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Bill Simmons Hints at Future Partnership with ESPN

Brandon Contes

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Some ESPN personalities venture away from the network and find expanded success, others make their way back to The Worldwide Leader after concluding there might not be a better opportunity available to them. ESPN has never been afraid to welcome back past employees, just look toward Keith Olbermann, Rachel Nichols and Stephen A. Smith for examples. Could Bill Simmons be next?

Simmons had an ugly divorce from ESPN in 2015, one that probably would have had him shocked if he was told he’d be pondering the idea of collaborating with the network three years later. While Simmons’ website and podcast network, The Ringer, is reportedly profitable, his partnership with HBO has been very disappointing.

Simmons welcomed former ESPN NBA Countdown co-host Jalen Rose to the latest Bill Simmons Podcast. At the end of the podcast, Simmons hinted at working with Rose again in the near future.

“I would say…I’m going to put the odds at maybe 4 to 1 that you and I are doing the Bill and Jalen NBA preview in October. I think I’m going to make it work,” Simmons told Rose.

It sounded as if Bill was en route to saying he thinks enough time has passed since he left ESPN, but Jalen jumped in before Simmons finished the statement. Rose was very surprised by Simmons’ prediction and asked if he was about to break news.

“You’re coming back home?” said Rose.

“No, I’m not coming home, but I think I can collaborate on certain projects down the road,” Simmons answered.  “Number one on the list is could we collaborate on a Ringer, ESPN, Bill and Jalen NBA preview that we put either on YouTube or the OTT app?”

It certainly wasn’t definitive, but the fact that Simmons floated the idea of launching an ESPN partnership within the next few month indicates the relationship must have improved since he departed in 2015. If elite ESPN personalities can return to the network, why not add Simmons to that group?

His show, Any Given Wednesday was canceled by HBO after just five months. HBO remains an investor in The Ringer and reportedly carries first pass rights on all of the website’s projects. Still, HBO can’t be satisfied with the return they’ve received on the reported $7-9 million per year paid to Simmons. Bill also can’t feel as if his departure from ESPN has been vindicated, but after three years, it sounds like a return to the network may not be far off.

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

Sports Radio News

Kayla Anderson Added to 104.5 The Zone Morning Show

Anderson will begin hosting Wednesday morning. She has previously worked as a sports anchor, reporter, and digital contributor to WKRN-TV in Nashville.

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Kayla Anderson has been added to the 104.5 The Zone morning show, newly titled Ramon, Kayla, and Will, joining Ramon Foster and Will Boling on the Nashville station.

Anderson will begin hosting Wednesday morning. She has previously worked as a sports anchor, reporter, and digital contributor on WKRN-TV in Nashville. A graduate of Washington State University, she has also worked at television stations in Spokane, Missoula, Tucson, and Columbus in addition to her time in Nashville.

Anderson said on Twitter she is “so excited to join this group!”

Boling had been the interim host of the morning show after the August departure of Jason Martin.

Ramon, Kayla, and Will will be heard from 6:00 AM-10:00 AM each weekday morning.

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Sports Radio News

Derek Wolfe Joining 104.3 The Fan as ‘The Drive’ Co-Host

I am so insanely pumped to talk with you every afternoon on The Fan. We had a special connection when I was playing for the Broncos that’s only going to grow stronger every day on The Drive.”

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Former NFL defensive lineman Derek Wolfe is joining 104.3 The Fan in Denver as co-host with Darren “DMac” Mckee on The Drive With Derek Wolfe and DMac.

Wolfe announced his retirement from the NFL earlier this year after signing a one-day contract to retire with the Denver Broncos. He was the franchise’s top pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, spending eight seasons with the team, including a win in Super Bowl 50.

“To the listeners in Denver, ‘The Fan Wolfe-pack,’ I am so insanely pumped to talk with you every afternoon on The Fan. We had a special connection when I was playing for the Broncos that’s only going to grow stronger every day on The Drive,” said Wolfe. “DMac and I are going to fight sometimes, maybe we’ll fight a lot of the time, but we’ll always be working together to entertain you. I’ve always kept it 100 with you, and that’s not going to change one bit.” 

“Derek is one of the most popular players in Broncos history, with the iconic image of his sack celebration in Super Bowl 50 forever etched in Denver sports lore,” said 104.3 The Fan program director Raj Sharan. “What’s so exciting about adding Derek is his connection with the audience goes far beyond his production on the field. He’s never been afraid to mince words and is unapologetically authentic. Those characteristics drew Denver sports fans to fall in love with Derek, and we’re thrilled to help Derek build on that relationship everyday as he entertains his ‘Fan Wolfe-pack!’” 

Wolfe enters a role previously occupied by former Bronco Tyler Polumbus, who departed the station in September. The Drive with Derek Wolfe and DMac will be heard weekday afternoons from 2:00 PM-6:00 PM.

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Sports Radio News

Chick Hearn Headlines Radio Hall of Fame Legends Inductees

Amongst other accolades, he is credited with broadcast 3,338 consecutive Lakers game from November 21, 1965 to December 16, 2001.

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Chick Hearn

The Museum of Broadcast Communications announced today the selection of 10 new Legends inductees into the Radio Hall of Fame for 2022. This distinction honors those in the industry who have contributed greatly to it and have since passed away.

Chick Hearn, the longtime voice of the Los Angeles Lakers, will be amongst those inducted in Chicago next month. Hearn was the voice of the Lakers for 41 years (1961-2002). Amongst other accolades, he is credited with broadcast 3,338 consecutive Lakers game from November 21, 1965 to December 16, 2001.  

The full list of those to be inducted as part of the Legends class are:

  • MrDoug Banks– Nationally syndicated on-air personality;
  • MrJames Brown– Legendary singer, to be inducted as a radio station owner of WJBE Knoxville, TN;
  • MrBob Coburn– Host of the syndicated Rockline show;
  • Mr. Chick Hearn– Play-by-play announcer/voice of the Los Angeles Lakers;
  • MsBernice Judis– Owner and General Manager, WNEW-AM, 1930’s–1950’s;
  • MrSid Mark– Host of syndicated program, Sounds of Sinatra show for 60+ years;
  • Mr. Bobby O’Jay– On-air personality, WDIA-AM/Memphis;
  • MrPervis Spann– On-air personality, WVON-AM/Chicago;
  • Mr. James Thompson– Group W Broadcasting President and President of the Broadcasters Foundation;
  • Ms. Rosalie Trombley– Music Director of CKLW-AM/Detroit in the 1960’s–1970’s.

“The Radio Hall of Fame is dedicated to recognizing the individuals who have made the greatest impact on our 100+ year old industry,” Kraig T. Kitchin, Co-Chairman, Radio Hall of Fame said. “I’m thrilled to see the Nominating Committee confirm the induction of these 10 individuals who each made such an impact on our industry in their time.”    

The Radio Hall of Fame will recognize its 2022 class of inductees, including the class announced in July, during a ceremony on Tuesday, November 1st.

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