Netflix’s new dystopian series “Squid Game” has been captivating and enthralling viewers from all around the world with its high-stakes competition and lethal penalties. The South Korean fictional survival-based competition revamps traditional children’s games, such as “Red Light, Green Light” and “Marbles,” into competitions with a chance to win ₩45.6 billion if they make it to the end. All of the initial 456 contestants are in deep amounts of debt, and trying to make a better life for themselves and their families — with the caveat that if they lose any of the competitions, they will be immediately killed.
Over its first month of streaming worldwide, 142 million Netflix members have watched the series, amounting to approximately two-thirds of the platform’s subscriber base, something the service, in a press release, called “mind-boggling.” Additionally, 89% of those viewers watched at least 75 minutes of the series, and 66% finished the series’ first season in a mere 23 days. Recently, it was the number one streaming program in 94 different countries, including the United States, resulting in the addition of 4.38 million subscribers in the third quarter, nearly double the figure from this time last year. The show has generated nearly $900 million in impact value, and cost $21.4 million to produce, meaning Netflix figures to substantially profit from this series, which has already been renewed for a much-anticipated second season.
So what does this mean for sports media? Well, on Wednesday morning, “Karsch and Anderson” on 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit spoke about their experiences watching this global phenomenon. Then, they played a game of their own, transforming show listeners into viewers while emphasizing the impact cross-platform integration has and will continue to have on radio today.
“I did power through another episode of Squid Game,” said Doug Karsch, co-host of the morning-drive show, who is in the midst of watching the series on Netflix. “It’s interesting; I want to know what the hell is going on.”
Show Producer Khang Huynh, who, along with co-host Scott Anderson, has already finished the Netflix hit, proceeded to draw the listening audience to 97.1 The Ticket’s Twitch live stream of “Karsch and Anderson” simply by using a standard, white index card.
“I have not met or read one review after [someone has] finished [‘Squid Game’] say something different,” expressed Hunyh. “I have a white index card; I’m going to write four words down. As soon as [Karsch] finishes ‘Squid Game,’ he is going to say these four words.”
In anticipation of Hunyh’s revealing the four-word message, the viewership on 97.1 The Ticket’s Twitch stream proliferated from 166 to 472 viewers in the span of about a minute-and-a-half, demonstrating the power a complimentary video live stream can have on a sports radio show.
Without the video live stream, the secret index card message could not have been as easily and instantly disseminated while simultaneously entertaining the audience without it serving as somewhat of a spoiler to Karsch. By utilizing Twitch, “Karsch and Anderson” kept viewers engaged in their conversation, and compelled many of them to switch over to the Twitch platform, some for the first time, expanding their potential audience and future capabilities on that avenue of transmission.
As for Karsch, finishing “Squid Game,” he puts his chances in doing so at over 50%. “I’ll just come back the day that I finish watching, and see if I say that exact thing.” Anderson can’t wait for the day that happens, as his feeling was analogous to that of Hunyh’s regarding the thrilling ending of season one.
“I can’t wait to tell you what I was going to say, because it was so close!”
Derek Futterman is a contributing editor and sports media reporter for Barrett Sports Media. Additionally, he has worked in a broad array of roles in multimedia production – including on live game broadcasts and audiovisual platforms – and in digital content development and management. He previously interned for Paramount within Showtime Networks, wrote for the Long Island Herald and served as lead sports producer at NY2C. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @derekfutterman.
ESPN 97.5 in Houston Announces New Lineup
“The station had to make some very tough & unfortunate economic decisions last week.”
ESPN 97.5 in Houston announced they will have a new lineup starting Monday Feb. 26. The drive time slots will continue to feature John Granato and Lance Zierlein in mornings and The Killer B’s, Jeremy Branham and Joel Blank, in the afternoon.
In between the two shows will now have The Del Olaleye Show airing from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. followed by Gallant and George with Paul Gallant, who had been hosting the early midday slot previously and Joe George, the station’s Assistant Program Director.
Earlier this week, Josh Beard and Michael Connor confirmed they had been let go from the station after being in the midday slot for just six months. George posted on X at the time, “So here’s the deal. The station had to make some very tough & unfortunate economic decisions last week. It has nothing to do with the quality of their show and work they did. Programming on the station will be weird this week, then back to fully local from 7 am – 6 pm on 2/26.”
Former Toronto Blue Jays Announcer Ben Wagner Named to Baltimore Orioles Broadcast Team
A release from the Blue Jays says Wagner will appear on radio and select television broadcasts throughout the year.
