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Ian Eagle to 92.3 The Fan: “I May End Up Laying Out a Little More” During Final Four

“It’s a lot more of a traffic cop mentality I think as a play-by-play guy.”

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Ian Eagle
Courtesy: Mary Kouw, CBS

For the first time in over three decades, the NCAA Men’s Final Four and National Championship Game will have a new play-by-play voice delivering the call of the thrilling action. As NC State, Purdue, Alabama and UConn battle for a chance to cut down the nets victorious as champions on Monday night, Ian Eagle will be behind the microphone calling the action, succeeding Jim Nantz in the role he held for 32 editions of the tournament.

Eagle, who also serves as a play-by-play voice for the NFL on CBS, NBA on TNT and Brooklyn Nets on YES Network, understands the honor and distinction associated with the coveted play-by-play announcing role. Leading up to the Final Four on Saturday night though, he is continuing to work his regular broadcast schedule, preparing to call the Brooklyn Nets game against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. EST.

Eagle has been a sports play-by-play announcer for several years and is a graduate of the prestigious S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Leading up to the assignment to close out the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament though, he is trying to keep everything in perspective and approach his job in a similar manner. When asked by Ken Carman of 92.3 The Fan how it feels to be the lead play-by-play voice of the tournament, Eagle replied that it “feels the same” and explained how he is going about preparing for the matchups in the same way.

“I think once I get there, obviously it’s going to be a little different; how people react to you is different, but how I compartmentalize and approach it is basically the same,” Eagle said. “I’m not going to do much different than I would do in any other basketball game, other than I may end up laying out a little more. Let the pictures take over; let the sounds take over.”

The Final Four and National Championship games are going to take place from State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., which hosted last year’s Super Bowl LVII between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles. Since the venue is able to hold over 63,000 fans, Eagle is cognizant of the acoustics and how it may sound different both in person and on television. Although he largely perceives the preparation as the same, he does not discount the fact that he will realize the inherent sublimity of March Madness as a whole and his role in the proceedings on the way to the stadium.

With ratings for the tournament continuing to rise both for the men’s and women’s brackets, Eagle believes there has been momentum that has carried over from the opening week. Having worked and followed the tournament for several years, Eagle recognizes that when upsets occur in the first round but do not continue in the second round, the viewership numbers seem to sustain itself. This year’s Men’s Final Four consists of UConn, Purdue, Alabama and NC State, all of which have various storylines that can be extrapolated on the broadcast and are drawing interest.

“I just don’t know if the ratings have ever shown that teams [from a smaller conference] necessarily deliver in the second weekend of the tournament,” Eagle said, “so it’s one of those strange blips that we can sometimes dismiss because the NCAA Tournament’s all about upsets and a little school that could.”

Eagle will be working alongside color commentators Bill Rafferty and Grant Hill and reporter Tracy Wolfson on the Final Four and National Championship broadcasts. Anthony Lima, morning co-host on 92.3 The Fan, asked Eagle how he will go about establishing chemistry with his colleagues and ensuring that the sound of the game meets the moment. Eagle does not generally work in a three-person broadcasting booth in his other commentary roles, and he is making sure that he will do his job to effectively tell the story of the game and set up his colleagues for success.

“It’s a lot more of a traffic cop mentality I think as a play-by-play guy,” Eagle said. “If you go into this thinking, ‘Hey, I’m just going to do what I do and then let everything fall into place,’ it’s not going to work. Everybody’s got to touch the ball; everybody’s got to feel like they’re contributing, and it really is incumbent upon you to make sure that’s happening, and that’s something that you have to gauge throughout the broadcast.”

Whenever he is commentating a game, Eagle keeps the viewer in mind by thinking to himself if he would find the coverage they are providing as being interesting. Beginning with the first game of the Final Four on Saturday night between NC State and Purdue at 6:09 p.m. EST, he will showcase his comprehensive basketball knowledge and commentating abilities en masse. Both Final Four games will air on TBS, TNT and truTV on Saturday, the second of which will begin at approximately 8:49 p.m. EST between Alabama and UConn. The National Championship Game will take place on Monday, April 8 and air on TBS, TNT and truTV beginning at 9 p.m. EST.

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John Sterling: Retirement ‘Was Not a Hard Decision’

“Anyway, I just don’t want to do any more work.”

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John Sterling
Courtesy: Rich Schultz, Getty Images

John Sterling, the radio play-by-play announcer for the New York Yankees over the last 36 years, is retiring from the role effective immediately. Sterling has called 5,420 regular-season Yankees games and 211 postseason Yankees games and has made an indelible mark on the team, Major League Baseball and sports media as a whole. He will be honored in a pregame ceremony on Saturday, April 20 and will also visit the WFAN Yankees radio booth during the game, in addition to partaking in a pregame press conference.

