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What Do PDs Want From A Fill-In?

“This is an important time for young voices in the building with aspirations to be a show host. In fact, it may be the biggest opportunity of the entire year.”

Tyler McComas

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M4th5 CC BY-SA 3.0

It’s the holiday season, which means hosts across the country are probably looking at their remaining vacation days and making plans to use all of them before the end of the year. That leaves PDs in the position where they’re usually looking for fill-in talent to help fill shows. Some PDs will look outside the building, while others look at it as an opportunity to get a better look at some of the other voices that are employed as board ops, podcast hosts, etc. 

This is an important time for young voices in the building with aspirations to be a show host. In fact, it may be the biggest opportunity of the entire year. It’s the perfect time for someone to develop who they are behind the mic and identify the strengths and weaknesses they may possess. 

But what exactly are PD’s looking for and where do they normally go for fill-in talent? Those were the questions I posed to three PDs across the country. 

Armen Williams – Brand Manager at SportsRadio 610 and CBS Sports Radio 650

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How did you come across the fill-in hosts you use?

AW: A lot of times fill-in hosts are inherited – let’s first investigate the voices that have been used over the years at the radio station.  Who are the listeners most familiar with? Then, it’s always healthy to look internally to see if there are other individuals who are on the support staff that would be interested in the opportunity or perhaps could be groomed for future roles. Next, it’s a search between other media members or notable individuals inside the market.

What are you looking for from these folks? 

AW: It depends. In a perfect world, there are at least a few people that you’re grooming for potential roles on the station one day. Who’s good enough to possibly do this thing on a regular basis? Building a depth chart on the station is one of the harder things to do but can pay off in dividends long-term.

Then, sometimes you’re just looking for others who might have another job but can provide a unique perspective and can be available on occasion.

Do you coach them the same way you do your regular hosts? 

AW: Well, most fill-ins are only in your building for a small amount of time out of the year, so it’s not a situation where you’re doing regular aircheck sessions with them, no. But it is important that they get communication as to what the minimum expectations are and a general feel/direction of the brand and content. Regular fill-ins will likely get more feedback than someone that’s only called on a few days out of the year.  

Tye Richardson – PD of ESPN Arkansas and Host of The Morning Rush

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How did you come across the fill-in hosts you use?

TR: We’ve found our fill-in hosts at ESPN Arkansas in a number of ways. Some have been former employees. Others have been doing weekly podcasts associated with our radio station. Giving part timers a crack is another route we’ve explored. 

What are you looking for from these folks?

TR: We’re looking for future hosts of the station. Radio is an ever evolving business. I always need to be prepared if someone leaves for another job, quits, etc. Most athletic directors have a shortlist of who they would hire next if needed. We take a similar approach.

Do you coach them the same way you do your regular hosts?

TR: I rarely say anything to our current hosts as the Program Director. Our market manager handles that side of the coaching. I’m more willing to share my opinion to the fill-ins. It’s in my best interest they’re prepared to take a next step. 

John Mamola – PD of 95.3 WDAE, AM 620 and NewsRadio WFLA

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How did you come across the fill-in hosts you use?

JM: During the holidays, we tend to give some of our board ops and producers some air time. We try to cycle it through the staff to try and get some reps in. We want to keep it local with people that the audience is familiar with, as opposed to bringing someone in out of the market. Sometimes we’ll lean on our partners, like if the Rays, Lightning or Bucs want to have some of their on-air personnel do some shows. But we do try to keep it to familiar voices

How valuable is that for you as a PD, to be able to use this time to evaluate talent?

JM: It’s extremely valuable. It’s good to give opportunities to some people that have worked really hard throughout the year and give them some experience behind the mic, instead of just the board. We pull in talent from the other radio stations in the building to give it a different spin, but those are more guest spots as opposed to full shows. We have some options to do more syndication, which we kind of lean on a little bit, but we try not to dive into that too much. 

What advice would you give to a fill-in talent?

JM: I don’t think booking interviews is necessarily a good trait of if you’re going to give an air check to a talent. Can you ask questions? Sure, as long as you’re asking the right questions and framing them correctly, fine. If I’m going to give advice to a talent, I’d rather give them advice on a skill set that defines them. 

If I were to go to North Carolina and ask someone to do a couple of hours in Tampa, the top three things would be, make sure you understand what you’re talking about, because if you don’t research my city and my market, then people aren’t going to listen to you. Work on pronunciations. That’s a big faux pas for a lot of people, unfortunately, when I hear people at other stations with talent that aren’t in those markets. Know how to pronounce Amalie Arena. Three, just be welcoming to being razzed a little bit. If people don’t know who the hell you are, they’re going to ask who the hell do you think you are. You have to be prepared for that, because it’s one thing to dive into how terrible the Bucs were on Sunday but if you can’t remember a certain play or moment in the game, and it’s obvious to the audience you have no idea what you’re talking about, you have to have thick skin. Have fun with it, because it’s a one-off and the biggest thing is can you entertain my audience from afar? If you can do that, you win the day.

