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Mowins-BethThe Raiders announced today that veteran announcer Beth Mowins will call play-by-play for their preseason games this season.

Mowins will be a rarity in the NFL as a female in a broadcast booth. Although many women work NFL games as sideline reporters, the play-by-play and commentator duties are almost always handled by men. Mowins is eminently qualified for the Raiders job, having spent two decades calling games for ESPN, including many college football games. Her presence in the Raiders’ booth is a positive step.

Former Raiders Tim Brown and Matt Millen will join Mowins in the booth.

“Calling games for one of the premier franchises in the NFL is a real privilege, especially alongside a Hall of Famer and a four-time Super Bowl champion,” Mowins said in a statement released by the Raiders. “The Raiders have always taken pride in being innovative and we are excited to engage with Raider Nation in what promises to be an exciting buildup to the new season.”

Read more at Pro Football Talk where this story was originally published.

Pac-12Former Portland State football coach Nigel Burton will join the Pac-12 Networks as an analyst for the 2015 season, the network announced.

Burton will be part of a rotating crew of analysts for the network’s studio shows for the coming season. He and fellow newcomer Lincoln Kennedy – who like Burton, played at the University of Washington – join nine other analysts in the network’s talking-head lineup for its three studio shows.

Instead of having a lead analyst for its studio shows, as it did for its first three years with Rick Neuheisel, the network will use a rotating format to start the season, a spokesman said. Neuheisel signed with CBS in March.

This season, the Pac-12 Networks will have three weekly shows dedicated to football. Each Tuesday evening starting Sept. 1, it will air “Inside Pac-12 Football,” hosted by Mike Yam and with former USC player Curtis Conway as the lead analyst. The will be joined by other analysts from the network’s pool.

Each Saturday, the network will start its coverage with the one-hour “Pac-12 Football Pregame Show.” At the end of the final game each Saturday, “Pac-12 Final Score” will wrap up the day’s action.

Yam will host the late Saturday show and be joined by different analysts throughout the season. The pregame show will have a similar rotation, with a new host that the network will soon announce, a spokesman said.

The analyst crew will include former Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti, who joined the network last season after retiring as a coach after the 2013 season.

Other analysts will include Conway and his fellow USC products Ronnie Lott and Matt Leinart; former USC coach Yogi Roth; former Arizona lineman Glenn Parker; former Iowa defensive lineman Anthony Herron; former Colorado receiver Jeremy Bloom; and former Arizona State quarterback Jake Plummer.

Burton coached the defensive backs at Oregon State from 2003 to 2007, then after a stint as defensive coordinator at Nevada, was hired as Portland State coach in December 2009. In five seasons on the Park Blocks, Burton’s teams went 21-36 and 12-27 in the FCS Big Sky Conference before he was fired in November.

Last month, the Pac-12 Networks announced its schedule for the first three weeks of the 2015 season, and it includes two games apiece for Oregon and Oregon State.

The network’s game broadcasters will include play-by-play announcers Ted Robinson, Kevin Calabro, Roxy Bernstein and JB Long, and sideline reporters Lewis Johnson, Ashley Adamson, Jill Savage and Drea Avent. Parker and Roth will double as color commentators.

Read more at Oregon Live where this story was originally published.

David Tuttle knows he has big headphones to fill.

The longtime color analyst for UAA hockey radio and television broadcasts Wednesday was named play-by-play broadcaster for the Seawolves, who are nearing their 36th season. He becomes just the third person to hold that job.

Tuttle, 39, replaces Kurt Haider, who earlier this summer, after 19 seasons as the voice of the Seawolves, became the broadcaster and media relations director of the ECHL’s Alaska Aces. Tom Miller worked the first 16 seasons of UAA hockey.

“I’m so thrilled. It’s a huge sense of responsibility,’’ Tuttle said. “Kurt set the bar extremely high. It’s a lot to live up to. Kurt is one of a kind. My thing is, I’ve got to me myself.’’

Tuttle spent the last 11 seasons as Haider’s analyst for radio and television broadcasts of home games, and occasional road games.

UAA athletic director Keith Hackett, who announced Tuttle’s hiring, said Tuttle was an obvious and well-qualified choice.

“I don’t think we could have found anybody who has a greater love and passion for the program,’’ Hackett said. “I think in Kurt we’ve had one of college hockey’s best broadcasters. We wanted someone with Kurt’s passion.

“David was the obvious choice for us because of his long-standing commitment and what he’s done over the years.’’

Haider said he supported Tuttle as his replacement.

“I was in his corner,’’ Haider said. “He’s paid his dues. He earned his spot.’’

