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Under The Radar – October 30, 2017

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The news has been trickling in over the past few weeks so we have plenty to catch you up on. A reminder, it helps us, and benefits the remainder of industry folks when they’re kept in the loop about news involving yourself or your brand. To have your information included in a future UTR column please pass along any pertinent details via email to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me.

Now on to some of the news you might have missed.

Congratulations to Bob Valvano on signing a new 2-year contract with Union Broadcasting in Louisville and ESPN Radio in Bristol to continue in his current roles as a local and national talk show host and college basketball analyst. Bobby V can be heard on ESPN 680 as well as across the nation on ESPN Radio.

In other positive news related to ESPN Radio, congrats are overdue for Mike Urrunaga and Vince Kates. The two longtime producers have been elevated to supervisor roles. Kates is now overseeing the network’s evening programming and Urrunaga its weekend shows. The moves provide new challenges for both men while also allowing Pete Gianesini and Louise Cornetta to focus more on digital content and podcast development.

Cumulus Media has made an excellent hire to lead its programming efforts at News Radio 106.7 FM in Atlanta. Accomplished sports radio veteran Tom Lee has been brought in to oversee the station’s programming efforts. Lee has worked in Los Angeles, Dallas, Seattle and Philadelphia and was last in charge of The Beast 980 before it was sold and flipped to a different format.

Elsewhere in Atlanta, Former Atlanta Falcon Bob Whitfield has hosted his last show on 1230 The Fan 2 in Atlanta. Station owner David Dickey told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Whitfield’s show with Larry Sachs wasn’t what he was looking for. Whitfield joined the show in late-July. Dickey is trying to find a different role for Whitfield on one of his other Atlanta radio stations.

Thrilled to see SiriusXM add pro wrestler Tommy Dreamer to its roster as a talk show host. Dreamer, who has co-hosted a few wrestling shows with Dave LaGreca on Busted Open Radio, and is most familiar for his work in ECW and WWE, has a strong passion for professional sports. The satellite company is giving him an opportunity to scratch that itch by contributing on a part-time basis to a few different sports channels, in addition to adding his insights on the latest activity inside the squared circle.

102.9/750 The Game in Portland has brought thru a few interesting personalities recently. The radio station has utilized Mark Zinno formerly of 92.9 The Game in Atlanta, Zakariah formerly of 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, Brian Noe of FOX Sports Radio, Seth Harp of Sports Radio 930 in Jacksonville, and Erik Gee formerly of 107.7 The Franchise in Oklahoma City. The radio station is working thru a process to identify future talent for its vacant afternoon slot.

Staying in Portland, best wishes go out to Brian Wheeler, the radio voice of the Portland Trail Blazers. Wheeler has been sidelined with health issues, causing him to miss a number of Blazers games to begin the 2017-2018 campaign. Scott Lynn has stepped in on an interim basis to hold down the fort. Wheeler says he’s focused on getting himself better and is appreciative of everyone’s well wishes and hopes to be back behind the microphone real soon.

It’s not every day that you see a headline that reads “San Antonio Sports Talk Show Host in Twitter feud with singer, Richard Marx” but Mike Taylor of The Ticket 760 found himself in that spot a few weeks ago. Taylor and Marx exchanged words over searching for vegan options and Marx’s wife Daisy Fuentes. To read more click here.

Just when he thought he was out, they pulled him back in. Bob Ramsey is back on the St. Louis radio airwaves on 550 KTRS. Ramsey, who also calls Saint Louis University Billikens Men’s Basketball games, is working a part-time schedule, hosting evening shows with Sports Director Brendan Wiese.

Longtime Missouri basketball radio color commentator Gary Link was relieved of his duties recently by Mizzou Athletics. Link had been a part of the broadcast team since 1996. He also played for the school from 1970-74. The school says it’s working with Mizzou Sports Properties to identify a permanent replacement.

Some contractual news out of Charlotte that you might have missed. Former NFL offensive lineman Frank Garcia has signed a new deal with 102.5/610 The Fan, WFNZ. Garcia has been a mainstay on the radio station since 2007 and presently teams in middays with Kyle Bailey. The deal is said to be a multi-year agreement.

A little further south, 107.5 The Game in Columbia, SC recently promoted Tim Hill to program director. The announcement was made a few weeks ago. In addition to programming the radio station, Hill serves as host of the morning show, The Early Game.

Also on the PD circuit, it’s good to see former FOX Sports 910 program director Neil Larrimore resurface. After being let go by iHeart Phoenix, Larrimore was scooped up by Cumulus Media and named PD of WPRO-AM and WPRV-AM in Providence, RI.

