The radio industry gathered in Chicago for the 2022 Radio Hall of Fame. The event took place at the Radisson Blu, and saw a number of sports media professionals in attendance. Among them, Spike Eskin of WFAN, Chris Oliviero of Audacy New York, Mitch Rosen of 670 The Score, Meredith Marakovits of the YES Network, and Steve Cohen, Steve Torre and Eric Spitz of SiriusXM.
The event, which was hosted by KFI’s Bill Handel and created by Kraig Kitchin and Dennis Green, saw a total of 10 broadcasters inducted into the radio hall of fame. Hosts Ellen K, Lon Helton, Walt ’Baby’ Love, Mark Thompson, Carol Miller, Marv Dyson and ’Broadway’ Bill Lee all received recognition for their contributions to the industry, offering personal stories about their careers and thank you’s to those who helped them along the way. Thompson’s speech in particular stood out, especially when he talked about stirring the pot and reminding the room that “attention draws ratings, ratings mean money, and money saves jobs.”
Ryan Seacrest flew in to introduce Ellen K, legendary morning host Scott Shannon was in the building, as were industry executives Julie Talbott, Ginny Morris, Susan Larkin, David Kantor, and Erik Hellum among others. But it was the three most connected to the sports radio industry who we were on hand to support.
Chris ’Mad Dog’ Russo, Suzyn Waldman and Jeff Smulyan each took their place among the industry’s greats. Russo was the first of the group to be recognized. A video of some of his on-air moments ran first, followed by an exceptionally moving video tribute sent in by Stephen A. Smith. The popular ESPN talker shared how much Russo has meant to him personally and professionally, throwing in a few jokes and Mad Dog impressions along the way.
Russo then took the stage, promising to keep his speech short so everyone could get back to watching Game 3 of the World Series. After producing a few laughs, Mad Dog got serious and took everyone through his broadcasting journey. He shared how he got started in Jacksonville, got a break from Larry Khan, sent in a tape for a NYC job at WMCA that he saw in broadcasting magazine, became known as ‘Mad Dog’ thanks to Bob Raissman, and landed a weekend gig at WFAN.
He talked next about getting a break after Imus heard his weekend show, and an even bigger opportunity when Mark Mason paired him with Mike Francesa in afternoon drive. He talked about the Mike & the Mad Dog partnership, his decision to take a risk and move to SiriusXM, and all that he’s enjoyed and overcome to build an audience on Mad Dog Sports Radio.
After thanking his agent, his parents and wife, and sharing a story of how he and his wife first met, Chris explained that he’s had a great year but this honor is a big deal to him. As much as he’s loved First Take, Mike and the Mad Dog, and making more than thirty appearances on David Letterman’s former television show, radio is what he enjoys most. He shared how in late July he had just lost a Tennis match and was upset about it when his boss (Steve Cohen) called to tell him he had been chosen for induction into the radio hall of fame. Russo admitted he cried all the way home, and then exited the stage to a standing ovation.
The man who started the sports format, and operated some of the industry’s top radio brands in the biggest markets across the country, Jeff Smulyan, was next to address the room. After a classy video introduction from his longtime friend and programming boss Rick Cummings, Smulyan told the room his secret to success has been his family and surrounding himself with good people. He shared a few stories from his career and signed off by expressing his gratitude to the hall of fame for recognizing his work.
Wrapping up the night was Suzyn Waldman. The New York Yankees broadcaster who was the first voice on WFAN congratulated Chris ’Mad Dog Russo’ and Jeff Smulyan on their honors and thanked Chris Oliviero for putting her on the ballot for entry into the hall of fame. Waldman talked about being recognized as a trailblazer but never sought out to be one. All she wanted to do was talk about sports.
Suzyn pulled no punches, detailing how many hurdles she had to overcome during her career to get to where she is now. She pointed out some of the male jealousy and unprofessional behavior she had to put up with and thanked Joel Hollander for having her back through all of it.
Waldman also thanked Mark Chernoff for giving her a shot in middays, Eric Spitz for taking her calls whenever she was frustrated, and Steve Cohen for the tremendous remote work they did together with Yankee programs. She shared how bringing Yogi Berra and George Steinbrenner together became a big part of her career, and thanked the former Yankees boss for believing in her. She then thanked her friends and colleagues, the hall of fame, and brought the show to a close.