Tuttle, who served more than six years in the U.S. Air Force, works as an avionics technician servicing C-17 airplanes for the Alaska Air National Guard. He said he’ll take personal leave to broadcast UAA games in the Lower 48. The Seawolves of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association in the upcoming season have 16 road games, four in Fairbanks and 12 Outside, including distant journeys to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Huntsville, Alabama.

Tuttle believes his most significant adjustment moving from color analysis to play-by-play is that he’ll be the predominant voice of the Seawolves.

“I think the biggest transition is I’ll be talking all the time instead of chiming in with the, quote-unquote, clever quip,’’ he said.

Hackett said UAA still is developing plans to fill Tuttle’s former position as color analyst.

Haider said he told Tuttle he’s always available for advice and mentoring.

And the former voice of the Seawolves, and new voice of the Aces, had some tips for his successor on UAA broadcasts.

“Make sure you have the correct pronunciations for home and visitors before you go on the air,’’ Haider said. “And say the score often.’’

Read more at Alaska Dispatch News where this story was originally published.

After nearly two decades in the Hamilton Bulldogs broadcast booth, Craig Freifeld is hanging up the mike.

Er … Al Craig.

“Back in the day, I mean way back in the day, broadcasters didn’t use their real names,” said the longtime colour commentator. “Sometimes even good names they would change or they would spell them weird.”

Craig, 66, started his career in broadcasting in 1970 as Craig Albert, a mix of his first and middle names. The alias took him through eight years and four cities — Pembroke, St. John’s, Timmins and Charlottetown.

When he arrived at CHML in 1978, though, it became clear it wouldn’t fly.

“Bob Hooper, my old boss, put out a memo, when there was still written memos, and it said, ‘I’m afraid to report that Craig Albert has decided not to join us. However, we will have a fellow named Al Craig,’” he said.

“I don’t know if it was because of Perc Allan (the legendary former Tiger-Cats voice) or, you know, being the sports director and Craig Albert was a little weak.”

Fast forward 18 years. That’s when — just like Allan and the Tabbies — the name Al Craig started to become synonymous with Bulldogs hockey.

It was 1996 and the Edmonton Oilers had moved their AHL affiliate to Hamilton from Cape Breton. CHML grabbed the broadcast rights and tapped Craig to call the games — something he hadn’t done in, well, a while.

“The team ended up going all the way to the Calder Cup final,” he said. “I wasn’t quite ready for that. I hadn’t done hockey since 1977, maybe. I used to do junior hockey in P.E.I., but didn’t do any then until the Bulldogs came to town.

“It was a long time.”

That run, along with those that followed, was also memorable. Obviously, he said, 2007 stands out.

“They weren’t supposed to win, but they did anyway,” he said of the Calder Cup-winning squad. “That was great.”

Still, what stands out most for Craig is neither the championship seasons nor, more recently, the stinkers. It’s the players.

“We had so many great players that came through Hamilton, scads of them that played at least a game in the National Hockey League,” he said. “It was a great pleasure to see those guys perform.”

Now, though, it’s time to move on. In fact, the 66-year-old stayed longer than he intended.

“I always had sort of a pact with Derek Wills that when he left, I would leave,” said Craig, who took over as colour commentator once Wills came on the scene in 2001. But when Wills took a play-by-play job in Calgary last season, then-president Stephen Ostaszewicz convinced the Toronto native to stick around for one more year.

Matt Holmes was the beneficiary.

“He’s a constant professional,” he said of Craig. “He made that transition pretty comfortable for me.”

Holmes, the team’s newest voice, has now turned his attention to filling the hole left by Craig, who plans to keep his other part-time gig as sports information officer at Mohawk College. The Bulldogs, he said, have received almost 50 applications so far, and hope to have someone in place for the kickoff of the team’s inaugural OHL season this September.

“We’re looking for a smart hockey guy who knows his way around the microphone,” he said, “somebody who has their finger on the pulse of junior hockey.”

Read more at Hamilton Spectator where this story was originally published.

Stepping inside Steve Shapiro’s office is like taking a quick tour of South Florida sports history.

One photo captures the WSVN-Ch. 7 sports anchor interviewing Shaquille O’Neal on his first day as a Miami Heat player. Another picture captures Shapiro covering the Miami Marlins after they won the 2003 World Series. Other shots with local sports celebrities from former Miami Dolphins player Ricky Williams to Olympic swimmer Dara Torres bedeck the office walls.

This summer marks Shapiro’s 25th year as a sports anchor in the Fort Lauderdale-Miami TV market, where he’s also the longest-running sportscaster currently on the air.

At 61, Shapiro endures on South Florida TV as viewers have watched some of his contemporaries, including WTVJ-Ch. 6 sports anchor Joe Rose and WFOR-Ch. 4′s Kim Bokamper, sign off last year.

