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Todd Wright Unloads on Booger McFarland

“Wright said the only one who enjoyed working with McFarland less was Jason Witten. Marc Ryan though disagrees with Wright’s assessment.”

Brandon Contes

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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.

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

Jonathan Zaslow No Longer With WQAM

An attempt to reach out to Zaslow for comment went unanswered.

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WQAM midday host Jonathan Zaslow is no longer with WQAM in Miami.

The radio station has removed his show from the website and references to him and his normal 10a-2p ET midday timeslot program have been scrubbed from the station website.

Zaslow tweeted at 5:19p ET confirming the news.

Whether or not this has any effect on his involvement with the Miami Heat broadcasts is unknown as of now.

Zaslow had been with 790 the Ticket since 2004. He was transitioned from Audacy-owned 790 to sister station AM 560 Sports WQAM last October. During his tenure he has worked with a number of established local voices including Joy Taylor, Amber Wilson, Brett Romberg, and Brendan Tobin amongst others.

WQAM has gone thru a number of changes, including a rebranding effort to call the station “560 The Joe”. That ended last year with the station returning to the AM 560 Sports WQAM brand listeners were more familiar with. What they have planned next in Zaslow’s timeslot is unclear but local listeners will likely get some answers next week.

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Sports Radio News

Vanessa Richardson Named Houston Rockets Sideline Reporter, Paul Gallant to Host Solo on ESPN 97.5

Vanessa Richardson will be on the sidelines for the Houston Rockets and Paul Gallant will host solo show on ESPN 97.5.

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Vanessa and Gallant

Changes are taking place in Houston sports media. First, the Houston Rockets will have a new television sideline reporter this season, and she’s a familiar name to Houston sports fans.

Vanessa Richardson, the now former co-host of ESPN 97.5’s Vanessa and Gallant, revealed that she will be on the sidelines for the NBA franchise covering the team for AT&T SportsNet Southwest.

She tweeted the news saying, “Elated to be the new Houston Rockets sideline reporter! I can’t wait to travel the country & share the stories of this dynamic team during 80+ games on AT&T SportsNet Southwest. I’ll continue to fill-in as a host/reporter for Astros broadcasts as well.”

Richardson’s co-host, Paul Gallant, tweeted that with Richardson leaving the show for the Rockets sideline gig, Vanessa and Gallant will become the Paul Gallant Show. The solo show led by Gallant begins Monday September 26th.

“We’re excited to have Paul host his own show”, said Todd Farquharson, General Manager of ESPN 97.5 & 92.5.  “He’s super creative, energetic, and likeable.  He’ll get the audience involved and have fun.”

Paul commented, “You know what I’ve always loved about sports talk radio?  That it’s interactive.  Whether through a phone call, text message, tweet or on Twitch, it’s the best place for sports fans to come together and celebrate…or vent.  And that’s what The Paul Gallant Show is going to be…Houston’s platform to talk about its teams. THE most interactive sports talk show in Houston.”

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Sports Radio News

Ken Carman: Al Michaels ‘Feels Untethered’ On Amazon Prime Video

“The thing that stuck out was Kirk Herbstreit ripping the elf,” said Carman. “Don’t be ripping Brownie the Elf, man.”

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The Cleveland Browns defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers during Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime Video. 92.3 The Fan morning host Ken Carman applauded Al Michaels for his performance during the presentation.

“Al Michaels feels untethered for the first time. He’s not network television anymore and he can say whatever he wants. We interviewed him on the pregame show and I was nervous,” Carman said.

“He’s a legend,” co-host Anthony Lima added.

During the final play of the game, the Steelers fumbled a lateral into the endzone which the Browns recovered to make the final score 29-17. Michaels said “that may be meaningful to some of you. And you know who I mean”, alluding to people who had placed wagers on the game.

Carman, who hosts two-hours of pre-game coverage on the Browns Radio Network, continued to discuss how nervous he was interviewing Michaels. He also discussed how impressive Amazon’s behind-the-scenes production was, pointing out the only football broadcast with more cameras is the Super Bowl. More than 400 people work behind the scenes for Amazon Prime Video.

“The thing that stuck out was Kirk Herbstreit ripping the elf,” said Carman. “Don’t be ripping Brownie the Elf, man.”

Carman later said people angry that Michaels misspoke by saying the Pro Football Hall of Fame is “down I-71” instead of I-77 were unreasonable, and joked “Al Michaels hasn’t been on a highway in 20 years”.

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