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Under The Radar – February 21, 2018

Jason Barrett

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Here are the latest developments in sports radio that you may have missed. To be included in a future UTR column please pass along your information via email to [email protected]. Now on to the news.

One of the worst kept secrets in San Diego is starting to become public knowledge. The San Diego Padres have confirmed they’ll be moving from ALT 94.9 FM to ENERGY 97.3 FM, fueling speculation of a forthcoming format flip. The 97.3 air staff were taken off the air on February 15th according to All Access, and it’s expected that the new format will include sports talk as former Mighty 1090 host Dan Sileo has been hired to host a drive time show on the station. Sileo confirmed via social media that he’s signed on with Entercom and has been going thru preparations for the launch. No word yet on the launch date, remaining lineup plans or if the station will go all-sports or feature a mixture of sports/talk. Stay tuned.

Cumulus‘ financial troubles in Chicago opened the door for the Bulls to move to 670 The Score and the White Sox to WGN AM 720. As a result of those changes, Dave Zaslowsky has left WLS for a new Executive Producer opportunity with WGN. Zaslowsky’s primary focus will be overseeing White Sox broadcasts and the White Sox radio network.

Over the weekend, Barstool Sports President Dave Portnoy released a video stating that Michael Rapapport had been fired by the company for trashing the brand’s supporters and employees. Many speculated on social media that the situation screamed of a work between Portnoy and Rappaport, but ‘El Presidente’ told TMZ that it was indeed a very real issue. Barstool then turned the controversy into a sales opportunity, creating a new t-shirt poking fun at Rappaport. Once sales for the new shirt began to take off, Rappaport had his lawyers send a cease and desist letter to Barstool to have the item removed. The shirt is still available on the company’s website.

It’s foolish to put a ton of stock in a monthly ratings report because things can change quickly, however since there is a ton of curiosity in sports radio circles about WFAN and their new afternoon show, Neil Best at Newsday wrote a piece which includes a look at the January numbers in the big apple. To read it click here.

Following the dismissal of Patrick “PCon” Connor from KNBR for his commentary on Barstool Radio, the San Francisco sports station has elevated Adam Copeland. Copeland is now hosting “The Leadoff Spot” weekday mornings from 5a-6a PT.

Things are trending upward for 680 The Fan host Steak Shapiro. In addition to recently moving to morning drive, Shapiro’s company “Atlanta Eats” has had its weekday television show ‘Atlanta Eats: Daily Special’ expanded from thirty minutes per day to a full hour. The show airs Monday through Friday on Peachtree TV from 9a-10a ET. The company also airs weekend programs on Saturday nights at 7p ET and Sunday mornings at 10:30am. For more information click here.

Also in Atlanta, The Sports X 1230AM and 106.3 FM has added another local weekday program. Jerry “Tug” Cowart and former University of Georgia QB Hutson Mason are teaming up to host weekdays from noon to 3pm ET. The show is expected to debut in March.

Dave Shore received some positive news recently. The ESPN Radio contributor and former PD has partnered with BAM Testing to provide a media training and branding seminar to athletes at the Sports Science Expo in Dallas, Las Vegas and the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. Other cities could be added at a later date. For more information click here.

Congratulations to 93.7 The Fan morning man Colin Dunlap, who was recently inked to a new 3-year deal according to company sources. The Fan’s morning show has been a consistent performer among Men 25-54 in the Pittsburgh market.

The University of Miami has reached an agreement with 790 The Ticket in Miami to air Miami Hurricanes Baseball and ancillary baseball programming on the radio station. As part of the partnership, The Ticket will broadcast at least 15 regular season games, all postseason baseball and various Canes baseball-focused programs throughout the season.

After spending over six years as a fill-in and weekend host at 102.9/750 The Game, Curtis Long has moved across town as a fill-in host on both the radio and TV side for NBC Sports Northwest/Rip CIty Radio 620 in Portland. The move is a natural fit for “The Principal,” who also works for the Trail Blazers Radio Network and has filled in as the team’s Public Address Announcer in recent years.

With Justin Kinner now installed in afternoon drive on ESPN 1410 WING-AM in Dayton, Ohio the radio station has given him a partner. It was confirmed Tuesday afternoon that Mark Schlemmer has been added to the ride home.

Last week, 101 ESPN morning host Bernie Miklasz joined The Athletic. This week Miklasz has announced he’s launched a new podcast “Seeing Red” with sports writer, author and Deadspin‘s founding editor Will Leitch. To hear the pilot episode click here.

