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Countdown To Coverage: College Football’s Best Local Radio Show

“The best local shows are the ones that are going to give you three entertaining, uninterrupted hours on the local team that’s fighting for an invite to the Sun Bowl!”

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College football season is nearly here.

Forget last Saturday. It’s called Week 0 for a reason. Do you really want to believe the first game of the 2022 season was 3-9 Northwestern and 3-9 Nebraska playing halfway around the world?

Here at Barrett Sports Media, we are celebrating college football from a media angle. All week long, our editors and resident college football superfans, Arky Shea, Demetri Ravanos and Garrett Searight, will be looking at the best the media has to offer in terms of college football coverage.

The entire schedule is as follows:

MONDAY: Best Local Show

TUESDAY: Best National Radio Show

WEDNESDAY: Best College Football Podcast

THURSDAY: Best TV Show

FRIDAY: Best TV Play-by-Play Booth

College football, like all politics, is local. That is why it is important to put a spotlight on the shows that really capture the atmosphere of a fanbase.

Fans across the country know that Ohio State is really good. They know Lincoln Riley is out to prove football isn’t dead on the West Coast and they know every NFL GM is licking his lips and fighting the urge to throw 17 games in order to be in position to draft Will Anderson Jr.

The best local shows are the ones that are going to give you three entertaining, uninterrupted hours on the local team that’s fighting for an invite to the Sun Bowl! They know College GameDay and Big Noon Kickoff will have the top ten matchups covered.

Which shows do that best? Here are our picks.

OFF THE BENCH – 104.5 ESPN IN BATON ROUGE by Garrett Searight

This will sound like a sales pitch for Guaranty Media, but I found Off The Bench while looking for radio shows utilizing video streams of their shows. I found myself watching Off The Bench daily.

Off The Bench is one of the rare radio shows that isn’t “radio guy paired with former player”. It’s former player paired with former player as former LSU greats Jacob Hester and T-Bob Hebert. Their ability to talk about college football’s — not just LSU or the SEC — biggest topics sets them to the top of my list. They’re fun, energetic, knowledgeable, and most importantly entertaining. I’ve always found it’s more difficult than you think to sound like two dudes having a conversation that a listener is eavesdropping on. Hester and Hebert do it flawlessly. The pair are rising stars in the industry.

THE OG – 99.9 THE FAN IN RALEIGH by Demetri Ravanos

College football, whether we will admit it or not, is mostly about misery. There are 131 teams in the FBS and at the start of each season; roughly 128 of them have no shot at winning a national championship. Every team in the state of North Carolina is amongst those 128, so it makes sense that no one has more fun with that misery than Joe Ovies and Joe Giglio on 99.9 The Fan in Raleigh. It’s a show that sounds like the market it serves when talking about college football.

Where else can you go from hearing about one host’s private texts with UNC’s athletic director to taste-testing unopened cans of baby blue Carolina-themed soda and neon red NC State-themed soda from the 1980s? The show is subversive as hell, but it is the kind of subversion that is only possible if you really love the institutions and people in your crosshairs.

MCELROY & CUBELIC IN THE MORNING – JOX 94.5 IN BIRMINGHAM by Arky Shea

There simply isn’t a more fervent market for college football, and only college football, than Birmingham, Alabama. The show that talks it best is on Birmingham’s flamethrower WJOX. McElroy is the former Alabama quarterback Greg McElory and Cubelic is former Auburn center Cole Cubelic. What these two do goes beyond sticking two players from in-state rivals on the same radio show and expecting great talk. WJOX is fortunate to have two extremely smart analysts who also double as traveling television analysts during the season. They take real playing experience and mesh it beautifully with what they see every single week on the road during the Fall.