When Shapiro arrived in South Florida, first as a sports anchor at the former WCIX and then WSVN, there wasn’t a baseball or ice hockey team. The Heat was just beginning. And Shapiro’s hair was brown.

To celebrate his TV anniversary, several sports celebrities sent Shapiro congratulatory video tributes, some poking fun at his longevity in the industry. Even longtime sports and news anchor Tony Segreto called him “a warrior” for his stamina.

Read more at Sun Sentinel where this story was originally published.

Host Tim Benz leaving WEEI

July 29, 2015
Courtesy of Boston Globe

tim_benzAfter announcing on WEEI’s “Middays With MFB” program this afternoon that he is returning to the city from which he arrived just a little over a year ago, Tim Benz took to Twitter and revealed an awareness of his audience that never quite reflected in the ratings.

“As you may have just heard, Thursday’s show will be my last at WEEI,’’ he wrote on his @TimBenzWEEI account. “(I’ll pause for a moment so Pats fans can contain their sobbing).”

Benz, who was born in Boston but who came to WEEI from 970-AM in Pittsburgh, tweeted that he is returning there for an opportunity that begins next month.

“Im happy to announce that I’ll be returning to work in Pittsburgh in early Aug. Details abt where & when to follow over the next week or two,’’ he wrote.

Hired last May to join Lou Merloni and Christian Fauria on WEEI’s revamped program in the midday 10 a.m.-2 p.m. time slot, Benz quickly earned a reputation as a host who was willing to antagonize Patriots fans.

He didn’t hide his Steelers loyalties, and he said on Twitter that a main reason he is returning to Pittsburgh is because his home and family is there.

“I want to thank the managers at WEEI for allowing this move after granting me a tremendous opportunity when they hired me as host of MFB,’’ he wrote.

“However, I underestimated the difficulties that go along with working a job in one city while trying to maintain a home & marriage in another.”

“Bost was every bit the city I wanted 2 experience,’’ he wrote in another tweet. “But it is best for me personally&professionally 2 be back home full time in PGH w/ my wife.”

It’s uncertain at the moment who will replace Benz on the midday show, which was sixth in its time slot in the spring Nielsen Audio ratings with a so-so 5.3 share.

It would not be a surprise if Glenn Ordway, who hosted the long-running afternoon drive show on WEEI before he was fired in February 2013, drew serious consideration.

Read more at Boston Globe where this story was originally published.

During his time as WDAZ-TV sports director, Pat Sweeney attempted several times to convince Mike Berg to serve as his color analyst. But Sweeney was never able to get the longtime Grand Forks Central football coach in the booth with him.

That will change this season.

Sweeney, the longtime voice of University of North Dakota athletics on television, will serve as the play-by-play radio voice for the UND football team for the 2015 season. He will join Berg, the color commentator, and Paul Ralston, the sideline reporter, to call games for UND’s radio network.

“I’m honored to have the assignment, I really am,” said Sweeney, who left his position at WDAZ a year ago to work in UND’s public relations department. “The football team was the first UND team that I covered when I got to Grand Forks in the summer of 1982. I’ve had a long association with the folks in football. I’ve met a lot of terrific people. I’m anxious to get back into it again.”

Sweeney will take over for Jack Michaels, who resigned from his post due to an increase in job duties with his primary employer, Midwest Communications.

UND football games in Fargo are on 970-AM WDAY.

Read more at InForum.com where this story was originally published.

WQAMThe Florida Panthers have announced that all 2015-16 Panthers regular season and playoff games will once again air on CBS RADIO’s Sports Radio 560 WQAM, the team’s flagship radio partner, with award-winning play-by-play broadcaster “Red Deer” Randy Moller calling all the action.

As part of their partnership with CBS RADIO Miami, the Panthers will air a 30-minute pregame show on 560 WQAM (prior to all weekday games that begin at 7:30 p.m.), as well as a 15-minute postgame show. 560 WQAM will also broadcast weekly updates, and exclusive interviews with Panthers Head Coach Gerard Gallant, Panthers players and other hockey personalities.

A 60-minute “Panthers Insider” program hosted by Moller will be broadcast on 560 WQAM on Saturday mornings, and the station will also host remote broadcasts at BB&T Center and Panthers community outreach events throughout the season. The Panthers will also receive comprehensive promotion and be featured on CBS RADIO’s WKIS 99.9 FM and WPOW 96.5 FM in Miami.

Read more at CBS Miami where this story was originally published.

Evan Duncan’s commentary skills have come a long way since he ‘announced’ ball hockey games on the streets in Charleswood.

