Before every Minnesota Wild home game, fans at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., fans join in a call of “Let’s Play Hockey!,” a phrase synonymous with former Minnesota North Stars play-by-play announcer Bob Utecht. The team usually has a special guest or a celebrity lead the introduction just prior to the opening faceoff, a tradition that several members of KFAN have had the honor to participate in over the years. Yet at Wednesday’s home game, there seemed to be a last-second cancellation where nobody was on hand to lead the call.
“I think they quickly scanned the press box and said, ‘I guess we’re going with no one,’” Cory Cove said on Thursday morning’s edition of The Power Trip on KFAN. “Tough choice – I don’t think it’s sitting well with Zach [Halverson] that he [did not get] picked.”
Halverson was on hand at the game Wednesday night to witness a 6-3 win and covered the action for the KFAN broadcast. Cory Cove wondered why the team did not have a backup plan ready to go, prompting show contributor Ben Leber to express that he has faith Halverson will get his chance to galvanize the fanbase before play begins. Cove proceeded to express that if Halverson does get his chance, the team and station can promulgate the festivities to create more grandeur and excitement surrounding the tradition.
“Well Zach, what option would have been better?,” Cove asked. “A last-second cancellation and you just get thrown in the mix, or what if the dream scenario is the Wild say something, ‘March 27 – Zach Halverson’s doing, ‘Let’s Play Hockey!,’ and then we have a two-month buildup and The Power Trip blows it up.”
KFAN has been the flagship home of the Wild since the 2011-12 season and currently features play-by-play announcer Joe O’Donnell and color commentator Tom Reid on the broadcast. As the flagship station, Cove assumes that it has the right to promote Halverson being granted the chance to anchor the “Let’s Play Hockey!” call if it were to happen. Conversely, Halverson was not so sure that the team would use their media platforms to advertise such a circumstance.
“No, we are their official channel,” Cove explained. “We can promote it for two months if they give us a heads up. If they just had said, ‘Hey, so and so canceled at the last second. You’re here in the press box; [do] you want to do it?,’ then we don’t get to promote it; nobody cares that you do it. That’s buying low.”
At the same time though, Cove recognizes that Wednesday night’s game could have been Halverson’s only opportunity to receive the privilege to lead the call. Although it is something Halverson has some fear about, he avouched that some things simply happen for a reason. Show producer Maxx Fuller said that he knows some people who may be able to help catalyze the process of getting Halverson the honor and conveyed that he would make a couple of phone calls.
“Man, it’s so good knowing Maxx,” Halverson said, appreciative of the gesture.
KFC on WFAN: What Makes Barstool Sports Successful is the “Reality TV Aspect”
“Anybody that has success in entertainment and sports…I think there is going to be that desire to see behind the curtain and we just kind of opened the curtain willingly.”
Kevin Clancy, better known as ‘KFC’ from Barstool Sports, filled in for Boomer Esiason on WFAN this morning with Gregg Giannatti. The two hosts discussed the feuding going on between members of the 1990’s Chicago Bulls as some players, most notably Scottie Pippen, are disputing some of what was said in The Last Dance back in 2020.
They compared the situation to some of what they face at their offices, noting they spend a lot of time with their co-workers, who aren’t members of their family or in most cases their best friends and drama can sometimes ensue. “Barstool has taken that office drama to a level that no one else has achieved,” Giannotti said to KFC. “When we do stuff like that here [at WFAN], it’s very rarely serious. The drama that you guys have, it’s real and it’s out there and that’s got to be a really difficult thing to deal with if you’re not prepared for it.”
“We usually refer to it as “being in the mud,” Clancy responded. “And there’s only certain people that can really live in the mud…It’s part of what made Barstool successful, is that reality TV aspect of it in that it is kind of like a team, and there is internal drama like clubhouse drama, locker room drama and the way we usually handle that is let’s do it out there and on the air.”
KFC talked about being a fan of WFAN and seeing it from the outside looking in. He said as a listener you could sense who was not a fan of certain people. He used the example of the feuds which would take place between Mike Francesa and Craig Carton and then the subsequent feuds Giannotti found himself in with “The Pope” when he took over for Carton.
“Anybody that has success in entertainment and sports…I think there is going to be that desire to see behind the curtain and we just kind of opened the curtain willingly,” KFC said about Barstool Sports. “We will probably fight each other more than anything, but then when there’s an outside problem, we close ranks and we are like, let’s handle business.”
Gow Media Parts Ways With Sports Map Radio Program Director Craig Larson
“With Larson exiting, Gow Media will make another change, tapping into its partnership with VSiN to satisfy its Sports Map Radio affiliate stations.”
It’s been a tough week in Houston for Gow Media. First, the company made cuts to ESPN 97.5, parting ways with the midday team of Joshua Beard, Michael Connor and Andrew Carlson. Then yesterday, the company informed longtime network program director Craig Larson that he too was unfortunately a budget cut casualty.
Larson had been with Gow Media since the company acquired the Sporting News Radio network in 2010. He started with Sporting News Radio as a producer in Illinois, moving next to Los Angeles to take on programming duties for the network before relocating to Houston to lead the outlet following David Gow’s acquisition of the brand.
During the fourteen years that Larson managed the network, it’s gone through a few changes. Gow elected to change the identity from Sporting News Radio to Yahoo Sports Radio in 2011. That was followed by rebrands to SB Nation Radio and its current name, Sports Map Radio.
With Larson exiting, Gow Media will tap into its partnership with VSiN to satisfy its Sports Map Radio affiliate stations. The two groups have already been working together. This just gives the sports betting network an even bigger push. It also helps Gow stand out better in a crowded national sports radio marketplace.
As for Larson, this is his first trip to free agency in nearly a quarter century. When reached by BSM, he acknowledged that his time with the company had come to an end. He added, ‘It was an amazing 14 years in Houston. I’m proud of the work we put in, and there’s no better person in the world to work for than David Gow.’
Those interested in chatting with Larson about future possibilities can reach him at [email protected].
Eli Gold Out as Voice of Alabama Football; Ends 35-Year Run
“I will not be returning. The university chose to not bring me back. I have not retired!”
The Tuscaloosa News has reported longtime University of Alabama radio play-by-play voice Eli Gold will not be returning next season. Gold, who has been in the position for 35 years, told Birmingham FOX 6 Reporter Jonathan Hardison, “I will not be returning. The university chose to not bring me back. I have not retired!”
The report says Chris Stewart, who has been calling Alabama basketball for the Crimson Tide Sports Network, will take over the football broadcasts.
“Eli has been an invaluable member of our broadcast team,” Jim Carabin, Vice President and General Manager of the Crimson Tide Sports Network said in a statement. “We are grateful for his years of service and wish him all the best in this next chapter. CTSN is fortunate to have someone as part of our existing broadcast team in Chris to step up and seamlessly transition into this role.”
Gold missed the 2022 season for health reasons, otherwise he has been calling Crimson Tide games each season since 1988. Gold, 70, had been diagnosed with cancer just over one year ago but called home games in 2023. Stewart filled in for Gold both in 2022 and 2023.