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Maple Leafs Radio Crew Not Allowed To Travel To Playoff Road Games

“There’s no clear answer as to whether Bowen and Ralph will get the chance to travel for road games if Toronto advances.”

Jordan Bondurant

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The Toronto Maple Leafs begin their 2023 Stanley Cup playoff run on Tuesday against the defending Eastern Conference champion Tampa Bay Lightning. But when the series shifts south of the Canadian border for Games 3 and 4 and potentially Game 6, the Leafs radio broadcasters won’t be making the trip.

Calling road games remotely is not new for play-by-play voice Joe Bowen and analyst Jim Ralph. The policy has been in place since the pandemic bubble in 2020. The policy is also in place for the Toronto Blue Jays’ radio broadcasts. The decision has been viewed as a cost-cutting measure and was the last resort for many at the height of the pandemic when international travel restrictions were in place.

Now the world has more or less returned to normal, but both Rogers and Bell, which own Canada’s two sports media giants Sportsnet and TSN respectively, haven’t budged on this policy.

“Our radio broadcast plans for the playoffs will be consistent with the regular season, with games being called remotely through Round 1,” statements from both Sportsnet and TSN read to The Athletic. Depending on which of the two stations (Sportsnet 590 The Fan and TSN 1050 Toronto) carries the Leafs, that’s where Bowen and Ralph will set up shop for their remote broadcasts.

The Leafs haven’t won a playoff series since 2004. There’s no clear answer as to whether Bowen and Ralph will get the chance to travel for road games if Toronto advances.

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Spike Eskin: Chris Oliviero ‘On the Precipice’ of Deciding Next WFAN Program Director

“For the sake of the place and you guys, he should know that it’s not just lunacy here every day.”

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Spike Eskin

Audacy is in the midst of its search for a new program director for WFAN, borne out of Spike Eskin returning to SportsRadio 94WIP to serve as an afternoon drive co-host. It was revealed on Thursday that Jon “Stugotz” Weiner, member of The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz and various other programs through Meadowlark Media, was offered the position but ultimately turned it down.

Weiner called into the Boomer & Gio morning show on Thursday to explain his rationale, citing his family and desire to take the air as part of the reasons why he decided to decline the opportunity. Eskin himself joined the morning show live in the studio on Friday while wearing an Iron Maiden T-shirt, prompting speculation as to whether or not it was his last day on the job.

Eskin confirmed that he would be at the station next week, but he did acknowledge that his tenure at the outlet is coming to a close. Morning program co-host Gregg Giannotti explained that whenever he was asked when Eskin was leaving the station, he told people that it would be when he wore the Iron Maiden T-shirt. Giannotti then wanted to know if Eskin wearing the T-shirt was a ceremonial selection ahead of his final days at the station.

“I felt like a Friday shirt – maybe not ceremonial, but certainly on the precipice of – as you were talking to Stugotz yesterday, obviously Chris is on the precipice of deciding who the next program director will be,” Eskin said.

Eskin went on to explain that he understood the upside of deciding to hire Weiner to take over the responsibilities of program director. Morning co-host Boomer Esiason then reflected on when Eskin was hired for the job last May, explaining that he did not initially know that much about him within the sports media industry.

“I took one look at you and thought you were some sort of meth addict because all the [tattoos] and all that stuff, but it turned out that you were actually a great guy and you turned out to be [a] really, really great program director and got this whole station back on track, I believe,” Esiason said. “A big part of Boomer & Gio Live, which has been great, and now I hear that they got Mark Chernoff possibly coming back in – is he going to fill in until the new guy is hired or a new person is hired?”

“I do not comment on any of those,” Eskin said. “That is for the Architect to comment on.”

Audacy has yet to announce a new hire to fill Eskin’s position with the company, but Giannotti felt that the process is taking longer than anyone expected. As a result, he perceived that Audacy New York market manager Chris Oliviero may have felt bad about that and wanted to get him to Philadelphia rather than having him train the new hire. Eskin, however, said that he will be able to assist the new hire nonetheless and help them become familiar with the outlet. From there, he commented on Weiner saying that Eskin did not make the program director job sound more attractive, a proposition with which he disagreed.

“I told him it was the best programming job in America without question… and I said it’s a lot of fun, but I assured him it is an actual job that has emails and meetings and salespeople and all of those things,” Eskin said. “For the sake of the place and you guys, he should know that it’s not just lunacy here every day.”

Esiason reflected on a caller from the Thursday show who stated that Weiner is lazy, meaning that he would be unable to assume the position Eskin is leaving behind. Eskin responded by yielding that it would be a difficult job for a lazy person to adequately perform. From there, Giannotti repeated the syllogism explained by Weiner that he was unsure if he would be able to resist finding a spot on the air if he were to have programming responsibilities at the outlet.

“I talked to Stugotz for a while, [and] I reported back to Chris [Oliviero] what I thought, and I was positive about the conversation,” Eskin articulated. “I said, ‘One thing I am thinking though,’ I said, ‘You know, I guess it’s possible that he’s just coming here to [wait] for an air job to open up, and then you lose a program director.’”

“It was 100% trojan horse,” Esiason concurred. “Just get in the building and wait until somebody either dies – me – or somebody else is going to leave or say something stupid – Sal [Licata] – on the air.”

Eskin assuaged Esiason’s fears of Audacy hiring someone who is coming to the station not genuinely wanting to perform the programming job, conveying that he did not have anything to worry about. After that, Esiason asked Eskin if he knew who the program director was, to which he replied, “Maybe.” To close the segment, Giannotti outlined the moment that he is eagerly anticipating upon the start of the new vice president of programming.

