As the losses continued to mount this season, so did the phone calls on the Houston Texans postgame show. Furious phone calls after a loss is nothing new to sports radio, but it was still somewhat of a relief for Sean Pendergast to see Texans fans still engaged and angry late into the season. No, he’s never questioned the popularity of the NFL in Houston, but after another bad season for the Texans, he was glad to see the passion of the fans hasn’t wavered.
Pendergast is both a pre and postgame host for the Houston Texans, as well as the co-host of Payne and Pendergast on SportsRadio 610, which serves as the flagship for the team. The Texans are a combined 11-38-1 in the past three seasons. Needless to say, it hasn’t been glamorous covering the local NFL team.
So how has Pendergast handled his coverage of the team? Especially since he has so many relationships within the Texans brass.
“First of all, you don’t not criticize them, you are honest with your audience,” said Pendergast. “That’s the biggest thing. I think the biggest thing, aside from being honest, is to do it in a way that’s opinionated but respectful. My rule has always been, don’t say anything on the air about somebody on the team, coaching the team, running the team, that you wouldn’t say to their face if you saw them at a press conference, in a game or out in public. I’ve never said anything on the air, regarding the Texans, where they called me afterwards to tell me I was out of line.
“The team has been very good about keeping me and others at the station informed on things. As bad as they’ve been on the football field, they’re actually very great to work with, from a media standpoint as the flagship station. We’ve got a great relationship with their media relations department. Nick Caserio the GM comes on my morning show at least once a month, which never used to happen with any previous GM’s of the Texans.”
Pendergast is honest and he knows that’s what the audience deserves. It also sounds like the Texans understand a lot of that, too. Again, Pendergast doesn’t get personal and make sure his criticism is fair, but he says it’s not awkward when he has to be critical of the people he sees within the organization.
“Not for me,” said Pendergast. “The Texans are a team that’s hard to find grace for right now and hard to find praise for over the last three years other than some very specific things. We’ve spent the better part of three years criticizing them, but I see the people I criticize face to face a fair amount.
“I saw two of them yesterday at the press conference the Texans had for Lovie Smith’s firing. It’s not awkward for me and I don’t think it’s awkward for them either. I say this in a way where I’m praising them, I don’t think they’re desensitized to the criticism, because they’ve been doing a lot of things the last couple years that have tried to re-engage the fanbase. But I don’t think they take the criticism personally. I think they believe I treat them fairly.”
BSM posted an article on Tuesday that showed the fall ratings book for several major markets. Houston sports radio was included and Pendergast’s morning drive show with Seth Payne had the highest ratings in the city.
“I told my boss Parker Hillis I was getting ready to do this interview and he said, oh, it’s funny you mention Barrett Sports Media and he pulled that article up,” laughed Pendergast. “It never gets old. We had a great fourth quarter. Seth and I in October and November had the best two months of morning sports radio in Houston probably in like the last eight or nine years.
“We were up in the 4’s and in the Top 10 in the market, which, for Houston, is crazy. There will be people who heard what I just said in Boston or Philly and say ‘Wow, a four. I would get fired’. It’s different in different markets. Houston is a very transient city with fans all over the place.”
There’s some interesting things to take away from the numbers for Payne and Pendergast. First it shows another bad season for the Texans didn’t have a negative impact. In fact, the numbers were very good for a show that likes to focus heavily on the Texans and the NFL.
Second, the numbers were still really good despite competition having the flagship rights to the Astros on their way to another World Series title. Pendergast thinks that’s an interesting note, especially for a morning show, because as people were getting in their car the morning after an Astros game, they still flipped their dial from the competition to Payne and Pendergast.
“I’m happy that we’re in a place where Seth and I have certain numbers, where regardless of where the competition is, we’re not happy if we’re above that,” said Pendergast. “The higher we go, the more disappointing it is to be below that the next month. That’s just the nature of the business, you can’t go higher every month. Those two months are interesting, because the Texans were the worst team in the NFL, certainly they were in October and November, and that was while the Astros were in the World Series, where our competition is the flagship.
We were proud of the fact we won by such a wide margin, where on paper, some people would say we’re supposed to be losing during that time. I think we did a really good job of covering the Astros. There were shows that were pure Astros right in the middle of football season.”
Pendergast is hoping better days are ahead for the Texans. Simply, it’s just way more fun to cover a winning team. But he can’t deny how crazy and unpredictable it is to do a postgame show for a team that’s not winning. It’s been a wild ride over the past three seasons for Pendergast after Texans games.
“Pregame is very cookie cutter, formulaic, scripted segments, a lot of sponsor reads, no callers and it’s all stuff we’ve been talking about for five days,” said Pendergast. “Postgame is the opposite. You’re getting a reaction to it, you’re getting emotion from fans, emotion from me and Clint Stoerner I like the fact that’s it’s live, there’s no scripted aspect to it at all and the rundown is basically, we play Lovie’s press conference, give our thoughts on the game and then it’s time to let ‘er rip with people leaving the game or just got done watching the game. I like that aspect of it.”
“I would prefer to cover a winning team but the postgame show on a team that people are angry about is a really fascinating ride. I want them to get good again, but the Texans won three games this year and we had full phone boards for every game afterwards.”
The good news about the wild ride is Pendergast saw first hand that Texans fans are still engaged. Granted, there were moments where half of NRG Stadium in Houston was filled with Chiefs fans, but the hunger for Texans content is still there, especially with the NFL Draft coming soon.