After a stellar run with the San Francisco ChronicleKevin Lynch has decided to make radio his full time focus. The Bay Area veteran has signed on to contribute full time to KNBR.com where he’s primarily covering the San Francisco 49ers, along with Warriors and Raiders stories as needed.

Other news out of the Bay Area, Entercom San Francisco recently changed General Managers. Steve DiNardo has left the company and been replaced by Susan Larkin. Prior to joining Entercom, Larkin oversaw operations for COX Communications’ 14 stations in Orlando and Jacksonville. She’s been in the radio industry for nearly 25 years. Entercom San Francisco presently operates local sports radio station 95.7 The Game.

Dave “Deuce” Mason announced a few weeks back that he’s moved on from Good Day Sacramento to increase his role with the Sacramento Kings. Mason serves as Executive Producer of Kings radio broadcasts and has begun creating digital content for the Kings’ website and social platforms.

After more than a decade with Good Karma Broadcasting, Joe Colella has left his position as the evening host and afternoon sports anchor at ESPN West Palm 106.3 FM. Colella started as an intern at ESPN Radio 760 in 2003, and climbed the ladder to becoming a producer and on-air talent. He is said to be leaving the radio industry for an opportunity in content marketing. To read more click here.

Peter Mundo has been hosting/producing an hour-long weekly radio show in conjunction with his Big 12 website, Heartland Sports, and it’s been added by stations in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa and West Virginia. The show is split into four-segments, exactly 42 minutes of content, and is entirely focused on Big 12 football. To learn more click here.

Hosting a sports radio show is a dream come true for many, but being able to do that while also owning the radio station is an opportunity that not everyone has the chance to experience. For Nate Brown though that situation has presented itself in Rapid City, SD. Brown is in the process of purchasing KIMM (1150AM/106.7 FM) and as part of the sale will flip the station to all-sports including moving his evening show into PM drive starting November 6th.

Greg Frank confirmed that he’s been named a host and play by play announcer at WILD 102 in Roseau, MN.

Joe Ostrowski of 670 The Score in Chicago has been retained by VSIN to contribute to its new podcast network. Ostrowski is producing a new podcast titled “Early Odds” which drops each Monday morning.

Australian podcaster and keynote speaker Sean Callanan conducted an interesting conversation recently with Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Tank contributor Mark Cuban. The podcast went in-depth on technology, business, investing, and a number of sports discussions. To hear it click here.

YES Network and ESPN play by play man Ryan Ruocco was profiled recently by Adweek. The article took a look at Ruocco’s rapid rise in the sports media business. To read it, click here.

Previously announced via Twitter, Michelle McMahon has joined NBC Sports Chicago covering the Chicago Blackhawks.

Robbie Hummel has decided to put his basketball career in the rear view mirror and turn his attention to working in sports media. Hummel has signed on with ESPN and the Big Ten Network to serve as a color analyst on college basketball games. He’ll also perform in-studio analyst duties as well.

In case you missed it, after being laid off by ESPN and going silent on social media for a few months, Marc Stein has returned. The longtime NBA insider is now covering the NBA for the New York Times. This season represents the 25th year that Stein has been covering professional basketball.

In the print world, Mike Jones has departed the Washington Post after a seven year stint. Jones has accepted an opportunity covering the NFL for the USA Today.

The Athletic stayed busy adding more help. The latest to join the company is Sarah Goldstein. She’s been added to the site’s NHL platform.

After losing a number of local writers, the Bay Area News Group is working on restocking its roster. The company’s latest addition is Logan Murdock, who has taken over as a multimedia reporter covering the Golden State Warriors.

FanRag Sports recently laid off a number of staffers. Adam Biggers, Bernie Pleskoff, Dave Hogg and John Perroto all confirmed their departures on Twitter. Despite the bad news for those men, FanRag has made a positive addition by striking a deal with Utah Jazz radio voice David Locke to bring his Locked on Podcast Network to their platform.

And Gator Country has added Eric Fawcett this season as a contributor to its coverage of Florida Gators Men’s basketball.

Sports Radio News

Parker Hillis Named Brand Manager of Sports Radio 610

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Goodbye snow and hello heat! Parker Hillis is headed to Houston. Audacy has announced that he will be the new brand manager for Sports Radio 610.

“Parker is a rising star,” Sarah Frazier, Senior Vice President and Market Manager of Audacy in Houston, said in a press release. “He has impressed us since day one with his innovative ideas, focus on talent coaching and work ethic. We’re thrilled to have him join our Audacy team.”

Hillis comes to the market from Denver. He has spent the last three years with Bonneville’s 104.3 The Fan. He started as the station’s executive producer before rising to APD earlier this year.

