La Crosse, Wisconsin, lost one of its prominent radio voices this week. Broadcaster Mike Kearns has passed away at the age of 69.
Kearns spent his whole career at WKTY Radio as a play-by-play broadcaster for high school, college football, and college basketball games. On top of calling games, Kearns hosted “The Lead Balloon Show” surrounding local and state sports topics. He hosted the morning show on weekdays from 1981 until he retired in 2016.
His dad Charlie started the show in 1948 then handed it down to Mike along with the sports director title in 1981. the duo ended their careers with over 1,200 football games and 6,000 basketball games broadcasted for WKTY. They were both inducted into the Wisconsin Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2009.
Mike attended the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and Brown Institute. He is survived by his wife Dawn, their children Patrick and Erin, and three grandchildren.
Russ Heltman is a daily news writer for BSM. He is the morning host and producer for 89.3 WMKV in Cincinnati, OH. He also works in gameday communications for FC Cincinnati and additionally contributes to the AllBengals blog for Sports Illustrated. Russ can be found on Twitter @RussHeltman11 or you can reach him by email at Heltmandm@yahoo.com.
Jason Barrett Podcast: Jeff Smulyan, Never Ride a Roller Coaster Upside Down
There would be no sports radio if not for Jeff Smulyan. He takes JB through the triumphs and disappointments of his career and explains why he is sharing so many stories in a new book, Never Ride a Roller Coaster Upside Down. To pick up your copy, click here.
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Zolak & Bertrand: Kirk Herbstreit’s Comments A Wake Up Call For Patriots Fans
“Next time you feel like they shouldn’t be booing them, there’s someone from a national perspective – who has been calling games now in the NFL for at least all of this year – but is very familiar with the league and all the different cities and he’s been in college environments for a decade plus, and said their fans aren’t angry enough.”
Things appeared to come to a head for the New England Patriots and their fans last week as the team fell to the Buffalo Bills 24-10.
Many fans of the Patriots with the loss seem to have accepted the fact that the glory days of the franchise are officially over. Thursday Night Football analyst Kirk Herbstreit even noted that it was off-putting that fans near his broadcast vantage point were fine with the Pats coming out on the losing end.
“I just felt the sense of acceptance of where they are,” Herbstreit said during a Friday appearance on The Pat McAfee Show. “It really shocked me. I’m just so used to the Patriots’ 20 years of excellence, and not just the NFL in all of professional sports. And to see their fan base just like, we suck, whatever, game’s over, like early they were like that.”
On Zolak & Bertrand Monday, co-host Scott Zolak disagreed with Herbstreit’s take.
“I don’t know what you want from a fan base to do after that when the game’s over, and the place starts to dump out,” he said. “The game was well in hand.”
Zolak’s cohort Marc Bertrand felt differently, praising Herbstreit for offering that sort of perspective.
“Next time you feel like they shouldn’t be booing them, there’s someone from a national perspective – who has been calling games now in the NFL for at least all of this year – but is very familiar with the league and all the different cities and he’s been in college environments for a decade plus, and said their fans aren’t angry enough,” Bertrand said. “They let ’em off the hook.”
Bertrand felt like Patriots fans had every right to be pissed off with the product the team put on the field last week and have done so far this season. Especially when people are paying top dollar for admission to games.
“That product doesn’t match those prices last Thursday night,” he said, continuing to agree with what Herbstreit said. “You don’t hear that a lot around here. So I thought it was a nice change up.”
Zolak and Bertrand both seemed to determine that perhaps it was a case of fans being too nice and being willing to accept failure from head coach Bill Belichick and his staff.
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He works full-time as a multimedia specialist at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, while also putting in part-time work for News Radio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond. Additionally, you can find Jordan contributing coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and ABC 8News. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
Paul Finebaum: ‘I’ve Been Accused Of Giving Up Objectivity For Nick Saban’
“I’ve been a flag waiver for Nick Saban since the day he got there.”
People not from the state of Alabama may not realize that there was a time when there was no more vocal critic of the football team than Paul Finebaum. On Monday morning, he told Cole Cubelic of JOX 94.5 in Birmingham that his perspective began to change in January 2007.
“I’ve been a flag waiver for Nick Saban since the day he got there,” Finebaum admitted.
To be fair to Finebaum, Saban and the Crimson Tide have won five national championships and eight SEC championships since his arrival. It has been way easier to wave the flag than find fault.
Paul Finebaum says that some people don’t see it as that simple though and he has had to learn to accept some criticism.
“I’ve been accused of losing all my objectivity and focus to support Saban,” he said. “I believe in that because I believe he has completely transformed that school into what it is today.”
Acknowledging that Saban has been a game changer not just for Alabama football, but for the university itself, doesn’t mean that Paul Finebaum never has anything critical to say about the coach and his team. In fact, he told Cubelic that he was really put off by the way Saban campaigned for Alabama to be included in the upcoming College Football Playoff.
“For a coach of Nick Saban’s intellect to go on national television and use the point spread as a reason for entrance, when he was a big favorite in the two games he lost, he was an overwhelming favorite at Texas, the game where he needed a last-second field goal, and probably was the game that cost him the birth in a TCU head-to-head comparison.”
Saban appeared on multiple television shows and halftime shows stating that if you put Alabama up against any of the other teams in consideration for the final two spots, they would be the favorites. Finebaum thought it was a step too far.
“I want to make it clear,” he said. “I understand Nick Saban standing up for his program. I’ve hear people say ‘well, every coach would do that’. Well, you know what? I didn’t see Ryan Day doing that. I didn’t see Josh Heupel doing that. I saw Nick Saban doing that and I think that is what was so startling to me.”