“Whoever this is, I just can’t wait for this first real ‘has to ask Boomer something’ interaction, because I was talking to Al,” Giannotti explained. “You had been in the business; your father was in the business for a long time. I knew you had – and you had dealt with Angelo Cataldi – I knew you had that in you, so I wasn’t as excited about your first interaction with Boomer as I am this one because whoever this person is is going to have to ask him to do something at some point, and I just can’t wait to see it.”

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Mike Evans: ‘NBA Unplugged’ is ‘Kind of a Rip Off of the Manningcast’

“Guys like Kevin Hart and Cedric, stick to entertaining because you clearly aren’t good basketball fans.”

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Mike Evans
Courtesy: Denver Sports 104.3 The Fan

The Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves took the court on Wednesday night in a matchup between the two top teams in the Western Conference. On the strength of a 41-point game by center and two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokić, the Nuggets secured the 116-107 victory and propelled themselves to the No. 1 seed in the conference. During the preceding game between the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat, ESPN2 broadcast NBA Unplugged with Kevin Hart, a new alternate broadcast that premiered earlier in the season. During the second quarter appearance from Cedric the Entertainer, there was a conversation pertaining to if Jokić should be named the league MVP for the third consecutive year.

Hart stated that the NBA cannot grant Jokić another MVP award, stating that it would not be good for the Association. The conversation continued to see if he would be allowed to win a Finals MVP award should the Nuggets qualify in the final round. Cedric the Entertainer ultimately agreed that Jokić could not garner the MVP and stated that it did not feel like he was having as much of a dominant year. Denver Sports 104.3 The Fan morning program Schlereth and Evans played the audio after reviewing a quote from Nuggets head coach Michael Malone where he expressed that he hoped the national audience would recognize the greatness of the center.

“I get a little pissy about people out there in the NBA universe who just refuse to acknowledge what’s so obvious in front of us,” co-host Mike Evans said to lead into the sound. “During the Dallas game that was broadcast earlier in the night, their NBA Unplugged, it’s kind of a rip-off of the whole Manningcast, they had Kevin Hart and Cedric the Entertainer on chopping it up about basketball; a couple of basketball experts.”

Evans went on to explain that he believes there are four reasons why people diminish Jokić and his ability to earn a third-consecutive NBA MVP award. The first of which is that he plays in a small marketplace, something that could have precipitated the comment from Nuggets head coach Michael Malone during his postgame press conference.

“I do think that if Nikola Jokić was doing what he’s been doing the last several years – if he was doing it in Boston, New York, Chicago, Philly, LA – it’d be a completely different narrative around him,” Evans said. “That’s one – Denver, sorry, just being honest.”

The second point Evans made pertained to Jokić’s style of play, much of which comes under the rim and involves setting up his teammates. Jokić is a skilled mid-range and three-point shooter as well, but he tends not to have jaw-dropping plays in this regard. As a result, Evans stated that he is not a dream for someone trying to compile a highlight package for an ESPN program. The latter two points related to the fact that he is European and white, and Evans proceeded to explain that there is prejudice, bigotry and racism in the world.

“The only guys who don’t say he’s the best player in the NBA that are NBA players are former NBA players,” co-host Mark Schlereth added. “Have you noticed that?”

In response to Schlereth, Evans stated that former point guard Gilbert Arenas has been vocal about Jokić lately, but that people who are still playing or recently retired recognize and acknowledge the prowess of the Nuggets center. He then concluded the segment by thanking Jokić for continuing to drive people crazy, but not before he delivered a parting message to Kevin Hart and Cedric the Entertainer. In fact, he began to refer to Cedric the Entertainer as “Cedric” because of what he had to say during his NBA Unplugged appearance.

“Guys like Kevin Hart and Cedric, stick to entertaining because you clearly aren’t good basketball fans,” Evans said.

ESPN, Hartbeat and Omaha Productions announced in December that NBA Unplugged with Kevin Hart was scheduled to broadcast seven episodes during the NBA season. Earlier this week, ESPN and Omaha Productions agreed to a nine-year media rights extension, extending their partnership which has included alternate broadcasts, original podcasts and content exclusive to ESPN+ since beginning their collaboration a few years prior.

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Steve ‘Sparky’ Fifer to Host Daily Show on 1250 The Fan in Milwaukee

“I’m super excited to be hosting ‘Wisconsin Sports Daily,’ and I can’t wait to talk about our favorite sports teams with our loyal listeners.”

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Logo of 1250 The Fan in Milwaukee

Steve ‘Sparky’ Fifer will host a new local weekday afternoon show on 1250 The Fan in Milwaukee station owner Audacy announced today. Wisconsin Sports Daily will air weekdays from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. CT beginning April 15. 

“I’m super excited to be hosting ‘Wisconsin Sports Daily,’ and I can’t wait to talk about our favorite sports teams with our loyal listeners,” said Fifer. “The opportunity to host great guests to add to our conversations is a plus. Let’s bring some passion back into sports talk radio in Milwaukee!”

As the first daily show since August 2022, “Wisconsin Sports Daily” will fill weekdays with discussions about Milwaukee sports, guest interviews and interactions between Fifer and his listeners.

Fifer is also the Assistant Program Director for the station and covers the Milwaukee Bucks, Green Bay Packers and Professional Bowlers Association . He has been with the station since its start in January 2005. He also helps run Audacy’s BetQL Network in other markets.

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