Mike Francesa To Deliver Sports Radio Keynote Speech At Talkers Magazine 2013 Convention

 

 

 

 

 

 

WFAN sports god Mike Francesa will be a keynote speaker at the Talkers Magazine seminar this year - but unless you're connected to the radio industry, you'll be getting the handwave treatment.

WFAN sports god Mike Francesa will be a keynote speaker at the Talkers Magazine seminar this year – but unless you’re connected to the radio industry, you’ll be getting the handwave treatment.

It only makes sense that the host that topped Talkers Magazine’s first-ever “heavy hundred” list devoted exclusively to sports, appears at the publication’s popular annual convention.

Talkers has confirmed that Mike Francesa, afternoon drive host on WFAN/New York (whose show is also simulcast on YES Network), is scheduled to give a keynote speech titled, “The Sports Talk Radio Phenomenon,” at their event this summer. Note that I wrote “a keynote speech”; there will likely be a popular personality from the general talk radio genre that will be giving an address at the same event.

But because sports talk radio has become a phenomenon – two new sports radio networks launching last fall, need I say more? – it’s apropos that Talkers reaches out to a sports talk radio phenomenon himself in Mike Francesa.

“The addition of Mike Francesa as the sports talk radio keynote speaker at this year’s conference puts it over the moon,” says Talkers publisher Michael Harrison. “One of the big buzzes of the business is the relentless growth of this exciting branch of the talk radio universe… We are delighted.”

In past years, WFAN talent like morning co-host Boomer Esiason, who just last year received an award presented by Talkers for outstanding community service, as well as Craig Carton and Richard Neer have made appearances at the magazine’s event, which in recent years had been dubbed the “New Media Seminar.”

But it’s true that in its sixteenth year of existence – a year in which the event will simply be called “Talkers New York 2013” – they’ve booked the current most sophisticated sports radio host to date. Why, in just the last few months, he single-handedly canceled the running of the New York City marathon in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, while on the other side of the coin, wasn’t all that concerned about the recent winter storm known as Nemo that rolled through the Northeast. (Of course, that wouldn’t be the first time he would be asleep at the wheel.)

If you wish to attend this year’s festivities, which will take place Thursday, June 6 at the Concierge Conference Center, it costs just $199 per registration per person.

And if the cost, which to some is quite reasonable, isn’t appealing, consider this: Talkers is only allowing “members of the working media” to attend the convention, which was originally a two-day weekend affair in New York open to everyone; as of last year, the event has branched out into both coasts, with an annual convention based in Los Angeles in the fall. Harrison himself told me that the event has “grown consistently over the years,” and the implementation of two annual events in the top two radio markets is proof.

Anyone with interest in the sports radio genre that has broadcasting connections should take advantage and make their reservations for this event. Speaking as someone who experienced the 2008 seminar, it’s a lot of fun if you’re into radio – talk radio, especially.

And if you don’t? Maybe you can win your way in by playing some Super Bowl trivia.

Sapp Attack: Warren Sapp Gets Loopy During Houston Radio Interview

Retired defensive tackle Warren Sapp went on the offensive during an interview with Nick Wright and John Lopez on Sports Radio 610 in Houston. Sapp, promoting his autobiography, "Sapp Attack," didn't take kindly to a question he perceived was related to his bankruptcy situation.

Today is the day that “Sapp Attack,” an autobiography from former NFL player and current NFL Network analyst Warren Sapp, officially hits the shelves (provided the bookstore in your neck of the woods hasn’t closed up shop yet).

And as you would expect, Sapp has been going on a whirlwind promotional tour to talk about his book. He even showed up on Fox News Channel last night.

But most of Sapp’s interviews to promote his book will be on radio shows, mostly sports radio programs. For instance, he spent two-thirds of an hour with WFAN’s Mike Francesa on Monday.

The next day, on KILT-AM/”Sports Radio 610’s” morning show, “In The Loop With Nick And Lopez,” Sapp was lucky to get two-thirds of a ten-minute segment.

You can tell based on Sapp’s attitude during most of the interview that it wasn’t going to end well. Co-host Nick Wright set the tone when, upon introducing Sapp to the program, he told listeners Sapp’s Twitter handle is @QBKilla. “Bad follower,” Sapp scoffed at Wright, who then asked why Sapp would drop the “iconic” @QBKilla handle for his current eponymous one, @WarrenSapp? “Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble… in corporate America, that “killa” thing kind of scares you,” he explained. So he did not dump the old @QBKilla handle because NFL Network had excluded it from his chyrons in the wake of that Bountygate “snitch” situation? That’s news to me.

Anyway, halfway through the interview – at around the three-minute mark or so – co-host John Lopez apparently hit a nerve with Sapp. He didn’t bring up the Bountygate thing (he still stands by his word that Jeremy Shockey was the snitch, by the way). Nope, Lopez opted to go on a tangent and asked Sapp what his “stance” was on whether or not the NFL should employ certified financial advisers to look after its alumni’s funds. “Clearly, it’s been in the headlines, you’ve had some difficulties financially,” reminded Lopez, who eventually asked for Sapp’s take on why “so many pro athletes have trouble with their finances one they’re done playing sports.”

