Sports-Talk 1560 Loses Another Veteran: Lance Zierlein Calls It Quits at The Game, Heads To 790

Categories: Sports

zierlein.jpg
Photo by Jeff Balke
Zierlein (left) with his now former co-host John Granato.
In what feels like the dismantling of KGOW 1560 The Game, long-time morning show co-host Lance Zierlein announced via his Houston Chronicle blog that he would be turning in his microphone and leaving the station effective immediately.

Over the last year, the station has gone through some big changes and has begun shifting directions in attempt to do what they believe is best for growth in this market and in markets around the nation. The promotion and growth of Yahoo! Sports Radio has become a priority with the station and I believe it has a chance to catch on around the nation as a viable option for national syndication if managed properly.

Unfortunately for me, the station is much different from what it was when we were No. 1 in the morning amongst the four sports talk stations and I have philosophical differences with the current management team that probably can't be resolved.

In the last six months, the locally owned station that was the subject of our cover story in April replaced their original program director, Chance McLain, with the PD from their national network, Sporting News Radio, and saw two of their other regulars -- creative director Frank Bullington and mid-morning co-host Raheel Ramzanali -- depart on their own terms (Ramzanali announced his exit last week via social media).

At the same time, columnist Ken Hoffman was being brought back to partner with fellow Chronicle sports writer Richard Justice. It was fairly clear that the move would pave the way to a mid-morning show featuring the two, though they are currently splitting time with the show currently hosted by Ramzanali and David Nuno.

Adding to the tumult, just weeks ago, KGOW announced they had started a new network -- the Yahoo! Sports Network -- partnered with the search engine/online news giant. Midday host and Houston Press writer Sean Pendergast took his noon to 3 p.m. show to the national network as well, a good move for him, but leaving a gaping hole in local sports coverage on the station in the afternoon.

Pendergast, who is enjoying his network slot and appears to be thriving as a national commentator, is sad to see Zierlein go. "He's a really good friend of mine," he told Hair Balls. "As big a loss as it is on the radio side, it's one more person I'll miss working with every day."

With much of their weekday sports programming now nationally on the network, the employee exodus and the move to a more corporate culture, Zierlein no doubt saw the writing on the wall.

"I didn't know how viable 1560 would be locally when so much emphasis and effort being put into the station is around the national side," he told Hair Balls.

It's a massive overhaul for a station that continues to tout its locally owned status in Houston. In a crowded sports market, KGOW had struggled in the ratings against the four other sports stations. Clearly, the change in creative direction and the greater focus on network programming is part of an effort to boost their visibility locally, but, according to Zierlein, the 1560's eggs are in the Yahoo! network basket.

"We're in a major market city," he said. "People care about Houston sports and I'm a little worried that's being lost."

No word on how the station will fill the hole alongside veteran host John Granato on what was the most popular sports morning show on the airwaves for a number of years at KILT before the duo moved to 1560. Zierlein said the decision to part with his broadcast partner of 14 years was very difficult and called the discussion the two had about his leaving "tough."

Now that he has officially left the station, Zierlein says he will continue work on his football Web site, TheSidelineView.com, which he operates with his close friend and Yahoo! overnight host John Harris. But, he wants to be back on the air as soon as possible and he is actively seeking a new gig.

Given his history with 610, it would seem unlikely he would land there, but there are two other sports stations in Houston. Some creative and quick-on-the-draw Facebookers (Facebookians?) posted a group today called SportsTalk 790 with Zierlein's picture as the group photo, obviously hoping that KBME 790 would be his next broadcast home, and it looks like a good fit. 

Over the last year, KBME 790 has made a number of moves in the local market that have made them a formidable opponent to current reigning ratings-war champs KILT 610. They've added Matt Jackson and Adam Wexler to mornings, and Matt Thomas's lunchtime show has consistently ranked well in the market.

With the backing of Clear Channel Communications and the strength of an improving lineup, it seems like a logical choice. In fact, one wonders if the brilliant but dry Charlie Palillo could pair with a new co-host, years after splitting from arguably the best sports talk pairing in Houston radio history with Rich Lord. If that were to happen, KBME would bookend their day with four of the more well-respected voices in Houston sports radio. Don't hold your breath, but it's fun to speculate.

Wherever Zierlein ends up, it's a loss for 1560, which needs to figure out a direction quickly before there is no one left to jump ship.

