Category Archives: Radio

Sam Huff is off Redskins radio, Herzog thinks he was fired

Sam Huff is out of the Washington Redskins radio booth, leaving Sonny Jurgensen as the lone member of the Sonny, Sam & Frank glory days of Redskins radio. (After nearly 50 years as a player, coach, and broadcaster, Sam Huff retires from Washington Redskins) For a generation Washingtonians watched the game with “the sound turned down and the radio” to hear Huff and Sonny Jurgensen add commentary to Frank Herzog’s play-by-play. The trio was broken up in 2004 when Herzog was dumped for V.P. of branding or some other B.S. title, Larry Michael.

Herzog went on WTOP radio this weekend and suggested that Huff was fired - Hall of Famer Huff retires, Herzog questions move. It seems Herzog’s claims were based on his intiution that Huff would never give up and not any actual conversations. Perhaps Herzog was just trying to get some attention, but it is worth considering.

Huff had a reduced schedule last season, a concession to age. Barry Svrluga, described it in
Sam Huff won’t broadcast Redskins opener for first time since 1974:

Linebackers, over time, lose a step. The proof shows up on game film: Tackles are missed, yards are gained, games are lost. Radio announcers, too, wear down, and the proof is right there for fans to hear. Such inevitable drop-offs are almost imperceptible from game to game or even season to season. Yet at a certain point, they are undeniable.

Huff will still join Jurgensen and Michael in the booth for the Redskins’ eight home games as well as two on the road, against the rival Giants and Cowboys, but his curtailed schedule is an acknowledgment, in a roundabout way, that he has lost a step in recent years. “Everything ends in sports,” he said recently, and lowered his voice. “Everything ends in sports.”

That doesn’t mean he’s at peace with the decision. “I don’t understand it all,” he said one July day, not long after the Redskins’ flagship radio station, ESPN 980, announced his reduced schedule.

Huff’s departure from the booth is shocking only in that it took so long for it to happen. Dave McKenna wrote about Huff’s decline for years in the CityPaper. From November 2007: The Final Countdown? The decline of Sam Huff and Redskins radio

This Hall of Famer has spent most Sunday afternoons this fall appearing befuddled by the simplest on-field action. It’s impossible to ignore all the accusations that the game he once mastered has passed him by, and even diehard Skins fans have stopped defending his flawed performances. Many hope he goes away before he puts a permanent hurt on his local legacy.

In September 2010, McKenna wrote about Huff again Sam Huff: From “The Violent World” to His Own World

…has seemed wobbly in the booth for a while.

But by now that wobbliness has reached a level of consistency that makes the audience stay tuned so as not to miss whatever wackiness will come next.

He’s thrown so much crazy stuff out there this year, partners Larry Michael and Sonny Jurgensen have to be on clean-up alert whenever their beloved cohort’s microphone is on. During an exhibition game against Baltimore, for example, the refs dropped a penalty flag as the Ravens offense was approaching the line of scrimmage.

“Its gotta be holding!” said Huff. Michael and Jurgensen pointed out the ball hadn’t been snapped.

So, the end of Huff’s tenure has been a long time coming, but it is reasonable to say that his status as a Redskins icon kept him around longer than merit as a broadcaster and analyst.

NOW WHAT?

I don’t know how long Jurgensen is going to keep going and Michael is probably here forever unless he parks in Dan Snyder’s special parking space or something similar. Back in 2010, I suggested that John Riggins and Joe Theismann would make a great Redskins radio team. That seems highly unlikely though, because I don’t see Riggins coming aboard. Riggins has shown a great deal of antipathy for Snyder, but also seems to have removed himself from football completely (John Riggins on Alfred Morris: “Never Heard of Him…I Don’t Watch Football” – Hogs Haven) in favor of his outdoors show, Riggo on the Range. Theismann, who had national announcing jobs for years, might be willing to move into Redskins radio booth if offered. Rick “Doc” Walker has worked the sidelines for a while and could make his way up to the booth as well.

SONNY & SAM, MORE THAN TEAMMATES

The Redskins produced a long documentary on Huff and Jurgensen, who arrived in 1964 from the New York Football Giants and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively. They’ve been best friends since those trades.

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Inside the booth with Charlie & Dave – The Summoner explained

I woke up this morning to two great videos of Washington Nationals radio broadcasters Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler. The first, featuring Slowes, is inside the booth while he calls Ian Desmond’s Thursday evening home run.

The second video is a longer feature in which Jageler explains how he developed his interest in broadcasting and talks about The Summoner.

As I have said countless times, Nats fans are blessed to have such a great team of radio broadcasters in Slowes and Jageler. The know the game, they know the medium and they have such enthusiasm for it. As I have said years ago, the Nats need to give these guys tenure. Drive dump trucks full of money up to their houses if necessary, I want them around forever.

