As most Major League Baseball teams are finalizing their radio broadcast plans for the 2021 season, the Toronto Blue Jays decided to eliminate theirs. The Blue Jays will be the first team in decades without a dedicated radio team, instead taking a simulcast of their TV broadcast.
The Blue Jays are owned by Rogers Communications, the same parent company of the team’s TV network Sportsnet and their radio flagship Sportsnet The Fan 590. On Friday, Sportsnet announced their decision to simulcast the Blue Jays TV broadcast on radio for the 2021 season, blaming COVID protocols and the need to limit travel.
“In an effort to minimize travel and closely adhere to team, league, and government protocols related to the pandemic, Sportsnet will be streamlining production for the 2021 season by simulcasting TV broadcasts on Sportsnet 590 The FAN and across the Sportsnet Radio Network,” the announcement reads. “Blue Jays fans can now enjoy the legendary voices of Buck Martinez, Dan Shulman, and Pat Tabler on both TV and radio. Ben Wagner remains part of the Blue Jays on Sportsnet broadcast team, joining Jamie Campbell, Joe Siddall, Hazel Mae, and Arash Madani in covering all the bases throughout the season.”
The travel excuse seems fallacious considering Wagner called Blue Jays broadcasts from a Toronto studio last season, despite the team playing their home games in Buffalo. His radio partner Mike Wilner was let go in a cost-cutting move by Sportsnet last November, after 20 years covering the Blue Jays.
Eliminating the radio call in favor of a TV simulcast has happened in other sports, mostly the NHL. The Orlando Magic chose to go the same route this NBA season, but Major League Baseball and radio are synonymous American pastimes. As great as some TV announcers are, the pace and sound of baseball lends itself perfectly to radio.
Sportsnet has not indicated the move is permanent, but they also have not stated expectations to bring a separate radio broadcast back in 2022.
Brady Quinn, LaVarr Arrington, Jonas Knox To Host FOX Sports Radio Morning Show
“The opening in morning drive was created four months ago when Clay Travis announced he would move to another department of parent company, Premier Networks.”
LaVarr Arrington is joining Brady Quinn and Jonas Knox in morning drive on FOX Sports Radio. The network announced today that 2 Pros and a Cup of Joe is the name of the trio’s new show, which will be heard every weekday. The show launches Monday on 350 stations across the country.
The opening in morning drive was created four months ago when Clay Travis announced he would move to another department of parent company, Premier Networks. He left FSR to join Buck Sexton in the time slot occupied by the late Rush Limbaugh.
“The FOX Sports Radio family was so proud when Clay Travis was chosen to team up with Buck Sexton to continue the tradition of excellence created by Rush Limbaugh,” Don Martin, Senior Vice President of Sports Programming for Premiere Networks, said in a press release. “At FSR, we make a commitment to each of our affiliates to deliver the best national sports lineup in the country, 24/7. Clay’s departure left a hole in our roster, but today, we proudly continue that commitment as we serve up a breakfast of champions with the launch of 2 Pros and a Cup of Joe.”
FOX Sports Radio didn’t have to look far to find its new morning men. Despite guesses and theories that included sports media professionals from all parts of the country at all levels of the business, 2 Pros and a Cup of Joe is made up of hosts that were already part of the network’s weekend lineup and had been serving as fill-in hosts for morning drive since May.
“Bolstering what’s already the best national sports talk lineup, we are injecting fun, personality, credibility, strong doses of caffeine, and thought-provoking conversation into morning-drive,” Scott Shapiro, Vice President of Programming for FOX Sports Radio, added. “After already getting rave reviews from the audience over the past couple months, we are fired up to have this dynamic trio start the day with a smile every morning!”
Arrington and Quinn will give the show a nice little national boost. The two will undoubtedly promote the show on FOX Sports’ television programs. Quinn is a part of FOX’s Big Noon Saturday while Arrington makes regular appearances on FS1.
Lisa Byington On Bucks Gig: ‘Sometimes History Finds You’
“We battle this every single day of our lives, the no’s, the not yet’s, the you are not good enough because you are a woman.”
Last week, Lisa Byington made history as she was named the play-by-play voice of the defending NBA champions, the Milwaukee Bucks, for Bally Sports Wisconsin. History is not uncommon for Byington as she became the first woman to do play-by-play for the men’s NCAA Tournament back in March and in 2017, she was the first woman to call college football for the Big Ten Network.
On Thursday, Byington was a guest on Spain and Fitz (57:20 mark) to talk about her role as a game-changer in the industry. She mentioned in her interview with the Bucks and Bally Sports Wisconsin that she was asked how she would handle being the first female ever in this role.
“I said, this is nothing new to me. We battle this every single day of our lives, the no’s, the not yet’s, the you are not good enough because you are a woman,” Lisa Byington said. “I said look, this is my story, this is what I have become accustomed to because I have lived this day-in, day-out, hour-in, hour-out. So, I am going to throw it back at you? Are you ready for this? I think the fact that they hired me was their answer.”
While Byington did not think this was a possible option a year ago, after calling games in the NCAA Tournament she decided that the sky’s the limit for what she can do in the industry and her agent, Gideon Cohen, at Excel Sports Management, opened the door to this job opportunity.
“You don’t chase history, sometimes history finds you. Sometimes people recognize something in you that you might not recognize in yourself. Some of these opportunities that I have had, there’s always had to be people that kind of opened those doors for me. When the idea of the Bucks job opened up, let’s go for it and we did.”
Lisa Byington will be joined in the booth by analysts Marques Johnson and Steve Novak as well as sideline reporter Zora Stephenson. She said that she will follow their lead a lot over this next year as she is “excited to be a part of their team.”
Bruce Gilbert Named Sr VP For Sports, Content and Audience At Cumulus
“He currently oversees all sports programming for Cumulus radio stations and Westwood One Sports.”
Bruce Gilbert has added some responsibilities and received a new title at Cumulus. He is now overseeing the company’s sports properties across all platforms. His new title is Senior Vice President For Sports, Content and Audience.
In his new role, Gilbert will over see audience growth and development for broadcasting, podcasting, streaming, social media, digital, and live events. Doug Cohn will have similar responsibilities for the company’s music and entertainment properties.
“Doug has shown a Midas touch in understanding what the next generation will want, and Bruce has forged groundbreaking partnerships for years and will now have more runway to innovate,” Brian Phillips, Cumulus’s Executive Vice President of Content and Audience, said in a press release. “These two leaders possess the vision to produce a surge of remarkable new Cumulus content.”
Bruce Gilbert has been with Cumulus for seven years following stints at ESPN, FOX Sports, and CBS. He currently oversees all sports programming for Cumulus radio stations and Westwood One Sports. He recently lead the search for a new PD at KNBR, which resulted in Kevin Graham taking over after Jeremiah Crowe’s departure.
Gilbert has been a regular at the Barrett Sports Media Summit. He will return in 2022 as part of the event’s return to New York City.
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