Update: AM790 has announced Zierlein will be joining their morning-drive team later this month, putting him head-to-head with his former co-host Granato.

My Voice Nation Help
19 comments
Mcsoundsdj
Mcsoundsdj

Best of luck Lance. I'm definitely gonna add 790 to my presets.

Baltika716
Baltika716

too bad 1560 you will loose this listener,corporate America once again destroying what real people want

Sack52145
Sack52145

Zerlien is going to 790. The annoucnement will be at 8am Monday.

Clay Elkins
Clay Elkins

790 management would be wise to realize the potential of having Zierlein on their airwaves and give him the freedom to make his own mark on that station if that is in fact where he lands. Obviously, 790 is doing something right or else they wouldn't have quickly landed Matt & Adam. Hopefully Granato will bolt 1560 and partner with Lance again and then 790 can have a John & Lance morning show with Matt & Adam doing drive time. That would signify the end for the 3 other competing radio stations. Clear Channel can make that bold of a move, because...well, they are Clear Channel.

Rowdymax1958
Rowdymax1958

Lance has such a twisted sense of humor, I wouldn't be surprised if he comes back on some station, somewhere using his many alter-egos like "SEC Guy", or "Mack Brown"

Johnny_tha_fox
Johnny_tha_fox

Z knows what he's talkin bout, Willis! during the national talk like Rome and Timmy B i would switch to 790 mighty Q and Matt Thomas just to continue local talk! i can care less about NY Yankees and Laker news!

Pearlander
Pearlander

Double Rods, 1560.  You just lost one of your listeners.  Travis is a Rome re-tred.  Was already switching the afternoon show off because of him.  If I wanted to listen to Rome, I would.  Going national, going corporate, going down the tubes.  Always liked Matt and Adam, but couldn't miss John and Lance for nobody.  You just sold me to the other team.  When Yahoo (Apple, Microsoft, ESPN, etc.) take over, you're done.  Local sports is what we as listeners want and need, you just lost your identity, and thus you are loosing me as a listener.  Phew, Phew, Drayton Out!!

jB2five
jB2five

Lance Z has the best alter-egos in Houston, by FAR. 790 would be stupid not to pick him up...

Jchaluh
Jchaluh

Lance made 1560 and kgow is being so hypocritical. First they slam cpod now they are one. How weak. Granato will be lost w/out LZ. He's right. 1560 has zero local coverage other than 6-10 a.m. I hope he moves to 790 with John Harris and they start their own show. That graveyard shift bs has to suck. And trn is getting old real fast. The whole Rome bit has just about run it's course.

Eric S
Eric S

I'll definitely miss hearing Lance on the air. It's a real shame that 1560 has lost so many people who made it fun to listen to. 

Jeff, did you ask Lance whether he has a no-compete clause to sit out before he can find a new home, or is he a free agent?

Brian Jones
Brian Jones

What a terrible move by KGOW.  Yahoo Sports Network?  And I thought CBS radio was awful.  Lance was the nucleus of that show.  Granato is a stuttering hack and the ratings will plummet.  Off the air in 3 yrs.  Good luck, Lance.  You made it awesome.

JimF
JimF

RIP 1560.  You had a good run, but ended up killing yourself and doing what you swore you would never do.  Just another CPOD.

Bryanford
Bryanford

Lance z is the most talented radio personality in Houston. 790 would be extremely smart to pick him up. I bet it happens.

PearlandStephen
PearlandStephen

From what I've heard, Charlie Palillo has said that he will NOT take a partner in afternoons, no matter how terrible he is alone.  I think LZ ends up at 790, probably in the mornings with Matt Jackson.

TK
TK

I hope he goes to 790.

dennymartin125
dennymartin125

Refinancing means taking out a new mortgage with a lower interest rate to pay off your existing mortgage, search online for "123 Refinance" I got 2.831% rate on refinance! you should know your rate before you find a company. Learn the secrets and tips about refinance

Jeff
Jeff

Good question to ask and no, I didn't. By the tone of the conversation, I gathered that he feels he could be back on the radio soon, so I doubt that is an issue. I will say the whole 790 thing was COMPLETE speculation on my part. It feels like the right fit to me, but what do I know? :)

fhlh
fhlh

Palillo can take a hike. Carpetbagger doing "local" sports... belch.

Fizz
Fizz

According to chron.com, LZ was currently working without a contract for the last few months.  Personally, I'm hoping he ends up on 790.

Now Trending

Houston Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...