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VSiN Adds 97.1 The Freak In Dallas And Radio 95.1 in Rochester

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Sports betting content continues to be a priority on talk radio brands across the country. That is helping VSiN grow its reach. The sports betting radio network has added two new affiliates – 97.1 The Freak in Dallas and Radio 95.1 in Rochester.

The Freak, which recently transitioned from classic rock to a talk format blending sports and pop-culture, will carry VSiN shows on the weekends. Dallas will hear four hours of sports gambling talk on Saturdays and five hours worth on Sundays.

Radio 95.1 will bring sports gambling content to the weekends in Upstate New York as well. That station’s relationship with VSiN will be a little deeper though. WAIO will also carry VSiN in the overnight hours on weekdays. The station will also carry Countdown to Kickoff with Brent Musburger every Sunday at noon.

As its listener base grows, VSiN is adding new employees too. Serial digital entrepreneur Jordan Nilsen becomes the network’s Head of Digital Strategy and veteran creative director James Coleman is the new Director of Creative Services.

“We are proud to have achieved the kind of industry leadership that can attract top caliber talent like Jordan and James,” Brian Musburger, founder and CEO of VSiN, said in a press release. “VSiN’s commitment to delivering superior real-time sports betting analysis and insights over the past five years, has helped establish the network as the leading voice in sports betting. These new hires are part of a broad effort to build on that commitment by continually improving the product we deliver to our growing audience.”

 “This investment in VSiN talent comes at a time where we’ve seen significant growth on the digital front. We’re building on our unique sports betting content and want to continue innovating and expanding VSiN’s products across all platforms, including audio, video and digital,” added General Manager Len Mead.

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Fred Toucher: Stephen A. Smith is in TV Prison

“He’s basically in a television prison all day. He’s not allowed out.”

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Stephen A. Smith - Courtesy: Lachlan Cunningham, Getty Images | Fred Toucher - Courtesy: Nancy Lane, MediaNews Group, Boston Herald via Getty Images

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson overshadowed part of the NBA Finals action Wednesday after it was announced that he and his girlfriend Ahkeema were expecting a baby girl. Yet a string of tweets from OnlyFans model Moriah Mills have shifted the discussion, suggesting they had seen one another at a point without Mills knowing about Williamson having another relationship. Basketball fans across social media bombarded Williamson after the revelation became public, and it was a topic of discussion on coverage of the league throughout the ensuing days. On the latest edition of the eponymously named The Stephen A. Smith Show, Stephen A. Smith spoke about Williamson and surmised that he had figured out why Williamson only played 29 games during this past season.

“I’ve been waiting for the leg to heal Zion,” Smith said. “….New Orleans has been waiting for a while. I mean, we’ve been waiting, man. No wonder you ain’t healthy; I’m talking about your legs. I’m just saying, man. What I’m concerned about is we need those legs spry, but you can’t get healthy. Your lower extremities were compromised.”

Fred Toucher and Rich Shertenlieb of 98.5 The Sports Hub never thought that one of their morning show’s newest segments – titled “Stephen A. Smith is horny” – would take place more than once over a six-week span. Yet it has quickly become a hit, with show listeners messaging Shertenlieb on social media whenever they see a clip that could fit the comedic bit. Because of the situation regarding Williamson and Smith’s reaction to it, which was filled with caesura and vocal intonation, the segment made its third appearance in the past two weeks on Thursday morning.

“ESPN is committed to just basically featuring two people – Mike Greenberg and Stephen A. Smith,” Toucher said. “If there’s a third I forget it – oh yeah, they’re bringing in… Pat McAfee. So there’ll be three people that are doing all of it.”

Toucher has concluded that Smith has a live microphone in front of him at all times, with ESPN recognizing his appeal to its consumers. After all, Smith is a featured commentator on First Take, works on NBA Countdown, hosts an alternate game telecast for select NBA matchups and podcasts at least three times a week.

“He’s basically in a television prison all day,” Toucher said of Smith. “He’s not allowed out. He is a man after all – he’s not old. I’d imagine he’s around 50; that doesn’t mean he’s dead.”

Smith, 55, was mocked throughout the latest edition of the segment for his breaths and phrasing, filled with both hosts doing impressions of him. It even resulted in a production person creating a soundboard where the show quickly replayed soundbites from Smith’s statements on Williamson. Eventually, the show put it to the tune of “Mah Na Mah Na,” a song made famous by The Muppets, leading to unrestrained, mirthful laughter from those in the studio.

“Stephen A. Smith turns into Christopher Lloyd and Roger Rabbit when he’s horny,” Shertenlieb said, referring to Smith’s fluctuating vocal range.

