The final piece of NBC Sports Radio’s daily puzzle was revealed this week, as the 9 AM-12 Noon time slot goes to Brian Kenny, who had spent over a dozen years at ESPN until a couple of years ago.
Of course, my mindset was that that time slot would go to Dan Patrick – another ESPN refugee.
In fact, if you take a good look at the on-air talent on the roster for not only NBC Sports Radio, but its like neophyte rival, CBS Sports Radio, you will find that there are many personnel that have had ties to ESPN at some point. First, let’s start with NBC Sports Radio:
Erik Kuselias, 6-9 AM ET: Spent most of his time at the Worldwide Leader between 2003 and 2010 on its radio unit, at one point even hosting a radio show with his brother, Chris (“Sports Bash”). He also hosted a NASCAR show on ESPN television as well as a fantasy sports program on the network’s website.
Brian Kenny, 9 AM-12 Noon: In addition to anchoring “SportsCenter,” other duties during his thirteen year tenure (1998-2011) there included hosting boxing and baseball programming on ESPN; he also hosted a local radio show on ESPN’s New York outlet with fellow boxing aficionado Max Kellerman.
Mark Malone, Donovan McNabb, 3-7 PM: Both former NFL quarterbacks who will be hosting NBCSR’s “Under Center” program have previously huddled with the Worldwide Leader. While it’s not clear when Malone joined ESPN, where he became the face of football programming such as “NFL Live,” he was let out of his contract in 2004 to take a sports director position at the CBS O&O in Chicago. While McNabb officially calls NFL Network his TV home, he had been a guest analyst on ESPN’s air during the NFL playoffs last year.
Jon Stashower, 7-10 PM: For a year and a month short of two decades (September 1993-August 2012), he was literally ESPN’s everyman: a host and “SportsCenter” anchor for television and radio; plus a reporter during the biggest championship games of the year. I’m surprised Jon hasn’t cloned himself so he can do sports updates during his own show.
Eytan Shander, 10 PM-1 AM: His rise up the sports radio ladder started at three stations affiliated with ESPN Radio, in Atlantic City and Trenton, NJ, as well as Nashville; he also briefly hosted a program on Philadelphia’s “97.5 The Fanatic” (another ESPN Radio affiliate) in 2012 before agreeing to join NBCSR.
Dan Schwartzman, 1-6 AM: At one time hosted a show on ESPN’s radio outlet in New York City, as well as the same ESPN Radio affiliates in Philly, Trenton and Atlantic City that the aforementioned Shander once worked at.
Anita Marks, 12 Noon-3 PM Saturday and Sunday: Once hosted a show on the ESPN Radio affiliate in Baltimore, which even included a Sileo-esque low point. (By the way, that Baltimore station, AM 1300, was and still is owned by CBS Radio, and is currently a 24/7 repeater for their new sports radio network.)
Brian Webber, 3-6 PM Saturday and Sunday: The current host of NFL Network’s “NFL AM” wakeup program, while getting much face time across Fox Sports properties, at one point had called tennis matches for ESPN, and even women’s basketball on ESPNU.
Jason Page, 9 PM-1 AM Saturday and Sunday: Spent less than half a year in 2012 as a host on New York’s ESPN Radio before agreeing to join NBC; he is still an NFL analyst for ESPN corporate sibling ABC, specifically, their overnight “World News Now” broadcast… no conflict there, right? Page also toiled at the ESPN Radio affiliate in Hartford for three years (2008-2011), in which he held down afternoon drive, and also called Hartford Colonials UFL games for a season.
Rob Simmelkjaer, 8-9 AM Sunday: Not only was he an anchor at ESPNews and worked lacrosse broadcasts during his decade at ESPN, he was also George Bodenheimer’s right hand man.
Now, let’s look at CBS Sports Radio’s talent – or the former ESPN employees therein:
“TBD In The AM,” 6-9 AM: Just two-thirds of this group used to work for the Worldwide Leader. Dana Jacobson, of course, spent ten years at ESPN on many platforms, including co-host of what is now known as “First Take” (it debuted in 2005 as “Cold Pizza”); while Brandon Tierney also spent a decade with the entity, specifically ESPN Radio’s New York station, virtually since its inception in 2001.
John Feinstein, 9 AM-12 Noon: A former frequent guest on ESPN’s “The Sports Reporters.” A good friend of “Pardon The Interruption” personality Tony Kornheiser, Feinstein also used to appear on Kornheiser’s radio show on the Washington, D.C. ESPN Radio affiliate owned by Daniel Snyder, who also owns the Redskins.
Jim Rome, 12 Noon-3 PM: Former host of “Rome Is Burning” (later renamed “Jim Rome Is Burning”) on ESPN (and later ESPN2) until he decided to take his TV business to CBS (and later, his radio business). Rome’s radio show itself also was cleared by ESPN-run radio stations in markets such as New York and Chicago in the early 2000’s. Of course, Rome was one of the very first hosts on ESPN2, as one Jim Everett would tell you.
Doug Gottlieb, 3-6 PM: Duh…
Chris Moore, Brian Jones, 6-10 PM: Moore worked at ESPN Radio from 1997 to 2005, while Jones wrote for ESPN The Magazine in the summer of 2008.
Damon Amendolara, 2-6 AM: His very first sports radio job was with the ESPN Radio affiliate in Fort Myers, Florida, WWCN.
Amy Lawrence, 2-6 AM Saturday and Sunday and 10 PM-2 AM Sunday: Transitioned to CBS Sports Radio from ESPN Radio, where she’d been working for six years.
Brandon Tierney, 10 AM-2 PM Saturday: See “TBD In The AM.”
Jody McDonald, 6-10 PM Saturday and 2-6 PM Sunday: Longtime local host on ESPN Radio’s New York station as well as the ESPN Radio affiliate in Philadelphia. His Sunday co-host, Kris Jenkins, once moonlighted as an analyst on ESPN’s “NFL Live.”
John Kincade, 6-10 AM Sunday: The Atlanta-based sports radio host had also led a Sunday morning broadcast on ESPN Radio for several years. (Until last year, of course.)
Vinny Cerrato, 10 AM-2 PM Sunday: The former Redskins higher-up was a one-time college athletics analyst for ESPN.
The fact that so many former ESPN talent is being employed by CBSSR and NBCSR may be a testament to ESPN, but it might have more to do with them hiring recognizable names, or people that have a heavy sports broadcasting background. (Obviously, McNabb falls in the former category.)
It’s a huge coincidence that many of the hosts on the air in the initial year of operation for CBSSR and NBCSR had previously passed through ESPN, in one form and/or another.
Then again, ESPN Radio didn’t become the leading sports radio network by accident.
And now, it’s got company.
So if you’re sampling the two new sports radio networks, and wonder if what you hear sounds an awful lot like ESPN… let not your ears be fooled.