The 32-year-old grew up loving hockey but didn’t play the sport. He and his sister were raised by a single parent, his mom, and “there just weren’t enough funds to go around as obviously hockey is an expensive sport,” he said.

Determined to stay involved with the game, Duncan pursued a different avenue.

“I picked up announcing as a kid I guess, like any kid growing up, especially as a guy playing ball hockey out on the street, doing my little play by play as we go, I always liked that,” Duncan said.

“Then in high school I started with my high school hockey team doing some announcing at Eric Coy Arena for the Oak Park Raiders.”

He worked for 12 years as the public address announcer for the Charleswood Hawks and further honed his skills for a number of years announcing at various hockey events around the city.

Moving from the Eric Coy Arena to the MTS Centre, Duncan soon became the backup p.a. announcer for the Winnipeg Jets when the NHL team returned.

“I actually announced one of the Jets games a few years back,” Duncan said, referring to a game against the Philadelphia Flyers on April 6 in 2013. “It was the experience of a lifetime.”

Duncan has been reading announcements on a regular basis at Jets games since and also works full-time as a juvenile councillor at the Manitoba Youth Centre.

He listed a few of his favourite announcers off the top of his head to be Bob Cole from Hockey Night in Canada, Curt Keilback from the Jets back in the day and then, later, Kelly Moore. When he heard the Manitoba Moose were coming back to town, he said he was the first one to go knock on their door to try and receive that opportunity. In May of this year, Duncan was told he’d been chosen to become the p.a. announcer for the Manitoba Moose.

He said the Moose coming back will provide the opportunity to take the whole family to a game and give young kids who would love to see a Jets game a chance to watch some future Jets playing with the Moose.

“On a personal note, to be involved with a professional sports team and be able to say that I’m the voice of the Manitoba Moose is like a dream come true,” Duncan said.

He’s confident he’ll be able to bring a lot of enthusiasm to the game as he loves to get the crowd involved and “whoop it up for the fans.”

“I’m very, very excited, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous whatsoever too, because obviously they are going to be playing in front of 8,000 people a night and there will be opportunities where it is going to be a full house,” Duncan said.

While Duncan said the position is amazing in part because he gets to go to work and watch hockey, this job in particular is extra special for him. His grandmother took him to many and more sporting events over the years, and together the two took in more than a dozen Moose games a season for close to a decade.

Duncan is set to debut at the Moose’s home opener on Oct. 15 at MTS Centre.

Read more at Winnipeg Free Press where this story was originally published.

Jessica Gagne.jpgNBC affiliates and sister TV stations WCSH 6 in Portland and WLBZ 2 in Bangor are making changes to their sports staffs.

Jessica Gagne (pictured), the weekend sports anchor at WCSH 6 after serving as daily sports anchor at WLBZ 2, will make the move over to news at WCHS 6 and Johnny Mehler will take over her sports gig next month.

Gagne will be the early morning weekend news anchor at WCSH 6 and will be a reporter the rest of the week.

Mehler will handle weekend sports at WCSH 6 while sports director Lee Goldberg will continue to anchor during the week.

Gagne said WCSH 6/WLBZ 2 news director Mike Redding asked her to fill in as the morning weekend news anchor for Jackie Ward, who moved to California, and it led to her being offered the job permanently.

She said she will miss sports but will still get to develop sports stories.

“This will be another tool for my toolbox. This will be another thing to have on my resume and allow me the opportunity to grow as a news person,” said the 28-year-old Biddeford native.

“I talked to Lee about it extensively because I had worked so hard to get into sports and I didn’t want this to close a door,” said Gagne, a Northeastern University graduate. “Lee has been a wonderful mentor and told me this wasn’t closing a door, it was a new adventure and will open up doors for me.”

“Jessica is a rock star and this shows her diversity,” said Goldberg. “I’m going to miss her but this is a good opportunity for her.”

He also said Mehler is deserving of his opportunity to move to Portland.

The 25-year-old Mehler, a Temple University graduate and a native of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, said, “I’m happy for Jess in her new role and this has been something I’ve been looking forward to since I started in Bangor.”

Mehler had shared the sports anchor job with Gagne for three months at WLBZ 2 before Gagne became the sports anchor in November 2013 and he became a news reporter. When she was promoted to WCSH 6 in June 2014, Mehler replaced her.

Mehler said he has been fortunate enough to do “a lot of things I never expected to do like spending a whole week at the Super Bowl. It’s been great dealing with the University of Maine and Husson University and learning the high school scene.

“Now I’ll have to learn a new set of high school teams down there,” said Mehler.

Read more at Bangor Daily News where this story was originally published.

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