Steel Dreams: Pittsburgh's "93.7 The Fan" Opens Airshift Up To The Listeners

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pittsburgh's "93.7 The Fan" will be holding public auditions for future air talent at various Steel City locations. The winner will be selected on the air on June 27. The process is similar to New York sister sports station WFAN's "Fantasy Phenom" contest, which current WFAN host John Jastremski (shown with Mike Francesa) won in 2011.

Pittsburgh’s “93.7 The Fan” will be holding public auditions for future air talent at various Steel City locations. The winner will be selected on the air on June 27. The process is similar to New York sister sports station WFAN’s “Fantasy Phenom” contest, which current WFAN host John Jastremski (shown with Mike Francesa) won in 2011.

Pittsburgh’s three-year-old FM sports talker, KDKA-FM/”93.7 The Fan,” is seeking an actual fan to host a weekly show.

The station has organized a contest, “The Next Fan Host,” which invites residents of the area, aged 18 or older, to show up at any of five designated locations, starting with Beer And Pop 4 Less this Saturday afternoon, or any of four other taverns, eateries or wireless phone stores over four nights between May 29 and June 18.

All they’re required to do is give opinions on the hot sports topics of the day (you know, kinda like what we do here at SportsRants).

The ten best entrants from these open auditions will be selected to compete in a semifinal round, with the top four advancing to a live final during Andrew Fillipponi’s nighttime show on Thursday, June 27.

If this process sounds familiar, it’s because KDKA-FM’s parent company, CBS Radio, has been implementing this concept at the original “Fan” of sports radio, New York’s 660 AM/101.9 FM WFAN. Dubbed “Fantasy Phenom,” the grand prize is the same as that of Pittsburgh’s “Next Fan Host” contest: a position on the iconic sports radio station for a year.

And it appears that all three “Phenom” winners are still with WFAN in some capacity. The first winner, Gregg Sussman, is still listed on WFAN’s website, as he occasionally can be heard doing weekend and swing duties; he’s still overseeing sports talk programming on a college radio station in Maryland, according to his LinkedIn page.

The second “Phenom” champion, John Jastremski, is the most visible of the contest’s three winners by far. He’s heard regularly on overnights, usually on weekends, and has also been heard nationwide on the CBS Sports Radio Network. And here’s a scary thought: just last week, he celebrated his 25th birthday – which makes the radio station he works for slightly one year older than him. But when you listen to “JJ After Dark,” with the energy in and on the air, you forget that you’re listening to a 26-year-old radio station – one that’s been an AM station for most of its existence (and CBS Radio is looking to fix that, in due time).

The announcement of last year’s “Phenom” champ, Joe Giglio, was about as low-key as his current association with WFAN, where his presence is mostly through a weekly column on the station’s website. But for the lead baseball writer of Bleacher Report, that’s fine with him.

There’s no plans currently available for a “Fantasy Phenom 4” contest, which would be the first one held during WFAN’s history on FM, but you can expect them to be unveiled sometime next month.

As for who will decide “The Next Fan Host” in Pittsburgh, I can’t help but wonder if “93.7 The Fan” morning co-host Gregg Giannotti – an alumnus of WFAN who has been with KDKA-FM since its inception in February 2010 – will somehow have a say in it.

Details on the contest, as well as the official rules, can be found here.

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There Will Be No Tebow Time To Kickoff The 2012-13 Season On NBC

We won't know until April at the latest when the next installment of the budding rivalry between Tom Brady and Tim Tebow will take place. And while the Patriots lost the Super Bowl to the Giants, there's still a good chance that they can open their season with the Broncos on NBC.

Regardless of the Broncos’ exit from the 2011-12 NFL playoffs, Tim Tebow has been a force to be reckoned with.

That was evident back in late December, when CBS and NBC fought tooth and nail (actually, “nail” may not be the best term to use when you’re writing about Tim Tebow) over who would air a regular season Broncos/Patriots matchup.

Even after the Patriots sent the Broncos packing in the playoffs, CBS expressed interest in having Tebow on their “NFL Today” pre-AFC Championship Game edition (he respectfully declined).

Then there’s the Super Bowl – and no, I’m not talking about the week leading up to it (though there is a mind-blowing update on that). How, you ask, could Tebow be a factor in the Super Bowl, which aired on NBC?

It has to do with who the eventual winner would be hosting on the Thursday following Labor Day – which will air on NBC.

And it’s all contingent on which team prevailed, based on their schedules.

