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Morning Men Head To LA For FALifornia

“Dubbed “FALifornia,” with Russo out, SiriusXM sent Morning Men hosts, Evan Cohen and Mike Babchik to their new Los Angeles studios for the week, where they took over Nick Wright’s usual timeslot.”

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When the namesake of Mad Dog Radio is off-air for a week, you’d expect the SiriusXM channel to wait for his return before trying anything too creative. Instead, Mad Dog Radio, Steve Cohen, Steve Torre and all of the SiriusXM bosses used Christopher Russo’s absence as an opportunity to grow their morning show.

Dubbed “FALifornia,” with Russo out, SiriusXM sent Morning Men hosts, Evan Cohen and Mike Babchik to their new Los Angeles studios for the week, where they took over Nick Wright’s usual timeslot. Wright, meanwhile,  filled in for Russo’s Mad Dog Unleashed.

“I’m a dorky old school radio guy and conceptually what SiriusXM did in saying ‘let’s not look at Dog being out as a disadvantage, but how do way take advantage of it?’ Again it involves us, so maybe I’m a little biased, but I think it’s really smart,” Morning Men co-host Evan Cohen said while speaking to BSM.

They’re a growing brand on the platform, but as a national show airing from 6 – 10am ET, it’s hard to expect a big West Coast following for Evan and Babs when they regularly hit the airwaves at 3am PT. Still, the reaction to Morning Men heading to the West Coast was filled with excitement. 

Further, when Evan and Babs announced they would broadcast Friday in-front of a studio audience, there was a big response from West Coast’s most loyal listeners, dubbed “the FALS,” who wanted to be there, a testament to the job SiriusXM does in promoting the show.

“Our show is on from 3am – 7am Pacific Time and it goes to show that SiriusXM has done such a good job with the app and on-demand product for people to listen to it when it’s not live,” Cohen said when speaking of their West Coast listeners.

To make their trip happen, Evan and Babs also needed a willingness from other hosts on the channel to work around an adjusted schedule. SiriusXM personalities Lisa Ann and Rick Kamla helped out during mornings on Mad Dog Radio. And with Wright taking over Russo’s Mad Dog Unleashed, normally Patrick Meagher moves from his 8 – 11pm show into the 6 – 8pm timeslot, but he had no problem reneging. 

“Patrick is a big fan of ours and we’re a big fan of his,” Cohen said. “We’ve developed a really good friendship with him, and his being egoless in knowing he could move up to a different timeslot for the week, but instead saying ‘those are my friends it’s a big opportunity for them, I’m giving them that slot’ is amazing.”

For Morning Men, the evening timeslot allowed them to connect with West Coast listeners, but they also had to adjust to a condensed show for the week. Half the time with double the guests. 

Taking advantage of being on the West Coast, Evan and Babs welcomed L.A. related guests throughout the week that included SiriusXM mainstays Covino and Rich, ESPN host Jorge Sedano, actors Tom Arnold, Ian Ziering, J.B. Smoove, R&B singer Joe, and entertainment star Joel McHale among others.

“Do we do guests, or do we interact with the audience?” Cohen said they debated regarding their live show last Friday to conclude their FALifornia week. 

A live studio audience is something radio shows don’t get a lot of opportunities to have. Some hosts are better in front of a live audience, they feed off the crowd to create natural entertainment. Mike Babchik happens to be one of those hosts, who’s unfiltered style resonates with a crowd. Evan and Babs chose to let the audience be part of their Friday broadcast, focusing on their FALs, more than guests. 

“It was a calculated smart risk by SiriusXM,” Cohen said of the company’s decision to send them to Los Angeles. “In terms of the creativity in the lineup, the buzz it created, exposing our show to the West Coast, giving other people opportunities in other slots and making something out of nothing in many ways – they deserve a lot of credit.”

Sports Radio News

Tony Kornheiser: I Haven’t Watched PTI Documentary

“In my DNA is this: 6 months from now, they’ll just say get off the show, we’re bringing somebody new in if we keep the show at all. We gave you the celebration, so what’s your problem?”

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This week, ESPN aired a one-hour documentary about Pardon The Interruption that chronicled the 20-year history of PTI and how Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon went from journalists to debating the hot topics of the sports world on television. 

Of course, Kornheiser talked about the documentary on The Tony Kornheiser Show on Wednesday, but he has not actually watched the one-hour special yet and doesn’t plan on watching it.

“My feeling all along about this was it feels like a memorial to me, not like a celebration,” he said. “I didn’t want to get involved in it, that’s just me. I did get involved in it. I sat down. I was interviewed by Pablo Torre, who I love. I am happy that I did it, but I didn’t really want to watch it. In my DNA is this: 6 months from now, they’ll just say get off the show, we’re bringing somebody new in if we keep the show at all. We gave you the celebration, so what’s your problem?” 

He does think he will see the show eventually and that he will probably cry when he sits down and watches it because after accomplishing his childhood goal of being a sportswriter, everything else is a bonus.

Tony Kornheiser believes that the ability that he and Wilbon have of being “generalists” in sports helped them to be good at debating on TV and it was a big part in why the show has succeeded for so many years.