Upon the news of Sterling’s retirement becoming official after it had been reported by various media outlets, he joined Evan & Tiki in afternoon drive on WFAN to explain the rationale behind his decision. Since the Yankees did not qualify for the MLB postseason last year for the first time since 2016, Sterling was not working in October and found that he had more time to live his life happily, consuming sports from afar by watching games and engaging with talk programming.

“I guess if I was smarter – and I’m not – if I was smarter, I would have done this March 1 or March 31,” Sterling said. “During the winter, the Yankees – obviously you know we didn’t make the playoffs – we were free October 3, and October, November, December, January, February, March – I lived my life as happy as I’ve lived it, including listening to you guys all the time and watching all the games.”

At the beginning of the season while being interviewed for a piece by The Athletic, Sterling remarked that the end of his broadcast career was forthcoming. Afternoon drive co-host Tiki Barber asked Sterling if it was a difficult decision for him to make, a decision that he reportedly informed Yankees and WFAN management about late last week as reported by Andrew Marchand of The Athletic.

“It was not a hard decision, and I can’t wait for it to finally happen,” Sterling said. “As I’ve told my family – I’ve got four kids who are grown – and my friends, I’ve said, ‘Now we can have dinner anytime,’ so that’s how I feel.”

Sterling acknowledged Audacy New York market president Chris Oliviero during his on-air appearance, conveying that he is an intelligent and well-meaning leader. Over the last several seasons, he has cut back his schedule to calling home games and select road games. He was on the Yankees’ season-opening road trip where the team faced the Houston Astros and Arizona Diamondbacks in seven games. Afterwards, Sterling called the team’s opening homestand against the Toronto Blue Jays and Miami Marlins and was behind the microphone for his final contest on April 7, a game the Yankees won 8-3.

“I don’t want to get up in the afternoon and have to go somewhere,” Sterling said. “In fact, I’d much rather listen to you guys and then listen to the game. I can watch 800 games here; in fact, that’s my plan. I’m going to watch and listen to 162 Yankee games, Mets games, all the games on Turner and ESPN, all the games on MLB.”

Afternoon drive co-host Evan Roberts concluded the interview by offering Sterling a guest spot on their radio show any time he would like. As a former talk show host in Baltimore, New York City and Atlanta, he articulated his staunch belief in that facet of sports media and told them to give him a call any time they wanted him on. Before that though, Roberts said he is glad Sterling did not retire before the season started because the Yankees look like they could win the World Series.

With a 12-4 overall record, the Yankees currently have the most wins in Major League Baseball and feature a young, dynamic lineup anchored by Aaron Judge and Juan Soto. Sterling concurred that the team is looking good thus far but that there is a long season to go. As the Yankees look to earn their 28th World Series championship, Sterling will be watching the team from afar and feeling the fervent zeal and passion of the Yankees fans.

“You know I’m the greatest sports fan in history, and I’ve got TVs all over the joint, and I should have stopped then,” Sterling said. “Anyway, I just don’t want to do any more work. I’ve worked for 64 years, and in July I’ll be 86, so let’s face it, my time has come.”

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John Sterling Retiring from New York Yankees Radio Broadcasts

A press conference is tentatively scheduled for Saturday from Yankee Stadium.

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John Sterling
Courtesy: Jim McIsaac, Newsday

Longtime New York Yankees radio play-by-play announcer John Sterling is stepping away from the broadcast booth, retiring from the role effective immediately. After 65 years behind the microphone, he will be taking part in a press conference scheduled for this Saturday at Yankee Stadium where he will officially call it a career. The team has announced that it will honor Sterling during a pregame ceremony taking place on Saturday, April 19. Additionally, Sterling will visit the WFAN Yankees radio booth during the 1:05 p.m. EST game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Prior to the season, Sterling was on the team’s opening road trip to Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas and Chase Field in Phoenix, Ariz. and was behind the microphone for the team’s opening homestand. Suzyn Waldman has continued to work on the broadcasts throughout the year with play-by-play announcers Emmanuel Berbari and Justin Shackil. It is unknown who will take over as the full-time play-by-play announcer for the team if one ends up being named this season.

“I am a very blessed human being,” Sterling said in a statement. “I have been able to do what I wanted, broadcasting for 64 years. As a little boy growing up in New York as a Yankees fan, I was able to broadcast the Yankees for 36 years. It’s all to my benefit, and I leave very, very happy. I look forward to seeing everyone again on Saturday.”

Over the years on the air, Sterling has been the voice behind several iconic moments, including the team winning four World Series championships in five years. He has various signature calls that are customized for each player when they hit a home run, along with a prominent crescendo every time the team wins a ballgame. Sterling previously had a broadcasting streak of 5,060 consecutive games over 30 years and has established himself as a distinct hallmark of Yankees baseball. Throughout his time on the air, he called 5,420 regular-season Yankees games and 211 postseason games spanning from 1989 to 2024.

