Sports personalities Vanessa Richardson and Paul Gallant are joining forces as the new 10 am to noon team on ESPN 97.5 FM and 92.5 FM. Both are no strangers to Houston fans. Richardson joins the station from Channel 2 where she worked as a sports reporter and anchor.
Gallant returns to Houston from 710 ESPN in Seattle where he co-hosted the morning drive time show.
The “Vanessa and Gallant” show starts Monday, February 14. They will follow The Bench with John Granato and Lance Zierlein, Houston’s longest-running sports radio duo airing 7-10 am, and provide the lead-in to the Killer B’s with Joel Blank and Jeremy Branham from noon-3 pm.
The Wheelhouse with Jake Asman, Cody Stoots and Brad Kellner follows from 3-7 pm. Late Hits with Patrick Creighton wraps up the daily local programming from 7-9 pm.
We put Richardson and Gallant on the firing line, she-said he- said, to introduce themselves and their show.
CultureMap: Vanessa, you'll be the only woman with a Monday-Friday sports talk platform in Houston. Is that important? Does gender matter anymore in sports journalism?
Vanessa Richardson: I think it’s important to a certain extent. We’ve come a long way in how we view women in sports media. There are a lot of female sideline reporters and TV hosts, but not a lot of women driving radio shows, probably because it’s not a visual medium. So it’s cool that I’m a woman. It’s not the most important thing, but it’s something I hope becomes more common.
CM: Paul, you developed a few offbeat characters during your time on Houston radio. How important is humor in sports talk?
Paul Gallant: Humor is certainly important. If you can't make fun of yourself in this game, you're doomed. It’s more important that you don’t take things too seriously. There are far too many folks in this industry that talk down to their audiences.
Always remember, you aren't important. You cover sports. So talk about sports the same way you talk with a friend. Always keep that fan perspective.
CM: Vanessa, you're used to being on TV where you had maybe 60 seconds to deliver a story. Now you'll have two hours. How will the shift to radio impact the way you present your thoughts?
VR: That’s actually one of the reasons I wanted to switch to a different medium. Having more than 60 seconds will allow me to go more in-depth with thoughts and commentary, and more importantly, interviews. I love long-form interviews. I’m also going to focus on some multi-platform NFL work, including articles, podcasts and videos.
CM: Paul, gambling and fantasy leagues are big parts of sports talk now. Is that a good thing or bad thing? Do you partake of the wagering arts?
PG: In some ways it's good. Listeners may be looking for insight so they can win an extra buck or two. But in some ways it’s not so good. No one wants to hear about somebody else’s fantasy football team. We’ve got to evolve and adopt. If people are looking for it, we have to give it to them.
At my last job I had to stay away from all public mentions of gambling. Same with alcohol. Now I’m back in a place where I can be a proper degen. I plan on giving myself a crash course in gambling by partaking. But only a little. I think I’ll be too pissed when the house wins.
CM: Vanessa, after you left Channel 2, how important was it for you to stay in Houston?
VR: I love Houston. The people are kind, the sports fans are loyal, and it’s a huge sports market. It doesn’t get much better! Luckily, I feel like sports fans have been receptive to me here, so I wasn’t looking to leave Houston.
CM: Paul, guests or no guests? Callers or no callers? Describe the show that you and Vanessa will bring to ESPN 97.5 and 92.5.
PG: If you're bringing on a guest, it better be a big name. We'll certainly be hunting for them. Callers are another story. I love them!
Listeners deserve to be a part of the show. Sports talk has the ability to be interactive through texts, tweets, twitch and, of course, old-school calls. Vanessa and I did a couple of practice shows and found we had a pretty natural chemistry.
We’ll be busting each other’s chops while focusing on all things NFL, the Astros, and whatever nonsense the Texans stumble into. I can’t wait for Monday.
CM: Vanessa, rank your five favorite sports and explain why No. 1.
VR: Football, basketball, auto racing, baseball, hockey. Being from Indiana, basketball was king. But I’ve covered way more football. Football and basketball are tied in my book, but I’m well aware of what’s more important in Texas; and nothing beats postseason baseball.
CM: Paul, after your time in Seattle, how much are you looking forward to having an NBA team in your hometown?
PG: You have no idea. Much like it's a crime that Tennessee stole the Oilers away (and rub it in our faces with those throwbacks, the bastards), it's ridiculous that a city in Oklahoma has a basketball team and Seattle doesn't.
While the Rockets are pretty dreadful right now, I don’t feel gross rooting for them like when James Harden was here. Harden played basketball without honor. I’m glad I won’t have to rant about all the ways — flops, no defense, way too many 3-point attempts for a shooter who’s got the 262nd best 3-point percentage of all time. His game disgusts me.