Earlier this week, Boomer & Gio were named as the number two major market sports radio morning show in the country on the BSM Top 20. For someone like Boomer Esiason, he appreciates the journey that the morning team at WFAN has taken together and doesn’t want to leave that.
Esiason was a guest on the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast with Jimmy Traina this week. During their conversation, he mentioned having a chance to move to the afternoon when Mike Francesa decided to leave and WFAN thought about putting him back together with Craig Carton. Ultimately, he turned it down:
“If I didn’t love what I do, I wouldn’t do it. They did ask me to move to the afternoons when Mike left and they were thinking about reuniting me with Craig and all that other stuff,” said Esiason. “I was like, man, I don’t want to leave the morning. Look what we’ve built here. When I was saying ‘we,’ I mean also Eddie Scozzare, Al Dukes, Jerry Recco, Bobby Dwyer. I mean we all built it together. I wanted to stay there and I know those guys wanted to stay there.
“I could’ve easily went to the afternoons, but then I was like then my whole life is going to change again. I’ve got this routine, I’ve got it all down. I understand what’s going on, I know what my responsibilities are. There’s nothing like being the first behind the mic after a big game.”
Being on the air to talk about the Super Bowl Monday morning was one of the reasons, according to the former Bengals QB, that he did not make the trip to Los Angeles this weekend to watch Cincinnati try to win its first Super Bowl in franchise history:
“It’s one of the reasons why I think I decided not to go out to the Super Bowl this year is because I want to be able to watch it and then talk about it the next day coherently and not be drunk or hungover from being at the game and watching the game with my former teammates,” Esiason explained. “It’s a labor of love for sure, but I think both Gio (Gregg Giannotti) and I and the rest of our crew don’t mind getting up and getting our day started.”
This year, Boomer & Gio were not at Radio Row for the Super Bowl unlike some of the other shows on CBS Sports Radio and CBS Sports Network. However, Esiason didn’t mind that because it allows the show to continue as normally as possible:
“I’m not big on Super Bowl shows. I hate the interviews. Everyone is pushing a product,” he said. “Hell, I was pushing a product for a lot of those years, so I understand all that. At the end of the day, being back in our studio, being able to have a normal type of show and a normal conversation depending on what’s going on around here to me is more entertaining to the listener anyway.”
While Esiason gives a lot of credit to Gio and Carton for the way they handle those interviews on Radio Row and thinks those interviews are entertaining for the hosts, he knows they don’t exactly fare well with the audience the show is trying to appeal to:
“Both Gio and Craig Carton are really good interviewers. They have a unique way of bringing personality into the subjects that we’re talking to,” said Esiason.
“The fact that I am a former NFL player and some guys feel a little bit more comfortable maybe with me up there and those guys asking ridiculous questions. It actually was entertaining at least for us individually. But we know back home it doesn’t sound right, there’s a lot of background noise. It gets a little awkward at times… Those things sometimes lend to funny interviews and awkward moments, but I don’t think overall the entertainment value is there.”
Ricky Keeler is a reporter for BSM with a primary focus on sports media podcasts and national personalities. He is also an active podcaster with an interest in pursuing a career in sports media. You can find him on Twitter @Rickinator555 or reach him by email at [email protected].
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.’”