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Under The Radar – April 4, 2018

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Welcome back to another week of UTR. Our mission with this column is to catch you up on some of the activity that may have slipped by you in sports media circles while you were busy trying to improve your radio station or show. If you have future news to share please pass a tip along via email to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me. Now, here are the latest developments.

New San Diego sports/talk/rock station 97.3 The Machine debuted March 2nd and in less than a month the brand has come under attack. Dan Sileo has been involved in a series of social media exchanges with Darren Smith and Scott Kaplan of Mighty 1090 and new morning host Kevin Klein earned himself a spot in hot water after posting an image of the Coronado Bridge with the caption “JUMP” and the additional text “to a new morning show.” The problem with that post is that the Coronado Bridge is known for having one of the highest suicide rates of any place in the country and using the word “jump” showed a lack of awareness. The poorly thought out post has resulted in local backlash, Klein’s morning show being delayed, and public comments from San Diego Padres CEO Ron Fowler who has expressed concern over the team being affiliated with station. “We’re going to get through this first home stand, then sit down and evaluate it (the relationship with The Machine),” said Fowler. “We’re going to assess our legal obligations. We just want a good radio partner that’s not offensive to the community.” Deadspin didn’t do the brand any favors either with this scathing review.

Boomer Esiason and Gregg Gionnatti are less than thrilled with Chris “Mad Dog” Russo of SiriusXM‘s “Mad Dog Radio” after the former FAN host took a few jabs at his former station’s lineup during a TV conversation with Mike Francesa on the MLB Network. During an on-air exchange between Russo and Francesa, Mad Dog joked that The Fan would soon have lineup openings. Francesa played along and asked “who’s leaving?” The comments ticked off WFAN‘s morning team, leading Esiason to label the duo as “classless” and point out how the two men are only in the news when they’re talking about their former station. To hear the comments made my both parties and my follow up opinion on the situation click here.

Speaking of WFAN, midday host Evan Roberts has launched a podcast. The new digital offering will allow Roberts to explore topics he doesn’t spend a ton of time on during his radio program with Joe Beningo such as pro wrestling, the baseball hall of fame, fatherhood, TV shows, and more. To hear the debut episode click here.

Congratulations are in order for Damon Bruce. The San Francisco afternoon host on 95.7 The Game recently signed a new three-year contract extension to remain installed as The Game’s homerun hitter in PM drive. Bruce joined the station in March 2014 after spending a decade at KNBR 680/1050.

Seven-time MLB All-Star Matt Holliday has taken the plunge into the broadcasting business. The former Rockie, Cardinal, Athletic and Yankee has joined SiriusXM‘s MLB Network Radio lineup. Future details of Holliday’s on-air involvement will be announced soon.

Following the exit of Ben Heisler, 610 Sports in Kansas City is shuffling the deck behind the scenes. APD and morning producer Steven Spector has moved into afternoons to oversee The Drive with CDot and Fanning. Ryan Witkowski who had been producing The Day Shift with Bink and Lake earns an earlier wakeup call and now starts his day alongside Bob Fescoe, Mike Welch and Josh Klingler. Taking Witkowski’s place in middays is Stephen Serda, who receives an internal promotion but still maintains involvement with Ron Hughley on the evening show.

Bomani Jones is back on the podcasting circuit. The former ESPN Radio afternoon host who remains involved on ESPN television and will soon co-host a daily TV show with Pablo Torre has produced a new episode of his podcast “The Right Time with Bomani Jones.” The plan is for the podcast to be made available bi-weekly. To hear the latest show click here.

Continuing with ESPN related news, former producer turned podcast host, speaker, and author Jason Romano is conducting a webinar on Thursday April 26th to teach people the 5 essential steps to breaking into the broadcasting/media business. For more information on how to sign up click here.

Kaila Burns-Heffner is transferring from ESPN’s Bristol headquarters to the company’s Charlotte location. Burns-Heffner is expected to contribute in event production on the network’s college sports programming.

After departing ESPN a few weeks ago, Jim Trotter has a new home. The talented football reporter has signed on with the NFL Network and NFL.com.

In addition to losing Trotter, ESPN now has a hole at The Undefeated. Talented writer Mike Wise has announced he’s leaving the website. In a post on social media, Wise said his three-plus years with The Undefeated paralleled some of the most chaotic, turbulent times he’s ever been a part of at a media company. Despite the drama, he felt the brand produced good work and a number of genuine friendships were made. Wise’s current plan is to work on a biography of 1964 10K Olympic champion Billy Mills, and hopes to share additional professional news in the near future.

Longtime Dallas sports media columnist Barry Horn is no longer with the Dallas Morning News. He had written about the business since the 1990’s. No word on if the newspaper will replace his position.

