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Under The Radar – March 6, 2018

Jason Barrett

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The sports radio world has had a number of developments recently which are worth passing along. I remind you that this column doesn’t work without your input. Whether it’s company news, personal news, a brand success story, a creative idea or something else that you think would be valuable to our readers, if you have an item worth passing along, please send an email to [email protected]. Now here’s the latest information.

Last week Entercom confirmed the rumors of a flip to talk in San Diego. Those who were expecting Energy 97.3 to become a full service FM sports station though were left with only part of their appetite fulfilled. The station has been rebranded as 97.3 The Machine. The lineup includes some sports via San Diego Padres baseball and Dan Sileo in middays. The Machine though is taking a different approach in both drive times, focusing on hot talk and comedy courtesy of The Men’s Room and Kevin Klein Live. Evening and weekend programming will include a mixture of classic rock and comedy bits. With San Diego having just one professional team and two sports stations with established local talent in place, The Machine is hoping a different approach allows it to make a greater impact.

One show which is not part of the new lineup on 97.3 The Machine is The Jim Rome Show. Rome was recently dropped by The Mighty 1090, the San Diego station where he first introduced his unique brand of sports talk. Despite being a mainstay on the station over the past few decades, 1090 said Rome’s numbers had declined and a change was necessary. The decision created a lot of local noise which led 1090’s Market Manager Mike Glickenhaus to make a rare appearance on Scott and BR to address it. To hear the interview click here. Rome’s program has been replaced on 1090 by ESPN Radio‘s Dan Le Batard Show. Le Batard’s program has also been added to ESPN 1000 in Chicago’s evening schedule.

A little further north, Sean Farnham has quietly left the afternoon show at ESPN LA 710 after just two months on the job. The ESPN college hoops analyst and former radio host had been added to the mix in December where he was to join Marcellus Wiley and Eric Davis as part of a revised three man team. Davis though was let go the following month after sexual harassment allegations arose from his time working at the NFL Network. That led to Wiley and Farnham working together as a two-man unit. However, that too was short lived because now Farnham is gone and Travis Rodgers has been added to the mix. Local sources haven’t said much about the change. Farnham hasn’t addressed it directly either.

One place you will be able to hear Farnham going forward is on SiriusXM‘s Pac-12 radio. The satellite company has launched a series of new college conference channels. The Pac-12 product hit the air on Monday and includes a new morning show featuring Guy Haberman and Ryan Leaf, and an afternoon show with Geoff Schwartz and Kate Scott and Sean O’Connell taking turns as lead host. Farnham and Charles Arbuckle are expected to make appearances on the channel, and former Arizona State head basketball coach Bill Frieder and former Arizona State guard and Pac-12 Player of the Year Eddie House are visiting this week to discuss the Pac-12 Tournament.

SiriusXM also unveiled its ACC Radio channel. The lineup includes “ACC This Morning” with Mark Packer and Wes Durham. The afternoon slot is being branded as “ACC Today” and features the team of Chris Spatola and Jac Collinsworth. The channel also includes contributions from Fran Franschilla, Bobby Cremins, Aaron Taylor, Jonathan Vilma and Tom Luginbill.

If that wasn’t enough SiriusXM news for you, Mad Dog Sports Radio has one item to pass along as well. Danny Kanell has been added to channel’s weekday lineup. The former QB turned radio and TV analyst is joining Steve Torre weekdays from 1p-3p ET.

WEEI in Boston created some buzz on Tuesday. The radio station brought in Britt McHenry as a third host on the popular morning program Kirk and Callahan. No word if future appearances will take place with McHenry or if it’s a one-time deal. The station is also going thru a search in afternoons to fill the seat vacated by Michael Holley. McHenry has also added a Friday night TV program in Washington DC on FOX 5 working with Bram Weinstein and Guy Lambert.

Well wishes go out to Beanie Wells. The former NFL and Ohio State RB has been battling health issues which have caused him to miss time from his radio program on 97.1 The Fan in Columbus. Wells said he’s been experiencing headaches and dealing with memory loss as a result of a traumatic brain injury which he suffered while playing football. The challenges have forced Wells to take on a diminished role on the show for the foreseeable future while dealing with his challenges. The station will use a rotation of co-hosts alongside host Tim Hall until further notice.

Afternoon producer and on-air host Ben Heisler is ready to take on a new challenge. After spending 4 years with 610 Sports, Heisler has announced he’s leaving the station for an opportunity as the new Director of Media Relations for Fantasy Sports Markets. Heisler says he plans to continue hosting his fantasy show on 610 and remain a fantasy insider in radio/TV/digital. He also stays active hosting a podcast for Awful Announcing. To read FSM’s release on hiring Heisler click here.