On January 2, right after the conclusion of the regular season, the NFL released each team’s lists of opponents for the season ahead, home and away, based on records, but not the actual schedules – that will happen in April on a date to be determined.

Looking at the Broncos’ schedule, aside from the usual AFC West suspects, four of the other five teams they are scheduled to play on the road made the playoffs this year – Atlanta and Cincinnati, both Wild Card round exits, and both teams that just happened to play in this year’s AFC Championship Game, New England and Baltimore.

Indeed, the NFC division that Denver plays this year is the NFC South, including a home game against the Saints. Which means they would not play the Giants next year, especially on “kickoff” night, should the Giants win the Super Bowl – which they did.

So in order for NBC to start the 2012-13 season with some “Tebow Time,” they would have to be pulling for the Patriots to prevail – which they did not.

Granted, NBC might be happier that the Giants won: their home opponents for the 2012-13 season include New Orleans and Green Bay. Given how the Giants eliminated the Packers en route to their fourth Lombardi trophy, combined with the Saints traveling to Green Bay for the previous season’s Thursday night “kickoff” game, all signs point to the Packers opening the season in New Jersey on September 6.

But it will be a virtual lock that NBC ends up with at least one regular season Broncos game next season. The Broncos games that may likely be scheduled for primetime starts are home games against New Orleans and San Diego, as well as Pittsburgh, whom the Broncos eliminated in this year’s playoffs, and road contests at San Diego, Baltimore and New England.

You have to wonder if Robert Kraft is calling dibs on CBS’ behalf for the Patriots/Broncos game a second straight year.

But it would only be fair if the NFL scheduled that game on a Sunday night on NBC. Especially given CBS aired the previous two go-rounds, including a Saturday night playoff game.

It would only be fair if the Broncos’ third matchup with the Patriots in just the fifteenth game of the Tim Tebow era, was the marquee matinee for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” franchise for the 2012-13 season.

You would think CBS wouldn’t mind: with commitments to U.S. Open Tennis, FOX traditionally has a doubleheader in Week 1, anyway.

Perhaps the league can pull the wool over everyone’s eyes and schedule the game on ESPN or even their own NFL Network. But such a matchup with tremendous appeal is just too big for cable.

It’ll be interesting to learn where the Denver at New England game ends up in two months (or perhaps sooner; the league has been known to release schedule details for a handful of juicy matchups a few weeks prior to the release of the full schedule).

But make no mistake: NBC will get their share of Tebow Time yet.

Even if it doesn’t “kickoff” the new football season.

Just 212 days left.

Auld Lang Sigh: Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against WIP Bigwig Another Black Eye For Sports Radio

A lawsuit filed against Marc Rayfield, who oversees several Philadelphia radio stations, including sports WIP-AM/FM, is yet another blow to sports radio in a year that has been totally out of bounds.

The former director of marketing communications for a Philadelphia news station is taking her former boss to court on grounds of sexual harassment.

Attorneys Samuel First and Christopher Wagner have filed a lawsuit against CBS Radio’s entities in New York and Philadelphia on behalf of their client, Shelley Kanther, who claims she endured a “highly offensive, discriminatory environment and culture at CBS Philly.” Kanther was fired from her position at KYW Newsradio 1060 in Philadelphia, an action that she thinks is “in retaliation for… complaints” about the “degrading and extremely upsetting” atmosphere that she and co-workers experienced while working at the top-rated all-news station in Market No. 7. “No remedial action of any kind was ever taken” at KYW, according to the lawsuit, “despite Ms. Kanther’s repeated complaints.”

Specifically identified in the lawsuit by Kanther is CBS Radio Philadelphia Senior Vice President and Market Manager Marc Rayfield, whom Kanther dubbed “one of the worst offenders” during her tenure at KYW.

In addition to KYW, Rayfield also oversees five other radio stations in the cluster, including WIP, which has been broadcasting a sports format on AM 610 for close to a quarter-century – and just this past fall, added a simulcast on 94.1 FM; the station now brands itself as “SportsRadio 94 WIP.” This is actually Rayfield’s second go-round working at WIP: in the early 1990’s, he had previously served as the station’s local sales manager when it was owned by Spectacor Broadcasting. He was hired in the same capacity by KYW in 1992, and worked his way up to station manager. Later, KYW owner CBS Radio merged with subsequent WIP owner Infinity Broadcasting, and Rayfield had assumed responsibilites for WIP.