In announcing his exit from The Fan on his Facebook page, Hillis thanked Fan PD Raj Sharan for preparing him for this opportunity.

“His leadership and guidance set the stage for me to continue to grow and develop in this industry, one that I absolutely love,” Hillis wrote. “This is a special place, one that I am honored to have been a part of and so sad to leave.”

Sports Radio 610 began the process to find a new brand manager in February when Armen Williams announced he was leaving the role. Williams also came to Houston from Denver. He started his own business outside the radio industry.

“I’m excited to join the Sports Radio 610 team in Houston,” said Hillis. “The opportunity to direct and grow an already incredible Audacy brand is truly an honor.”

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Sports Radio News

Schopp & Bulldog: NFL Has To Figure Out Pro Bowl Alternative That Draws Same Audience

“The game just could not be less interesting.”

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After years of criticism and declining television ratings, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell publicly stated this week that the Pro Bowl, as it is currently contested, is no longer a viable option for the league and that there would be discussions at the league meetings to find another way to showcase the league’s best players.

Yesterday afternoon, Schopp and Bulldog on WGR in Buffalo discussed the growing possibility of the game being discontinued, and how the NFL could improve on the ratings it generates with new programming.

“The same number of people [who] watched some recent… game 7 between Milwaukee and Boston… had the same audience as the Pro Bowl had last year,” said co-host Chris “The Bulldog” Parker. “….Enough people watch it to make it worth their while; it’s good business. They’ll put something in that place even though the game is a joke.”

One of the potential outcomes of abolishing the Pro Bowl would be replacing it with a skills showdown akin to what the league held last year prior to the game in Las Vegas. Some of the competitions held within this event centered around pass precision, highlight catches and a non-traditional football competition: Dodgeball. Alternatively, the league could revisit the events it held in 2021 due to the cancellation of the Pro Bowl because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which included a virtual Madden showdown and highlight battle, appealing to football fans in the digital age.

Stefon Diggs and Dion Dawkins of the Buffalo Bills were selected to the AFC Pro Bowl roster this past season, and while it is a distinct honor, some fans would rather see the game transformed or ceased entirely – largely because of the risks associated with exhibition games.

In 1999, the NFL held a rookie flag football game on a beach in Waikiki, Hawaii before the Pro Bowl in which New England Patriots running back Robert Edwards severely dislocated his knee while trying to catch a pass. He nearly had to have his leg amputated in the hospital, being told that there was a possibility he may never walk again. Upon returning to the league four seasons later with the Miami Dolphins, Edwards was able to play in 12 games, but then lost his roster spot at the end of the season, marking the end of his NFL career.

“You might not want to get too crazy with this stuff, but there’d have to be some actual contests to have it be worth doing at all,” expressed show co-host Mike Schopp. “Do you not have a game? I don’t know.”

The future of the Sunday before the Super Bowl is very much in the air, yet Goodell has hardly been reticent in expressing that there needs to be a change made in the league to better feature and promote the game’s top players. In fact, he’s been saying it since his first days as league commissioner in 2006, evincing a type of sympathy for the players participating in the contest, despite it generating reasonable television ratings and advertising revenue.

“Maybe the time has come for them to really figure out a better idea, and maybe that’s what’s notable [about] Goodell restating that he’s got a problem with it,” said Parker. “If there’s some sort of momentum about a conversation [on] creating a very different event that could still draw your 6.7 million eyeballs, maybe they’ll figure out a way to do something other than the game, because the game just could not be less interesting.”

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Sports Radio News

Iowa Adds WCKG As Chicago Radio Affiliate

“The Hawkeyes open their season at home on September 3 against FCS power South Dakota State.”

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Iowa City, home of the University of Iowa, sits just over three and a half hours from Chicago. It makes sense to assume plenty of alumni move to the Windy City after school and that other Iowa fans live in the metro area as well. That is why the Hawkeyes have struck a deal with WCKG to become their radio affiliate in Chicago.

The station, which is heard on 1530 AM, will air the entire season of Iowa football.

“Iowa Football’s storied history, continued success, and loyal fan base and alumni network throughout Chicagoland made this move a no-brainer for WCKG,” WCKG Sports Director Jon Zaghloul said in a press release. “I’m excited to bring the Hawkeyes to Chicago, and can’t wait to start airing games this Fall. It’s a huge acquisition for our brand, and, more importantly, our devoted listeners.” 

The Hawkeyes open their season at home on September 3 against FCS power South Dakota State. Gary Dolphin has called all of the school’s sports on radio since 1996. Ed Podolak is his partner in the booth during football season.

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