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Stephen A. Smith to Howard Stern: ‘I Have Future Aspirations That Extend Far Beyond the Corridors of ESPN’

“Nothing is perfect. I have one of the best jobs in America I work for one of the best companies and some of the best bosses on this planet.”

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Stephen A. Smith
Courtesy: Stacy Revere, Getty Images

Stephen A. Smith was a guest on The Howard Stern Show this week and talked about his aspirations beyong what he is doing now with ESPN and on The Stephen A. Smith Show he airs on YouTube.

Smith first talked about building out his own studio, which he paid for himself, to the tune of close to $2 million. Stern noted he had told Smith not to make that investment himself, but rather to get someone to pay the tab.

“For me, personally, it was just very important to establish a level of independence,” Smith said. “Obviously I am incredibly happy at Disney and ESPN and the career that I’ve had there, but I have aspirations that extend beyond that. For me, to have my own studio, to be able to make the kind of investment in myself – it was a statement, per se, just in my mind that I’m movin’ on up and that I have future aspirations that extend far beyond the corridors of ESPN. I always want to be a part of it, hopefully that’ll be the case, but I definitely have aspirations that extend beyond that and I wanted to send that message and I wanted the world to know that.”

Smith talked about his relationships with Disney CEO Bob Iger, noting he had spent time at Iger’s house for a few hours of conversation, and also ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro. Stern asked Smith how he was allowed to do his own podcast, given his employment status with ESPN. Smith said it was a handshake deal he and Pitaro had discussed and they eventually carved it out of his agreement. Smith said Pitaro “remembered what he said to me and kept his word.”

Stephen A. Smith found himself in the news recently as a feud between he and Jason Whitlock played out publicly. One of the things Whitlock accused Smith of was lying in his memoir, Straight Shooter.

Smith told Stern about the fued, “Nothing is perfect. I have one of the best jobs in America. I work for one of the best companies and some of the best bosses on this planet. I’m making good money, life is kind of good. Why do I need to write a book where I am going to tell lies? Are you kidding me?”

Smith did admit, however, that dealing with adversity is something he thrives on.

“It’s a sick trait that I have, that I will openly admit, I love adversity because I find out who my true friends and loved ones are when adverse circumstances hit,” he said. “See, I know the hits are going to come because when you’re at or near the top, they’re coming for you. People like to swing up, I get it.”

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98.5 The Sports Hub’s Mike Felger Says He is Rooting for WEEI and Audacy “Big Time”

“We would want sports talk to be a really healthy space, a really healthy business in general, and then through competition, we win.”

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Mike Felger
Courtesy: Nantucket Current

98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston host Mike Felger said on Facebook Live earlier this week in reference to his station’s crosstown rival, WEEI and their parent company Audacy, he is “rooting for them big time.” The conversation was with former WEEI employee Mark Dondero, who had only recently moved over to The Sports Hub.

The “Off Air Show with Felger” airs on Facebook and on this occasion, Felger used the opportunity to get to know his new teammate a bit better. When the topic of his former employer came up, Felger asked, “So what’s the word over there? Are they going to make it…I hate the bankprutcy [stuff]. I hope they make it. I’m rooting for them big time.”

“You should be able to have two stations in Boston,” Dondero said. “It’s ridiculous with the amount of passion that’s in the area for the teams. I don’t see them going down. I hope they’re fine but I don’t know. They didn’t talk to me all that much with certain things, so I don’t know.”

Felger drew the comparison to Coke and Pepsi. “I am sure Coke wants to beat Pepsi, but if Pepsi went out of business and that meant that fewer people were drinking cola…you want the space to be healthy…you want the product itself, whether it’s your brand or not to be widely consumed and healthy,” Felger said. “And I would be worried that if EEI didn’t make it, it’s like sports talk was declining, not an EEI thing, it’s a sports talk thing. So I…hope they make it. They should be able to.”

Later, Dondero asked, “So you just want them to exist, but you just continue to dominate?”

“Yes, yes, absolutely,” said Felger. “We would want sports talk to be a really healthy space, a really healthy business in general, and then through competition, we win. That’s what I would want…Part of it is selfish. If my contract’s ever up, like it’s been in the past and the other station bids for you, like that’s healthy for people who work at the stations, but that’s obvious,” he added. “But beyond that, I think it’s healthy just that sports talk be vibrant, and important and widely consumed.”

