Berman retiring after 2016 football season

Courtesy of The Big Lead

chris_bermanChris Berman, the longtime ESPN sportscaster who has been with the company since 1979, is leaving the network after next football season, multiple sources tell The Big Lead. Berman is in the final year of his contract, which ends sometime after the 2016-2017 football season. He is expected to retire, rather than leave for another network.

ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz declined comment this week.

Berman, 61, joined the network a month after its inception in 1979 and in addition to being one of the company’s longest-tenured employees, he’d certainly go on ESPN’s Mount Rushmore. As such, the network has lavish plans for a send-off that one source said might be akin to the way the Lakers sent Kobe Bryant into retirement. ESPN is currently preparing “summer camp” for its NFL TV team – which will feature new faces like Matt Hasselbeck, Randy Moss and Charles Woodson – and plans are being hatched for Berman’s send-off.

Who will replace Berman on the network’s popular “Monday Night Countdown” and “Sunday NFL Countdown” shows? Many have written that longtime NFL Live host Trey Wingo is a natural fit to replace Berman, but there is a strong internal push for Suzy Kolber to take over Berman’s chair.

No decision is expected anytime soon.

Read more at The Big Lead where this story was originally published.

Meltser, Payne moving to mornings in Houston

Courtesy of The Houston Chronicle

kilt-610-houstonKILT’s (610 AM) “New Day” will be its current midday.

Midday hosts Mike Meltser and Seth Payne, who as often as not over the past two years have had among the largest audiences for any Houston sports talk show, will move into the morning drive slot Tuesday.

John Lopez, the station’s morning host alongside Marc Vandermeer and, most recently, Nick Wright, will move to middays along with Cody Stoots and former Aldine Nimitz, Texas A&M and NFL receiver/kick returner Dante Hall, aka “The X-Factor.”

The new schedule makes sense on any number of levels. It moves what arguably is KILT’s most entertaining show duo into a time where it perhaps can recoup some ratings territory while also boosting advertising revenue.

Lopez, meanwhile, will work alongside a Texas A&M former student in Hall, who will be making his radio debut, with Stoots on hand to help handle the nuts and bolts of segment transitions and the other finer points of programming that KILT began emphasizing under its former program director Gavin Spittle.

KILT is promoting the schedule change, which was brought about by Wright’s departure for Fox Sports 1, on social media with the hashtag #NewDay610.

Ryan McCredden, director of AM programming for the CBS Radio sports stations, did not return several telephone calls seeking comment on the new schedule.

Read more at The Houston Chronicle where this story was originally published.

La Russa invades booth to argue with Pirates broadcaster

Courtesy of CBS Sports

Despite not being division rivals, the Pirates and Diamondbacks have a bit of bad blood dating back to 2014, when Andrew McCutchen and Paul Goldschmidt were at the center of a hit-by-pitch war. McCutchen suffered a rib fracture as a result of being hit.

Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, the two teams again traded hit-by-pitches. Pirates righty Arquimedes Caminero hit both Jean Segura and Nick Ahmed with pitches up around the head, which is always scary. D-Backs righty Evan Marshall responded by hitting David Freese.

After the game Arizona manager Chip Hale said he did not think Caminero intentionally hit Segura and Ahmed up high, but did say if he “can’t [keep the ball down and away from the hitter’s head] he has no business being up here in the major leagues.”
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Heidtke leaving Fox Sports Southwest

Courtesy of The Houston Chronicle

Jon Heidtke, who as general manager of Fox Sports Southwest has been one of the most influential regional sports network executives of the last two decades, will leave Fox at the end of June to take a position with Learfield Communications at his alma mater, Texas A&M.

Heidtke will work with Learfield, which is the rights holder for A&M athletics, to create partnerships within the athletic department and other elements of the university that will include marketing agreements, on-campus partnerships with business and industry and other activities to be determined.

His final day with Fox Sports in Irving will be June 30.

“It’s with mixed emotions that I leave Fox, but this is a great opportunity,” Heidtke said. “It’s at a place I am passionate about and a chance to contribute to a university that means so much to me.”

Heidtke joined the network then known as Home Sports Entertainment in 1989 to oversee HSE’s transition from a pay service to a basic cable outlet. He has been general manager of Fox Sports Southwest, which serves a five-state region and holds broadcast rights for the Rangers, Mavericks, Thunder, Pelicans, Spurs and Stars, since 1994.