“Yankees radio will never quite sound the same without the signature voice, wit and humor of John Sterling,” WFAN said in a statement. “To generations of Bronx Bombers fans, he was a beloved companion that when you heard John, you knew it was time for baseball. Though he never wore the pinstripes, except of course for his fine tailored suits, he was one of the most colorful personalities in Yankees history and in all of New York City radio. All of us at WFAN tip our cap and salute our colleague and friend on a truly iconic career.”

Before Sterling was named the Yankees radio play-by-play announcer, he worked as a play-by-play announcer across various sports where he broadcast games for the New York Nets, New York Islanders and New York Raiders. Additionally, Sterling hosted a talk show on WMCA for seven years and also contributed to Yankees coverage as a studio pregame host on WMCA and WINS. He then spent time in Atlanta, Ga. as the host of a sports talk radio show on WSB Radio while also calling the Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Braves for Turner Sports.

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Jessica Smetana: A Number of People are Unhappy Stugotz Didn’t Take WFAN Job

“…I’m not saying they would call it the ‘Taylor and Tony Show,’ but I am saying that there are a number of people that are very unhappy about this development.”

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Jon "Stugotz" Weiner
Courtesy: Audacy

Audacy announced on Monday morning that Ryan Hurley is joining the company as the brand manager of WFAN and Infinity Sports Network, news that came after speculation regarding the position continued to grow last week. Upon the revelation that Jon “Stugotz” Weiner turned down the job, he explained the situation on both The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz and Boomer & Gio. Upon the announcement of Hurley as the new hire at Audacy though, there was additional discussion surrounding his candidacy.

Meadowlark media program co-host Dan Le Batard revealed on Monday that there were people writing in over the weekend claiming that Audacy ultimately turned down Jon “Stugotz” Weiner rather than it being the other way around. Weiner expressed that it did not matter, stating that an offer was made and that he declined. Furthermore, he added that morning show co-host Gregg Giannotti was begging him to take the role, leading Le Batard to reminisce about Weiner’s days leading 790 The Ticket before it took the air.

“Who are these guys who are going to be celebrated here in our new – this would have been some of the guys that you would have fired upon getting to WFAN if you had taken the job,” Le Batard said. “Look man, did you not see what he did when he was program director here? He immediately put himself in drive time; he was not going to sit around.”

Weiner proceeded to explain the situation, remembering that Le Batard called a week before the station took the air and stated that he did not want to host the program alone. As a result, Weiner moved into afternoon drive with Le Batard and hired Craig Minervini to take over the midday slot with Joe Rose in the mornings. There was anticipation surrounding Weiner potentially returning to New York to have oversight over WFAN and Infinity Sports Network programming though as explained by Meadowlark Media host Jessica Smetana.

“There are a number of people – I won’t name names – who are very bummed that Stugotz didn’t get this job because they believed Stugotz would have taken them with him and given them the morning slot on WFAN,” Smetana said. “And I’m not saying they would call it the Taylor and Tony Show, but I am saying that there are a number of people that are very unhappy about this development.”

Smetana was referring to Meadowlark Media video producer Taylor Vippolis and multimedia producer Anthony Calatayud, both of whom were then displayed on camera. The show then revealed that it gave its “Gasbag of the Week” award to WFAN midday host Sal Licata after he criticized Juan Soto for going to the plate looking for a walk. Soto was at bat with two outs in the ninth inning and two runners on base as the Yankees were down 5-2 to the Miami Marlins. After he walked, the bases were loaded with Aaron Judge at the plate, but he ended up flying out at center field to end the game.

“Juan Soto has some of the best plate discipline in the history of the sport,” Le Batard said. “The pitch that he’s asking him to swing at is practically in the dirt, but if that’s not sports radio, I don’t know what is. ‘Don’t take a walk; do some damage.’”

“The Yankees are 12-4,” Weiner added. “I mean, honestly, how can I improve that show?”

Show producer Billy Gil contributed to the discussion and said that the midday show should be renamed, “Sal and something or another.” He then divulged an observation he made while watching the video clip of Licata host the midday program – which is called The Brandon Tierney and Sal Licata Show – alongside WFAN co-host Brandon Tierney.

“Honestly, I’m not saying this to cause a riot, I thought it was the same person arguing with himself and then just put on glasses,” Gil said. “I didn’t realize it was two people at the beginning.”

“Alright, let me see it again,” Le Batard replied. “Let me see it again and let me see if I see what Billy sees. You should do that bit incidentally. You should do Billy arguing with evil Billy where you just put on your glasses and argue the other side.”

As the show presented the clip again, there was a cacophony of laughter as the camera shot switched from Tierney to Licata. Once the clip ended, Le Batard asked Jeremy Taché how many times Soto has led Major League Baseball in walks. Taché discovered that Soto has been at the top of the league three times in walks and is just 25 years old, underscoring the widespread reputation he has garnered as one of the most talented hitters in the sport.

“Soto failed because he left the bases loaded for [Aaron] Judge,” Le Batard recapitulated. “I don’t think the Yankees don’t want to be in bases-loaded situations for Judge.”

“Taylor and Tony would have done a much better job,” Smetana replied. 

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