“He’s in that TV prison horny as hell,” Toucher added.

As the segment concluded, Toucher wondered if Smith would ever be allowed off of the ESPN airwaves for a day, as he seems to always be part of the network’s subconscious. Smith is reportedly paid $8 million annually by ESPN and is perceived as someone untouchable as The Walt Disney Company nears its conclusion of laying off 7,000 employees. Pat McAfee is set to join the network this fall in a multiyear, multi-million dollar agreement, and will host The Pat McAfee Show afternoons on ESPN’s linear channel and on various digital platforms.

“It’s without fail now – at least once a week, he gets horny,” Shertenlieb expressed.

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USL, SiriusXM Renew Agreement

“SiriusXM has been a great partner the last three years and extending this relationship on the men’s side was an easy choice.”

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The United Soccer League (USL) and SiriusXM have inked a new agreement that extends its media rights deal through 2025. The deal ensures SiriusXM will be the audio home of USL Championship games, including the USL Championship Final, USL Super League inaugural Final, the USL League One Final and USL League Two Final. SiriusXM subscribers can listen to games on channel No. 157 and on the SiriusXM app.

“At the USL, we want to ensure that our games are available to our fans wherever they want to experience them,” Court Jeske, USL chief commercial officer, said in a statement. “SiriusXM has been a great partner the last three years and extending this relationship on the men’s side was an easy choice. We are also incredibly proud that they will offer coverage of the USL Super League, our new women’s professional league, with the inaugural season beginning in August of 2024.”

The SiriusXM FC channel has been the broadcast home of the USL Championship since 2020, and also airs a USL Game of the Week for consumers in the United States and Canada. Additional future coverage will include games from the 2024-2025 USL Super League season. Moreover, USL All-Access will resume with hosts Mike Watts and Devon Kerr, offering listeners new perspectives on the league, and a broad view of highlights and storylines.

“The USL has a terrific and dedicated fanbase across the country and we’re pleased to deliver those fans both the action on the pitch and a show dedicated to their league,” said Eric Spitz, SiriusXM vice president of sports programming, in a statement. “We’re excited to not only renew our agreement with the USL for multiple years, but also expand our coverage and be the exclusive audio home of the USL Championship Final, League One Final, League Two Final and the new USL Super League Final.” 

Watts has been the play-by-play announcer for the USL Championship since 2015, and he continues to work on Westwood One’s college football game of the week and serves as a backup public address announcer at Madison Square Garden. Furthermore, he called eight domestic and international finals in 2021, including the U.S. Men’s National Team victories in the Concacaf Nations League and Concacaf Gold Cup.

Kerr serves as an analyst for MLS Season Pass on Apple TV and contributes to FOX Sports as well. He has been the lead analyst for the USL Championship since 2018, and works in a similar role for the NCAA Men’s College Cup on ESPN and Concacaf events. Aside from his work with Apple TV and FOX Sports, Kerr has appeared on platforms for ESPN, EA Sports, the NCAA and MLS.

Broadcasts started Wednesday night, but the next game airing on SiriusXM FC will be a matchup between the San Diego Loyal and Sacramento Republic at 10 p.m. EST/7 p.m. PST. Games have been announced through July 3, and additional matchups will be announced at a later date.

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Audacy Names Lee Davis SVP of Sports Monetization Overseeing New Sales Team

“Through our best-in-class sports audio portfolio, powered by over 150 flagship team partnerships, iconic local broadcast brands, award-winning podcasts and sports betting content, Audacy is uniquely positioned to capitalize on a new sales strategy in this arena.”

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Audacy is has a newly organized sports sales team. Lee Davis will be its leader. He has been named the company’s SVP of Sports Monetization.

The team will oversee “sales and execution, managing the entire client lifecycle” for Audacy’s sports properties. They will provide solutions for both on-air and digital platforms and work on both local and national properties.

“No medium delivers more value for sports than Audio. People are spending more time than ever with broadcast Radio, streaming and podcasts, and the demand for compelling sports content across these channels is growing exponentially,” Brian Benedik, Audacy’s Chief Revenue Officer, said in a press release. “Through our best-in-class sports audio portfolio, powered by over 150 flagship team partnerships, iconic local broadcast brands, award-winning podcasts and sports betting content, Audacy is uniquely positioned to capitalize on a new sales strategy in this arena.”

Lee Davis worked with WFAN from 1990 until 2005. He returned to Audacy in 2018 to over see the company’s Traffic, Weather, Information and News (TWIN) offering.

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