Congratulations to Mike Remy who has signed on as Sports Sales Manager at Entercom Sacramento. Remy has a history in the sports format, spending 15 years as the program director of Sports Radio 1140 KHTK.

ESPN SportsCenter anchor Max Bretos has been named the lead broadcaster of the Los Angeles Football Club. The play by play opportunity won’t impact his ESPN duties.

Also at ESPN, Senior Researcher Paul Carr is leaving the network after 10 years. Carr has landed an opportunity with TruMedia Networks, an engineering firm with a focus on sports analytics.

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Mike Florio: Giving Teams Too Many Prime-Time Games ‘Compromises the Integrity of the Game’

“At some point it’s just going to be whatever we think every week is going to lead to the biggest ratings and the biggest numbers and the most money, that’s what we’re going to do and it’s unfair to certain teams to do that.”

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Mike Florio
Courtesy: Denny Medley, USA TODAY Sports

Mike Florio spent time on his Pro Football Talk Live show talking about the NFL schedule which was released in full earlier this week. The focus of the discussion was on the New York Jets schedule, however the topic related to many of the top teams in football. With the league wanting to maximize revenue there are more stand-alone games, which Florio says have “an extra layer of stress and strain.”

The Jets will have six prime-time games over the team’s first 11 weeks of the season. This includes an opening week Monday Night Football road game on the other side of the country against the San Franciso 49ers, two Sunday Night Football games, a Thursday Night Football game, one other appearance on Monday Night Football and a trip to London to play the Vikings.

Florio believes it is unfair to have teams with this much travel and this many featured games. “See, this is a TV show,” he said. “This is where the pursuit of money, the pursuit of maximum ratings, laying the foundation for putting all of the TV contracts out to bid again after the 2029 season, it gets in the way of giving teams a fair shake.”

He later added, “The truth is, the broadcast partners are clamoring for Aaron Rodgers…so they loaded it up early before the Jets have the wheels come off…The problem is they’re kicking the wheels off by doing this. By having them hopscotch the country and play short weeks twice and all of these prime-time games. There’s an extra layer of stress and strain that goes into all of these stand-alone games and all of this travel early in the season.”

Rodgers is coming off missing an entire season due to an Achilles injury and will turn 41 in early December. “Let’s be realistic about it, you’re putting him in a position where this 40-year-old body is going to be strained beyond reasonable limits from all these games on short [rest],” Florio said. “…It’s dangerous to Aaron Rodgers and its disadvantageous to the Jets and it compromises the integrity of the game.

“You still have an obligation to balance things out. It can’t be ‘let’s have the best possible TV audiences, that can’t be the driving factor…It should be a fair balance for all teams…At some point it’s just going to be whatever we think every week is going to lead to the biggest ratings and the biggest numbers and the most money, that’s what we’re going to do and it’s unfair to certain teams to do that.”

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Marv Albert Talks Retirement, Play-by-Play and OJ Simpson Chase with Dan Patrick

“I must say retirement has been great.”

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Marv Albert
Courtesy: PDA Speakers

Three years ago on Friday, legendary play-by-play announcer Marv Albert announced that he would be retiring from his role as the lead voice of the NBA on TNT. This concluded a 55-year broadcast career during which he called 13 NBA Finals matchups, eight Super Bowl championships, eight Stanley Cup Final series and countless other memorable games across a variety of professional sports. Albert is the former television play-by-play announcer for the New York Knicks and appeared on the Dan Patrick Show where he discussed his takeaways of the team. In fact, Albert divulged that he was at Madison Square Garden during the team’s first-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Patrick wanted to know from Albert how he was enjoying retirement, a reality that he himself will be facing in three years. Last summer, Patrick announced that his final show would take place on Dec. 24, 2027 and inked a four-year contract extension with NBC Sports and iHeartMedia. Patrick’s show currently airs on FOX Sports Radio and can be live streamed through NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service. Albert has not been behind the microphone for approximately three years, but he is still keeping in tune with what is going on around the sports world.

“Life is good, Dan. How are you doing?,” Albert asked. “I must say retirement has been great. I do miss the preparation and the people I work with, and we do stay in touch, but I am Mr. Binge TV, and I do a lot of reading, work out, all those kind of things, but all is good. I’ve been enjoying the playoffs also.”

Earlier on Friday morning, PGA Tour professional golfer Scottie Scheffler was arrested and charged with a felony and other counts after he allegedly injured a police officer. Scheffler was driving by the scene of a fatal crash and was charged with felony second-degree assault on a police officer, third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving and disregarding signals from officers during traffic. Scheffler was released from jail in the morning and played the second round of the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Course in Louisville, Ky. Patrick mentioned the police chase involving O.J. Simpson that lasted for two hours following Simpson being charged with murdering his ex-wife and her friend.