“You have to ask so many athletes having financial problems doing whatever they’re doing,” Sapp countered. “I’m only one man.”

Shortly after, Lopez gave Sapp’s book a plug, referring to “Sapp Attack” as his “memoir.”

“It’s not a memoir,” Sapp instructed. “More than anything, it’s my story… I didn’t do this like the President… Mine’s just one life, one voice, one brand.”

For the record, Warren: A memoir, according to the all-knowing Webster’s Dictionary, is indeed an autobiography. And I know what Warren’s getting at – he did this book all on his own, without any help. If that’s the case, then who’s this David Fisher fellow sharing author credits with him?

Back to the interview: In an attempt to have Sapp provide listeners with a preview of what to expect in the book, Wright asked: “So tell us about you… Aside from football, what is your story?”

“What are you asking me, my man, are you asking me about the bankruptcy or whatever?,” replied Sapp as if he thought Lopez had still been speaking to him at that point. He then exhibited some unnecessary roughness when Wright said it was Lopez “was referring to” Sapp’s bankruptcy.

“No, I’m asking you the question, I mean, not referring to it. If you have a question, ask a question, but if you refer anything, that’s not a question; we’re just sitting here having a general discussion, then, right?”

“Right,” Wright responded. “Correct, Warren.”

Sapp then went on a 45-second diatribe which he called “general discussion about the NFL.” At one point toward the end, it sounded like he shed a little light on an ill-fated low income housing construction deal which served as the catalyst for Sapp’s filing Chapter 7. Sapp started talking about how the league “does a wonderful job” with “resources” and for any potential people with which one may plan to do business, “the NFL will run ’em through the ringer and give you a report on what they think that person is… My situation was totally different from that. I had a real business partner that did some crazy things, and I needed to pull the ripcord, and I pulled the ripcord.”

Wright’s next question was why Sapp was “selling Jordans on eBay.” Sapp vehemently denied that, then explained that it was the bankruptcy court that was selling his lot of over 200 pairs of Air Jordan sneakers. “You’re sitting here reading a story, and now you want to tell me what I’m doing,” Sapp exclaimed. “You’re putting me in a ringer… sitting there, telling me something you’re reading.”

At that point, Wright urged Sapp to “tell your publicity people to send out better press releases,” referring to the part that labels Sapp’s book “a no-holds-barred memoir” – hey, didn’t Sapp put a moratorium on the “M-word”?

“You’re doing a press tour, and then you get pissed when people ask about the questions of the day,” Wright told Sapp. “I don’t know if this is the best approach, but I appreciate you joining us; good luck with the book.”

That’s right: just as Warren Sapp was lecturing the Sports Radio 610 co-hosts about the difference between a question and a “general discussion,” Nick Wright went ahead and pulled the ripcord on him.

After the abbreviated interview, Wright complained about how “we couldn’t ask [Sapp] a question without getting pissed.” He also claimed that Sapp “did the exact same thing” with Francesa on WFAN as well as Howard Stern on SiriusXM Satellite Radio. (Yet he still managed to have up to six times as much airtime on those shows as he would on that Houston station.)

Lopez also read from the aforementioned press release and focused on how Sapp promised he would “share… opinions about the state of pro football today and its future” – hence why Lopez sprung the “financial planners” question on Sapp.

“Listen, the guy’s too sensitive to do a book tour right now,” Wright told listeners. “I cherish my Jordans. If I had to sell them on eBay, I’d be pissed, too.”

Wake up on the wrong side of the bed and excoriate a couple of hosts to the point that they decide they’ve heard enough and cut the interview short. Way to promote your book, Warren.

He sure looked happy to be there at a book signing in New York City earlier today.

“Sapp Attack”. If it doesn’t fly off the shelves, its author will fly off the handle.

Tampa, Orlando Tuning Out ESPN

Two longtime ESPN Radio affiliates in Tampa Bay and Orlando are in the process of dropping the network, after ESPN played hardball with station owner Genesis Communications, asking for what one radio trade publication called "everything but the kitchen sink."

Last week, CBS Radio made two major announcements that would impact the sports radio landscape in Tampa Bay: the debut of a new sports radio station, “98.7 The Fan,” scheduled to debut in August at a date to be determined; and the launch of the CBS Sports Radio network, whose updates would be used by “The Fan” among many other stations across the country, starting September 4. The network will go 24/7 on January 2, at which point “The Fan” sister station 1010 AM WQYK will end a “Fan” simulcast and clear the new network. Currently, WQYK-AM is operating a piecemeal sports radio format, running mostly programming from UPN, I mean, Yahoo! Sports Radio. (It won’t be the only market YSR loses in the next seven months, trust me.)