Kudos to Ben and Skin of 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. The afternoon show landed an interview on February 23rd with Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant which generated a lot of mainstream media attention. The brash Cowboys wideout addressed speculation about his future in Dallas and said “I’m ready to make my mark. I don’t care what nobody is talking about, I couldn’t care less. Everybody that ain’t with Dez Bryant, they can kiss my ass.” Those remarks were followed up by Cowboys Executive Vice President Stephen Jones offering a number of non committal responses about Bryant’s future with the franchise.  To hear the Bryant interview, click here.

Westwood One‘s NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball tournament coverage will be utilized as part of Turner Sports, CBS, and the NCAA’s March Madness LIVE streaming services. The network’s play-by-play broadcasts from all 67 tournament games will be streamed along with TV coverage from Turner and CBS as part of a special “Fast Break” channel which will be similar in style to what NFL fans have become accustomed to with “Red Zone.”

Portland Trail Blazers play by play announcer Brian Wheeler continues to battle health issues. As a result, it’s forced Wheeler to restrict his availability to working only home games. Scott Lynn has been handling road games for the franchise.

Congratulations to Zach Gelb. The afternoon host and program director of 920 The Jersey FOX Sports Radio has announced he’s leaving the Trenton, NJ sports station for an opportunity on CBS Sports Radio. Gelb will be heard on weekend overnights hosting the 2a-6a ET shift. His final day with 920 will be March 15th. The radio station hasn’t announced yet how they will operate in afternoon show beyond that date. With his move to CBS Sports Radio, Gelb will also give up his part-time hosting role during the football season on 97.5 The Fanatic.

Sticking in the Tri-State area, 98.7 ESPN Radio New York host Dave Rothenberg will be honored on Saturday April 21st by his alma mater NYIT. The school has declared that day ‘Dave Rothenberg Day‘. The special day will include an appearance by Rothenberg and his on-air partners Chris Canty and Rick DiPietro at the school’s LaCrosse game against LIU Post. The trio will preside over a ceremonial faceoff among other activities. For more information click here.

Hall of Fame broadcaster and the voice of the San Francisco Giants Jon Miller appeared on the Watch The Media podcast with John Shrader. Miller offered his insights on a number of subjects including his admiration for Vin Scully and his call of Hank Aaron’s 715th homerun, Barry Bonds’ homerun chase, his lengthy career and more. To hear it click here.

SB Nation Radio has launched a new show. Two Man Game features former NBA star Mario Elie and local host Joel Blank. The program is scheduled to debut on March 10th and will air each Saturday from 3p-4p ET.

In South Florida, Alpha Media Hot AC morning co-host Kevin Rolston has been handed the keys to his own sports program on 640 The Hurricane. Rolston is now installed weekdays from 3p-4p ET and hosting the show affectionately titled “Kevin’s Other Show.”

After 42 years, John ‘JT’ Thompson decided it was time to step away from mornings on Talk/Sports 960 WBST in South Bend. The station has replaced Thompson’s show with ESPN Radio‘s Wingo and Golic.

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ESPN 97.5 in Houston Announces New Lineup

“The station had to make some very tough & unfortunate economic decisions last week.”

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ESPN Houston

ESPN 97.5 in Houston announced they will have a new lineup starting Monday Feb. 26. The drive time slots will continue to feature John Granato and Lance Zierlein in mornings and The Killer B’s, Jeremy Branham and Joel Blank, in the afternoon.

In between the two shows will now have The Del Olaleye Show airing from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. followed by Gallant and George with Paul Gallant, who had been hosting the early midday slot previously and Joe George, the station’s Assistant Program Director.

Earlier this week, Josh Beard and Michael Connor confirmed they had been let go from the station after being in the midday slot for just six months. George posted on X at the time, “So here’s the deal. The station had to make some very tough & unfortunate economic decisions last week. It has nothing to do with the quality of their show and work they did. Programming on the station will be weird this week, then back to fully local from 7 am – 6 pm on 2/26.”

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Former Toronto Blue Jays Announcer Ben Wagner Named to Baltimore Orioles Broadcast Team

A release from the Blue Jays says Wagner will appear on radio and select television broadcasts throughout the year.

