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October 6, 2014:
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Top Sports Talkers of 2013

Compelling topics for Americas Sports Talk stations seemed to fall out of the sky like gifts from heaven in 2013. From steroids in baseball to concussions and hazing in the NFL to the debate over playoffs in college football, sports talk hosts have been handed an array of meaty subjects. Mix in some very popular professional sports and off-the-wall, ranting and raving hosts, and radio has one of its most popular formats. But just because athletes and sports leagues are creating these softball topics doesnt mean its easy to hit them out of the park. You still have to know what youre talking about. You still need to be able to keep the passionate fan as a passionate listener. You have to engage that audience every day, even when the topics are less thrilling. That takes talent and companies like CBS Radio, Entercom, Clear Channel, Cumulus, and others are stocking up on that talent. Some of Americas best sports talkers have been around since the format began more than 25 years ago, some are on the fast track to success, and others are retired athletes who bring knowledge and experience from the game over to the mic. Theyre all keeping the listener on the edge of his or her seat and the PPM firing on all the right cylinders. Here are the 30 best local sports talkers for 2013.

#1) Mike Francesa
WFAN-AM & FM
New York
CBS Radio
1-6:30 p.m

Mike Francesa occupies the number one position on our list for the second consecutive year. Francesa continues to dominate the ratings in New York for WFAN, and hes arguably the most influential sports talker in America. Case in point: In 2012, when New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez stormed out of a mediators hearing on steroid allegations, he kept storming right on over to Francesas studio to be interviewed by The Pope. (Francesa has been very supportive of Rodriguez.) Francesa is often written about by the New York sportwriters, who seem to get a kick out of poking him but at the end of the day, they just bring even more publicity to his top-rated program. With more than 25 years in the Sports format, Francesa says the reason for his continued success has always been the same. Inform and entertain, and tell them a good story, he says. Sports is the one entity in our country that has not seen a top. Its still growing, and it gives you a new story every day.

WFAN PD and CBS Radio/New York VP/Programming Mark Chernoff says, Kudos to Mike Francesa for being named the number one Sports Talk host by Radio Ink. Mike continues to be at the top of his game after more than 25 years holding down afternoon drive on the FAN. His show is a must listenfor any New Yorker interested in the world of sports. You may not always agree with his opinion, but he always gives our listeners plenty to think about.


#2) Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton
WFAN-AM & FM
New York
CBS Radio
6-10 a.m.

Craig Carton has been doing Sports radio since 1991. Boomer Esiason has been full-time on WFAN since 2007, and the former NFL QB is also a big part of the CBS Radio Sports network, as well as a familiar face on TV during the NFL season. Carton tells Radio Ink he feels blessed that he and Esiason are now entering their seventh year together on WFAN. The secret is simple, he says. We get along on and off the air, we have the same agenda, which is  to have fun and entertain ourselves and the audience, and we try to be open and honest and transparent with our amazing audience every day. Sports is important to them, but so are other issues, and we try to make sure that we relate to our audience beyond just sports. Esiasons Boomer Esiason Foundation supports cystic fibrosis research and raises millions of dollars annually, while Carton, who has Tourette syndrome, works with the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders. Both are extremely community-minded and also support a number of local charities.


3) Michael Kay (left) and Don La Greca
WEPN-FM (ESPN NY 98.7)
New York
3-7 p.m.

Michael Kay has been in the Sports Talk format for a dozen years now, and his co-host, Don La Greca, since 1996. Kay combines an old-school passion for sports with new-age savvy; hes communicating with fans through calls, texts, and via tweets and other social media. Kay believes the Sports format is so popular in part because its not as polarizing as political talk. A conservative host is probably not drawing in liberals, and vice versa, he points out. In Sports Talk, although there are strong allegiances, those that dont agree want to argue their point, or hear what you have to say.

Kay believes his genuine passion for sports is a big reason for his success. I would be having these discussions with friends if not for the microphone in front of me, he says. Also, my partner on the show, Don La Greca, is a pleasure to work with. We get along but dont always agree, and that makes for a good, lively listen. La Greca concurs; he says its all about the passion that listeners have for their teams, the passion of everything they want to debate especially in New York, where there are so many teams to root for, and so many people are reluctant to change their opinions due to the absolute
passion they have for their teams.


#4) George Dunham, Craig Miller, Gordon Keith (The Musers)

KTCK-AM & FM (The Ticket)
Dallas
Cumulus Media
5:30-10 a.m.

The Musers have been the wakeup engine driving this hugely successful station for 18 years. They were Marconi Award finalists in 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2010, and theyve won Air Personalities of the Year honors six times in 11 years from the Dallas chapter of American Women in Radio and Television. The program has raised more than $750,000 for Special Olympics Texas through golf tournaments, bike rallies, clay shoots, and benefit concerts.


