Category Archives: Sports Media

Hookers, Media Feuds, and the Ego that Binds Them

Long before Mitch Levy allegedly plunked $160 in cash upon a bedside table in anticipation of a good old fashioned happy ending, The Seattle Times had already determined they’d be severing a long-standing association with Levy’s employer, Sports Radio 950 KJR.

The newspaper and the radio station had no real reason to be on the outs were it not for Frank Blethen, the publisher and CEO of Seattle’s paper of record. Blethen, who has been at the Times’ helm since 1985, was done with the relationship for various reasons – chief among those being a certain level of frustration over KJR’s criticism of the Times’ controversial stance on two different Seattle arena proposals, as well as perceived criticism of the paper itself. As a result, Blethen chose to enforce a moratorium on Times writers appearing on both Sports Radio 950 KJR, as well as “competing media” in the local Seattle area. The Times would later clarify its stance, singling out KJR as the sole outlet from which writers were explicitly forbidden, while also adding that some semblance of managerial permission would be required for employees to appear on-air with other local entities. Previously, this lack of autonomy had not existed.

By now we know that the Times cited “off-color” and “sexist” remarks from KJR radio personalities as the reasoning behind their imposed operational changes. However, that language didn’t emerge in an official statement until Thursday, August 31st, which might not mean much if it weren’t for Levy and his fateful blunder nearly a week earlier.

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Update: The Seattle Times Bans Sportswriters from Local Radio, TV

*Updated 8/31/17

In what is sure to be hailed as a brilliant public relations maneuver by absolutely no one, The Seattle Times has decided to prohibit their entire sports writing staff from appearing on local radio and television for the foreseeable future.

Beginning September 5th, Times sportswriters will be barred from the Seattle airwaves at the behest of management, preventing reporters and columnists from fulfilling previous commitments to local sports radio stations and television outlets. Once imposed, the ban will primarily have an impact on entities like Sports Radio 950 KJR and 710 ESPN Seattle, where many of the Times’ stable of writers would often appear.

Citing “competing forms of media” as the reason behind the embargo, the Times seems willing to sacrifice much-needed exposure for… ego, perhaps? Because make no mistake about it, this decree comes straight from the top and is a direct result of hurt feelings and a bruised manhood.

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Columnist: Sandwiches, cartoons more important than Ali

geeIn the wake of the passing of Muhammad Ali, journalists the world around rushed to their typewriters to pen poignant recollections of the greatest boxer who ever lived.

Not to be outdone, one local writer shared his distinct absence of memories on the champ and offered a unique take on Ali’s place in history: squarely behind sandwiches, He-Man, and Thundercats. While other scribes opted to celebrate the fighter’s athletic prowess, his transcendent personality, and his altruistic character, this one did not.

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Breakdown Breakdown: Dissecting Video of Bob & Jenks

bobjenks

Special thanks to The Seattle Times for posting video of our special friends, Bob Condotta and Jayson Jenks, Seahawks beat writers. We’ll periodically review their video breakdowns and provide analysis here. We call it “Breakdown Breakdown.” Enjoy.

0:00 – Bob and Jenks come to you live from a wetland.

0:07 – Jenks doesn’t know what to do with his hands. He’s also holding the mic weird. It’s not a salad fork. You can grab that thing like you mean it.

0:12 – Bob enters the conversation at 12 seconds. He’s the most 12.

Also, he dressed up for this and I’m not sure you people appreciate that enough. He’s sans hoodie, for one thing. What if it rains? Bob is willing to go hoodless and put his hair at risk for the good of this video. He’s usually clothed in weather-adaptable attire, but not today. Today he’s adorned in a charcoal sweater straight from Mossimo’s 1999 boy band music video collection. I own a similar sweater and, when paired with a spritz of PoloSport, it can be quite the aphrodisiac for thirty-somethings.

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Athletic Supporters Send Jerry Brewer to Bullets

shvxAs the owner, general manager, and sometimes point guard of a rec team of increasingly unathletic amateur basketball players, I’m here today to formally announce the sad news of the departure of a fellow Athletic Supporter teammate of mine.

Jerry Brewer, who supplemented his time as a power shooting center by moonlighting as a columnist for The Seattle Times, has been dealt to the Washington (D.C.) Bullets, ending his tenure with the Supporters. The move will subsequently necessitate a career change for Brewer, who will be leaving the Times for a similar position at The Washington Post.

In his time with the Supporters, Brewer emerged as a favorite of the team’s five or six fans. Recognized for his matching green warmup suits, as well as his inability to corral wayward behind-the-back passes from guard Ryan Divish, Brewer etched himself into rec league lore by successfully bringing back the spectacle sport strap, not seen since Kurt Rambis last played in the NBA.

Brewer may best be remembered in Seattle for his time spent off the court, however.