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Ben Wagner
Courtesy: Ben Wagner on Instagram

The Baltimore Orioles announced the club’s broadcast talent lineup for the 2024 season, which includes former Toronto Blue Jays announcer Ben Wagner. Wagner had served as the radio voice of the Blue Jays for the last six seasons before Sportsnet announced it decided not to renew his contract. Prior to joining the Blue Jays broadcast team, Wagner spent 11 seasons with Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons. A release from the Orioles says Wagner will appear on radio and select television broadcasts throughout the year.

The Orioles will continue to use guest analysts throughout the season, including Orioles Hall of Famers Mike Devereaux and Brian Roberts, as well as former Orioles Brad Brach and Dave Johnson.

Geoff Arnold will return for his fifth season with the Orioles broadcast team and will be the primary play-by-play announcer. Kevin Brown will be in his third season as the primary television play-by-play announcer for MASN.

Other team members for the 2024 season include Scott Garceau, Brett Hollander, Rob Long, Ben McDonald, Melanie Newman and Hall of Famer Jim Palmer, who will be in his 32nd season as an analyst and 61st year as a member of the Orioles organization.

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Fred Toucher: ‘I Would Feel Weird’ if Rich Shertenlieb Reached Out to Me

“Even if it was nice, I wouldn’t like it, so if he’s listening, don’t reach out to me.”

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Fred Toucher
Courtesy: Beasley Media Group

Fred Toucher is in the midst of co-hosting a new morning program on 98.5 The Sports Hub with Rob “Hardy” Poole. The Toucher & Hardy show made its premiere in January following the end of a 17-year run in which he worked alongside Rich Shertenlieb. Last November, Shertenlieb parted ways with the outlet that elicited questions and nostalgia from listeners, some of which continue to persist on the new program.

On Friday’s edition of the program, a caller asked Toucher about the last time he spoke to Shertenlieb and if there was still communication between them. The duo started hosting their radio program together at rock radio station WBCN-FM before making the move to the sports talk format with 98.5 The Sports Hub (WBZ-FM) for its launch in the summer of 2009. The caller wanted to specifically hear a “juicy story” and apologized if his broaching the topic was “a forbidden path.”

“I have not talked to Rich,” Toucher said. “I told you I got the text message the Saturday after they didn’t put him on the air anymore, and I haven’t talked to him.”

Toucher wondered who among former members of the Toucher & Rich program had heard from Shertenlieb, leading him to go around the studio and ask. Update anchor Jon Wallach revealed that Shertenlieb texted him on Thanksgiving Day to discuss how the music group Bell Biv DeVoe was performing, but he has not heard from him since. None of the others in the studio had heard from Shertenlieb in a considerable amount of time either.

“None of us were really friends with him so I don’t know what to tell you,” Toucher replied to the caller. “I wasn’t friends with him; I didn’t talk to him, so it’s not odd that I don’t talk to him.”

Toucher then began to hypothesize what would happen if Shertenlieb were to reach out to him. As he thought over such a potential occurrence, he realized that he would have a feeling in his stomach and get anxiety. He did concede, however, that if someone paid him a large sum of money to appear somewhere with Shertenlieb, he would do the 10 seconds.

“I would feel weird; I wouldn’t enjoy the process,” Toucher said. “Even if it was nice, I wouldn’t like it, so if he’s listening, don’t reach out to me. You’d make me incredibly uncomfortable. Just don’t do it.”

In thinking about the potential nostalgia from Toucher & Rich, the program briefly mentioned Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo and his relationship with former co-host Mike Francesa. Toucher believes that Russo is doing fine without Francesa, a sentiment Wallach concurred. Wallach also shared that he feels Russo is doing better after Mike and the Mad Dog than Francesa.

Russo hosts a SiriusXM program on the Mad Dog Sports Radio channel named after him, in addition to High Heat on MLB Network and a weekly appearance on ESPN’s First Take. The split between both shows elicited interest from the listening public, something Toucher completely understands because of the unique facets of radio.

“People consume you 20 hours a week or they conceivably could, so when there’s any change, your immediate reaction to it, even though it hasn’t been bad, a lot of people if you listen to an old thing all the time it’s going to be strange to you, a new thing, or when a component of it is missing,” Toucher explained, “even if it’s better than it was, which I contend Toucher & Hardy over the last three weeks is better than Toucher & Rich was in 2023 and 2022 certainly.”

The segment concluded with Toucher proclaiming that he had answered the question and now will not have to entertain it again. “I have no idea what he’s doing and no one I know does, and no one I know has seen him,” Toucher said. “I haven’t even had a listener email me and go, ‘I saw him.’”

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