Sticking with the subject of sports media writers, after leaving Sports Illustrated for The Athletic, Richard Deitsch has started a new podcast. You can hear it by clicking here. Deitsch’s former teammate Jimmy Traina has taken over the SI Media Podcast. You can hear current and future episodes by clicking here.

In podcast promotional news, ESPN received some positive press from Time. The respected publication listed the network’s 30 for 30 podcast and The Lowe Post podcast with Zach Lowe as two of the best digital audio offerings available. To read the article click here.

St. Louis radio and television personality Angella Sharpe has added a new employer to her resume. The St. Louis Blues in-game arena host has accepted an opportunity with the Tampa Bay Rays to contribute as their in-game host and emcee. Sharpe says the position will not impact her duties with the Blues.

And Matt Lombardo has landed a new opportunity. The former 97.5 The Fanatic host, update anchor and Eagles reporter has joined the Star-Ledger as a reporter working on the New York Giants beat.

Sports Radio News

Doug Franz Launching Sports Betting Podcast, ‘Props Arizona,’ With Sean Lockhart

“I appreciate Doug & Wolf listeners more than they’ll ever know, and I’m excited for them to experience my new podcast Props Arizona.”

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Following his dismissal from Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, Doug Franz has found a new gig. Franz will join sports gambling expert Sean “Papa Bear” Lockhart to host a new podcast for Props.com titled Props Arizona.

Franz was a mainstay on Phoenix sports talk radio, co-hosting The Doug and Wolf Show in the market for 15 years. Parent company Bonneville Phoenix said Franz would be moved to a “digital role” in shuffling the Arizona Sports daily lineup last August.

But Franz said he was effectively fired. Soon after leaving 98.7 FM, he launched a daily podcast titled Doug Franz Unplugged.

Lockhart has been a mainstay in Arizona, consulting on sports betting and sales since graduating from Arizona State. He’s provided analysis for several sports betting podcasts and digital shows, in addition to his own website, for several years.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work alongside Sean on this new podcast,” said Franz in the official announcement from gambling media company American Affiliate. “I appreciate Doug & Wolf listeners more than they’ll ever know, and I’m excited for them to experience my new podcast Props Arizona.”

For American Affiliate, which has several sports betting and investment properties in its portfolio including BetPrep and Wagers, Props Arizona is the first regional (or state-exclusive) spinoff of its Props City podcast.

Props Arizona is set to launch at the end of January. The show will be available on all major podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts and Spotify. A teaser for the show is currently online for download.

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Sports Radio News

Michael Irvin: ‘Shan & RJ Start National Conversations’

“Y’all stir the pot a lot on the national scene. Every time I’m out there I gotta hear ‘Jerry said on Shan and RJ 105.3’.”

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Michael Irvin makes regular appearances on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. He is one of the many stars associated with the Dallas Cowboys that make time to talk to the hosts on the team’s flagship station. On Thursday morning, The Playmaker joined Shan & RJ and told them to be careful with the words they choose.

Irvin came on following a discussion of Mike McCarthy’s final conversation with the media for the season. During the segment, one of the host’s said it was the Cowboys’ coach’s “final conversation.” Irvin said that statement needed some clarity.

“You should have added ‘of this year’,” he said. “Because the national guys, they’ll pick it up and run with that.”

It isn’t just a matter of what was said. Michael Irvin says that the national media will pay attention to who said it was McCarthy’s final conversation with the media and jump to conclusions.

“Y’all stir the pot a lot on the national scene. Every time I’m out there I gotta hear ‘Jerry said on Shan and RJ 105.3’.”

The hosts laughed as Irvin made the declaration. Maybe they enjoyed the characterization. Maybe they knew he was telling the truth.

Plenty of national headlines have been generated by appearances from Jerry and Stephen Jones on the station. Although, to be fair to Shan & RJ, K&C Masterpiece has been at the center of plenty of those conversations too.

That didn’t stop Michael Irvin distilling Shan & RJ’s role in the national media conversation about the Cowboys to a simple sentence: “Y’all starting mess out here.”

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Sports Radio News

Jeff Rickard Out At WEEI

“In the memo, new Audacy Boston market manager Mike Thomas says that the station will be naming a new brand manager in the future.”

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Jeff Rickard’s tenure in Boston did not last long. Chad Finn of the Boston Globe tweeted yesterday that the WEEI brand manager has left Audacy and intends to return to Indianapolis.

Rickard was announced as the new brand manager of the legendary Boston sports talker in August. He left his role as morning show host and PD at The Fan in Indianapolis at that time.

In the memo, new Audacy Boston market manager Mike Thomas says that the station will be naming a new brand manager in the future.

In the meantime, Ken Laird has been promoted to operations manager for the station. Laird announced yesterday that this means he is leaving the Greg Hill Show, which will be on the lookout for a new producer.

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