Something new is coming to the Portland radio scene, something that should amp things up considerably for those who like to talk sports, and hear experts talk sports.
Beginning Monday, 'Northwest Sports Tonight' will hit the air waves on KPAM (860 AM), with the station's sports director, Ron Callan, as host.
KPAM is owned by Bob Pamplin, whose Pamplin Media Group owns many of the area's radio stations and newspapers, including the Portland Tribune.
Full disclosure: Yours truly will be a regular contributor to 'Northwest Sports Talk,' which will air Mondays through Fridays. The role is as yet undefined, but I'll get a chance to throw in my two cents, and change.
I've known Callan, 58, since he took over at KPAM in 2004, and have come to regard him as one of the true pros in the business. He is thorough, knowledgeable, engaging and witty, and those of you who haven't heard much of him will be pleasantly surprised when you tune in next week.
Callan's Northwest background is considerable. A Linfield College graduate, his first job was as news and sports anchor and photographer at KVDO-TV in Salem. Since then, he has worked more than 30 years in the market in Boise, Spokane, Seattle and Portland, and recently has become a familiar voice for Oregon State fans, serving as pregame host, sideline reporter and postgame co-host of Beaver football broadcasts.
Now he'll be hosting a show that will have particular relevance to the market for several reasons:
• It will be the only live and local sports talk show at night in the area.
'Portland has had a void with evening sports talk,' says Dennis Glasgow, who took over Jan. 31 as program director at KPAM and sister station KKOV (1550 AM). 'The other stations use either syndicated talk or play-by-play or pregame shows as their niche.
'Ron's show gives an opportunity to have another voice in the evenings, for listeners to talk about games and issues and things as they are happening.'
• A major focus will be Oregon State. KPAM is OSU's flagship station, and with KXTG (95.5 FM, 'The Game') going heavy on Oregon, the Beavers get lost in the shuffle.
'Beaver Nation is going to be represented big-time,' Callan says. 'It's access for the school five nights a week for the first time ever. If there's something going on in Corvallis, we'll have it first on 'Northwest Sports Tonight.' "
• Social networking will get special emphasis.
'Besides interviewing guests and taking calls, we'll feature real-time feedback with Twitter, Facebook and text-messaging while events are going on,' Glasgow says. 'Ron loves social media and embraces it, and so do our listeners.'
Before we expound, a little about Glasgow, 46, also a veteran with 24 years in his business in cities such as Denver, Albuquerque, Tulsa and Edmonton. Glasgow was program director at KFXX (1080 AM The Fan) from 2004-08 before heading to the nation's capital, where he served two years as vice president/operations of the Washington Redskins' six-station radio network.
Glasgow runs the entire operation at KPAM, but he has expertise and interest in the sports-talk industry. He considers it a vital aspect of the radio biz, and it's why he is willing to expand Callan's role while challenging the established sports talk stations in town.
'I felt Ron wasn't being utilized correctly,' Glasgow says. 'Nobody is tuning into (KPAM) for regular sports updates. They'll tune into sports stations for that.
'Ron has years of experience in the Pacific Northwest. Not only does he love what he does, he knows the terrain really well. He's connected, well-respected and comes with credibility. This will give the sports fan the opportunity to hear his voice in a long-format program, where he can be opinionated and have fun with the listener. I have expectations he will do a wonderful job and be a leader in sports talk in the evenings.'
The KPAM lineup now has 'First Edition' with Tim Hohl and Pat Boyle from 5-7 a.m., the Bob Miller Show from 7-11 a.m., and the Victoria Taft Show from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. The 3-6 p.m. slot will soon be filled by local talk, Glasgow says.
'We'll have what no other talk station in town has - local and live from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily,' Glasgow says. 'We're proud to be the local voice of Portland, and we'll continue to brand that.'
Callan will write a column for the KPAM website (kpam.com) and occasionally for the Tribune and its website as well. KPAM's multi-layered website has a show page for Callan and links to his Twitter and Facebook accounts.
'We'll be podcasting all of Ron's shows, so fans can listen at their leisure on their computer,' Glasgow says. 'We'll have phone apps for Android and iPhone, and a service called Audio Now, which allows a caller from any phone to listen via a toll-free number.'
'Northwest Sports Tonight' won't just be Beavers, or Trail Blazers.
'We'll talk Ducks, too,' Glasgow says. 'They're going to be a top-10 team next fall, and we'll give them plenty of attention. We're going to touch on all the local sports, high school sports, all the national stuff. Whatever sports talk is around the water cooler, Ron is going to talk about it.'
Callan, a regular presence at Winterhawks games, will talk hockey. He'll talk soccer, too. A high school goalkeeper who was play-by-play voice of the Tacoma Stars of indoor soccer and hosted a Seattle Sounders show, he'll have Timbers owner Merritt Paulson as a guest on his first show Monday night.
OSU Athletic Director Bob De Carolis will be featured in a weekly segment. Callan, who works as press-box play-by-play voice for the Seattle Seahawks, plans a regular spot with interviews with reps of the Northwest's NFL team. Another regular segment will be entitled 'Sportslandia,' an irreverent look at the Portland sports landscape a la the 'Portlandia' TV show.
'Maybe poke a little fun at the city, maybe get a little weird, maybe get eclectic,' Callan says.
The social media part has Callan excited.
'There are so many kids who have never watched a TV newscast, who don't listen to AM radio,' he says. 'We'll involve them through Twitter, through Facebook, and stream our website. We'll 'young up' our audience and get a new generation of people to follow sports-talk radio.'
Callan will communicate with listeners and work hard to give them what they want to hear.
'Our show is going to be unique,' he says. 'It's going to be about the movers and shakers in the sports business for the entire Northwest.
'I'm totally stoked. It's going to be exciting to finally have my own show.'
It all starts Monday. For the sports fan, it's going to be worth a listen.