“We know a little bit about a lot of things. It enables us to do this show. We have this stamped on our brains over 40 years of working, my case 50 years about sports and loving sports. I can do this. I didn’t know that I could, but it doesn’t surprise me that I could do it. It doesn’t surprise me that Mike can do it.”

Over the years, the relationship between Kornheiser and Wilbon has not changed and according to Kornheiser, neither of them are “hot take artists” because of their experience in journalism and looking at stories from every angle.

“When you do that, it sort of mitigates being a hot-take artist because those people are sort of screaming about their opinions. When you write a column, it may sound like your decibel level is high, but you have considered all of the angles of it and you have enough intellectual firepower to diffuse those things which people will come at you with because you thought about it. I want the show to be entertaining. Entertainment is everything…but the whole of it is we present ourselves as people with a certain amount of credentials in this area. I actually think it is a great show for what it is.” 

While Tony Kornheiser did not expect that he would go down the path of doing this show, he enjoys entertaining people and people have enjoyed both him and Wilbon debating every weekday at 5:30 PM ET on ESPN over the last two decades. It is a feat in which Kornheiser is enormously proud of, particularly because of the work the staff has done since the beginning. 

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Sports Radio News

ESPN Radio Guests Can’t Get Enough Of NBC’s Adele Trailer

“You got to get people watching. That’s part of the deal.”

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Sunday Night Football on NBC will feature the Tampa Bay Buccaneers facing off against the New England Patriots. For a viewer who is not heavily invested in the National Football League, nothing significant may be able to be surmised from just looking at the matchup. For NFL fans, casual or die-hard, this game is perhaps the most substantial of the season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback and seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady will return to Foxborough to face his former team, the New England Patriots, where he won his first six championships. New details have recently emerged divulging the split between Brady and Patriots Head Coach and General Manager Bill Belichick, and should make the matchup even more interesting this Sunday night, further boosting its potential to shatter previous ratings records.

On Wednesday morning, “Keyshawn, JWill and Max” spoke on ESPN Radio about the primetime game, and how there should be plenty of content for the media to chronicle to attract and captivate viewers, especially after the game when the hall-of-fame duo meet at midfield to exchange pleasantries.

“Bill’s going to do what Bill does,” said Keyshawn Johnson, former NFL wide receiver and co-host of the newly restructured morning program on ESPN Radio. “[He’s] not going to give the media any opportunity for any major photo ops with him hugging Tom Brady.”

Viewership for Sunday Night Football on NBC has been on the rise this season, with the broadcast drawing an average of over 20-million viewers per week across its multiple platforms over the first three weeks of the NFL season, the first time the network has attained such a feat since 2016. This Sunday’s matchup though, thanks to the storylines and drama surrounding it, could eclipse those ratings… and considerably do so.

Just take the game trailer created by NBC, using “Hello” by Adele, a slow pop ballad to promote a football game. Uncharacteristic for sure, but appropriate based on the circumstances of this matchup. And it’s drawing viewers — nearly one million of them on Twitter in just two days.

The morning radio show welcomed former Major League Baseball player and current MLB Network analyst Mark DeRosa on the program to talk about the postseason set to commence next week, but even he could not resist commenting on the highly-anticipated matchup coming up at the end of the week.

“I watched that Sunday Night Football trailer with Adele’s ‘Hello’ track underneath it about thirty times yesterday,” said DeRosa. “I cannot wait.”

Former New England Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson also joined the show to talk about the upcoming Brady vs. Belichick matchup, and echoed DeRosa’s sentiments regarding the trailer created by NBC.

“You got to hype it up,” said Watson. “You got to get people watching. That’s part of the deal.”

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Sports Radio News

Pat McAfee: ‘People Are Going To Miss The Manningcast’

“The access that Peyton and Eli Manning get to the coaches, to the players, to the training staff, to whoever, I assume is going to be better than what Levy, Riddick, Griese and Lisa do.”

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Eli and Peyton Manning have a lot of fans in the broadcasting world. That has become clear over the last three weeks as ESPN’s Manningcast of Monday Night Football has seen its audience steadily grow. One of those fans is Pat McAfee. He said on his show on Tuesday that the alternate broadcast has become his preferred way to watch Monday night’s game.

The Manning brothers are taking a three week break. That means the millions that have choosen ESPN2 for Monday Night Football will have no choice but to watch Steve Levy, Louis Riddick and Brian Griese on ESPN. McAfee wonders how shocked the audience will be.

“They are getting probably a pretty new crowd on Monday night. That is a vastly different way to watch a game,” he said.

Pat McAfee was clear with his message. Sure, the Manningcast features interviews and informal banter that can make it hard to pay attention to all the action on the field (he pointed to how compelling the conversation with LeBron James was this past week), but the Mannings offer a level of access the traditional broadcast can’t match.

“The access that Peyton and Eli Manning get to the coaches, to the players, to the training staff, to whoever, I assume is going to be better than what Levy, Riddick, Griese and Lisa do.”

McAfee expects Steve Levy, Louis Riddick and Brian Griese to take their share of criticism online for the next month as people complain that the broadcast is less fun and not as informative.

“We will obviously probably follow the game much closer, but I think people are going to miss the Manningcast the next three weeks.”

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