WCRX Sports Programming Team Effort

By Nader Ihmoud

Turn your radio up as you listen to original sports talk on 88.1 FM WCRX’s “Deep Dish” or “The Last Slice,” shows that have been added this semester to the radio station’s lineup.

There has been sports programming on WCRX, Columbia’s radio network, since 1990. John Joyce, internship coordinator for the Radio Department, created the sports department for the station, but it wasn’t until fall 2011 that the programming had a synced staff that worked together.

Sam Panayotovich, the station’s sports director, said the programming came to fruition following extensive efforts to find staffing. He walked around the seventh floor of the 33 E. Congress Parkway building during spring 2011, asking students, “Hey, do you like sports?” and “Hey, do you want to help with sports?”

Panayotovich, senior radio major, held the first meetings for the department in July, and before the semester began, he knew who wanted to participate and what they wanted to do.

“There was a lot of behind-the-scenes work early [on], and we kind of knew what roles were which and who wanted to do what,” Panayotovich said.

According to him, the WCRX administrators were impressed with the success of the shows and next semester will be sending members of the sports programming department to cover Chicago’s major professional sports teams.

This past semester, the station’s sports programming had two sports talk shows every Tuesday called “Deep Dish” from 7 – 9 p.m., and “The Last Slice” from 9 – 10 p.m.

Currently, the station’s sports department has seven students working and volunteering, and plans on adding five more for the upcoming semester.

Panayotovich and Shane Reynolds are hosts of “Deep Dish,” which is produced by Jonathan Bregman, Joe Lundstrom, James Moody and Danny Pasquerelli.

“To call them producers isn’t fair,” Panayotovich said. “They are part of the show.

The producers of “Deep Dish” oversee and help with the rundown and layout of the show. Panayotovich credits the success of the show because of the hosts’ and the producers’ ability to work as a team instead of as individuals. According to Bregman and Lundstrom, the producers feed off of the hosts’ energy and personalities.

“[Reynolds and Panayotovich] make it a blast,” Lundstrom said. “It’s so much fun working with them.”

Following “Deep Dish,” Bregman, Pasquerelli and Lundstrom co-host “The Last Slice,” where they are given the platform to display the features they have been working on and talk about topics that were not covered during the previous two hours.

Panayotovich said the staff has been bringing original content to the show all semester, such as the “Carson Palmer Off-Season Workout Plan.” Palmer, an NFL quarterback, was injured and had not played for seven months before making his comeback this season. They also do “The Great Debate at Eight,” where a topic is picked and devil’s advocate is played.

“We think things out and talk things out, instead of rag and tag,” Panayotovich said. “We stay neutral and bring a little humor and life [to] topics.”

Although the show is on Tuesdays, preparation begins the Thursday before the actual show. That Thursday, the crew—members of the sports talk show—meet and discuss the upcoming events and predicts what possible outcomes.

“[It is] a group effort of picking what we want to talk about and then honing in on that. Then, that goes into the run down and then we all have a say on what will finally be approved,” Panayotovich said.

The show’s content is based on the local sports within the city, such as University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Bears and even some high school athletics. “Deep Dish” had former U of I head football coach, Ron Zook, on the show.

“Being in Chicago is pretty great [because] it’s the best sports city in the world, so we get a lot of headlines from that,” Lundstrom said.

For more information, polls, podcasts and pictures go to WCRXSports.com, follow them on Twitter @WCRXSports or listen online at WCRXFM.com