler, Tim Allen, and Gary Ellerson are expected to be out as well.

“Over the past few years, Audacy has been on a transformational journey, investing in our capabilities to serve our listeners and customers and accelerate our growth through a number of strategic acquisitions, enhancements to our platform, and the addition of hundreds of team members to our workforce,” explained an Audacy spokesperson. “We remain committed to this exciting transformation which has made us a much stronger organization, but in light of current macroeconomic headwinds, like so many other companies, we have been proactively taking actions to mitigate against the impact of any downturn. These include evaluating budgets, reducing expenses, and also reducing our workforce.”

One host who is expected to remain involved is Steve ‘Sparky’ Fifer. Fifer was part of the midday show, and also helped behind the scenes. According to sources, he’s likely to contribute off-air and with additional brand projects. The rest will have an opportunity to explore opportunities should any become available at 97.3 The Game, ESPN 94.1, WTMJ or any other local outlets.

Upon learning of the news, a few former 1250 hosts, Mike Wickett and Cliff Saunders, took to social media to share their sadness.

Ryan Maguire, who served as the PD of 1250 The Fan from 2006-2009, and is currently the PD of crosstown rivals ESPN Milwaukee and WTMJ, provided his perspective.

One host who left before the station was dismantled was former afternoon man Ramie Makhlouf. The longtime Milwaukee voice exited in June to join Sactown Sports 1140.

This is a developing story and as more information becomes available we’ll pass it along. 1250-AM The Fan is owned by Audacy, which just announced plans to reduce less than 5% of its programming staff.

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