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Ben & Woods Pay Tribute To Norm Macdonald

“He could sit up there in front of an audience [when] no one was laughing, and he loved every second of it,” said Ben Higgins.

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Instead of talking about the San Diego Padres’ recent slide from the National League Wild Card race, Ben & Woods on 97.3 The Fan in San Diego took time on Wednesday morning to honor the legacy of Norm Macdonald. The 61-year-old comedian and former anchor of Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live lost his battle with cancer Tuesday, one that he very much kept concealed from public view.

“He could sit up there in front of an audience [when] no one was laughing, and he loved every second of it,” said Ben Higgins, co-host of Ben & Woods. “We were just commenting on how it’s so rare where, even the three of us, can agree on someone.”

Macdonald was fired from Saturday Night Live in 1998 after he refused to stop mentioning the court case wherein former NFL player and color commentator O.J. Simpson was arraigned and found not guilty for the murder of his ex-wife and her friend. The San Diego sports radio morning show played several clips of Macdonald discussing Simpson on Weekend Update, which had both hosts and producer Paul Reindl laughing.

“The L.A. district attorney’s office has given Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden… over 10,000 dollars for ‘lengthy hard-time duty’ in the O.J. Simpson case,” said Macdonald in the clip from Saturday Night Live. “A spokesman for the D.A. said the prosecutor’s bonuses would have been higher, except for the fact that they let a killer go free.”

The other host of the show, Steven Woods, admired the audacity Macdonald possessed in discussing controversial topics such as the highly-publicized court case.

“Honestly, he didn’t care. If he lost a gig, he’d get another gig,” said Woods. “If I said something offensive and lost this job, it would kill me. He was like, ‘I know what I have. I know who I am. I know my humor plays.’ He gave the Saturday Night Live job away for the sake of his comedy.”

Additionally, Woods reminisced on some of the guest appearances of Macdonald on The Howard Stern Show, extolling his innate ability to comedically discuss uncomfortable topics across the world of sports, news and entertainment.

“His appearances on Stern were through the roof. I’ve always loved that uncomfortable humor. I couldn’t take a sleeve of note cards out and read deliberately bad jokes.”

In a tweet, Conan O’Brien, the former host of Conan on TBS, conveyed the impact Macdonald had on the worlds of both comedy and mediated communications.

“I am absolutely devastated about Norm Macdonald,” said O’Brien, who hosted over 1,500 episodes of his late night talk show. “Norm had the most unique comedic voice I have ever encountered and he was so relentlessly and uncompromisingly funny. I will never laugh that hard again. I’m so sad for all of us today.”

Macdonald’s ingenuity in setting up and delivering the punchline of jokes that would get the viewer or listener laughing was something Woods called unique. In reference to a particularly memorable joke told by Macdonald, Woods discussed how guests are managed when appearing on radio or television. In his discussion, he expressed how it is often emphasized to callers and on-air hosts alike to get to their point as quickly as possible to keep the show moving. For Macdonald though, that punchline often took quite a bit of time to get to, something Woods said was always worth the wait.

“We do radio. We have a clock. We’ve got a little room to stretch, [but] TV shows have a much tighter clock,” explained Woods. “But even when Ben, me, Paul or a caller calls in and tells a story, you see me going ‘Let’s go. Let’s go. We’ve got to wrap it up. Let’s get to the meat.’ [Macdonald] goes on with [a] story for five minutes and the punch-line is so corny and dad-jokey, I had tears rolling down my face. The build-up for the payoff is the joke.”

The discussion concluded with both Higgins and Woods offering their final thoughts on the loss of Macdonald, who transformed his industry through his style of dry humor both on television as an update anchor on Saturday Night Live, and as a stand-up comedian.

“He didn’t want people to think differently of him or show pity towards him,” said Woods. “I think his longtime publicist and friend who was with him when he passed away said, ‘He just wanted to be Norm. He didn’t want people to be like, ‘Oh that’s Norm. He’s so funny and he’s dying, fighting this battle with cancer.’’ He was that committed to getting through it and not wanting anybody’s attention or adulation for anything other than his comedy. I think he legitimately didn’t want to make people sad, ever.”

“What’s really sad is that he could have had another 30 years being funny, deep into his later years,” expressed Higgins. “What a comedy legend that left us way too early yesterday.”

Sports Radio News

Larry Bowa Warns Angelo Cataldi Fans Will Boo First Pitch If It’s Not a Strike

“Angelo Cataldi made Bowa promise to frame the ball so that whatever he throws looks like a strike to the crowd.”

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The Philadelphia Phillies are set to honor the career of Angelo Cataldi on July 24. The WIP morning legend will throw out the first pitch at Citizens Bank Park that afternoon. Former Phillies manager Larry Bowa will be behind the plate.