WEEI Producer Begins Campaign To Get Greg Hill into Radio Hall of Fame
“He has been around for a long time in the Boston radio scene and raised a lot of money for charity and done a lot of good things and a lot of good radio.”
Greg Hill already has a Marconi, but that honor isn’t enough according to one of his producers.
Jackson, who hosts The Greg Hill Show’s after-show podcast, revealed on Monday that he is ready to make the case to the Radio Hall of Fame for the WEEI morning man to be included in next year’s induction ceremony.
He said that Hill treats the Marconi Award he won for Major Market Personality of the Year like it belongs to everyone. Hill credits not just the current cast he works with on WEEI, but partners from his days at active rocker WAAF as well, with helping him take home that award. Jackson wants to see Hill get an honor that is just for him.
“The Radio Hall of Fame would be very much Greg only, and I think he needs that solo recognition. Not for his ego, but for posterity and for his legend because he is legendary,” Jackson said. “He has been around for a long time in the Boston radio scene and raised a lot of money for charity and done a lot of good things and a lot of good radio.”
This year, the Radio Hall of Fame included a trio of WFAN legends in its induction class with found Jeff Smulyan, Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo and Suzyn Waldman all being honored.
Jackson says he is taking it upon himself to make the case for Greg Hill getting in, but he encouraged listeners to find out what they can do and then do it. While he made it clear that Hill deserves the honor, Jackson acknowledged that the recognition would make him feel pretty good too.
“That would be cool because then I would be working for a Radio Hall-of-Famer and in the circle of trust of a Radio Hall-of-Famer perhaps.”
Jason Barrett Podcast: Jeff Smulyan, Never Ride a Roller Coaster Upside Down
There would be no sports radio if not for Jeff Smulyan. He takes JB through the triumphs and disappointments of his career and explains why he is sharing so many stories in a new book, Never Ride a Roller Coaster Upside Down. To pick up your copy, click here.
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Zolak & Bertrand: Kirk Herbstreit’s Comments A Wake Up Call For Patriots Fans
“Next time you feel like they shouldn’t be booing them, there’s someone from a national perspective – who has been calling games now in the NFL for at least all of this year – but is very familiar with the league and all the different cities and he’s been in college environments for a decade plus, and said their fans aren’t angry enough.”
Things appeared to come to a head for the New England Patriots and their fans last week as the team fell to the Buffalo Bills 24-10.
Many fans of the Patriots with the loss seem to have accepted the fact that the glory days of the franchise are officially over. Thursday Night Football analyst Kirk Herbstreit even noted that it was off-putting that fans near his broadcast vantage point were fine with the Pats coming out on the losing end.
“I just felt the sense of acceptance of where they are,” Herbstreit said during a Friday appearance on The Pat McAfee Show. “It really shocked me. I’m just so used to the Patriots’ 20 years of excellence, and not just the NFL in all of professional sports. And to see their fan base just like, we suck, whatever, game’s over, like early they were like that.”
On Zolak & Bertrand Monday, co-host Scott Zolak disagreed with Herbstreit’s take.
“I don’t know what you want from a fan base to do after that when the game’s over, and the place starts to dump out,” he said. “The game was well in hand.”
Zolak’s cohort Marc Bertrand felt differently, praising Herbstreit for offering that sort of perspective.
“Next time you feel like they shouldn’t be booing them, there’s someone from a national perspective – who has been calling games now in the NFL for at least all of this year – but is very familiar with the league and all the different cities and he’s been in college environments for a decade plus, and said their fans aren’t angry enough,” Bertrand said. “They let ’em off the hook.”
Bertrand felt like Patriots fans had every right to be pissed off with the product the team put on the field last week and have done so far this season. Especially when people are paying top dollar for admission to games.
“That product doesn’t match those prices last Thursday night,” he said, continuing to agree with what Herbstreit said. “You don’t hear that a lot around here. So I thought it was a nice change up.”
Zolak and Bertrand both seemed to determine that perhaps it was a case of fans being too nice and being willing to accept failure from head coach Bill Belichick and his staff.
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He works full-time as a multimedia specialist at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, while also putting in part-time work for News Radio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond. Additionally, you can find Jordan contributing coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and ABC 8News. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.