Eric Byrnes

95.7 keeps the pressure on KNBR, adds “Insiders”

If you care at all about the future sports media landscape in our market, this week has been mighty interesting. KNBR decides how to re-work their lineup while halfheartedly welcoming back guys they’d previously rejected like Mychael Urban and Larry Krueger. Meanwhile 95.7 (they can’t expect me to remember their call letters if they call themselves “Sports Radio 95.7) continued making inroads by poaching some of KNBR’s go-to guests, including Urban.

Starting August 1, all these guys will presumably have regular roles on the station reporting on their respective teams. Which one would assume means if each of them aren’t banned completely by KNBR (and Maiocco, Steinmetz and Urban have been on KNBR regularly for years), they’re at least restricted from appearing as often. So is this a Comcast power play, seizing on KNBR’s weakened state to become the preeminent TV and radio source for Bay Area sports? Don’t be so sure. First, Ray Ratto isn’t on this list. If 95.7 told you they wouldn’t take Ratto as part of an “Insider” package deal, they’d be lying.

One interesting note to ponder along with the debt ceiling: if Comcast, which just bought freaking NBC, hasn’t announced that they picked up 95.7 with some spare change stuck in their lobby chairs and now run the damn thing, 95.7 probably isn’t using the “Insider” tags with permission. Or maybe they are, for all I know. I’m not an Insider.

To have 95.7’s announcement drop on the same day as the Gary Radnich/Damon Bruce silliness (that I kinda lit the match and tossed lighter fluid on, but whatever) is … noteworthy, if for no other reason then the fact that no two sports stations have ever really competed with one another.

So what does this mean for Radnich and Bruce? It probably means new partners and/or timeslots for both, but the KNBR seems to be flying by the seat right now. They’re bringing back Krueger, but almost covertly. They re-hired Urban, and he bails weeks later. Rich Lieberman (who linked to my story about Radnich and Bruce, then dismissed it and said he “had it first” because he predicted Bruce would take over Radnich’s slot TWO YEARS AGO) is updating about multiple moles whispering sweet mole-nothings about Eric Byrnes joining up with Radnich instead of Bruce (and going with “EST” for some reason, even though San Francisco’s area code is mentioned in his blog’s title … of course he also misspelled “oy vey,” so maybe Rich was just in a wacky mood on a Tuesday evening).

Does Byrnes, who lets Ray Woodson take over evening duties for weeks at a time during the baseball season, really want to do a morning show with Radnich? And is Byrnes’ appeal strong enough to demand the kind of raise he’d ask for to come into work regularly by 9 am? Then there’s Bruce, who has to be watching all this with equal parts glee and trepidation. With the players in this game changing sides as if this were Fantasy Radio, which team would you want to be on?

On one side you have the wattage (50,000, or so I’ve heard), the Giants/49ers/Warriors (well, the Dubs for now, anyway), and the tradition. On the other you have terrible reception, the A’s/Sharks/(and maybe the Warriors), and a chance to stick it to what until recently has been the only sports talk game in town.

One has to wonder how Lee Hammer feels. His trip to the White House was well-chronicled by the KNBR yakkers who stayed home, mockingly so at times. Yes, his own employees are ripping him in public. Then Hammer comes back to this, which is far from over. Everything’s upside-down in radio-land. Hell, if Radnich suddenly defected to 95.7, it would at least be worth a listen or two to hear what he’d say about KNBR, right? After telling Cumulus, “I got this” for quite some time, Hammer’s next move(s) will be watched by many, and every spot besides the morning and 3-to-7 is in play.

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