So here’s the sports radio scene in Tampa: WDAE AM 620 (“The Sports Animal”) is doing their thing, Fox Sports Radio affiliation in hand (of course, station owner Clear Channel distributes FSR, so no surprise there). And CBS will be doing their thing, but until then, they’re affiliated with the dead sports radio network walking.

But wait – where’s ESPN? You would figure ESPN Radio would be quite visible in a market with three major sports franchises.

Currently, they can be found on AM 1040 in Tampa – but at least on that frequency, and another in a neighboring market, the Worldwide Leader’s days are numbered.

For the last decade, Genesis Communications had delivered ESPN Radio to Tampa Bay listeners, first via WLVU AM 1470 and since 2008 on WHBO AM 1040. Likewise, across the I-4 in Orlando, Genesis-owned WHOO AM 1080 had been carrying ESPN Radio programming for the last ten years.

That came to an abrupt end last week, when Genesis had rebranded what have been known in their respective markets as “ESPN 1040” and “ESPN 1080” as the collective name of “Sports Talk Florida.”

They’re still carrying ESPN Radio programming, but they’re planning to restock their schedules with new programming by October 1. The reason being, according to Genesis Communications president Bruce Maduri: “The time has come to develop more new local stars and original programming not available on other competing audio media platforms. Genesis will focus on bringing new and compelling local and national content to listener and advertisers, which will include sports/talk and play-by-play, all under a branding strategy both will love.”

Behind the scenes, however, the real reason for this new course of direction is ESPN Radio asking for high carriage fees and inventory demands. As RBR.com’s Carl Marcucci writes, “We had heard the ESPN Radio deal with Genesis started going sour months ago when the contract talks didn’t renew as they usually had before re-upping with the network. Then, when they did begin, ESPN Radio wanted everything but the kitchen sink from Genesis.”

Way to negotiate, ESPN. But then again, what else do you expect from a broadcasting entity whose cable channel rakes in around $5 per subscriber (with the next highest-costing cable channel in the neighborhood of $1.50). But cable companies would be committing suicide if they fathomed dropping ESPN – sure, the two sides can fight about how much a channel is worth, which could lead to that channel and/or others being blacked out for a great deal of time – and ESPN’s parent company, Disney, is no stranger to such disputes.

The difference between ESPN Radio, as opposed to their television wing, is that the programming is available anywhere for free, via the Internet, smartphone apps, and of course, 600+ other radio stations. (ESPN Radio can also be heard via SiriusXM Satellite Radio.) To view ESPN on TV, you must be a cable/satellite subscriber. Not the case when you turn on a traditional radio.

With so many dime-a-dozen music channels that can be heard on the radio, and spoken word programming guaranteed to be offering something new and fresh each day, it may make sense if a radio operator were to pay a premium to be the representative of a specific programming format or service in their market.

But there’s a difference between sense and senseless.

With ESPN scaring away a longtime affiliate of their radio network, they’ll have to look for a new suitor in not one market, but two. RBR.com hints that ESPN is even talking to WDAE to have their network cleared, but given the Clear Channel/Fox Sports relationship that I alluded to earlier, the chances of that are slim to none. Of course, CBS’ 98.7 FM and 1010 AM are out. Perhaps their best option is to echo their actions in New York City and enter a local marketing agreement with another radio operator – perhaps on FM, what with the advent of “98.7 The Fan.” And wouldn’t that make “The Sports Animal” a little bit angry: For WDAE to migrate to FM, it would have to be at the expense of one of five sister FM stations in the Clear Channel which all appear to be doing relatively well. A good problem to have – but not with spoken word formats moving to the FM band now more than ever.

Meanwhile, the sports radio picture in Orlando is a bit similar: you’ve got your Clear Channel/Fox Sports station (WYGM/”740 The Team”), and AM 1080, and that’s it for now. Late next month, the market will be getting another new sports station with the branding “Rivalz Sports Orlando” – another local original sports offering, it looks like.

The question is, did ESPN intentionally demand “everything but the kitchen sink” from Genesis Communications and their two AM stations, knowing that they would likely pass on extending their contract, thus making them free agents for a bigger and better pair of frequencies, preferably on FM, for their product?

If you think about it, Walt Disney World has a huge footprint in Orlando. Disney is ESPN’s corporate owner. And let’s not forget the synergy that is in full effect when you visit the “ESPN Wide World of Sports” complex near Disney World. The market must be that important to them that they were to make an offer that Genesis could refuse, so they could go on their merry way and search for a bigger signal in Orlando, as well as Tampa.

While we applaud Bruce Maduri and Genesis Communications for taking a stand against the “evil empire,” we expect the Worldwide Leader to get what they want in the end – if it wasn’t their asking price for Genesis, it would be new stations with a better reach than what WHBO and WHOO had to offer.

And we’ll likely learn which new stations they are by October. But it’s anyone’s guess as to what they will be.

