The first Monday Night Football broadcast of the season also marks the beginning of Booger McFarland as ESPN’s lead analyst in the booth. McFarland’s former Tampa Bay radio co-host, Todd Wright used MNF’s season debut as an excuse to record a podcast bashing the now ESPN analyst.
“Break a leg tonight Booger – seriously, break both,” Todd said and titled the podcast episode. Wright is a longtime sports radio host with decades of experience at both the national and local level. Currently hosting his Todd Wright TODDcast podcast, Wright once shared a radio show with Anthony ‘Booger’ McFarland.
Wright’s tenure with McFarland lasted just seven weeks when the two partnered on Tampa Bay’s short-lived CBS Sports Radio station, 98.7 The Fan in 2012.
“The only man who didn’t want to work with Anthony McFarland less than me – Jason Witten,” Wright said as he called for Booger to receive more criticism for ESPN’s Monday Night Football booth failure last season. While the entire Monday Night Football broadcast was criticized, much of the blame was placed on Jason Witten. Witten’s return to the Dallas Cowboys this season paved the way for McFarland to depart the often mocked “BoogerMobile,” and join play-by-play announcer Joe Tessitore inside the booth.
During his podcast, Wright called out McFarland’s analysis as being empty, also noting many successful football analysts have been offensive minds, such as Aikman, Romo and Collinsworth. McFarland’s defensive background makes it difficult for him to offer anything in terms of reading the field during the pre-snap according to Wright.
Wright referred to Booger as a “fraud,” not only questioning his ability as an analyst, but also his character as a person, placing blame on the former Buccaneer defensive tackle for the lack of success with their radio show and 98.7 The Fan as a whole.
“He’s really nice to the people who can potentially do something nice for him, then there’s everyone else,” Wright said. “If you can’t do anything nice for him, or you’re in his way of achieving what he wants professionally – and I’m sure Jason Witten felt this as well – he’ll do anything he can to walk all over you.”
Wright left his radio show with Booger after just seven weeks, stating on his podcast that the two co-hosts who followed him wanted to fight McFarland physically. The sports radio host was also critical of Booger’s “obsession” with nicknames. Instead of referring to Todd Wright by name, Booger would call him “T-Dub” a trend that his co-host wasn’t fond of. Last season on MNF, Booger used the nicknames “Tess” and “Witt” instead of Tessitore and Witten which Wright found childish.
When Wright joined 98.7 The Fan he expected the gig to take him into retirement. He thought the time was right to challenge Tampa’s premium sports station, WDAE, but the show lasted just seven weeks because as Wright put it, he was “saddled with Anthony McFarland.”
“I’m sure when [98.7 The Fan] went under, a big portion of that was [McFarland’s] failure to generate any sort of consistent audience and have any kind of accountability in afternoon drive with three different hosts,” Wright said. “I walked, the other two wanted to, or fought him – he just brushed it aside, he didn’t care about the people at the station when the station went down, I still care about a number of those people.”
While Wright doesn’t look back at his seven weeks with Booger fondly and seemingly roots for the ESPN analyst to fail, another one of McFarland’s co-hosts offered a different sentiment. When reached for comment by BSM, Booger’s former partner on The Fan and current ESPN Upstate host, Marc Ryan had positive things to say about his time with McFarland.
“I have a different experience and I think Todd comes off sounding angry, sore and thin skinned,” Ryan said about the Booger-centric episode of the TODDcast.
Ryan gave credit to Booger for his media achievements, noting the former NFL defensive tackle auditioned for all of his opportunities, having never been handed anything.
“I’ve never worked with a co-host who prepared harder than he did,” Ryan said, adding that McFarland is insightful and entertaining behind the mic.
Former Assistant Program Director Jerry Petuck, who’s now involved with Radio Influence, posted on social media that he witnessed many of the issues firsthand between Booger and Wright and still considers both friends. He did not put any blame for the pairing not working out on either co-host. He did share that Wright’s points about the station’s demise were on target.
While Wright viewed McFarland’s time with The Fan as a failure that contributed to the station’s downfall, Ryan called on the successes Booger has had with the current Monday Night Football analyst.
“You need to be able to laugh at yourself when you work with Booger. Because I can do that, I really enjoyed my time working with him,” Ryan said. “Booger and I took the ratings of that station to new heights, we made the TALKERS Heavy Hundred list together and the competing station in the market told me they had meetings about the gains we were making.”
The main reason The Fan was unable to find sustained success and challenge Tampa’s WDAE according to Ryan? The station signed what he considers to be the “worst rights deal in the history of radio,” agreeing to a five-year broadcast partnership with the University of South Florida Bulls.
The program director at the time, USF graduate Mike Pepper, gave the Bulls first right of refusal, making it impossible for the station to attract one of the city’s professional teams, the Buccaneers, Lightning or Rays. Once CBS traded 98.7 to Beasley Media, new ownership saw the suffocating USF broadcast agreement and decided to flip the format away from sports.
Petuck said it goes even deeper than that, adding “There was a lot that was supposed to happen at 98.7 The Fan. I was privy to those plans. Had they happened, it would’ve shocked people and changed sports radio in Tampa forever. But promises were broken, and a lot of lives and careers were damaged as a result of it.”