Audacy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early January and last week a US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas approved a plan for Audacy to reemerge from its bankruptcy proceedings. Under the plan, Audacy will equitize more than $1.5 billion of funded debt, which reduces its debt load by 80%, down from $1.9 billion to $350 million.

In the latest ratings ratings report, Felger & Mazz earned the best number among local sports radio programs in the market. Mike and Tony garnered a 20.1 share for the quarter, up from a 17.2 share in the summer. 

In weekday prime hours (6a-7p), 98.5 The Sports Hub gained a 16.3 share, which placed the Beasley Media Group-owned outlet first in the market. WEEI dropped by three shares from the summer to fall book, finishing with a 4.4 share in the prime frame. That placed them seventh place for the quarter.

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Joey Votto Tells Dan Patrick He Has Analyst Job Offers; No Firm Offers to Play

“I’m on the show and I am here to hock my wares. I’m hopeful that a Dan Patrick push will get me a job. So, here I am.”

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Dan Patrick Show Logo with guest Joey Votto
Courtesy: The Dan Patrick Show YouTube

Joey Votto is campaigning for a job, but unfortunately the offers he continues to get are for media jobs and that is not what he is looking for, yet. Votto took to X to ask for an interview on The Dan Patrick Show and he made it clear when the interview began that he was looking for a push.

Patrick asked Votto how his morale is doing as Spring Training is underway and he has not yet received a solid offer to play. “Low, it’s as low as it gets, and I just don’t see it getting any better,” he said. “But, I’m on the show and I am here to hock my wares. I’m hopeful that a Dan Patrick push will get me a job. So, here I am.”

The veteran first baseman spent all 17-years of his big-league career with the Reds. The team declined a $20 million option for 2024, opting instead to pay a $7 million buyout.

Many have thought Votto will make a terrific baseball analyst when he does decide to hang up his cleats. Barrett Sports Media’s Andy Masur recently listed Votto as an athlete to watch when it comes to future standout analysts.

Masur wrote in part, “Votto’s personality is unbelievable. He was always talking to fans when he was on-deck or even in the field. A man of the people and a man that is really good behind the mic. While rehabbing from a shoulder injury in 2022 Votto did a couple of stints in the Reds’ TV booth, even doing a little play-by-play… Here’s hoping Votto considers this vocation when he’s done with his current one. He’s got what it takes to be really good. Perhaps the most important to current broadcasts, he respects the industry.”

As it relates to offers on getting a media career started, Votto said, “Funny enough, I’ve had 10-times the analyst jobs over this offseason than I have had any baseball offers.”

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Mike Stone Does First Fill-In Shift on 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit

“I drove across the state to thank [Tigers manager] A.J. Hinch for all he was able to do with me when I did the morning show.”

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Mike Stone
Courtesy: George Fox, 97.1 The Ticket

Mike Stone said he wasn’t retiring. Two weeks to the day after stepping away from the morning show at 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, ‘Stoney’ filled in for Mike Valenti with Rico Beard.

Prior to the show starting, Stone did the crosstalk segment with Doug Karsch and Scott ‘Gator’ Anderson on Karsch & Anderson. Stone had said he was headed to Florida when he ended his final full-time appearance on the station. Today, he gave the hosts and listeners the insight on how his trip went.

“It was good, got to see a few innings of Tigers baseball,” Stone said. “I drove across the state to thank [Tigers manager] A.J. Hinch for all he was able to do with me when I did the morning show and I said ‘you’ll be more sick of me now, because now that I don’t have to get up early, I’ll be at more games.'”

Stone said his golf game is not doing badly, although he said one range session made him not want to play the game anymore.

Beard was excited to welcome Stone backto the station and said they had done one previous show together, which was a Lions based broadcast, however this was their first weekday talk show together.

Stone had told listeners the day of his last morning show, “I am not retiring. I will be here for two years filling in for a lot of shows, Lions football, I will have a presence at the draft. It’ll be different, yes…And when those two years are over, who knows, I might want to staty another two years.”

Stone signed on with The Ticket in 2009 and hosted with Rob Parker, Bill McAllister and Jamie Samuelsen before starting with Jon Jansen. Prior to his time with the outlet, he was one-half of the Stoney and Wojo Show on WDFN with Bob Wojnowski.

Jim Costa has taken Stone’s place and the show is now known as Costa and Jansen, as he joins Jansen and Heather Park.

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