It’s a small radio dial, after all.

Quarter Flash: WFAN – And Sports Radio – At 25

New York's WFAN, the first 24-hour sports radio station in the country, celebrates its 25th anniversary on July 1. Shown is a billboard from the early '90's, featuring caricatures of the station's iconic morning host, Don Imus, and afternoon duo, Mike Francesa and Chris Russo.

July 1, 1987. 2:55 PM. Disc jockey Dan Taylor was wrapping up not only the country format that had been on AM 1050 for fourteen years, but the WHN callsign that had graced the frequency for 51 of the previous 65 years. In doing so, Taylor wished new station owner Emmis Broadcasting luck with the new format that would be heard on the frequency at the top of the hour: sports talk radio, with the new call letters WFAN. He called the new project “very ambitious” – twice in a six-second period, in fact.

It was in February of 1986 that Emmis Broadcasting – known since 1998 as Emmis Communications – purchased WHN, along with two other stations in New York and Washington, D.C., from Doubleday Broadcasting, who had only purchased WHN two years prior from Mutual Broadcasting. 1986 would prove to be a very hectic year for Doubleday Enterprises, which purchased the New York Mets earlier in the decade: not only would their book publishing practice be sold to Bertelsmann, but the Mets would go on to win the World Series. Coincidentally, the flagship station of the Mets at the time was WHN, which under Emmis’ watch, had added sports talk programming in the evenings. Not necessarily as an accomplice to Mets broadcasts, or to offset nights when the Mets were not playing.

Emmis founder Jeff Smulyan had believed in the concept of a 24-hour sports radio station, going back to his childhood days. “This one,” he says of the format idea, “was my baby.”

And he thought AM 1050, which, according to New York Daily News media columnist David Hinckley, Emmis “had to take as part of the deal” with Doubleday to acquire two FM stations, WAPP (now WKTU) in New York and WAVA in Washington, would be the perfect breeding ground for that “baby” of his.

So in early 1987, Smulyan, along with three future presidents, if you will – two top company executives, Doyle Rose, who would become president of Emmis’ radio division the very next year, and hold that title for over two decades, and Steven Crane, a good friend of Smulyan’s (I’d use the term “BFF” but it didn’t exist back in 1987) who would later become president of Emmis International; as well as company sales manager Joel Hollander, who, after a future stint as VP/GM of WFAN, would become the president of future WFAN owner CBS Radio for what would turn out to be five tumultuous years in the ’00’s – convened in a coffee shop in Manhattan to discuss the future of the 1050 frequency.

“We felt there was no future in country music on AM,” said Smulyan in a conference call telephone interview with radio trade publication Radio Ink.

Of course, we would find out over the course of the next quarter-century that, not only was there no future in any music format on AM in general, but the future of spoken word formats, which once dominated the AM band, would be joining, if not replacing, music formats on the FM band in leaps and bounds.

Including the sports talk radio format that Smulyan believed in – but most of his peers back in 1987 did not.

“We had a managers meeting,” Smulyan recalled. “It was sort of overwhelmingly voted down.”

Rick Cummings, who served under the title of National Program Director for Emmis back in 1987 – and would eventually succeed Rose as the president of Emmis’ radio division in 2002 – was with Smulyan on that conference call and remembered his exact statement on the concept of 24-hour sports talk radio: “It’ll never work.”

Indeed, Cummings was pessimistic that there would be little demand for an all-sports station in two of the most important facets of radio. “From an operational standpoint, it was going to be extremely expensive to do,” said Cummings, who also thought that “from a ratings standpoint,” sports radio would be as equally harrowing to launch as “a music station.” He also recalled how research failed to dictate the need for a sports radio station at the time.

The day after that managers meeting, according to Smulyan, he received some apologies from Cummings and Rose – with a side of approval.

“We feel bad for you. We feel like we owe you one. It’s still a stupid idea. But let’s do it.”

And so, they did.

At 3 PM on July 1, 1987. Right after the final record on WHN played, Ray Price’s “For The Good Times.”

While the good times would eventually roll for WFAN as a sports station, it was not so much in its initial year of existence. “It was a struggle,” Smulyan said, who reminisced about hearing the first several days of the first sports radio station in the country, while vacationing with his family in the Hamptons for the Fourth of July holiday. “For the first year, it was really pretty dead.”

As much as it may have been a struggle to hear WFAN’s first weeks on the air, it was equally a struggle to sell the format to advertisers. Smulyan remembered sampling commercial breaks on WFAN in the fall of 1987 and “hearing a particularly marginal spot for do-it-yourself funerals or wills… We ran it every twelve minutes.” That would lead Smulyan to tell the general manager of WFAN at the time, Stewart Lane, “Gosh, I don’t know how much they’re paying us for that spot, but it’s not enough.” (In other words, it was an episode of “WKRP In Cincinnati” come to life.)