The show, though very driven by college football, doesn’t get stale because the two show hosts aren’t sitting on past laurels. Every day is a chance to watch film of draft picks, current college production superstars and future names you are going to want to know. No one uses their access to better accommodate their show with college football knowledge and frivolity than McElory and Cubelic. They bring on top-notch analyst guests thanks to their well-earned relationships throughout the country and have the pull to grab any college football coach they desire to the salivating Magic City football capitol. No stone is left unturned to bring you more football information because they want it for themselves too.

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Dan Patrick: ESPN Was an ‘Echo Chamber’

“When I was at ESPN, you’re told what you’re supposed to talk about, you’re told you have to have ESPN analysts on.”

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Screengrab from OutLick.com's Don't @ Me with Dan Dakich and guest Dan Patrick
Screengrab: Don't @ Me/OutKick.com

Dan Patrick was a guest of Dan Dakich on his OutKick.com show Don’t @ Me and the two talked about several topics including Patrick’s plan to retire at the end of 2027. Patrick shared a story with Dakich about the day he first realized he didn’t want to continue at ESPN.

“There was one day when I was doing the 6 o’clock SportsCenter and I remember I threw it out to Sal Paolantonio with the Eagles. He’s doing his report and I’m not listening to anything he is saying because in my mind I am thinking, ‘I am going through the motions here, I am not getting any better.’ I remember coming home that night and I said to my wife, ‘ I don’t think I want to stay at ESPN…I don’t know, I think I might want to leave after this contract’s up, because I wasn’t getting any better.

“And that’s why I went on my own, because I needed to get my ass kicked. And we did the show for three years in my attic at my house, it wasn’t anything glamorous that I was leaving for, but I needed to jump start that again. And I accomplished it. I’m the first person to get out of Alcatraz and swim safely to the shore and live to tell about it and I’m good. I’ve accomplished what I wanted to accomplish and it’s time for somebody else to come in and do this, somebody younger.”

Dakich replied, “You’re great man, you’re not good, you’re great. And what you did was be a trailblazer…People don’t leave ESPN unless they ask you to leave. You know why I left? Other than the fact that I maybe was too controversial. I got bored. I get bored easy, and I got tired of ‘Don’t do this’ and ‘Don’t do that’ …so I go to OutKick where they let me say whatever the hell I want, and I don’t get in trouble.”

Patrick agreed with Dakich about the way ESPN dictates most of the topics and decides who can or cannot come on for analysis. “When I was at ESPN, you’re told what you’re supposed to talk about, you’re told you have to have ESPN analysts on,” he said. “It’s an echo chamber. And I just kept thinking that we needed to have people from outside instead of just our analysts on and that was not met well. It just felt like when Disney took over, the walls kind of got tighter, things shrunk, it wasn’t as much fun there…I felt like I didn’t graduate, I didn’t progress, I didn’t get any better.

“Berman left, Bob Ley left, Olbermann left, Kilborn left, Tirico left, Chris Myers left, Rich Eisen left. They all left, and I was just there going, ‘ Oh my god, I don’t want to be laughed at, I want to be laughed with. I gotta get out.’

Patrick said he turned down a five-year contract extension and that his boss “couldn’t believe it.”

Patrick said he believed he had been selfish long enough and that it was time to be able to spend more time with his family.

“You have to be selfish to be good at just about anything it feels like, and I thought I had been selfish to get to this point and I didn’t want to continue to be selfish to my family,” he said.

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Merrill Reese, Voice of the Eagles Since 1977, to Receive 2024 Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award

“For nearly a half century, fans tuning into Eagles games, including opposing fans, have had the privilege of hearing Merrill’s legendary voice.”

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Logo for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and a photo of Merrill Reese
Photo Courtesy: Pro Football Hall of Fame

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has announced that longtime Philadelphia Eagles radio play-by-play voice Merrill Reese has been chosen to receive the 2024 Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award. Reese is currently the longest-serving play-by-play announcer in the league, having called Eagles games since 1977.