I could go into detail about some of the graphic “locker room behavior” that is described in Kanther’s lawsuit, but I won’t. I’ll actually direct readers here. And when you read the alleged comments and actions depicted in the lawsuit, consider this quote from the same lawsuit picked up by this source:

“… Kanther once complained about the discriminatory treatment to another female employee, who in turn told Kanther that the harassment was par for the course, and that ‘that’s always how it has been here’…”

One wonders if WIP employees experienced the same “highly offensive” environment that Kanther has while at KYW. I myself am not alleging, nor confirming, that a similar workplace exists or has existed at WIP. But knowing that Rayfield manages five radio stations – actually, four, when legendary rock station WYSP flipped to a simulcast of what was then known as “Sports Radio 610” and is now known as WIP-FM, though AM 610 occasionally airs programming different from 94.1 FM at times – the immediate thought is whether or not the same behavior can be found in the work environments of all of the radio stations under Rayfield’s watch.

Not to single out WIP specifically, but when you read about the alleged tawdry goings-on at KYW, anyone familiar with Philadelphia radio may immediately ask themselves, “Is this business as usual at WIP?”

In fact, we are coming off of a year in which sports radio personalities have engaged in regrettable behavior, on and off the air. This past spring, former ESPN Radio 1000/Chicago personality Jay Mariotti, who is also seen on ESPN, was arrested in Los Angeles for assaulting his girlfriend. In August, nationally syndicated host Tony Bruno referred to Giants pitcher Ramon Ramirez on Twitter as an “illegal alien pitcher” after a pitch hit a Philles player, ensuing in a benches-clearing brawl. Just this week, we witnessed another lesson in how not to use Twitter as a sports radio personality, as Pittsburgh’s Mark Madden took an unwarranted shot at all women by instructing a female listener to “get in the kitchen, have a kid, dance ’round a pole.” (While the radio station Madden works for has an alternative music format, Madden has a strong sports background.) And, of course, there was the recent fallout with Albany sports radio host Bruce Jacobs and his comments about the WNBA which invoked gay slurs, which was first reported right here on sportsrants.com.

2011 also saw another lawsuit being filed, this one specifically against a sports radio station. Back in March, Jen Royle, reporter for Baltimore’s WJZ-FM “105.7 The Fan” – which is also owned by CBS Radio – hit rival sports station WNST, and its owner and main radio personality, Nestor Aparicio, with a defamation lawsuit stemming from comments Aparicio made on the air about Royle, including, among others, “that she looks like a stripper.” As you can imagine, radio station WNST, like its owner, Nestor, is nicknamed “nasty.” (Royle would drop the lawsuit right before Labor Day.)

And now, this latest lawsuit against one of the people in charge of one of the most well-known sports radio stations in the country.

Again, I’m not holding WIP or any of their personalities accountable. (Even former WIP host Mike Missanelli, who now holds down afternoon drive on rival WPEN-FM “97.5 The Fanatic.”) Yes, the lawsuit revolves around another radio station Rayfield oversees.

But to borrow an old adage, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Name-calling. Gay-bashing. Drunk-tweeting.

These are just some of the examples of things that sports radio can do without.

With all of the ugliness that has taken place amongst the sports radio landscape in 2011, what does 2012 have in store?

Hopefully, more on X’s and O’s, and not so much, T & A.

X Marks The Misogyny: Pittsburgh Sports Radio Host Demands Women "Get In The Kitchen, Have A Kid, Dance 'Round A Pole"

On Twitter, Mark Madden lashed out at a female listener - and then some - and deleted the tweet seconds later. He blamed his "radio character" for his angst.

Here we go again, folks.

For just the second time in a week, a veteran sports radio host has taken an ugly shot at women.

Like Bruce Jacobs, Mark Madden has a track record of divisive comments, in one case resulting in his being fired from a radio station.

But unlike Jacobs’ on-air shot at lesbians (and the gay community, for that matter) in mocking the WNBA, by incorporating gay slurs into reconfigured “team names,” Madden’s offense was off-air – but it was aimed at all women in general.

On Tuesday afternoon, a woman named Lacey Brunell who represents ThePensBlog.com had expressed her hate for Tim Benz, who hosts the morning show on WXDX-FM “105.9 The X” in Pittsburgh. The radio station not only carries Penguins hockey play-by-play, but they also have a 24/7 broadcast called “Penguins Radio,” available on WXDX’s HD Radio HD-2 subchannel.

