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Under The Radar – September 11, 2017

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Football season is back, which means the interest in sports media content should be top of mind for the next four months. This week there were a little more than twenty news items to share. As always, if you have information to share involving yourself or your company, please send it via email to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me.

Now here are this week’s tidbits.

Last year many blamed the NFL‘s ratings decline on the election, Donald Trump, Colin Kaepernick’s protest, Peyton Manning’s retirement and Tom Brady’s four game suspension. But this year’s Thursday Night opener on NBC featuring the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs produced a lower rating than last year’s game between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos. Is it a one week aberration or a sign of things to come? To read more about it, click here.

As WFAN begins dealing with the aftereffects of Craig Carton‘s arrest, the million dollar question becomes, “who takes his spot opposite Boomer Esiason?” The Fan has a few internal options to consider from Brandon Tierney, Gregg Giannotti, Damon Amendolara and Jerry Recco. They could stay in the company and ask Adam The Bull, Chris Carlin or Mike Valenti to relocate to the big apple. Or they could go outside the box. The New York Daily News raised the possibility of external candidates such as Chris Simms, Jon “Stugotz” Weiner or Michael Rappaport, and Greg Hughes, formerly of ‘Opie and Anthony’, has also been floated as a suggestion before too. One thing that’s not expected to change is the show’s television simulcast on the CBS Sports Network.

New York radio stations are ramping up their contributors for the 2017 NFL season. 98.7 ESPN New York has added New York Giants safety Landon Collins for The Michael Kay Show, and former New York Jets Linebacker Bart Scott as a contributor on a variety of station shows. WFAN will once again have Eli Manning and Ben McAdoo on each week with Mike Francesa, plus NFL Network reporter Peter Schrager has signed on to appear with Mike each Friday.

Speaking of contributors, ESPN Radio has announced its collection of experts to contribute to the network’s morning show, Mike and Mike, and starting in November, Golic & Wingo. Set to appear on the show are Louis Riddick, Booger McFarland, Ryan Clark, Herm Edwards, Paul Finebaum, Kirk Herbstreit, Matthew Berry, Brian Billick, Field Yates, Mike Golic Jr. and Joey Galloway.

Also on ESPN Radio, the network is bringing back Brian Custer and Donovan McNabb. The two men will broadcast Monday evenings from 7p-10p ET.

Changes are coming to 97.5 The Fanatic. The radio station has confirmed the addition of Bob Cooney to the morning show with Anthony Gargano. Cooney spent twenty five years with the Philadelphia Daily News.

Meanwhile on the other side of town, Sports Radio 94WIP deserves a round of applause for leading the cause to raise over two hundred thousand dollars for the Eagles Charitable Foundation. WIP says the money will help over 6,932 children receive eye care in the form of a $30 comprehensive vision exam and a pair of eyeglasses. Nice work.

Sticking with WIP, the radio station also announced their football contributors for the 2017 NFL season. Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham will appear live from Chickie’s and Pete’s each Monday night at 6p ET. The show will be hosted by Merrill Reese, Howard Eskin and Jon Marks. Immediately after Graham’s show at 7p ET, WIP rolls out the “Player’s Lounge” with Ike Reese and Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. In addition, Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson appears Monday mornings at 8a ET with Angelo Cataldi. The station will also feature regular appearances by The Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia, former NFL offensive lineman Ross Tucker, former NFL coach and Super Bowl champion Dick Vermeil, Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks, Ray Didinger, former NFL executive Mike Lombardi, Eagles cornerbacks Rodney McLeod and Jalen Mills, fantasy football experts Paul Charchian and John Hansen, and NFL Insider Ian Rapoport.

Congratulations to 106.7 The Fan in Washington D.C. on finishing the August book in the Top 3 with Men 25-54 M-F 6a-7p and M-SU 6a-Mid. The Sports Junkies turned in a dominant performance in morning drive, finishing the month a few tenths of a point under a 12 share, good enough for second place. Local competitor ESPN 980 also received good news. The majority of their weekday programs finished in the Top 10 including their morning show hosted by Chris Cooley and Kevin Sheehan which came in sixth.

The ratings were also positive for ESPN Los Angeles 710AM. Month to month performances were higher for the majority of the weekday lineup, but even more important was growth for each show in the key M-F 6a-7p schedule. Leading the way as usual were Mason and Ireland who turned in a little better than a three and a half share. Their rating is the best of any local sports talk show in the market.