Albert was in the midst of calling Game 5 of the 1994 NBA Finals between the Houston Rockets and New York Knicks. He vividly remembers players going to the press table at Madison Square Garden, which had televisions, and trying to see the latest action going on during the car chase.

“Dick Ebersol, the president of NBC Sports, was sitting to our left in the stands, but he had an earpiece so he heard exactly what was going on, and he was kind of directing the activity also,” Albert recalled. “‘Send it back to Tom [Brokaw]; go over to Bob [Costas],’ all this stuff. ‘By the way, there’s Charles Smith with the jump shot.’ It really was the most unusual situation I have been in on the air.”

Patrick was curious to know what has changed in terms of play-by-play announcing since Albert has retired, to which he replied that things largely remained the same in basketball. In other sports though, Albert has observed that there is more talking than there was in the past, articulating that he watches a lot of baseball and has noticed it during the broadcasts. Patrick added that he enjoys the usage of silence within a call and believes it is a lost art with the ostensible need to consistently speak when they are describing something, a sentiment Albert agreed with and explained was more compatible with television broadcasts.

“There’s no question,” Albert said. “You can use the crowd – the crowd is very important, particularly at times like this during the playoffs where the crowds are at another level.”

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Gregg Giannotti: Emmanuel Berbari Needs to Do a Little Better Than ‘Gone, Goodbye’

“I just know as a listener, it’s not doing it for me.”

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Gregg Giannotti
Courtesy: Peter Ackerman, Asbury Park Press

The New York Yankees are entrenched in the upper pantheon of the Major League Baseball standings to begin the new season. The team has won eight of its last 10 games, including a three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins and looks poised for a deep postseason run, but there have been hardships the organization has had to overcome to get there. Additionally, longtime Yankees radio play-by-play voice John Sterling retired from the broadcast booth in mid-April, ending an illustrious 36-year run calling the team’s games. Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti talked about one of Sterling’s replacements on Boomer & Gio.

Occupying the play-by-play announcing role throughout the regular season has been Justin Shackil and Emmanuel Berbari, both of whom have filled in for Sterling in the past when he had to miss games. Berbari worked alongside analyst Suzyn Waldman for the team’s series against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field, broadcast on the team’s flagship station, WFAN. Shortstop Anthony Volpe hit a leadoff home run to commence the final game of the series, and Berbari gave a home run call of ‘Gone, goodbye!’ on the air. WFAN host Gregg Giannotti, however, believes that there is room for improvement for the young announcer.

“I am fascinated by these guys that are now filling in for John Sterling, and John has retired, because you have to kind of thread a needle because you don’t want to be too over the top but you don’t want to be too boring, so how do you figure that out,” Giannotti said on Friday morning’s edition of Boomer & Gio on WFAN. “If I were giving Emmanuel Berbari advice, I would say we go to to just do a little bit better than ‘Gone, goodbye.’”

Giannotti ultimately compelled Berbari to try and find a middle ground between his ‘Gone, goodbye’ call and Sterling’s signature call for home runs by Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. Co-host Boomer Esiason asked Giannotti to give Berbari an example of what he would be satisfied with, to which he replied that he was not a play-by-play announcer.

“As a consumer, as a listener, I don’t know,” Giannotti said. “I’m not the one who has to think about it. I just know as a listener, it’s not doing it for me.”

Esiason proceeded to remind Giannotti of the time that they called a New Jersey Devils game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He wanted to know if Giannotti had thought about his call if the Devils scored a goal, off which he stated that he had not. Anchor Jerry Recco, who also works as a play-by-play announcer, explained that he perceives it to be a different situation when calling a baseball game.

“Yeah, you do think about it,” Recco said. “I’ve never really done baseball, but there are different home runs as well though. You’ve got the little line drives that you don’t know are going to get out and you kind of react to it. You’ve got the Judge one the other night that was a moonshot.”

From there, Esiason added that if he were calling the games, it would be difficult for him to manufacture excitement in a mid-May matchup that the Yankees are expected to win. In fact over the last five years, the Yankees have a 19-8 regular-season record against the Twins and have also defeated them during the postseason.

“John figured out a way to do it for a million years – 162 games,” Giannotti replied.

“Yankees-Marlins on a Tuesday night, he was fired up,” Recco added.

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