People & Personalities: Writer Hopes Gus Johnson Brings New Audience To Soccer
SI.com's Grant Wahl wrote of Gus Johnson's Fox Soccer debut Wednesday at calling games on Fox Soccer, "Was he perfect? No." But he "didn't make any colossal errors, and there were times he got the call just right as a scoring chance was building." He also was "better than soccer newbie Dave O'Brien ever was during his ill-fated foray into ESPN's play-by-play calling during World Cup 2006." Wednesday's Manchester United-Real Madrid UEFA Champions League match was "something Johnson can build on." Wahl: "If Johnson can help bring new fans to soccer in the U.S., I'm all for it" (SI.com, 2/14). In S.F., Bruce Jenkins wrote Johnson "actually did a measured, credible job, excitable only at the proper moments." Jenkins: "I was most alarmed when Johnson made a couple of references to 'the football'" (SFGATE.com, 2/14).
SHIPPING OUT OF BOSTON: In Boston, Chad Finn writes Glenn Ordway, fired on Wednesday by WEEI, was the "victim of declining ratings, a high salary, and whether he recognizes it or not, his own hubris." The news of his removal was "further confirmation that radio is a cold, vicious business populated by more than its share of people who could be described with the same adjectives." Ordway is "worthy of a respectful departure for a couple of reasons, starting with his important place in the historical landscape of Boston sports radio" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/15). Ordway Wednesday on-air said he has “nothing really that negative to say about the company or the people here.” But he added that he as "hoping we could deal” with his leaving the station “in a little bit more professional fashion.” He noted it is "obvious that we are not getting the ratings” that are needed, and "that’s what this business is all about” ("The Big Show, WEEI, 2/13). Meanwhile, WBZ-FM The Sports Hub "Toucher and Rich" morning show on Thursday announced that co-host Rich Shertenlieb will "be absent from the program in the immediate future after learning Wednesday that his wife has a form of leukemia" (BOSTON.com, 2/14).
ALWAYS BE PREPARED: In Tulsa, Bill Haisten wrote Thunder radio play-by-play announcer Matt Pinto, in his 23rd season calling NBA games, "makes it sound easy." During the Feb. 8 Suns-Thunder game, a transcripition of Pinto's call during the third quarter showed he used 4,259 words. When an opponent is facing the Thunder for the first time in a season, Pinto "does about eight hours of research and game preparation." If he is "familiar with the opponent, game prep is a three-hour project." If Pinto's prep "seems excessive, it is." He estimates that only about 10% of his information "will be imparted to the listeners" (TULSA WORLD, 2/14).
JAY WALKING? THE BIG LEAD's Jason McIntyre noted the next ESPN on-air personality that "could be on the move" is college basketball analyst Jay Williams. Sources said that Williams has a contract "that runs through March." ESPN recently "passed him over" when a seat came open on the "College GameDay" set, with the spot going to Jalen Rose. ESPN has either seen a "mass exodus of high-profile talent ... over the last nine months -- Rachel Nichols, Steve Berthiaume and his wife Cindy Brunson, Doug Gottlieb, Michelle Beadle, Erin Andrews to name a few -- or that’s just the nature of the business at a time when networks are gearing up to compete with the Worldwide Leader in the coming years" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 2/12).
HERE & THERE: Sportsnet has signed NHL analysts Nick Kypreos and Doug MacLean to multiyear extensions. They will continue as two of the leading analysts on "Hockey Central" and CJCL-AM Sportsnet 590 The Fan's "Hockey Central @ Noon," while continuing to make regular appearances on "Connected" (Sportsnet)....Time Warner Cable Deportes announced that its on-air team for MLS Galaxy coverage will consist of Martin Zuniga, Elmur Souza, Enrique Anibal Gutierrez, Hipolito Gamboa, Ricardo Celis and Samuel Jacobo (TWC)....The St. Paul Pioneer Press hired former South Florida Sun-Sentinel columnist Mike Berardino "as their new Twins beat reporter" (TWITTER.com, 2/14).