The early talent pool on WFAN was modest. Greg Gumbel was their first morning drive host, while Jim Lampley, who hosted the very first sports talk program on WFAN on the afternoon of July 1, 1987, eventually migrated to middays to make way for Pete Franklin. Smulyan remembers bringing Franklin, whom he labeled “probably the most iconic sports host in America,” in from Cleveland, where he had hosted the popular “Sportsline” program every afternoon for fifteen years on WWWE, nicknamed “3WE” (these days, going by the callsign WTAM). He agreed to a two-year deal to duplicate his success in afternoon drive in Market No. 1.

“Pete laid one of the giant eggs of all time in New York City,” recalled Smulyan. “He was awful.” (Dare I say it, real life radio in New York City imitating yet another episode of the fictitious “WKRP.”)

WFAN’s loss in Franklin, who quit with a few months remaining on his contract, would result in their pivotal gain in “Mike And The Mad Dog,” the quintessential New York sports talk show that would be WFAN’s benchmark for nearly two decades. And while Chris “Mad Dog” Russo left for satellite radio, Mike Francesa still holds down afternoons to this day – though the two cross paths every now and then.

Cummings described the early years of “Mike And The Mad Dog” as “pretty significant failure in the first year to pretty quick success after that.” A turnaround, more or less, mirroring WFAN’s financial status from their first year, in which they lost as much as $4 million, according to Cummings. In fact, he commended Francesa and Russo for “influencing advertising buys” on the station, contributing to the first phases of their financial success with the format.

And while Smulyan credited Francesa and Russo for “clearly” contributing to the station’s identity, “Imus gave that station tremendous, tremendous credibility.”

And it was an equally tremendous transaction in 1988 – Emmis’ purchase of 66 WNBC-AM from NBC, upon General Electric’s acquisition of NBC – that not only gave WFAN a more powerful signal at 660 AM, but would grant them their new morning host in Don Imus, whom Smulyan admitted coveting even before WFAN launched in 1987, as his program, which had been heard on WNBC-AM, shared the same 35-54 male demographic as WFAN’s all-sports format (“he owned that demographic”).

Smulyan called the Don Imus era on WFAN “the perfect marriage, even though Imus didn’t spent most of the time talking about sports.”

Of course, there was that controversial moment in the spring of 2007 when Imus, in making an effort to talk sports – specifically, the Rutgers women’s basketball team – used a poor choice of wording which resulted in defamation, and eventually, the end of his tenure at WFAN. But much like the successors of Pete Franklin, whose hire in and of itself was a poor choice, CBS seems to be satisfied with the successors to Imus in the morning, Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton.

WFAN would discover many notable names over its first twenty-five years on the air: Mike Breen, Scott Ferrall, Chris Carlin and Linda Cohn, just to name a few. Many of these folks would eventually move on to other opportunities – or, in the case of Gregg Giannotti and Adam Gerstenhaber, a.k.a. “Adam The Bull,” other brand new sports radio stations that CBS Radio would be launching in other markets. And any host, guest host, or “20/20 Sports” update anchor could tell you that they were grateful for the opportunities that they had at WFAN. (Okay – almost everybody.)

As the innovator of the sports radio format, WFAN was never afraid to try new things. The “20/20 Sports” updates, given every twenty minutes at twenty-minute increments of the hour, would be the device that WFAN would use to deliver sports news and information to listeners. It was inspired, according to Smulyan, by the wildly popular success of SportsPhone, which dispensed up-to-the-minute sports scores to callers in less than a minute. With the advent of the Internet, the evolution of how people get sports scores has altered dramatically – and thanks to consolidation and other financial factors, the sports anchor on a TV newscast is slowly becoming a thing of the past. And while ESPN Radio, the leading national sports radio network, has all but phased out full-time sports update anchors (example: Mike and Mike reading sports scores), that position still exists at WFAN.

In its infancy, WFAN would integrate radio calls of “great moments in sports” into their legal ID’s. Prior to the first voice heard on WFAN, Suzyn Waldman – who is currently the color commentator for New York Yankees radio broadcasts alongside John Sterling – cracked that mic and said, “Good afternoon, everybody, and welcome to the first broadcast of WFAN, all-sports 1050. You’re sharing a part of radio history with us today. This is the beginning of the first 24-hour-a-day sports station,” WFAN would play a legal ID spotlighting the New York Jets winning Super Bowl III.

“That was a great idea,” Cummings said of playing classic sports calls at the top of the hour, “that worn out in about the first 48 hours.”

“And I still thought it was the best idea of all time,” countered Smulyan.

While that legal ID idea might be tacky in retrospect, the concept of sports radio, while frowned upon 25 years ago, is certainly paying dividends in 2012 – a year that will see the creation of two new national sports radio networks to go along with the three preexisting major national sports radio networks, led by ESPN Radio and its 600+ affiliates.