The Baltimore Orioles announced the club’s broadcast talent lineup for the 2024 season, which includes former Toronto Blue Jays announcer Ben Wagner. Wagner had served as the radio voice of the Blue Jays for the last six seasons before Sportsnet announced it decided not to renew his contract. Prior to joining the Blue Jays broadcast team, Wagner spent 11 seasons with Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons. A release from the Orioles says Wagner will appear on radio and select television broadcasts throughout the year.
The Orioles will continue to use guest analysts throughout the season, including Orioles Hall of Famers Mike Devereaux and Brian Roberts, as well as former Orioles Brad Brach and Dave Johnson.
Geoff Arnold will return for his fifth season with the Orioles broadcast team and will be the primary play-by-play announcer. Kevin Brown will be in his third season as the primary television play-by-play announcer for MASN.
Other team members for the 2024 season include Scott Garceau, Brett Hollander, Rob Long, Ben McDonald, Melanie Newman and Hall of Famer Jim Palmer, who will be in his 32nd season as an analyst and 61st year as a member of the Orioles organization.
Fred Toucher: ‘I Would Feel Weird’ if Rich Shertenlieb Reached Out to Me
“Even if it was nice, I wouldn’t like it, so if he’s listening, don’t reach out to me.”
Fred Toucher is in the midst of co-hosting a new morning program on 98.5 The Sports Hub with Rob “Hardy” Poole. The Toucher & Hardy show made its premiere in January following the end of a 17-year run in which he worked alongside Rich Shertenlieb. Last November, Shertenlieb parted ways with the outlet that elicited questions and nostalgia from listeners, some of which continue to persist on the new program.
On Friday’s edition of the program, a caller asked Toucher about the last time he spoke to Shertenlieb and if there was still communication between them. The duo started hosting their radio program together at rock radio station WBCN-FM before making the move to the sports talk format with 98.5 The Sports Hub (WBZ-FM) for its launch in the summer of 2009. The caller wanted to specifically hear a “juicy story” and apologized if his broaching the topic was “a forbidden path.”
“I have not talked to Rich,” Toucher said. “I told you I got the text message the Saturday after they didn’t put him on the air anymore, and I haven’t talked to him.”
Toucher wondered who among former members of the Toucher & Rich program had heard from Shertenlieb, leading him to go around the studio and ask. Update anchor Jon Wallach revealed that Shertenlieb texted him on Thanksgiving Day to discuss how the music group Bell Biv DeVoe was performing, but he has not heard from him since. None of the others in the studio had heard from Shertenlieb in a considerable amount of time either.
“None of us were really friends with him so I don’t know what to tell you,” Toucher replied to the caller. “I wasn’t friends with him; I didn’t talk to him, so it’s not odd that I don’t talk to him.”
Toucher then began to hypothesize what would happen if Shertenlieb were to reach out to him. As he thought over such a potential occurrence, he realized that he would have a feeling in his stomach and get anxiety. He did concede, however, that if someone paid him a large sum of money to appear somewhere with Shertenlieb, he would do the 10 seconds.
“I would feel weird; I wouldn’t enjoy the process,” Toucher said. “Even if it was nice, I wouldn’t like it, so if he’s listening, don’t reach out to me. You’d make me incredibly uncomfortable. Just don’t do it.”
In thinking about the potential nostalgia from Toucher & Rich, the program briefly mentioned Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo and his relationship with former co-host Mike Francesa. Toucher believes that Russo is doing fine without Francesa, a sentiment Wallach concurred. Wallach also shared that he feels Russo is doing better after Mike and the Mad Dog than Francesa.
Russo hosts a SiriusXM program on the Mad Dog Sports Radio channel named after him, in addition to High Heat on MLB Network and a weekly appearance on ESPN’s First Take. The split between both shows elicited interest from the listening public, something Toucher completely understands because of the unique facets of radio.
“People consume you 20 hours a week or they conceivably could, so when there’s any change, your immediate reaction to it, even though it hasn’t been bad, a lot of people if you listen to an old thing all the time it’s going to be strange to you, a new thing, or when a component of it is missing,” Toucher explained, “even if it’s better than it was, which I contend Toucher & Hardy over the last three weeks is better than Toucher & Rich was in 2023 and 2022 certainly.”
The segment concluded with Toucher proclaiming that he had answered the question and now will not have to entertain it again. “I have no idea what he’s doing and no one I know does, and no one I know has seen him,” Toucher said. “I haven’t even had a listener email me and go, ‘I saw him.’”