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Jason Marks To Exit Ump Sports In Huntsville

“In an interesting career change, Marks is leaving sports radio for the medical field as he finishes his apprenticeship to become a hearing specialist.”

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Jason Marks, afternoon host for Huntsville, Alabama’s WUMP 103.9 FM and 730 AM announced this week will be his last with the station. After spending the last 16 months with UMP Sports and more than a dozen years in the radio industry, Marks said he’s “hanging up the headphones.”

In an interesting career change, Marks is leaving sports radio for the medical field as he finishes his apprenticeship to become a hearing specialist.

Marks joined Ump Sports in 2007 as a board-op, eventually working his way up to program director in 2011. A native of Alabama, Marks’ career took him to Atlanta’s 92.9 The Game and SportsRadio 1410 in Wichita, KS for roles both behind the mic and behind the scenes. 

In 2018, the longtime radio personality returned to Ump Sports as a producer for The Thom Abraham Show, later stepping in with Arky Shea to co-host the station’s afternoon drive timeslot. Shea departed UMP Sports less than two months ago. Currently, Marks hosts The Bullpenweekdays from 4 – 6pm with Tony Mac.

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

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Joe Davis Discusses Landing Dodgers Play-by-Play Job, Plays Voicemail from Vin Scully

“I called my wife and I told her, ‘Hey yeah, I’m one of four people they’re considering,’ and she said, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re moving to Los Angeles.'”

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Joe Davis
Courtesy: FOX Sports

Throughout the last decade, Joe Davis has established himself as one of the preeminent play-by-play voices in Major League Baseball through his work with FOX Sports and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Davis was hired by the Dodgers ahead of the 2016 season to call road games on Spectrum SportsNet LA and became the full-time play-by-play announcer the next year following the retirement of Vin Scully. Yet Davis had learned of the potential job opening two years before he called his first game for the team when his agent asked if he had any tape of him calling baseball games. Once he asked what the purpose of providing such material would be, he learned that the Dodgers were considering him to fill the play-by-play job following the retirement of Scully.

At this point, Davis had only called a couple of Major League Baseball games and recently moved to FOX Sports after working at ESPN. Within his broadcast career, he had called hundreds of minor-league games and was surprised to be in consideration. A few months later, Davis was in the Los Angeles area for FOX meetings, and he decided to go to the Dodgers offices to introduce himself amid the process and went in assuming that the organization did not genuinely know who he was.

“Well I go and I sit down and I meet with them and they tell me that I’m one of four people that they’re considering, so now it’s like, ‘Wow,’” Davis recalled during a recent appearance on the Rich Eisen Show. “It’s still, ‘No chance. I’m sure it’s a who’s who of broadcasters, and I’ve done two games at this point.’ I called my wife and I told her, ‘Hey yeah, I’m one of four people they’re considering,’ and she said, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re moving to Los Angeles.’”

Davis’ agent received a voicemail while they were playing golf together to call Lon Rosen, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Rosen then informed him that the team wanted to hire Davis, but after a few months of negotiations, he decided to turn the job down. The rationale behind his decision was that the Dodgers were not going to allow him to continue calling national games, which is what he had always wanted to do. The team ended up calling his agent back and asked what Davis wanted, looking to materialize a deal to hire him as a play-by-play announcer.

“I go, ‘Well, we’ve been for a few months kind of discussing what I want, but okay. I want the ability to do this and this,’” Davis recalled. “Lon Rosen with the Dodgers said, ‘Okay, put it in an email.’ We’re like, ‘Okay, we will,’ and by the end of the night, we had agreed we were doing it.’”

On the day before Davis was officially announced as a play-by-play announcer with the team, he saw an unknown phone number call and sent it to voicemail. Upon playing the voicemail, he recognized that it was Vin Scully and figured he was off to a great start in the new role. They spoke the next day, and although they did not have a deep relationship, Davis cherished the time he spent with him and still implements the advice he received to this day. Eisen asked Davis what kind of advice he received from the team’s broadcaster of 67 years, one of which involved how to handle climactic moments.

“‘If your house is burning down and you’re trying to get everybody out safe, you can’t be freaking out,’” Scully said, utilizing an analogy. “‘Your heart rate can’t be spiking. If you’re going to save the cat from the top floor, you’ve got to be cool,’ and he said, ‘Think of the big moments kind of the same way as that. You got to be the coolest guy in the burning house,’ so an amazing part of doing Dodger games is they’ve been so good since I’ve been here, there’s been a lot of chances to practice that.”

In addition to his role with the Dodgers, Davis is the lead play-by-play announcer for the MLB on FOX and calls marquee matchups and events throughout the season, including the MLB All-Star Game and World Series. Davis also calls NFL on FOX games during the football season, most recently working with analyst Daryl Johnston and reporter Pam Oliver. Davis has fond memories of Scully, who passed away in August 2022 at the age of 94, and played the recording over the air upon finding the voicemail message on his phone.

“Joe, it’s Vin Scully in Los Angeles,” Scully said on the recording. “I tried to get you earlier in the day, so I start off the year 0-for-2, but I was calling just to welcome you to the family, to wish you great success, and I know you will love the ballclub and the way they treat people. I look forward to seeing you somewhere along the line, although I doubt if it’ll be on the road. Anyway, good luck. I’ll see you, I’m sure, soon, and I’ll be thrilled to wish you all the best wishes possible. I know what it was like to be 27, 28 and starting out with a big club, and I know it’ll be a great marriage, so congratulations and look forward to seeing you.”

“It is cool,” Davis reflected, “and that’s the first time I’ve listened to it in a while, and it feels good to share because it’s almost like bringing him back a little bit for people; something that people have never heard that they hopefully get to hear and enjoy today.”