Heidtke began his television career in 1981 as a sports anchor and reporter at KBTX in Bryan but moved into sales with ESPN and SportsVision before joining HSE and remaining with the company during its transition to Fox Sports. At one point, he was assigned to supervise all of Fox’s regional sports networks west of the Mississippi River.
Among his most significant programming initiatives was lobbying the University Interscholastic League to create a central site for its football championship games, which began in 2010.

His tenure at the network also included a 2003 legal dispute with the Astros and Rockets over their attempt to start their own regional sports network. The teams re-signed with Fox, which created Fox Sports Houston to showcase their game telecasts, but left Fox in 2012 for Comcast SportsNet Houston, which after a bankruptcy reorganization now shows Rockets and Astros games as Root Sports Southwest.

Read more at The Houston Chronicle where this story was originally published.

USI student recognized among nation’s top sportscasters

Courtesy of University of Southern Indiana

STAA_All-America_logoUniversity of Southern Indiana student Jevin Redman, a junior marketing and radio and television major from Mt. Vernon, Indiana, has been named the 17th-best collegiate sports broadcaster in the country by the Sportscasters Talent Agency of America (STAA), as part of the STAA All-America Program. He was the only student from a NCAA Division II school recognized as part of the program.

Redman is the sports director for The Edge, the USI student radio station, and has been calling play-by-play for the University since his freshman year. He was the voice of the USI Baseball team’s 2014 NCAA Division II National Championship and will travel with the team to the 2016 Division II College World Series to broadcast the games from Cary, N.C. He also serves as the radio voice for USI basketball and high school football games.

“I’ve never been concerned with awards, but rather just worrying about working hard and doing things the right way. It feels good to know that the hard work has paid off,” said Redman. “I’m humbled to be a part of such a prestigious award and great group of broadcasters.”

“Jevin Redman is just an outstanding sportscaster,” said John Morris, USI instructor of radio and The Edge general manager. “He draws beautiful word pictures that help the listener see what is happening.”

Redman will broadcast live as USI faces Cal Poly Pomona in the first round of the Division II College World Series at 6 p.m. Central Time on May 28. All of USI’s games will be aired on WPSR 90.7 FM, while live stats, audio, video and ticket information can be accessed at

Read more at University of Southern Indiana where this story was originally published.

Ex-NU football players to host Internet sports show

Courtesy of Midland Daily News

alex faustFrom Partridge Park to the World Wide Web — Jake Riepma is certainly moving up in the world of sportscasting.

Riepma and longtime friend and teammate Alex Faust — both of whom played football at Dow High and then Northwood University — announced Wednesday that they will be hosting a sports talk show of their own creation online at, beginning on June 2.

The show, called “The Great Lakes Forum,” will stream every Thursday from noon to 2 p.m., and the focus will be collegiate and professional sports in Michigan along with occasional national and global sports-related issues.
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After a year away, Graham returning to Greenville station

“Josh(May 27, 2016) Just one year after graduating from college and moving to Colorado for his first full-time job, Josh Graham is returning home. An STAA member, Graham is joining 94.3 the game in Greenville, NC as Sports Director. He will be the face of the station on the Eastern North Carolina sports scene.

“My duties will include hosting a new local afternoon sports show, which will be tailored mostly to covering all things East Carolina. Also, I’ll be expected to do some local high school play-by-play,” he says.

Graham isn’t new to The Game. When the station launched in 2014 during Graham’s junior year at East Carolina University, he covered Pirates athletics for the station. Following his graduation last spring, Graham moved to Wray, CO for a sports director position that included play-by-play and sales. He used the opportunity to fine-tune his craft.

“Just like the old cliché goes for athletes, in order to be successful, you must be a student of the game. STAA allowed me to do that. The tools that were provided helped me enhance every aspect of my play-by-play. I swear there were times I’d even spend hours listening to the interviews, taking notes, and reading all of the pointers,” Graham says.

“When I left for Colorado last summer, [The Game] stayed in touch and when they saw a chance to enhance their local coverage, I guess my name was on their list, so they reached out to me.”

Graham anticipates that his prior experience in Greenville will come in handy.

“I built some strong relationships with some of ECU’s coaches, administration and also the local media, so that can only help me,” he says. Honestly, I’m very excited to continue fostering those relationships and to have Eastern North Carolina barbecue back in my life. All of that aside, I feel like I have a good understanding of my audience and what’s important to them.“

(Visit Josh’s STAA Talent Page).

