Big changes are brewing at Houston’s ESPN 97.5 FM and 92.5 FM show lineup. As CultureMap previously reported, the sports talk station is making major roster moves starting next week.
Fans can expect old favorites such as John Granato and Lance Zierlein, Charlie Pallilo, Fred Faour, and more to return, plus new shows debuting Monday, August 16.
“One of the great things about the ESPN brand is that we can bring high-profile national voices and perspectives on our airwaves to talk about our local teams,” says Gow Media CEO, David Gow. “We look forward to voicing our own local opinions, but we also want to include those national voices in local conversations when sports news warrants it,” Gow said.
(Gow Media owns ESPN 97.5 FM and 92.5 FM and The SportsMap Radio Network, as well as CultureMap, SportsMap, InnovationMap, AutomotiveMap.)
Gow says he’s especially excited about new shows The Killer Bs (noon to 3 pm) starring longtime ESPN 97.5 presence Joel Blank and newcomer Jeremy Branham. He’s also pumped about The Wheelhouse, hosted by Jake Asman, Cody Stoots, and Brad Kellner (3 pm to 7 pm).
We caught up with Blank, the veteran voice of the Killer Bs, having worked two decades as the broadcast coordinator and radio announcer for the Houston Rockets. Before that he was part of the Portland Trailblazers broadcast division. He joined ESPN 97.5 and 92.5 in 2016.
Branham has been the radio voice for University of Houston basketball (Final Four in 2021) and baseball since 2005, and also spoke to us.
Ken Hoffman: Joel, how valuable is your experience from both sides of sports, having worked on the inside as a Rockets executive, now a radio talk host commenting on our teams?
Joel Blank: I think it’s extremely valuable because you understand what the teams would like you to focus on and talk about while knowing that you owe it to your audience to be honest, and unfiltered when calling it as you see it.
The teams would like it to be all positive all the time while promoting their brand their way. The fans make you appointment radio when they realize you aren’t about the spin or company line. On this station, we don't owe the teams anything and can speak openly and honestly.
KH: Talk to me about developing a partnership with your new co-host Jeremy Branham.
JB: The first step is getting to know the person, their personality, style, background, and preferences. On the air, you work on knowing ‘hot buttons’ on topics and issues that bring out passion and you grow and learn from each passing day and show.
Jeremy knows me from the Rockets and I know him from U of H, but to truly get to know each other and build chemistry and a relationship, it takes effort, focus, repetition, and the desire to build a relationship that enhances the show on a daily basis.
KH: What is your strategy for the Killer Bs to take command of the noon-3 pm slot in Houston?
JB: I think it all starts with being true to ourselves, honest in our analysis, and dedicated to consistency in the way we execute the game plan on a daily basis. We should never try to be someone we are not, or say something we don't believe in 100-percent.
The listeners are smart. They can read through the BS and tell when you are faking a take. Having some fun mixed in always helps the situation as well.
Branham, a University of Houston grad, also joined us.
KH: You’re best known as the play-by-play voice of UH sports. Traditionally that role requires a straight narrative, just the facts ma'am. Hosting a talk show is all about opinions, fun and personality. How will you keep your two voices separate?
Jeremy Branham: It won't be hard keeping my roles straight. Play-by-play is a unique way of communication, you respond to what you see and try to describe it the best you can. I don't communicate that way in any other aspect of my life, so hosting a talk show is much more like I would talk to my family or my friends, a much more normal conversation.”
KH: Tell me your vision for the Killer Bs.
JB: The vision for me is to talk about what the city is talking about. Living in Houston my whole life, I feel I have a good pulse of what is buzzing around town. I want to give listeners a place to go where they can hear what they'd be talking to their friends about.
KH: What makes Houston sports so special to you?
JB: I was born in Houston, raised in Humble, and went to the University of Houston. That's what makes Houston sports so appealing to me – mostly the agony of heartbreaking defeat, but also the joy of championships.
For the details on The Wheelhouse, visit SportsMap.