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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

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

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

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

Cumulus Announces 790 The Score in Rhode Island is Officially On The Air

In addition to shows like Bet MGM’s The Daily Tip and others like Bet QL Daily, listeners can catch Jim Rome and Amy Lawrence.

Jordan Bondurant

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After reporting last week that Kevin McNamara would be the station’s only local host in the programming lineup, 790 The Score in Providence, Rhode Island is officially on the air.

The station, which was last on the air in the market in 2008, has been revived and will serve as the market’s first sports and sports betting station.

“The station features a lineup of expert personalities that deliver unique sports talk and sports betting insights that entertain, inform, and engage,” said Holly Paras, VP and market manager of Cumulus Providence. “We think Providence sports and sports betting fans will love 790 THE SCORE!”

In addition to shows like Bet MGM’s The Daily Tip and others like Bet QL Daily, listeners can catch some of the top national talent on the airwaves throughout the day and night. This includes hosts like Jim Rome and Amy Lawrence.

McNamara will host his show Kevin Mac Sports Hour daily from 5-7 p.m.

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Sports Radio News

Paul Finebaum Will Make $700K Advance Ahead of Nick Saban-Jimbo Fisher Book

Finebaum will make $700,000 plus royalties for the deep dive into the rivalry between the two SEC head coaches.

Jordan Bondurant

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Paul Finebaum

Though there’s still some time before a finished products reaches bookshelves, but ESPN’s Paul Finebaum is reportedly set to get a nice six-figure advance by Penguin Press.

According to John Ourand of Sports Business Journal, Finebaum will make $700,000 plus royalties for the deep dive into the rivalry between the two SEC head coaches.

Back in the spring things came to a head between Alabama’s Nick Saban and Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher, as the two engaged in a verbal spat in separate press conferences over name, image and likeness.

Saban said Fisher and his staff utilized NIL and “bought every player” in the Aggies’ spring 2022 recruiting class.

Things got so heated and drew so many headlines that SEC commissioner Greg Sankey had to step in and try to get the former colleagues to cool it.

Finebaum is teaming up with Alabama beat reporter John Talty to write the book.

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Sports Radio News

Sports Gambling Podcast Network To Stage 24-Hour Fantasy Football Draft

“The event begins at 3 pm on Tuesday and is dubbed Draft Day 2.0.”

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Sports Gambling Podcast

If you’re serious about Fantasy Football, the Sports Gambling Podcast Network is bringing back a tradition you’ll want to pay attention to. 

For the second year in a row, Ryan Kramer will draft 24 different teams over the course of a 24 hour marathon that will be streamed across multiple video platforms. 

“Fortunately, the analytics research is done so I can focus now on news coming out of the camps to sharpen my views and deliver the well-reasoned selections that people need to get an edge in their drafting,” Kramer said in a press release. “It’s a bit of an audacious undertaking, but the growing phenomenon of Fantasy Football deserves this level of commitment and our SGPN audiences always respond.” 

The event begins at 3 pm on Tuesday and is dubbed “Draft Day 2.0”. All of the content will originate from the Sports Gambling Podcast Network’s studios in Los Angeles. 

The marathon will also be a fundraiser. The network is using GoFundMe to raise funds for a colleague named Darryl injured in a motorcycle accident earlier this year. A portion of proceeds generated from the sale of Sports Gambling Podcast Network branded apperal will also go to the effort. 

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