When it comes to numbers, 101 ESPN in St. Louis has become accustomed to dominating the local competition, and the month of August was no exception. The station’s weekday shows once again finished between 1st and 4th. Leading the way were The Fast Lane which turned in another #1 performance in afternoons with better than a 12 share.

Jordan Kent has returned to 102.9/750 The Game in Portland to co-host the Oregon Ducks pre-game show. Kent, who played football, basketball and ran track for the Ducks, also contributes locally on television for Comcast Sports Northwest.

KNBR 680 host John Lund has launched a new website, playing off of one of his popular benchmarks “The Caboose Pistol.” The site contains a bunch of male demo prep material and can be accessed by clicking here.

Staying in San Francisco, KCBS has announced the return of John Madden to its airwaves. The former NFL head coach and analyst has been a longtime contributor to the radio station.

A little further south, the Broadcast Company of the Americas in San Diego have struck a deal to feature University of San Diego football and basketball on their radio stations. Five football home games will air on The Mighty 1090. The remaining road games will be carried by sister station ESPN 1700. Men’s basketball games will also split between the two stations, with 1090 carrying 10 games, and the remaining ones being offered on 1700.

Charlotte’s sports leader WFNZ has added some firepower to its talk shows for the 2017 NFL season. Joining the station’s lineup as weekly contributors are voice of the Panthers Jim Szoke, Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, former NFL executive Tony Softli, NBC Pro Football Talk reporter Mike Florio, former NFL offensive lineman Lomas Brown, and a slew of others.

The Big 1070 in Madison, Wisconsin has adjusted its weekday lineup. 1070 has replaced Fox Sports Radio’s “Rich Eisen Show” weekdays 11a-2p CT with a one-hour edition of “The Rundown with Jon Arias”, and a regional simulcast of sister station The Big 920’s “The Drew Olson Show.” An hour of Mike Heller’s programs gets eliminated but he remains installed in afternoons on the station from 3p-6p CT.

Shifting to Denver, Ryan Edwards is moving from Mile High Sports to Orange and Blue Radio. Edwards will host M-F 10a-12p MT.

In Cleveland, Danny Cunningham has left ESPN 850 WKNR. He says he’s involved in talks for another project and will share the details at the appropriate time.

The Syracuse Crunch have decided on their new play by play voice. Congratulations to Lukas Favale on earning the opportunity.

Aaron Torres has joined Kentucky Sports Radio as a contributing writer according to founder Matt Jones.

A new podcast has been launched by former WFAN and current WOR producer “Sugar” Ray Martel, and New England radio personality Keith Rice. The two Boston sports fans will discuss Boston’s “Big 4” via the Sugar and Rice podcast. Martel brings a Big Apple perspective to his Boston fandom. Rice acknowledges his slant is very “anti-New York”. The weekly podcast will be available on iTunes and Google Play.

A toast is in order for ESPN which celebrated 38 years in business last week. The network launched to an estimated audience of 30,000 viewers. It’s pretty remarkable to see where the company is now compared to where it was in 1979 when it first began. Cheers!

While we’re on the subject of anniversaries, congratulations to CBS‘ flagship show, The NFL Today, which celebrates 50 years on the air on September 13th. The initial broadcast ran 15 minutes and was hosted by Frank Gifford. Since then, 43 different hosts, analysts and reporters have contributed to the program.

Lately many writers have been flocking from the Bay Area News Group to join The Athletic, leaving holes inside the organization’s sports department. One of them has been filled as BANG has hired Dieter Kurtenbach as a sports columnist.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has lost a valuable member of their sports department. Longtime Blues reporter and writer Jeremy Rutherford has announced he’s signed on with The Athletic. JR says he will transition from breaking news, game stories and practice updates to providing deeper columns that cover the key issues involving the Blues.

The Athletic has landed another scribe north of the border. The company’s Toronto division has lured Eric Duhatschek over from the Globe and Mail. Duhatschek had spent 17 years with the local newspaper.

Ken Pomeroy has also announced he’s joining The Athletic. Pomeroy will be a regular contributor and analytics editor for the company’s college basketball platform.

There will be a new beat reporter covering the Missouri Tigers for the Kansas City Star. Longtime writer Tod Palmer has confirmed he’s stepping aside to take a position as Suburbans Editor for some of The Star’s products as well as Lee’s Summit Journal and the Cass County Democrat.

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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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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