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Under The Radar – August 7, 2017

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With football season just around the corner, sports media brands are in recruitment mode, adding talented individuals who they hope will create an impact this fall for their respective organizations. As a result,  there’s a little more activity than usual to report this week. A reminder, if you or your company have news to share in the future, and would like to have it featured in this column, please send it via email to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me.

Now on to the latest developments!

A number of sports media giants will be recognized for the contributions they’ve made throughout their illustrious careers. Chris Berman, Brent Musburger and Bill Raftery top the list of inductees entering the 2017 Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame. The event takes place place December 12th at the New York Hilton Hotel. To purchase tickets for the event click here.

Westwood One has set its broadcast teams for the upcoming NFL  season. Hall of Fame defensive end Jason Taylor works the Sunday night game with play by play man Kevin Kugler. Taylor worked Sunday afternoon games last season. The Monday night booth stays the same with Kevin Harlan and Boomer Esiason calling the action. Kurt Warner steps in for a number of games when Esiason isn’t available. The Thursday night broadcast will feature Ian Eagle and Tony Boselli. Former NFL head coach and front office executive Mike Holmgren has been added as a Thursday night contributor. Jim Gray and Scott Graham return as the network’s pregame and halftime hosts.

A former ESPN baseball analyst is the latest to join Barstool Sports. The latest free agent signing is former pitcher Dallas Braden. The charismatic and colorful on-air analyst will contribute to a new baseball podcast being produced by Barstool.

Houston sports radio veteran Fred Davis has returned to Sports Radio 610 KILT. Davis spent the past few years working for Gow Media’s ESPN Houston 97.5, after a solid run as a host at 610. He is contributing on-air in a part-time role. 

Staying in Houston, with Charlie Pallilo signing on to host for Gow Media’s SB Nation Radio 1560 AM, Joe George has received an internal promotion to produce Pallilo’s new show. George previously worked nights with Matt Perrault and Tony Desiere. He’ll also continue hosting a Saturday show on SB Nation Radio from 10a-1p CT.

Former SB Nation Radio host Will Palaszczuk has left Houston, Texas for Columbia, South Carolina. The versatile on-air personality has joined SportsTalkSC which focuses heavily on Clemson and the University of South Carolina sports. Palaszczuk will team with Phil Kornblut and Tom Hayes on a daily 2-hour program which airs all across the state. He’ll also cover games for both schools on the road. His on-air debut is set for this Tuesday.

Elsewhere in Texas, 105.5 FM in Corpus Christi has dropped ESPN Radio programming. The radio station has changed formats and is now airing music.

The West Palm Beach market is gaining a 4th sports radio station. Sports Radio 1230 The Zone launched last Monday, and features CBS Sports Radio programming and The Defo Show featuring Jeff DeForrest, which originates out of Miami on iHeart Radio’s Sports Radio 940 WINZ-AM. The market also has sports talk content being created by Good Karma Broadcasting’s ESPN West Palm, 640 The Hurricane and ESPN Deportes 760.

Radio Influence has added former NFL and College Football coach and scout and current NBC Sports Radio Football Analyst Chris Landry to its digital brand. Landry is launching a new podcast titled Landry Football which will debut on Tuesday, August 15th. The plan is for new episodes to be made available every Tuesday and Thursday.

After seven years working for TSN as a reporter and anchor, Amanda Stein is ready to take on a new challenge. The Canadian sports broadcaster is moving to New Jersey to become the new All-Access host for the New Jersey Devils.

A few valuable behind the scenes contributors have left Sports Radio WNML in Knoxville. After 3 years, Blake Hatfield has accepted an internship with Charlotte Motor Speedway to further his Master’s program. Also exiting is Amanda Watson, who recently served as producer of the Erik Ainge Show and Sports 180. Watson has landed an opportunity outside of radio as a Marketing Director for Foothills Federal Credit Union.

Switching to game broadcasts, Virginia Tech coverage is getting an extra boost this season. FOX Sports 910 afternoon host Wes McElroy has been named co-host of the Kubota Kickoff Show with Andrew Allegretta on the Virginia Tech IMG Sports Network. He’ll also co-host Hokies Postgame Live with Jon Laaser. The postgame show will run an hour long and also broadcast on Facebook Live via the Virginia Tech Athletics page. McElroy will also host the Saturday morning College Football Tailgate Show which airs across 10 affiliates in Virginia. It’s his second year hosting the program.

ESPN Las Vegas has named Joe Arrigo its new pre-game host of UNLV football broadcasts. Michael Robinson has been chosen as the new sideline reporter for University of Toledo football. Justin McIsaac steps in as the new color commentator on University of New Hampshire broadcasts.

In television news, FOX Sports has added former Oregon Head Football coach Mark Helfrich as a college football analyst. That means the last three Ducks head coaches (Chip Kelly and Mike Bellotti are the other two) will all hold television analyst roles this season.

After a lengthy NFL career, Cory Redding Sr. is ready to start the next phase of his professional life. The former defensive tackle has signed on as a football analyst for ESPN‘s Longhorn Network.

Cris Collinsworth won’t be the only member of the Collinsworth family working on national sports television this football season. Cris’ son, Jac Collinsworth, has accepted a position with ESPN to serve as a features reporter on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown.

News from a few local markets, Katie Austin has joined FOX Sports West as host of Southern California Prep Insider. Mary Dunleavy has been hired by WRAL in Raleigh, NC to serve as a Sports Anchor and Reporter. Trish Christakes has been named Sports Director and Anchor by WEEK/WHOI in Peoria, Illinois. Brian Schnee has been named News/Sports anchor at KTVL News Channel 10 in Medford, Oregon. And Charlotte native Alex Weaver is returning home to work in a broadcasting role with NASCAR

Switching to print news, ESPN has re-signed senior writer Seth Wickersham and added Joel Anderson and Phil Steele. Wickersham has written for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com since graduating college in 2000. Anderson joins the network after four years at BuzzFeed. Steele joins ESPN full time after contributing part-time the past few years to ESPN Insider and ESPN The Magazine

Jason King has inked a new deal to remain Senior Writer for Bleacher Report. As Richard Deitsch previously tweeted, Bleacher Report has also re-signed Howard Beck and Matt Miller.

Pro Football Weekly has added a familiar face. NFL reporter Eric Edholm returns to the platform that gave him his start to serve as an enterprising news writer. To read Edholm’s welcome back piece click here.

The Athletic continues to add to its various digital platforms. Chris Vannini has joined the College Football platform led by Stewart Mandel. Dana O’Neil has signed on to contribute to the college basketball platform being run by Seth Davis. Tim Kawakami shares that Lisa Olson and Eno Sarris have joined The Athletic’s Bay Area division. Kevin Fishbain has signed on to cover the Bears for The Athletic Chicago, and Brendan Quinn is working the Michigan and Michigan State basketball beat for The Athletic Detroit.

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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