Occasionally penning stories that geriatrics loved to forward via “the internet mail” to their grandkids, Brew established himself as one of the most respected voices of the sports fan in the Pacific Northwest.

When he wasn’t waxing poetic about athletics for the Times, Brewer seized the opportunity to start a family, seducing a woman, marrying her, spawning a son, and even adopting a kitten. He also made time for his buddies, often showing up to local watering holes in crisp sport coats while everyone else donned tattered t-shirts and worn jeans.

For this scribe, at least, Brewer will be remembered as a friend and confidant who helped foster an ability to piece words together in a captivating way. While anyone can write, Brew would devote entire afternoons to sitting at a bar, discussing life, and inspiring the ideas that materialized into print for a twenty-something lazy-ass. That he once triumphantly captained a mission to get that same lazy-ass to 1,000 followers on Twitter will never be forgotten, either.

As our pal departs for the other Washington, we remember karaoke renditions of Gin and Juice, a knack for incorrectly spelling words that describe acts of human nature, and that one time a whiny kid on an opposing team threw a basketball at Brewer for reasons unknown.

Jerry, no matter what all the internet haters say, we don’t think you’re weird at all. In fact, we’ll miss you. And we wish you well as you depart your adoptive home for a new adventure.

In exchange for Brewer, the Bullets will send 48-year-old forward/center Pervis Ellison, who averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds in the 1991-1992 season, to Seattle.

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Saving ROOT Sports Northwest

root_sports_northwestOutdated, out of touch, and seemingly out of ideas, ROOT Sports Northwest is quickly becoming the Aurora Mall of local sports television. Those of you in your late-twenties or older may remember Aurora Mall, a once-proud shopping center in North Seattle that was razed in the early-nineties in favor of a Costco, a Home Depot, and a handful of smaller storefronts. The mall fell victim to a lack of tenants, a lack of shoppers, and ultimately a wrecking ball. Perhaps it could have been saved with a little effort from owners. Sometimes effort is all it takes.

Much like Aurora Mall, ROOT Sports Northwest is losing tenants and shoppers in its own right. Less than a year ago, the Pac-12 Network debuted and began broadcasting a number of sporting events that had previously been aired on ROOT. For fans, the change was a welcome one, as ROOT had done little to endear themselves to viewers over the years. With low-quality technology (Do they have HD yet? No, seriously.), lackluster original shows, and on-air personalities that failed to relate to viewers, ROOT wasn’t giving its customers what they wanted. When the Pac-12 departed, an exodus of the viewership commenced.

Months have passed and ROOT has continued to struggle. Look at their daily programming lineup and one can’t help but cringe. But rather than write the network off as a joke that will die a slow death, I’d like to think we can still save the region’s premier (by default) local sports network. How are we going to do that? With the help of Twitter, I asked people how they would go about improving ROOT. This was what they had to say.

1. Create fresh local programs that people actually want to watch.

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Out of Gas

mikegastineauWhen I was a freshman in high school, I had a friend, Stephen, whose older brother would frequently give me a ride home after class. Every afternoon, without fail, Stephen’s brother had the AM dial tuned to 950 KJR. And every afternoon, as the three of us rode home, we listened to Dave Grosby and Mike Gastineau talk about sports.

Prior to that point in my life, I hadn’t really been exposed to much sports talk radio. Sure, I listened to games and postgame shows and the like. But the rest of the time, I lent my ears to music. R&B, hip-hop, and goofy soft rock that years later would somehow work its way onto my iPod and become a novelty of sorts. Sports radio, back in those days, just wasn’t my thing. Until those rides home my freshman year.

Groz with Gas, as it was called, was an odd show to me. Here were two middle-aged men dissecting the local and national sports scene, all while joking around about nearly every subject they touched on. It was different, unlike anything I’d really experienced before. These two knuckleheads would banter and giggle, and we would do the same. They entertained us with jabs at a Godawful Sonics bench, a floundering Mariners bullpen, a perennially mediocre Seahawks squad. They managed, somehow, to make failure funny. And here we were, as teenagers, enjoying the humor.

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The Furness Show Deserves Better

The Furness Show crew and two of their greatest beneficiaries (clockwise from left: Ryan Divish, Josh Sabrowsky, Ian Furness, yours truly, Jason Puckett, and Ashley Ryan)

I believe in my friends. They’re good people. All of them. If they weren’t, I wouldn’t be friends with them. It’s that simple. Not that I’m some expert on relationships or anything. But I feel like I’m a pretty decent judge of character. And what my friends have is quality character worthy of my faith. There’s no doubt in my mind. As a result, from time to time I use my bias towards these friends of mine to sell the world on the things they represent.

