The final piece of 95.7 FM The Game’s new lineup was announced today, in the form of a full-time partnership between Brandon Tierney and ESPN’s Ric Bucher for The Game’s afternoon show, “The Drive.” The new programming schedule will debut next week.
Tierney talked this afternoon about the outstanding qualifications of several other co-hosting candidates, including Lincoln Kennedy, Gary Payton, Jon Ritchie and Rod Woodson — all former players. Although Tierney’s former co-host, Eric Davis, played for the 49ers and Panthers, Bucher’s a media guy through and through.
Bucher’s been a part of ESPN’s NBA coverage for years, but that was after covering the Golden State Warriors beat at the San Jose Mercury News. Along with Matt Steinmetz’s promotion from “Insider” to full-time host from 10-noon, The Game’s lineup is much more NBA-centric than it was a couple weeks ago.
Does this mean the Warriors will follow Steinmetz and Bucher, leaving KNBR behind in the process?
I’m still not totally buying it. There’s certainly a chance the Warriors could move to The Game, and they’re probably tempted by the idea of a station propping up the Warriors as their No. 1 programming priority.
HOWEVER, 95.7 still has some issues to iron out in terms of signal strength. Plus, even though KNBR has shuffled several Warriors games off to 1050 over the years, quite a few have been carried on 680 — a far better lead-in than The Game could provide, at least for the foreseeable future. Changing flagship stations would mean the Warriors would go from serving as a bit player to anchoring the daily lineup.
In a way, if the Warriors moved to The Game it’d almost be like when Conan O’Brien moved from NBC to TBS. Well, except without Jay Leno retiring from KNBR, then coming back to KNBR and taking back the timeslot he had supposedly given to the Warriors. OK, maybe it’s not a perfect comparison, but you get the idea.
I’m sure if you asked programming director Jason Barrett, he’d tell you Bucher was his first choice to work with Tierney regardless of whether or not they get the Warriors. Bucher’s a national guy, he’s a frequent guest on Bill Simmons’ podcast, and he makes provocative statements about the NBA. (Plus, he used to work with KNBR … more on that shortly.)
Whether or not Bucher can handle other sports remains to be seen. Tierney mentioned how Bucher used to cover the San Francisco Giants back in the day, and one would imagine Bucher would have to at least carry a modicum of NFL and MLB knowledge to get the job.
In a somewhat related (and uncomfortable) moment, Tierney mentioned to Mychael Urban (filling in this afternoon) during the Bucher announcement about how Urban will still be on during the weekends and how he really respects Urban’s “baseball mind.”
Over the past year or so, Bucher has served as a KNBR “Insider,” appearing as a guest on assorted shows. That arrangement is clearly no longer in effect, although we may get an increase in comments knocking Bucher by Gary Radnich (who over the years has made several references to Bucher previously declining to appear on KNBR without getting paid for his time).