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Dan Patrick: ESPN Was an ‘Echo Chamber’

“When I was at ESPN, you’re told what you’re supposed to talk about, you’re told you have to have ESPN analysts on.”

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Screengrab from OutLick.com's Don't @ Me with Dan Dakich and guest Dan Patrick
Screengrab: Don't @ Me/OutKick.com

Dan Patrick was a guest of Dan Dakich on his OutKick.com show Don’t @ Me and the two talked about several topics including Patrick’s plan to retire at the end of 2027. Patrick shared a story with Dakich about the day he first realized he didn’t want to continue at ESPN.

“There was one day when I was doing the 6 o’clock SportsCenter and I remember I threw it out to Sal Paolantonio with the Eagles. He’s doing his report and I’m not listening to anything he is saying because in my mind I am thinking, ‘I am going through the motions here, I am not getting any better.’ I remember coming home that night and I said to my wife, ‘ I don’t think I want to stay at ESPN…I don’t know, I think I might want to leave after this contract’s up, because I wasn’t getting any better.

“And that’s why I went on my own, because I needed to get my ass kicked. And we did the show for three years in my attic at my house, it wasn’t anything glamorous that I was leaving for, but I needed to jump start that again. And I accomplished it. I’m the first person to get out of Alcatraz and swim safely to the shore and live to tell about it and I’m good. I’ve accomplished what I wanted to accomplish and it’s time for somebody else to come in and do this, somebody younger.”

Dakich replied, “You’re great man, you’re not good, you’re great. And what you did was be a trailblazer…People don’t leave ESPN unless they ask you to leave. You know why I left? Other than the fact that I maybe was too controversial. I got bored. I get bored easy, and I got tired of ‘Don’t do this’ and ‘Don’t do that’ …so I go to OutKick where they let me say whatever the hell I want, and I don’t get in trouble.”

Patrick agreed with Dakich about the way ESPN dictates most of the topics and decides who can or cannot come on for analysis. “When I was at ESPN, you’re told what you’re supposed to talk about, you’re told you have to have ESPN analysts on,” he said. “It’s an echo chamber. And I just kept thinking that we needed to have people from outside instead of just our analysts on and that was not met well. It just felt like when Disney took over, the walls kind of got tighter, things shrunk, it wasn’t as much fun there…I felt like I didn’t graduate, I didn’t progress, I didn’t get any better.

“Berman left, Bob Ley left, Olbermann left, Kilborn left, Tirico left, Chris Myers left, Rich Eisen left. They all left, and I was just there going, ‘ Oh my god, I don’t want to be laughed at, I want to be laughed with. I gotta get out.’

Patrick said he turned down a five-year contract extension and that his boss “couldn’t believe it.”

Patrick said he believed he had been selfish long enough and that it was time to be able to spend more time with his family.

“You have to be selfish to be good at just about anything it feels like, and I thought I had been selfish to get to this point and I didn’t want to continue to be selfish to my family,” he said.

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Merrill Reese, Voice of the Eagles Since 1977, to Receive 2024 Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award

“For nearly a half century, fans tuning into Eagles games, including opposing fans, have had the privilege of hearing Merrill’s legendary voice.”

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Logo for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and a photo of Merrill Reese
Photo Courtesy: Pro Football Hall of Fame

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has announced that longtime Philadelphia Eagles radio play-by-play voice Merrill Reese has been chosen to receive the 2024 Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award. Reese is currently the longest-serving play-by-play announcer in the league, having called Eagles games since 1977.

“Each year, the Hall of Fame recognizes an individual who has dedicated their career to improving radio and television in professional football, and this year’s recipient, Merrill Reese, represents exactly what we look for when we talk about who’s made a big impact in broadcasting,” said Jim Porter, president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “For nearly a half century, fans tuning into Eagles games, including opposing fans, have had the privilege of hearing Merrill’s legendary voice.”

In a release announcing the award, the Hall of Fame said when they called Reese to tell him the news his response was, “Oh, my god. Thank you so much. I can’t tell you what this means to me.”

This year will be Reese’s 48th consecutive season as a team announcer. His first year he served as the color analyst before team play-by-play announcer Charlie Swift passed away and Reese moved over to call the action.

Reese has won numerous awards including Pennsylvania Sportscaster of the Year and the Lindsey Nelson Award for Excellence in Sportscasting. He has also been inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, the Temple University Communications Hall of Fame and the Overbrook High School Hall of Fame.

Reese will be honored during the 2024 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week in Canton, Ohio coming up in early August.

Past Winners of the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award:

2023 – Fred Gaudelli 
2022 – Howard Katz 
2021 – John Facenda
2020 – Joe Buck 
2019 – Dick Ebersol 
2018 – Andrea Kremer
2017 – David Hill 
2016 – James Brown
2015 – Tom Jackson
2014 – Bob Trumpy 
2013 – Al Michaels
2012 – Len Dawson 
2011 – Jim Nantz 
2010 – Chris Berman 
2009 – Irv Cross 
2008 – Dan Dierdorf 
2007 – Don Meredith 
2006 – Lesley Visser
2005 – Myron Cope 
2004 – Van Miller 
2003 – Don Criqui 
2002 – John Madden
2001 – Roone Arledge 
2000 – Ray Scott
1999 – Dick Enberg
1998 – Val Pinchbeck
1997 – Charlie Jones
1996 – Jack Buck
1995 – Frank Gifford
1994 – Pat Summerall
1993 – Curt Gowdy
1992 – Chris Schenkel
1991 – Ed Sabol
1990 – Lindsey Nelson
1989 – Bill McPhail

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