Today is one of those moments I’ve chosen to be selfish about a few of my friends. You may have heard of these particular people in passing before. They are, in no particular order, Ian Furness, Jason Puckett, Josh Sabrowsky, and Ashley Ryan. They all work for Sports Radio KJR (950 on your local AM dial; 102.9 on local FM), they’re all good at what they do, and they all happen to thrive at their jobs from 1:00-3:00 p.m. each weekday. Furness is the lanky Canadian host of the show bearing his name; Puckett is the plucky, wise-cracking everyman sidekick; Josh is the easy-target/producer; and Ashley is the girl who knows sports and has boobs…or something like that.

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The Greatest Thing You’ve Never Heard

I’ll tell you what it is first, then I’ll give you the back story. It is a weekly podcast featuring myself, producer extraordinaire Josh Sabrowsky, traffic diva Ashley Ryan, and the Tacoma News-Tribune’s Ryan Divish, hosted by Sports Radio 950 KJR, published through 950KJR.com and SeattleSportsnet.com, and available through iTunes.

There you have it.

So how did this come to fruition?

Very simply, it started with a karate emergency. And for the record, “Karate Emergency” is now my new favorite quote. Because nothing says “emergency” quite like karate.

Josh and I were headed to play some pickup basketball with my brother at the Northgate Community Center on Thursday evening. We go every Thursday for open runs. We play ball with high school kids who talk a lot and make us feel better about our fading game and aging bodies.

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Ashley Ryan Wins The Week

We all say things that, when taken out of context, are hilarious. Most of us don’t say those things on the radio, however.

That’s what makes Ashley Ryan special. Not only does she say things that will make you giggle, but she does so unintentionally in front of thousands of listeners.

For those of you who don’t know Ashley, she comes to you live each and every weekday from the State Farm Traffic Center. You might hear her on various ClearChannel stations throughout your radio dial, but she’s arguably most famous for her work with Sports Radio 950 KJR.

That’s where this audio clip comes to us from. I just happened to be tuned in on Wednesday afternoon when Ashley uttered the sentence you just heard in the sound bite. In context, she was speaking directly to my good friend Josh, who was reading a lengthy list of guests scheduled to join host Jason Puckett for the afternoon show. Out of context, she had a Grade-A “That’s what she said” moment.

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Top 11: Best Local TV Sportscasters

Brad Adam, aka "Bradam"

Because we don’t watch enough of the news anymore. And these 11 folks need our attention. They demand it. They crave it. It’s why they’re on TV.

11. Andrea Nakano, KING 5 News

Andrea is the newest kid on the block when it comes to the local TV sportscaster scene. She’s been tasked with filling the shoes of the now-departed Lisa Gangel (Kerney), which is akin to handing David Pauley a baseball and asking him to take over for Cliff Lee.

To say that Andrea has a lot of pressure on her shoulders would be an understatement at this point. However, she seems to be fitting into the role nicely so far and has yet to run off and marry one of our local professional athletes. Good for her.

10. Jen Mueller, Fox Sports Northwest

Jen Mueller spent nearly two years living in the shadow of Nicole Zaloumis’s cleavage. As soon as Nicole and her funbags left town, it was time for Jen to shine.

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Attention, Everyone: They’re Putting Me On The Radio Again…

For real, for real.

Tune in to the Ian Furness Show on sports radio 950 KJR AM Wednesday afternoon at 2:15 to join Ian, Chris Fetters of Dawgman.com, Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News-Tribune, and myself as we discuss blogging, new media, and other fun stuff.

We’ll all be in studio together (so it won’t sound like static-y crap, because let’s face it, we all hate that), plus you can stream the feed live through your computer by going to 950KJR.com.

It’ll be an absolute blast. I hear we’re hiring strippers, KY Jelly wrestling matches will undoubtedly ensue, and by the end of the afternoon we should all be kickin’ it to Notorious B.I.G. as we sit mellowed out sipping on Purple Drank. In the immortal words of Biggie Smalls, it’s all good, baby, bab-ay.

Don’t miss it. You’ll seriously regret it if you do. Seriously.

Larry LaRue Getting More Attention Than He Has Ever Before Received

Be honest. How many of you knew who Larry LaRue was before today? Sure, you may have heard of Larry Stone, or Geoff Baker, or even LaRue’s plucky sidekick at the Tacoma News-Tribune, Ryan Divish.

But Larry LaRue (pictured at left) isn’t exactly a household name. He’s a pro’s pro, and one more content to do his job to the utmost degree, rather than whore himself out to radio stations and women with large breasts. Like the Q13 10:00 p.m. news, you forget he’s there, until suddenly — BOOM! — he strikes.

The Brian Dunkleman of local sports coverage, LaRue is getting his 15 minutes of fame today for this blog post on the straining relationship between Ken Griffey Jr. and the Seattle Mariners.

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