In fact, over the last decade, the number of sports radio stations across the country has dramatically grown, with a figure of 634 recorded in 2010. When you factor in ESPN’s current tally of over 600 stations, Fox Sports Radio’s 400+, over 150 for Yahoo! Sports Radio, dozens involved with the new CBS Sports Radio, and some who will carry NBC Sports Radio Network programming, even if stations in this mix jump from one sports radio provider to another, you’re looking at over 1,000 radio stations dedicated to the sports radio format.

Quite a far cry from just one twenty-five years ago.

And WFAN’s finances, which bled $4 million in its first year on the air, is nothing to laugh at these days. In fact, they are a billing heavyweight, consistently ranking in the top ten billing radio stations in New York City, if not the entire United States, for years. And per advertising research firm BIA/Kelsey, for the first quarter of this year – perhaps enabled by another Super Bowl season for the New York Giants, whom have called WFAN home since the turn of the millennium – the station ranked number one in billing for all New York radio stations.

Mind you, not one penny of that revenue comes from a “do-it-yourself funeral” chain these days.

The secret to WFAN’s success is anything but a secret, what with hundreds of radio stations (and networks, it seems) aping their approach. But the winning formula, Smulyan says, is “information” – consisting of the aforementioned “20/20 Sports” updates and breaking sports news – and “entertainment” – knowledgeable, friendly hosts discussing sports news with guests and/or listeners. It’s a formula that CBS Radio has adhered to since purchasing WFAN from Emmis in 1992 for $75 million.

Aside from that formula, there are three on-air constants that remain on WFAN since they signed on in 1987: Steve Somers, the Fan’s original overnight host, who now handles the evening daypart; the ’80’s-era imaging on the station; and of course, play-by-play of the baseball team that they inherited from the country days as WHN, the New York Mets.

Of course, that relationship might come to an end after this year. And how ironic would it be if the first voice on WFAN would be heard every day on the station by way of Yankees broadcasts, 25 years after the fact? Now that would be quite a homecoming.

And it will be a homecoming for some of the people who have called WFAN home over the last twenty-five years, as Dave Sims (who currently calls “Sunday Night Football” radio broadcasts, as well as Seattle Mariners play-by-play on TV), Len Berman (longtime WNBC-TV sports anchor who once co-hosted a show on WFAN in the ’90’s with Daily News columnist, and current afternoon host on rival ESPN 98.7, Mike Lupica) and Spencer Ross (one of the original WFAN hosts), among others, will return to the airwaves of The FAN on July 1, where they will reflect on the station’s past, and perhaps revert to their previous roles and talk present-day sports. In addition, Somers will host a four-hour program on the afternoon of Saturday, June 30, and the day before that, Francesa will host a special six-hour show (not necessarily unprecedented since his regular shift is five-and-a-half hours) commemmorating the station’s 25th anniversary.

WFAN will be able to spend that time, and more, during afternoon hours on WFAN’s anniversary weekend, since the Mets will be in Los Angeles to play the Dodgers. And how’s this for another twist of irony: On the weekend that WFAN turns 25, the baseball team that they currently hold broadcast rights to, the New York Mets, will be playing a franchise that, up until 1957, played in Brooklyn – and whose games were heard for nearly twenty years on AM 1050.

Who knew that, some three decades after the Bums packed up the truck and moved to Beverly, a 24-hour sports radio station, with the Mets, and more – the first of what would be a multiplying breed – would unfold on that frequency.

“When we put ‘FAN on the air, people thought we were nuts.”

Twenty-five years later, everybody – from programmers, to advertisers, and of course, the fans – is crazy about sports radio.

And not just Jeff Smulyan.

Happy 25th birthday to his baby.

(Click here to read a timeline of WFAN’s first 25 years via their website. Note: CBS Radio websites tend to get all Drudge-y and refresh every five minutes.)

Stay Classy, Scott Kaplan: San Diego Sports Talker Fired After Mocking Female Basketball Analyst

San Diego sports radio host Scott Kaplan is out of a job after referring to female sports analyst Andrea Lloyd as a "beast" and "sasquatch," among other terms. Kaplan refused to apologize for his remarks, adding that the type of show he does - or did until Monday, anyway - defies apology.

Here we go again.

This time, we go to the West Coast.

You thought the Bruce Jacobs thing (which we here at Sportsrantz first broke late last year) was bad. This actually resulted in costing the sports radio host’s job – and like Jacobs, this now-former sports radio host also has a track record of controversial statements on the radio.

And the comments this host made might just rival Don Imus’ infamous “nappy headed ho” remark in terms of disrespect and insensitivity.

Meet Scott Kaplan. He got his start in sports radio alongside Sid Rosenberg co-hosting a show on something called Sports Fan Radio Network. The two eventually brought their act to New York City as the morning “Sports Guys” on WNEW-FM, back when Opie & Anthony called it their flagship station. “Sports Guys” could never succeed in the ratings shadow of Howard Stern on WNEW sister station K-Rock, so after a year, Kaplan hightailed it to San Diego.