“Each year, the Hall of Fame recognizes an individual who has dedicated their career to improving radio and television in professional football, and this year’s recipient, Merrill Reese, represents exactly what we look for when we talk about who’s made a big impact in broadcasting,” said Jim Porter, president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “For nearly a half century, fans tuning into Eagles games, including opposing fans, have had the privilege of hearing Merrill’s legendary voice.”

In a release announcing the award, the Hall of Fame said when they called Reese to tell him the news his response was, “Oh, my god. Thank you so much. I can’t tell you what this means to me.”

This year will be Reese’s 48th consecutive season as a team announcer. His first year he served as the color analyst before team play-by-play announcer Charlie Swift passed away and Reese moved over to call the action.

Reese has won numerous awards including Pennsylvania Sportscaster of the Year and the Lindsey Nelson Award for Excellence in Sportscasting. He has also been inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, the Temple University Communications Hall of Fame and the Overbrook High School Hall of Fame.

Reese will be honored during the 2024 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week in Canton, Ohio coming up in early August.

Past Winners of the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award:

2023 – Fred Gaudelli 
2022 – Howard Katz 
2021 – John Facenda
2020 – Joe Buck 
2019 – Dick Ebersol 
2018 – Andrea Kremer
2017 – David Hill 
2016 – James Brown
2015 – Tom Jackson
2014 – Bob Trumpy 
2013 – Al Michaels
2012 – Len Dawson 
2011 – Jim Nantz 
2010 – Chris Berman 
2009 – Irv Cross 
2008 – Dan Dierdorf 
2007 – Don Meredith 
2006 – Lesley Visser
2005 – Myron Cope 
2004 – Van Miller 
2003 – Don Criqui 
2002 – John Madden
2001 – Roone Arledge 
2000 – Ray Scott
1999 – Dick Enberg
1998 – Val Pinchbeck
1997 – Charlie Jones
1996 – Jack Buck
1995 – Frank Gifford
1994 – Pat Summerall
1993 – Curt Gowdy
1992 – Chris Schenkel
1991 – Ed Sabol
1990 – Lindsey Nelson
1989 – Bill McPhail

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Matt Chazanow Named Radio Play-by-Play Voice of NC State Wolfpack

“The passion and power of the Pack is renowned in college athletics and to be entrusted to take the baton from Gary Hahn and tell the stories of NC State is truly humbling.

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Graphic announcing Matt Chazanow as the new voice of the NC State Wolfpack
Graphic Courtesy: NC State Athletics

NC State and Learfield’s Wolfpack Sports Properties have announced Matt Chazanow as the new Director of Broadcasting and play-by-play announcer for football and men’s basketball. According to a release from the school, Chazanow was one of more than 150 applicants for the position.

Chazanow, who had been in a similar role at Washington State since 2015, will take over for Gary Hahn who called Wolfpack games for 34 years. Chazanow is from New Jersey but worked in Winston-Salem, NC and his wife is a North Carolina native.

“I’m so excited to welcome Matt Chazanow as our new ‘Voice of the Wolfpack,'” said NC State Director of Athletics Boo Corrigan in a release. “Chaz understands that this role isn’t only about calling games, but about bringing special moments and memories to Wolfpack fans of all ages. While he is a very talented radio announcer, he will also be a great representative of our university, our brand, and our culture.

“I also want to thank Gary Hahn for his period of service to NC State. There are generations of NC State fans that have memories of Gary calling their favorite Wolfpack plays, and he will always be a part of Wolfpack Nation.”

“I am so thrilled for this incredible opportunity,” said Chazanow.  “The passion and power of the Pack is renowned in college athletics and to be entrusted to take the baton from Gary Hahn and tell the stories of NC State is truly humbling. I can’t wait to get started.”

“An established voice in the broadcasting world, Chaz will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Wolfpack Sports Network,” said Kyle Winchester, General Manager of Wolfpack Sports Properties. “We’re delighted for him to join our world-class team and lead our coverage of the Wolfpack starting this season.”

A graduate of Syracuse, Chazanow has been with Learfield since 2008 and has also done national play-by-play for Westwood One.

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