Bowa joined Cataldi on air Thursday morning to offer some advice. He told Cataldi that if the team asked him today, Bowa could still throw a strike from the mound. He was going to help Cataldi try to do the same.

He was concerned that Cataldi may not have any friends to practice with. After Cataldi assured the former manager that he had someone that was at least willing to pretend, Bowa gave him some tips.

“First of all, you start out at about 30, 35 feet while you preparing for this,” Larry Bowa said. “Make sure you throw every ball chest high. Throw a four-seam fastball. Do that three or four days then backup to 50, 55 feet. Do that a couple of days, and then finally you get on the mound.”

There was a word of warning for Angelo Cataldi. Larry Bowa said he once served as the catcher for a ceremonial first pitch from Mike Schmidt, widely regarded as one of the very best to ever put on a Phillies uniform.

Schmidt chose to throw from the mound and bounced it. Bowa doesn’t want Cataldi to make the same mistake.

“If you go to the mound and you don’t throw a strike, if you bounce it, I’m gonna tell you, you know this area better than anybody in the world. You will get booed off that mound,” he said. “So, if I were you, I would get right at the edge of the dirt there and throw a nice strike and everybody will give you a nice standing ovation and everything like that.”

Angelo Cataldi made Bowa promise to frame the ball so that whatever he throws looks like a strike to the crowd.

“I need you to get it to me on a fly, Ang,” Bowa responded.

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Sports Radio News

Dave Tepper Leaves Altitude Sports Radio To Become PD of News Radio KOA

“ The move represents a reunion for Tepper and GM Brenda Egger. She was the GM at Altitude that brought Tepper to the market in 2018.”

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There’s a big change taking place in Denver radio. Dave Tepper has left Altitude Sports Radio to become the new program director for Newsradio KOA. The position became available after iHeart Denver recently parted ways with programmers Greg Foster and Tim Spence.

The move represents a reunion for Tepper and GM Brenda Egger. Egger was the GM at Altitude that brought Tepper to the market in 2018. She left to take the reigns at iHeart in December 2020. Tepper will be responsible for all aspects of the on-air experience, including talent, content, programming, and online presence, as well as Denver Broncos and Colorado Rockies broadcasts. He will report to JoJo Turnbeaugh, Region Senior Vice President of Programming for iHeartMedia Rockies Region.

“We are very excited Dave will be leading our incredible team at KOA,” said Turnbeaugh. “Dave’s track record, vision and leadership is exactly what we need as KOA continues to evolve as Colorado’s, News, Talk and Sports leader.”

Altitude Sports Radio went through a lineup revamp early on under Tepper before settling in the past few years. The station built its morning show around Vic Lombardi, Marc Moser, and Brett Kane, afternoons around Nate Kreckman and Andy Lindahl, and middays around Ryan Harris, Scott Hastings, and Josh Dover. The station also moved from 950 AM to 92.5 FM, and added an affiliation with VSiN.

At KOA, Tepper will work with both sports and news talk programming. He’s familiar with both formats having previously managed 1620 The Zone and News Talk 1290 KOIL in Omaha. Tepper also previously programmed ESPN 97.5 in Houston, and served as the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network Studio Coordinator and National Network Producer for Westwood One’s broadcasts of the College World Series. He has also worked on-air as a sports talk host in Houston and Austin, TX after starting behind the scenes at KLSX and KABC in Los Angeles.

“I’m thrilled and humbled by the opportunity to take the legendary KOA brands to new heights, including the game-changing chance to work with the Broncos, Rockies and Colorado Buffaloes radio networks,” said Tepper. “My proud journey that includes working with a variety of sports and talk formats, talents and sports radio networks has prepared me for this unique and once in a lifetime step.”

Altitude Sports Radio hasn’t announced a timeframe for when it expects to hire a new leader.

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Sports Radio News

Travis Demers Steps Away From Rip City Radio 620

Demers announced on Twitter on Wednesday that he will be leaving his post as co-host of Rip City Drive with Chad Doing to become a stay-at-home dad.

Jordan Bondurant

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Travis Demers

Portland Trail Blazers play-by-play announcer Travis Demers is going to be taking some time to enjoy being around his family.

Demers announced on Twitter on Wednesday that he will be leaving his post as co-host of Rip City Drive with Chad Doing to become a stay-at-home dad.

Demers clarified that he will still be calling Blazers games and be involved with the team’s radio production, but he’s going to take this opportunity to be more involved in the lives of his kids.

For now, Doing will fly solo hosting Rip City Drive. iHeartRadio Portland has not announced whether a replacement will be hired.

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