When Madden, who hosts afternoons on WXDX, got wind of Lacey’s remark, he responded to her via Twitter, under his handle @MarkMaddenX. What ensued for about an hour was a back-and-forth between Madden and Lacey, using the handle @ZbynekGirl. Unfortunately, we only have one side of the conversation because, in an unforeseen turn of events, Lacey, for reasons unknown, deleted her Twitter account. So all that is available are Madden’s tweets to the now-defunct @ZbynekGirl account from Tuesday, including one in which he claimed she “[swore] like a longshoreman and babble[d] like a maniac”, and another where he dared Lacey to “call my bosses… get me fired or suspended.” Though one source reports that Lacey had referred to Madden as a “fat f**k”, and in another tweet, had told Madden that his “life is one big pathetic excuse.”

Regardless, Madden – like Jacobs exactly one week before him on his “104.5 The Team” radio show in Albany – crossed a line. It came when he addressed the following in a response to Lacey: “Look, you’re a girl, so… you know nothing, and your opinion is useless. Get in the kitchen, have a kid, dance ’round a pole, something.”

Madden deleted the tweet within seconds – but not before screenprints of the tweet ended up being forever recorded in Internet lore, via websites such as ThePensBlog.com and others.

Meanwhile, at around the time the “dance ’round a pole” tweet was struck from the record, Madden had written two additional tweets directed toward Lacey that were also degrading to women – and remain on the @MarkMaddenX Twitter account at press time. “You don’t matter,” one tweet partly reads, followed by the hashtag “#GetInTheKitchen.” That was followed ten minutes later by this gem: “Well, I haven’t been pulled off the air yet. You must not be as influential as you thought,” which is punctuated by the hashtag “#BarefootAndPregnant.”

But wait, there’s more. Dennis Lamme, market manager of Clear Channel Pittsburgh, calls Madden’s social networking repartee “unacceptable… completely inappropriate and out of line.” Lamme added that “appropriate measures will be taken to ensure that this does not happen again.”

“Appropriate measures” – like what, cut off one of his fingers?

Now, if Lacey did have an ax to grind with Mark Madden, then perhaps it is only fair for Madden to grind back at her – but her only. That should not be an opportunity to use her as a model for stereotypes. Once you start telling a woman things that (in his mind) the average woman should be doing, that opens it up to every single female of the human race, and not just the one you’re arguing with – and not even face-to-face, for that matter.

Madden did issue a statement and an apology in an email to Jezebel.com. He claims that Lacey “has always been abusive” toward him, and admitted he “got a bit carried away playing my radio character, which is a TV wrestling bad guy.”

Is Madden’s own ego that hideous that he has to resort to playing a “radio character” on the air? Ask The Greaseman how that “radio character” business worked out for him – just don’t mention Lauryn Hill to him, though.

Regarding his misogynistic tweets, Madden wrote: “I owe women in general an apology. Maybe not [Lacey]… I’m not sure I owe an apology to anyone who calls me a fat f**k.”

Certainly, it doesn’t make it right that Lacey addressed Madden as a “fat f**k”. But that shouldn’t give Madden the opportunity to try and “one-up” her. And if this is how a radio host responds to a person using his name in vain on Twitter, you can imagine how he’d deal with someone who cussed him out at a Penguins game.

And to top it all off, this Mark Madden misogyny incident goes down just one week after Bruce Jacobs’ homophobe episode. Not that I’m comparing the two situations, but there’s several parallels to these two individuals. Madden’s employer, Clear Channel, once hired Jacobs at KFYI in Phoenix, and as you read last week, even they could stand his diatribes for so long before giving him the boot.

In May 2008, Madden, then the afternoon host on “1250 ESPN” in Pittsburgh, noted the terminal health condition of Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy, and said on the air that he had hoped Kennedy “would live long enough to be assassinated.” ESPN at first suspended Madden for that remark, and eventually fired him – but he wasn’t on the sidelines for long: WXDX would pick him up just months later.

In another twist of irony, the radio station in Albany that Bruce Jacobs works for – on which he made those gay-bashing, WNBA-mocking comments – is affiliated with ESPN.

Should Jacobs be sent packing in the Capital Region, one wonders if he’ll suddenly develop an appreciation for pierogis and Sidney Crosby overnight.

By the way, today – December 29 – just happens to be Mark Madden’s 51st birthday. Maybe he’ll finally get a birthday gift that he can use – a brain.

Or maybe he can settle for a new “radio character”?

Happy birthday. Clown.