Sports Radio News

Ryan Edwards Moves to The Sports Zoo on KOA

“Edwards has been on the radio in Denver since 2009. He spent eight years with 104.3 The Fan. He also did a short stint at Mile High Sports Radio.”

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Ryan Edwards is staying with KOA, but his hours are about to change. The Denver sports radio staple is moving off of Broncos Country Tonight to join Alfred Williams and Dave Logan on The Sports Zoo in afternoon drive.

“I am thrilled to join radio and football legends Dave Logan and Alfred Williams on The KOA Sports Zoo,” Edwards said in a press release. “I look forward to bringing a fans’ perspective to the Denver Broncos and all things Denver sports.”

Edwards has been on the radio in Denver since 2009. He spent eight years with 104.3 The Fan. He also did a short stint at Mile High Sports Radio.

He joined iHeart Denver in 2017. He was on Orange & Blue 760 before the company replaced the station with a conservative talk format. He moved to KOA in 2019, where he has worked on Broncos Country Tonight with Benjamin Albright.

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Sports Radio News

Jason Fitz: Keyshawn Johnson Cannot Be Serious With Trevor Lawrence Take

“There is no way Trevor Lawrence is the eighth-best quarterback out of eight left in the playoffs after doing what he did after the first quarter of that last game.”

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Jason Fitz

When he was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2021, Trevor Lawrence was heralded as a once-in-a-lifetime type of prospect. While his career had a bit of a rocky start, he has shown a lot in year two, including leading one of the largest come-from-behind victories in playoff history Saturday night against the Chargers. Jason Fitz cannot believe that isn’t enough to impress Keyshawn Johnson.

The ESPN Radio morning man ranked the eight remaining starting quarterbacks in the NFL playoffs and put Lawrence dead last.

“Trevor Lawrence at eight? I know Keyshawn Johnson is out there in California, but I want to party with Key because obviously, he was doing a little partying before this show, Harry,” Jason Fitz told his partner on Tuesday’s edition of Fitz & Harry. “There is no way Trevor Lawrence is the eighth-best quarterback out of eight left in the playoffs after doing what he did after the first quarter of that last game.”

Fitz noted that during the season people started calling Lawrence “Trevor Tangerines” for the daringness he continued to show even after things looked bad for him and the Jaguars. He said that on Saturday night, he should have been called “Trevor Watermelons”.

Jason Fitz acknowledged that it would be hard to rank anyone ahead of Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, and Jalen Hurts, which made up Keyshawn Johnson’s top four. But Fitz doesn’t think this is a matter of Lawrence being disrespected for being number eight, behind Brock Purdy, who began the season as the 49ers’ third-string quarterback, instead of number seven.

“Considering the whole body of work and the way that Trevor Lawrence has played since week nine, you wouldn’t have to press hard to put Daniel Jones below Trevor Lawrence.”

He added that Keyshawn Johnson is also being influenced by the uniform Trevor Lawrence wears.

“I think there’s a little element that speaks to the fact that we have a perception on certain organizations. I’m just saying — four interceptions or not — this is the analogy I keep making this week: If Trevor Lawrence had the bounceback game with the star in his helmet as the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, today the conversation would be like ‘Well, you can’t hold him down the whole game’.”

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Sports Radio News

Boomer Esiason: ManningCast Proves Peyton Manning Can Never Be a Coach

“He’s got no patience whatsoever.” 

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Don’t expect to see Peyton Manning on an NFL sideline. He may be one of the best quarterbacks the league has ever seen, but Manning isn’t cut out to be a coach according to Boomer Esiason.

On Tuesday morning, Esiason and the rest of the Boomer & Gio cast listened to highlights of the previous night’s ManningCast. They enjoyed the audio of Peyton Manning losing his temper after Cowboys kicker Brent Maher missed his third extra-point attempt of the night.

The clip, which has since gone viral, includes Manning asking if a kicker can be cut at halftime of a playoff game.

“This is why Peyton can’t coach,” Esiason said in response to the audio. “He’s got no patience whatsoever.” 

The chemistry and authenticity of Peyton and Eli is often cited as the appeal of the ManningCast. Esiason noted that was what is on display in moments the brothers cannot control.

Boomer Esiason was a guest on the week eight ManningCast, which featured his former team, — the Cincinnati Bengals — playing Cleveland Browns. Esiason said at the time that while it was a distracting way to try and follow a game, being a part of the show is a lot of fun. He echoed that praise Tuesday morning.

“Those things are really unbelievably done. I mean, they are funny.”

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