According to Ryan, the station’s downfall doesn’t fall at the feet of McFarland. He points out that Booger sought coaching, wanted to create content and be great, and participate in the planning of the show. After spending nearly a decade as a sports broadcaster, Ryan says it’d be hard for his former partner to have faked his way to where he is today as the lead analyst on Monday Night Football.
KNBR’s Brian Murphy Speaks for First Time After Paul McCaffrey Laid Off
“Paulie Mac is my guy, will forever be my guy. The best thing I could ever wish anyone is that you get to work with someone as loyal, energetic, funny, consistent as the guy his Jersey buddies call ‘Smack’.”
Earlier this week, KNBR underwent a round of layoffs, affecting a pair of programs on the Bay Area sports station, including the departure of longtime morning host Paul McCaffrey. His longtime partner — Brian Murphy — has taken to X to share his thoughts.
In a thread to X, Murphy shared his admiration for McCaffrey, whom he hosted Murph and Mac with for 18 years.
“Paulie Mac is my guy, will forever be my guy. The best thing I could ever wish anyone is that you get to work with someone as loyal, energetic, funny, consistent as the guy his Jersey buddies call ‘Smack’,” wrote Murphy. “So much love.”
He then shared that everything listeners and fans of the program have shared on social media has been read by the duo, and thanked them for the outpouring of love and support.
Finally, Murphy addressed his future. Fill-in host Dieter Kurtenbach shared on Thursday he did not have a definitive answer about Murphy’s future with the Cumulus-owned station.
However, Brian Murphy has shared he will return to the airwaves on Monday morning.
“I’ll be back Monday morning on KNBR with our guy Markus (Waterboy) Boucher,” Murphy wrote. “Come on. It’s Niners-Eagles. Wouldn’t miss it. As Paulie Mac’s board itself would say: The show goes on.”
Mike Mulligan: Sports Radio is More Difficult Than Other Formats Think
He shared that he has worked with people on morning shows that he has seen come to a station fully hungover who play music and proceed to sit on the couch.
On Friday morning’s edition of Mully & Haugh on 670 The Score in Chicago, co-host Mike Mulligan outlined the difference with music radio that hosts are not continuously talking to the audience, instead taking mic breaks and then interspersing commentary with different songs.
Filling in for David Haugh on Friday’s edition of the program was Gabe Ramirez, who used to work in the format with B96 as the host of its morning show. Mulligan’s assertion about the differences between the two formats resulted in a conversation about the differences between the grenres, with Ramirez explaining the difficulties that music radio hosts face on the air.
“The music station’s still creating content,” Ramirez said. “You get to have a guest – since I am going to defend my music stations – you get to have a guest and toss them a softball question and listen to them rant for five minutes.”
Mulligan disagreed with this perspective, conveying that he does not feel their program provides guests with easy questions. Additionally, he shared that he has worked with people on morning shows that he has seen come to a station fully hungover who play music and proceed to sit on the couch.
“As a former sportswriter, we sit around and we talk about sports,” Mulligan said. “We talk about the sports we cover and we talk about other sports.”
“You have to talk about Justin Fields seven days in a row,” Ramirez replied. “As a morning show for music, you have to come up with new content every day.”
Rather than taking umbrage towards the response, Mike Mulligan explained that the key to effectively performing his job is being able to discuss important stories of the day even when they are not the headlines. Furthermore, he expounded on the commitment that it takes to watch the amount of sporting events and to be properly informed on the action so he is able to take the air.
“That I will agree with,” Ramirez said. “I’ve told people this – they ask me, ‘What’s the biggest difference?’ The prep, without question, is way more difficult in sports radio because everyone that’s listening to you already knows the answers and you have to be equally if not more informed in all of those things.”
Minnesota Twins Set to Tab Cory Provus as New TV Voice, Kris Atteberry as Lead Radio Announcer
Provus has been the radio voice of the Minnesota Twins since 2012.
After Dick Bremer exited the Minnesota Twins TV booth in October, the search began for his replacement. The MLB franchise didn’t have to look far, though.
Twins radio voice Cory Provus is reportedly set to become the new TV play-by-play broadcaster for the club, according to a report from Dan Hayes of The Athletic.
Provus has been the radio voice of the Minnesota Twins since 2012. Many immediately tabbed him as the club’s replacement for Bremer, who retired after 40 seasons as the lead television voice of the American League club. Before joining the team in 2012, Provus worked for the Milwaukee Brewers as the number two broadcaster after spending two seasons as the radio pregame host for the Chicago Cubs.
Meanwhile, Kris Atteberry has been signaled as the person set to replace Provus inside the franchise’s radio booth. He has served as the pregame and postgame host for the Minnesota Twins Radio Network since 2007. Atteberry joined the club after spending five years calling games for the then-Independent St. Paul Saints from 2002-2006.
While the television and radio broadcast crews appear set, questions remain about where the team will televise its games in 2024. The club’s contract with Bally Sports North has reportedly expired, and it has yet to sign an agreement with the bankruptcy-laden RSN, or with a local over-the-air television station.