His first year in “America’s finest city” was anything but fine. In October 2001, a woman arranged to have Kaplan’s car towed due to illegal parking. Kaplan told her he has “80,000 watts over which I can broadcast your name” because “you ruined my day.” He added, “Do you know who I am?”

He’s not even in the market for a year, and he’s acting like Ladainian Tomlinson.

The next day, Kaplan goes on the radio – his station at the time was XTRA Sports 690 – and called her a “skank.” This was met with a lawsuit, naming Kaplan, and XTRA’s operator, Clear Channel, on grounds of libel, slander and invasion of privacy. (Mike Francesa, are you listening?)

The 2002 lawsuit was settled two years later. By then, he had been in morning drive on XEPRS “XX 1090”, co-hosting “The Scott And B.R. Show” with Billy Ray Smith. It’s like “Sports Guys” but with a West Coast flavor. (It also helps that Howard Stern is no longer on terrestrial radio.)

So back on January 25, Kaplan was talking to a caller and somehow, Andrea Lloyd came up. Lloyd is currently a basketball analyst for the Mountain West Sports Network, or “The Mtn.” for short.

“I think that she is currently a woman,” Kaplan told the caller. “I cannot confirm for you that she has been a woman her entire life. My guess is that at some point she had some form of surgery. Have you seen this chick?”

Later, Kaplan told listeners that he’d settle for ESPN’s “Holly Rowe’s giant butt” than “this sasquatch” Andrea Lloyd.

Kaplan also peppered in other choice adjectives for Lloyd, such as “beast,” “animal” and “monster” in addition to “sasquatch of a woman.”

Brutal. Tasteless. Execrable.

And he had to bring Holly Rowe into it, to boot.

Nothing was done. Kaplan, like most sports radio hosts, took off for Indianapolis for Super Bowl Week. While he was away, Tex Meyer, the general manager of BCA Radio, operator of XX 1090, received an email from a listener complaining about Kaplan’s comments bashing Lloyd. “I have had similar discussions with Scott Kaplan in the past about this subject matter,” Meyer wrote, adding that the station is “very sensitive” to such “derogatory remarks” and will not be “tolerate(d)”. Meyer closed with an apology to the listener.

Monday. First day back from Indianapolis. Kaplan is confronted about his remarks about Lloyd two weeks ago.

I don’t apologize for the fact that we’re a “guy show,” a locker room kind of show. There’s no apology for that… That’s what we do.”

As noted ficitious San Diego news anchor Ron Burgundy would say, that’s bush league.

And late Monday, XX 1090 ejected Kaplan. (The future of co-host Billy Ray Smith is up in the air.)

Sadly, I think Kaplan would have eventually reached this point even if he did apologize.

“There’s no apology for that… That’s what we do.”

Last I checked, you were a host on a radio station with a sports format. That “sasquatch” schtick might have gotten you far on WNEW a dozen years ago. (Oh, yeah – look at what happened to Opie and Anthony on WNEW not too long after Kaplan’s departure.)

The bottom line is, such disdainful comments have no place on regular talk radio, let alone sports radio. (Bruce Jacobs, are you listening?)

Unless you live on the West Coast, you probably haven’t heard of Andrea Lloyd until this development. So let’s take a look at her bio: Before landing at MTN, she worked for three regional FSN networks, as well as CSTV. Prior to that, you guessed it, she was a professional basketball player, including two seasons in the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx around the turn of the century. In 2007, she was elected to the team’s Hall Of Fame.

So Scott Kaplan, with his checkered past in radio, gets the boot for making disparaging comments about a WNBA Hall Of Famer, yet Bruce Jacobs, with his own checkered radio past, mocks WNBA players in general, and is still on the air today. Explain that to me.

And just to wrap this up in a little bow: Like Kaplan before him, Sid Rosenberg eventually left the WNEW “Sports Guys” show, and joined the nationally syndicated “Imus In The Morning” program, then based at WFAN, the premier sports radio station in America. (I know – political talk belongs on sports radio just as much as “locker room” talk does – but Imus was a major biller for WFAN.) Anyway, through his tenure at “Imus,” Rosenberg has made his share of controversial remarks, involving everyone from Venus and Serena Williams to singer Kylie Minogue, and even the late Yasser Arafat. Rather than rehash all of these, I will simply direct you to his Wikipedia entry. But it bears mentioning that Rosenberg was in the studio as Imus, along with producer Bernard McGuirk, analyzed footage of Rutgers Scarlet Knights basketball from the Women’s Final Four. “Rough girls,” Imus said before adding the fateful “nappy headed hos” description which, while he did apologize for, ended up marking the end of a twenty-year run at WFAN (and many years before at the station’s predecessor, WNBC-AM). But Rosenberg, who had been substituting for the regular sports update anchor on “Imus” (he left WFAN and “Imus” full-time in 2005 for a radio job in Miami) was no angel in the incident, either. Quoth Rosenberg: “The more I look at Rutgers, they look exactly like the Toronto Raptors.”