#5) Gary Radnich
KNBR-AM
San Francisco
Cumulus Media
9 a.m.-noon

When it comes to legendary Sports Talk personalities, one name that comes up every time is KNBRs Gary Radnich. Radnich has been at the station
for 21 years; in fact, KNBR is the only station hes ever worked for. With partner Larry Krueger, hes created a show thats must-listen radio in the Bay Area. Realizing that listeners already have a lot of the days sports information by the time his show starts at 9 a.m., Radnich attacks the issues from a different perspective. I think the key to Sports Talk radio is the fun factor, he says. People are looking to get away from their daily stresses, and sports conversation provides an outlet. Longevity and credibility are the keys to my success. I dont have to yell and scream to entertain the audience. Kruegers job is to keep his partner on track: While Gary might be talking about the latest headlines in Hollywood, Larry pulls the show back into the sports world with his encyclopedic knowledge. The duo have also been simulcast on Comcast Sports Net Bay Area for the last 11 years.

SEE HOW THE 30 BEST SPORTS TALKERS APPEARED IN RADIO INK MAGAZINE

#6) Mully & Hanley
WSCR-AM (670 The Score)
Chicago
CBS Radio
5a-9a

#7) Angelo Cataldi
WIP-FM (SportsRadio 94)
Philadelphia
CBS Radio
5:30-10 a.m.

#8) Waddle & Silvy
WMVP-AM (ESPN 1000)
Chicago
2p-6p

#9) Toucher & Rich
WBZ-FM (The Sports Hub)
Boston
CBS Radio
6-10a.m.

#10) Charlie Pallilo
KBME-AM (Sports Talk 790)/Houston
Clear Channel
4-7p.m.

#11) Tom Tolbert
KNBR-AM/San Francisco
Cumulus Media
3-7 p.m.

#12) LaVar and Dukes
WJFK-FM (106.7 The Fan)
Washington, DC
CBS Radio
2-6 p.m.

#13) Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco
WEPN-FM (ESPN NY 98.7)
New York
1-3 p.m.

#14) Dave Softy Mahler
KJR-AM/Seattle
Clear Channel
3-7 p.m.

# 15) Mike Rhyner and Corby Davidson (The Hardline)
KTCK-AM & FM (The Ticket)
Dallas
Cumulus
3-7 p.m.

#16) Mitch Levy
KJR-AM/Seattle
6-9 a.m.
Clear Channel

#17) Mike Schopp and the Bulldog
WGR-AM (550 Sports Radio)
Buffalo
Entercom
3-7 p.m.

#18) Max Kellerman and Marcellus Wiley
KSPN (ESPN 710)
Los Angeles
3-7 p.m.

#19) John Canzano
KXTG-AM (Sports 750 The Game)
Portland, OR
Alpha Broadcasting
Noon-3 p.m.

#20) Mark Miller and David Moulton
WWCN
Ft. Myers, FL
Beasley Broadcast Group
2-6 p.m.

#21) Whitey Gleason, Mark Kreidler, Dan Dibley (Rise Guys)
KGMZ/San Francisco
Entercom
6-10 a.m.

#22) George Plaster, Willy Daunic, Darren McFarland
WPRT-FM (ESPN The Game)
Nashville
Cromwell Group
4-7 p.m.

# 23) Mike Stoney Stone & Bill McAllister with Sara
WXYT-FM (97.1 The Ticket)
Detroit
CBS Radio
6-10 a.m.

#24) Alfred Big Al Williams & Darren DMac McKee 
KKFN-FM (104.3 FM The Fan)
Denver
Lincoln Financial Media
3-6 p.m.

#25) Jody Oehler, Mike M.J. Jurecki & Mike Bauer (The Drive)
KGME-AM (Fox Sports 910)
Phoenix
Clear Channel
2-6 p.m.

#26) Dan Dakich
WFNI (ESPN 1070 The Fan)
Indianapolis
Emmis
Noon-3 p.m.

#27) Gary Sharp & Damon Benning
KOZN-AM (The Zone)
Omaha
NRG Media
7-11 a.m.

#28) Dan The Common Man Cole
KFXN-FM (KFAN FM 100.3)
Minneapolis
Clear Channel
Noon-3 p.m.

#29) Kevin Kietzman
WHB-AM (Sports Radio 810)
Kansas City
Union Broadcasting
2-6 p.m.

#30) Adam Gold & Joe Ovies
WCMC-FM (ESPN Triangle)
Raleigh, NC
Capitol Broadcasting
3-7 p.m.




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