As far as the ratings, Payne and Pendergast seem to have taken on the ‘inner scoreboard’ mentality. It doesn’t matter what the competition necessarily does, they want to be consistently rising. There’s no immediate plans for an FM signal to help boost those numbers even further, but an AM signal seemingly hasn’t affected Pendergast’s numbers in the morning.
The podcast numbers for Payne and Pendergast are phenomenal and have the highest downloads in the cluster. That’s very encouraging to Pendergast when he looks at the future of sports radio and how the AM dial fits in with digital content.
“I think the demise of terrestrial radio is probably very exaggerated,” said Pendergast. “I’m not too worried about still being on the AM dial but I do understand the importance of where the digital space is moving towards.”
Tyler McComas is a columnist for BSM and a sports radio talk show host in Norman, OK where he hosts afternoon drive for SportsTalk 1400. You can find him on Twitter @Tyler_McComas or you can email him at TylerMcComas08@yahoo.com.
NHL All-Star Game Airing Exclusively on SiriusXM After Contract Extension
The game — held on Saturday, February 4th — will feature Steve Kouleas and Gord Stellick in the booth. Scott Laughlin will work as the broadcast’s rinkside reporter.
SiriusXM and the NHL have reached an extension that will see the satellite service continue to carry every league contest. The new multi-year deal will run through the 2028-2029 season.
Part of the deal includes the NHL All-Star Game airing exclusively on SiriusXM. The game had previously been distributed by Westwood One before Sports USA Media took over the rights in 2021.
The game — held on Saturday, February 4th — will feature Steve Kouleas and Gord Stellick in the booth. Scott Laughlin will work as the broadcast’s rinkside reporter. All three are regulars on NHL Network Radio. Stellick and Laughlin serve as hosts of NHL Morning Skate, while Kouleas hosts the station’s afternoon show, The Power Play.
NHL Network Radio will also provide live coverage of the league’s All-Star Media Day on Thursday, February 2nd and the NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Friday, February 3rd.
The deal includes SiriusXM continuing to produce and distribute SiriusXM NHL Network Radio on the platform for the duration of the contract.
Peter Rosenberg: Gio’s Rant ‘Gimmick Infringement’ of Don La Greca
The comment from Rosenberg comes after Giannotti was critical of he and La Greca last week. Giannotti claimed the pair were “bootlicking” Michael Kay.
The war of words between WFAN’s Boomer & Gio and 98.7 ESPN New York’s The Michael Kay Show continued Monday, with a quip from Peter Rosenberg about a rant from Gregg Giannotti.
Giannotti, a Vikings fan, was discussing his viewing situation during Monday morning’s show as the franchise played the New York Giants. His wife, two daughters, mother, mother-in-law, and best friend joined him to watch the Super Wild Card game, and the WFAN host detailed that the situation grew more tense with each passing moment due to comments made by those in attendance.
Giannotti eventually admitted to yelling at his friend, and jokingly shouted “Not the time, Louise!” after his mother-in-law commented about how good the Giants had gotten during a Saquon Barkley touchdown run.
The rant didn’t go unnoticed by Rosenberg, however, and he replied to Giannotti’s video clip of the segment by saying “Fake Don Lagrecca (sic) much? This is called gimmick infringement”.
The comment from Rosenberg comes after Giannotti was critical of he and La Greca last week. Giannotti claimed the pair were “bootlicking” Michael Kay after walking back comments he made about getting a producer at the station fired by calling them “performance art”.
While criticising Kay, Giannotti could not identify Rosenberg, only calling him “whatever his face”.
“He’s gonna retire. It doesn’t matter whether you kiss his ass or not, it’s not gonna be the difference in you getting that job when he leaves,” Giannotti said of La Greca and Rosenberg. “Just stop it. Just stop kissing his ass.”
Rosenberg responded to the disapproval from Giannotti last week by tweeting “My favorite part of the trash talk from the guy on the fan is ‘pick on someone your own size Michael Kay… pick on me’…LOL who are you?!!!!”
Jim Rome: Sad Paul Allen Is The Saddest Thing Ever
“Never mind letting yourselves down, never mind letting your employer down, never mind letting your fans down, you let the great P.A. down.”
One of Super Wild Card Weekend’s biggest upsets came in the Giants/Vikings game on Sunday afternoon, and Vikings radio voice Paul Allen obviously wasn’t thrilled about the final offensive play.
Jim Rome picked up on that listening to Allen’s call of Kirk Cousins finding T.J. Hockenson short of the line to gain, ending Minnesota’s season.
Rome said he hurt for Allen, who like many followers of the Vikings were shocked to see the second seed in the NFC playoffs bounced the first weekend.
“On the one hand sad P.A. is the saddest thing ever. I hate that so much,” Rome said Monday. “But he turns into pissed P.A. too. I mean that is a brutal way to lose. And what’s sadder than sad P.A.?”
Allen went viral halfway through the 2022-23 season, with his calls of a wild game against the Buffalo Bills on November 13. Allen went through a complete roller coaster of emotions as Buffalo fought to win 33-30 in overtime.
Rome added that he thought disappointing Allen was the worst of all for the NFC North champs.
“Never mind letting yourselves down, never mind letting your employer down, never mind letting your fans down, you let the great P.A. down,” he said.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.