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Vin Scully on Bryce Harper into the wall: The only good thing about it is it knocked his beard off

There has been a lot of discussion and pixels generated over Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper‘s collision into the right field wall the other night. All of this talk about toughness and such (I’m guilty of it too) has overshadowed the the actual story — a fairly inexperienced outfielder took a bad route on a fly ball and in trying to catch up to it, ran so hard he didn’t see the wall.

Prior to last night’s Nats 2-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Charlie Slowes of the Washington Nationals Radio Network interviewed legendary voice of the Dodgers, Vin Scully and Harper’s wall collision came up. Scully reminded us all of the real story:

Charlie Slowes: Speaking of shoulders and knees and collisions, how about Bryce Harper into the wall last thing last night.

Vin Scully: The only good thing about is it knocked his beard off …and I was delighted to see…(Slowes heard laughing in the background)…I went down to the clubhouse because I admire his play and there he was clean-shaven, uh stiches under the chin…such a fine young man and an outstanding player…and it’s none of my business but I hope he stays clean shaven.

I’m sure somebody will get the audio into embeddable format, but until then MLB Gameday subscribers can here it by going to this page, clicking on the WJFK link and starting to listen around the 12:00 mark.

UPDATE: Legendary Dodgers Voice Vin Scully ‘Delighted’ Harper’s Clean-ShavenCBS DC
The audio is now available from the link above.

The interview also touches on the current Dodgers, the movie “42″ and his start on the radio at WTOP in Washington when he lived at 29th and O Street for $15 a week. Good stuff, but what else would it be? The interview, between to New Yorkers and Fordham graduates) could have been something like:

Vin: Charlie, nobody outside of New York knows how to fold a newspaper

Charlie: Can’t good hard rolls either, Vin

and it still would have been good.

OTHER NATS NEWS

Clayton Kershaw out-dueled Dan Haren (The Post), but with the lineup the Nats put out last night, how wouldn’t he?

More troubling – Harper is feeling nauseous which suggests he has a concussion.

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A recent Kojo Nnamdi Show featured 3 regional distillers

Distillers from Catoctin Creek Distilling Company | @catoctincreek of Loudoun County, Va., Blackwater Distilling | @sloopbetty (makers of Sloop Betty) of Stevensville, Md. and New Columbia Distillers | @dcdistillers(makers of Green Hat Gin) of D.C. were featured on The Kojo Nnamdi Show on February 20.

I have not sampled the products from any of these distilleries yet, but that will change.

Here is a video of Green Hat in action:

PREVIOUSLY

D.C. distilling: Green Hat gin12.09.2012

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R.I.P. Shelby Whitfield

Shelby Whitfield, former Senators broadcaster, dies at 77The Post
The alumni of the Washington Senators, on and off the diamond, just got smaller again. Shelby Whitfield, who broadcasted the Senators with Ron Menchine on radio and television for the 1969 and 1970 seasons died. Though his tenure in the RFK Stadium press box was brief, Whitfield wrote a book about the end of the Senators at the hands of owner Bob Short called “Kiss it Goodbye. (Amazon)”

He described Short, who died in 1982, as “an intimidating, domineering person” who was slow to pay his bills. Short asked announcers to inflate crowd numbers, Mr. Whitfield wrote, and to say the weather was always sunny, “even if the floodwaters were lapping the sides of RFK Stadium.”

The book helped prompt the Federal Communications Commission to launch hearings into the ethics of sports broadcasting. In 1974, the FCC passed a regulation — since rescinded — requiring announcers to disclose during games whether they were employees of a team, a league or a broadcasting company.

After leaving the Senators beat, Mr. Whitfield worked for WWDC-AM as the host of “Sports Roundtable,” one of Washington’s first radio sports talk shows. Mr. Whitfield later spent seven years as the Washington-based sports director of Associated Press Radio before going to New York in 1981 as sports director of ABC Radio.

I’ll have to add that to my reading list.

Whitfield’s career also included co-authoring a book with Howard Cosell.

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Nats broadcaster Charlie Slowes finally has a team worthy of his abilities

Longtime Nationals broadcaster looks forward to playoffsWTOP
WTOP talks with the voice of the Washington Nationals, Charlie Slowes. Present at the creation, Slowes’ “Bang Zoom go the Fireworks!” “and a curly W is in the books” quickly became a part of the D.C. area vocabulary. He and his partner since 2006 Dave Jageler kept us entertained through years of bad baseball and are now finally getting to call a playoff team.

Prior to his working for the Nationals, Slowes spent seven years with the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays from 1998 to 2004. Add it all up and Slowes has been calling big league baseball for 15 years. This year marks his first winning season.

“It’s a lot of bad luck involved there,” he said. “But when the games are great and the team is winning, the storylines take care of themselves. These games are easy to broadcast. Maybe it’s the reward for having gone through everything we did when the games were nightmares, and you didn’t have good pitching and you didn’t play good defense and you had to find other ways to captivate the audience.”

I’m glad the Nats are finally as good as Charlie and Dave. Hopefully, we’ll get a full month of classic calls from them.

One thought — maybe it was those pancakes ads holding the Nats back. Who knew?