Scully declines All-Star Game invitation

Courtesy of Sports Illustrated

ScullyThis column comes bearing bad news: Vin Scully has officially turned down an offer from Fox Sports to be part of its MLB All-Star Game coverage on July 12.

Brad Zager, an executive vice president of production and operations for Fox Sports, spoke with Scully at Dodgers Stadium on May 17 at prior to the Freeway Series game that night against the Angels. Zager has known Scully for more than a decade, having worked as his producer from 2004 to 2012 for both Prime Ticket and KCAL-TV’s coverage of the Dodgers. On behalf of his network, Zager told Scully that Fox Sports would accommodate him however he wished, whether that was calling one inning, the entire game or even being a guest in the booth. “I told him, ‘Look, everyone would love to have you as part of the All Star Game,’” Zager said. “Anything you would want to do, we will make it happen.”

Scully was very appreciative, according to Zager, but he declined the invitation. This is consistent with similar offers over the years. Scully told Zager that he felt it was not his place to be in someone else’s broadcast booth and that he had already covered All-Star Games, the most recent coming in 1989 for NBC Sports (former U.S. President Ronald Reagan called an inning with Scully that year). Scully told Zager the last thing he wanted was for his name to overshadow the players in this year’s game. It’s also been an exhausting time for Scully with all the media requests and adulation he has received. Said Zager: “He told me, ‘I’m not Kobe Bryant. I’m just out there calling games.’”

​Zager said he talked in general terms with Scully about working with Fox later in the year, possibly including the postseason, but he did not expect Scully to change his mind. “Knowing Vin the way I do, I don’t think it will happen,” Zager said. “If the Dodgers are there in the postseason, I think we would look to at least talk again. But I honestly don’t think he’d want to call his last Dodgers game—and then call games in the postseason.”
This is a bummer for baseball fans. You have to respect Scully for keeping to his principles—check out Tom Verducci’s remarkable Sports Illustrated cover story on Scully from two weeks ago—but it would have been such a treat for the country to hear the voice of summer one last time.

Read more at Sports Illustrated where this story was originally published.

Heather Cox expected to leave ESPN for NBC

Courtesy of The Big Lead

Heather Cox, who joined ESPN in 1994, is expected to leave the network for NBC, The Big Lead has learned. Cox declined to comment for this story; it is not finalized yet, but we have heard that it is headed that way.

Cox has most recently done sideline reporting on ESPN’s college football, NBA, WNBA, and men’s and women’s college basketball coverage. ESPN has already announced that Sam Ponder will be resuming responsibilities as a sideline reporter this college football season, and will be on the Saturday night ABC telecast.

At NBC, one of Cox’s major roles would likely be as sideline reporter on the Thursday Night Football package, which will feature fellow ESPN ex-pat Mike Tirico on play-by-play. NBC has needed to fill the role since February, when their involvement in the NFL’s Thursday package was announced, and Richard Deitsch reported that Michele Tafoya would only be doing Sunday nights. Many of Cox’s recent follows on Twitter are NFL reporters, figureheads, or publicists. One of Cox’s agents is Sandy Montag, who also reps Tirico. An NBC spokesperson declined to comment.

NBC’s other sports properties include the Olympics, Notre Dame football, the British Open, and the Triple Crown. It’s not been made clear to us at this time whether or how Cox would fit into these broadcasts.

Read more at The Big Lead where this story was originally published.

Hines Ward joins CNN as sports reporter

Courtesy of CNN

Hines Ward, two-time Super Bowl champion and Dancing with the Stars Mirrorball trophy winner, joins HLN’s Morning Express with Robin Meade as sports contributor. Based at the network’s headquarters in Atlanta, Ward will also provide analysis and commentary on major sporting events and breaking news across all CNN platforms, including CNN/U.S., CNN Digital, CNNMoney and CNN International.

Beginning July 1, the Super Bowl XL MVP, joins the popular HLN morning crew of host Robin Meade, meteorologist Bob Van Dillen and consumer business correspondent Jennifer Westhoven. Morning Express with Robin Meade is a ratings juggernaut for the network. The wildly successful morning show is up double-digits year-to-date in both total viewers and persons 25-54.

“I’m incredibly grateful to HLN and CNN for welcoming me to their prestigious team,” said Ward. “Throughout my career, I’ve always envisioned myself as more than just a football player and this platform will allow me to express myself in different and unique ways. I’m excited to be able to share my journey and my stories with our audiences, both in the US and worldwide.”
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