Sid Rosenberg is still on the radio in Miami, doing his best to stay out of trouble. But I can’t help but wonder if it’s crossed the now-unemployed Scott Kaplan’s mind to relocate to Miami and bring back the “Sports Guys” franchise. If Rosenberg wants to remain out of trouble, he won’t agree to a reunion.

But this is why I bring back the Imus Rutgers incident in the wake of the Andrea Lloyd “sasquatch” controversy: to remind you that these two hosts have basically been the same deprecating and denigrating selves that they’ve been when they were doing radio together – only on their own. Birds of a feather – a jaundiced one.

“There’s no apology for that… That’s what we do.”

Stay classy, Scott Kaplan.

Sports Radio Host Reacts To "Bastard Children" Remark By Listener On Internet Message Board

San Antonio sports radio host Mike Taylor didn't take kindly to a personal potshot from an anonymous individual on a message board, so he signed up - with his real name - to put the nameless member in his place. "Say whatever you want about me, but when you discuss my family, that's grounds for an ass beating."

There is a universal adage that the Internet holds millions upon millions of corners in which anonymous folks masked by a cute little username can lob text bombs at anyone and everyone with ease.

But if you bring their family and loved ones into it, you cross a line.

Submitted for your approval: “S_A_Longhorn,” a regular at the message board on spurstalk.com, who won’t waste an opportunity to rant about sports radio hosts in San Antonio, especially KTKR/Ticket 760 afternoon drive host Mike Taylor – who early last month became the proud father of twin girls with Jennifer Dodd, a news anchor for local ABC affiliate KSAT. Taylor usually refers to her on the air only as “Tita.”

Never mind the fact that “Longhorn” claims he “stopped listening to him” about five years ago.

Late last week, a thread was started discussing the ouster of Chris Duel, who had co-hosted afternoons with Jason Minnix on rival sports station KZDC/ESPN 1250. opposite Taylor on KTKR. Moments after the thread was created, “Longhorn” chimes in with, “How are the ratings been on Chris & Jason? … Hopefully better than the jackass show on 760.” The next day, “purist” responds with: “The jackass on 760 is pretty damn funny, though.”

This is the part where “Longhorn” decides that he is going to be a jackass.

In response to the pro-Mike Taylor post from “purist,” “Longhorn” nonchalantly claims that Taylor “cheated on his wife”, then took a shot at his marital status upon the birth of his twins.

“Now they are proud parents of two bastard children.”

Ouch. With the kind of vitriol “Longhorn” dishes out to Taylor, you would think it was his own ex-wife posting under that username.

You can argue that if radio talk show hosts aren’t generating enough buzz on the Internet, they might not be doing their jobs (see: Bruce Jacobs). Usually, a radio host can shake off a message board criticism or two or twenty.

Unless one of them is taking an unwarranted shot at your family, including twins that are barely a month old.

So on Tuesday, Taylor took it upon himself to register an account on spurstalk.com, but primarily to give “Longhorn” a piece of his mind.

“I never post on these things [because] they’re not for me,” Taylor writes, “but I’m not going to stand for fecal matter like S_A_Longhorn going way over the top like that.

“How dare you say something like that about my 3 week old daughters,” Taylor scolded to “S_A_Longhorn.” “Is that how far America has bottomed in which some a**hole decides he can say whatever he wants behind some anonymous moniker?

In further stressing the anonymity of the user, Taylor proceeded to pose the question “Who are you?” twice in his post to “S_A_Longhorn,” and hopes that he’s not a family man. “If you indeed do have kids of your own,” he writes, “then you’re a bigger scumbag than your previous posts suggest.

“You can say whatever you want about me,” Taylor added, “but when you discuss my family, that’s grounds for an ass beating.”

Granted, there may be no intent to follow through with said “ass beating,” since he has no idea who to even look for. But Taylor’s point is that any man who hides behind a username and hurls assaulting posts at people, probably isn’t man enough to say it to people’s faces.

(I know… You’re reading this column and getting ready to call me a hypocrite because I use the name “Diamond Joe.” That’s mostly to distinguish from my higher profile job. “Media Rantz” is just good ol’ fashioned leisure for me. But Joe is my name – and I would never call people out for having children out of wedlock… By the way, in discussing this ordeal in his “people I want to punch” segment, he cited a study that more than half of Americans age 30 or over are not married.)

Obviously, “S_A_Longhorn” is wrong on so many levels here. Not only was the “bastard children” comment unnecessary, but this all took place in a thread not about Mike Taylor, but the competition on the other sports radio station in town! It was “Longhorn” who was the first person on the thread to make reference to “the jackass show” in afternoon drive on KTKR.

And why would he know about someone’s personal life, if he hasn’t listened to his show for five years?

That might be “grounds for an ass beating.”