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Nats: After years of losing, Charlie Slowes and John Lannan get to experience some winning

On Sunday when the Washington Nationals clinched D.C.’s first winning baseball season since the 1969 Senators, I tweeted that I was happy for Charlie Slowes, play-by-play man for the team since 2005:

I think only tweeting to Joe Theismann got me more retweets. Slowes is just that popular amongst Nats fans.

Slowes participated in a Q&A with MLB.com about how much fun he is having with a winning team. It comes through in the broadcasts, though even when the Nats were losing 100 games annually, Slowes and his partner Dave Jageler did a great job and kept it fun.

Returning to the Nats this last week is another franchise stalwart, John Lannan. The left-handed starter spent most of this season at Syracuse after the Nats rotation became too crowded this spring. While he initially fumed, Lannan seems to have made peace with what happened and really improved as the season went on. His two spot starts for the Nats resulted in two big wins, especially game 2 of a day-night doubleheader against Atlanta Braves after the Nats blew a huge lead the night before. He will get a few starts this month after Stephen Strasburg is shutdown, but probably miss out on any significant playoff time. This past weekend, The Post had a long profile of Lannan that is well worth reading. The sentimentalist in me is happy to see him back and wishes him well. It is a tough break being left out after all of those years of having to face other teams starters for bad teams; Lannan did and held his own. Of course, the $5 million or so he is making this year surely offsets it a bit. He won’t get that when he signs elsewhere next year, but at least he’ll get to pitch in the majors every fifth day. I think Lannan is the second-winningest Nats pitcher since 2005 and I hope he gets to leave on high note.

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Bryce Harper is too good to be true; Nats split with Rockies; people are watching/listening

Bryce Harper loves Washington, and says he wants to play his entire career in the cityThe Post
Bryce Harper has decided as a 19 year old that he wants to stay in the D.C. area forever as a member of the Washington Nationals. He’s living in Pentagon City and I never wanted to move out of Pentagon City either, so I see his point. Still, a really feel-good article that you should invest absolutely zero in because a 19 year old’s worldview is very different than a 25 year old on the cusp of a $200-300 million contract. He is saying all the right things rigth now though as evidenced by him suggesting the Colorado brewery selling Clown Question Bro beer donate some profits in honor of a fallen police officer.

He’s too good to be true.

Also, get that man some more Pop Tarts. Maybe an endorsement deal with them too. Is that balcony grill usage legal?

The Nats series in Denver was strange (Stephen Strasburg losing?!, three games of 10 or more runs, rally napkin and coming back from being down 7-0 to lose by one in extras). Given the history with the Colorado Rockies, a split is okay with me. Oh and Tyler Clippard feeding baby ducks in the bullpen.

Peter Angelos is probably really upset because Washingtonians are watching the Nats in record numbers and at a greater rate the Capitals or Wizards. Hopefully, this news has reached the committee that is going to give Bud Selig a recommendation on how much MASN has to pay the Nats for TV rights over the next five years. Angelos, who should not have had the Nats TV rights to begin with, has to be scared that the panel reviewing the Nats request for TV rights compensation will see this new information. It is a mortal lock that the dream of Angelos/Orioles no longer having the Nats TV rights will come true though.

The Nats radio ratings are also solid with 5% of area radios tuned in to hear Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler call the action. All the more impressive — high ratings without pancake banter. Also, more merchandise is being sold at Nationals Park. Note: The previous four links all go to DC Sports Bog which is mostly Nats these days.

1924 Senators throwbacks and more for the July 5 game against the San Francisco Giants.

Ryan Zimmerman is hitting again, thanks to a cortisone shot. Hopefully, he isn’t doing permanent damage though.

A big series with the second place Braves in Atlanta tonight. The Nats have a 3.5 game lead on them and the Mets, along with the best winning percentage in the NL.

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CarTalk Trotskyists retiring

Dewey Cheetham & Howe, CarTalk Plaza
I’m bummed out that long-running (and most popular) NPR program CarTalk is ending original broadcasts in the fall.

‘Car Talk’ Guys Are Retiring, But Their Best Stuff Will Be RebroadcastNPR

June 8, 2012; Our Fair City – Tom and Ray Magliozzi, aka Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers, the comedian mechanics who host NPR’s Car Talk, will tell their listeners this afternoon that as of this fall, they’ll no longer record new programs. But their weekly call-in series will continue to be distributed by NPR drawing on material from their 25 years of show archives.

“My brother has always been ‘work-averse,’ ” says Ray, 63. “Now, apparently, even the one hour a week is killing him!”

“It’s brutal!” adds Tom, 74.

Time to Get Even Lazier – Staff Blog, CarTalk

I wonder how long it would have taken listeners to notice that old episodes were airing again.

The *real* story is NPR simply can’t handle any more letters from people complaining about “those Trotskyists on CarTalk.” Or at least, that’s how Bob Garfield of On the Media referred to them few weeks ago at the Bart Richards Award. I’m still trying to get video or a transcript.

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