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Sports radio hosts get creative with content amid coronavirus

TC Martin was fortunate Tuesday.

NFL free agency is abloom, and there was plenty of fodder for him to discuss on his daily sports radio show on KSHP, “The TC Martin Show,” which focuses on local and national sports news. Tom Brady will sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Philip Rivers is going to Indianapolis. And Marcus Mariota is coming to Las Vegas.

But eventually, the signings will dwindle and the sports news cycle will slow again, leaving him devoid of the topics that typically arise for radio hosts.

The topics that coronavirus has halted indefinitely.

“At that point in time, you’re going to have to start getting a little creative,” said Martin, who has hosted shows in different markets since 1993. “It really goes back to being diversified, to being able to talk about more than what’s just currently going on.”

The coronavirus outbreak has stopped professional and amateur sports, forcing local sports talk radio hosts to alter their approaches and come up with new ways to deliver content to listeners who desire a distraction from the crisis that has overtaken the country.

Cancellations of leagues and events provided a couple of days of content, and the NFL’s free-agency period is tiding listeners over for now.

But then what?

They’re not entirely sure yet.

“Who knows what we’re going to talk about?” said Tyler Bischoff, who hosts his daily show, “Technically Correct,” on KWWN and focuses on topics and teams in the Las Vegas market. “We’ve got ideas as far as fun kind of dumb stuff that we’re going to do the next couple weeks. Look back in history type stuff. We’ll be prepared for a little bit. But if this goes on for two or three months, I don’t know what happens.”

Vegas Stats &Information Network, the only 24-hour sports betting network, began reducing its broadcast hours this week, going from 17 hours of live programming to seven on weekdays. The network’s senior editor, Matt Youmans, also co-hosts one of its shows, “The Edge,” and called the situation “depressing.”

He said he expects the NFL will be the network’s topic of choice for the next six weeks.

“My life revolves around the sports calendar, too, and that world has been turned upside down,” Youmans wrote in an email. “We have never experienced anything like this, but we will survive and hope to thrive.”

Youmans also appears on Dave Cokin’s show on KWWN, “The Las Vegas Sportsline,” and the two decided last week to suspend the show’s operations. Cokin estimates the show will be off the air for at least 90 days and says he’ll be watching a lot of TV while he waits to resume operations.

Martin said he’ll rely on guests to fill time and is hopeful their expertise will satisfy his listeners.

Bischoff says he’ll use the next few months to challenge himself and fine-tune his creativity, and he began doing so Tuesday night by streaming UNLV’s victory over Ohio State in the 1990 NCAA Tournament on his Twitter handle.

About 1,700 people participated in the stream and engaged with Bischoff, who provided commentary and earned kudos from his program director, Kyle Englehart, in the process.

“The hosts and personality part of it comes first. These guys are entertainers and will be able to put on great shows regardless if we don’t have daily sports content to go to,” said Englehart, who oversees the programming for Lotus Broadcasting’s Las Vegas Sports Network. “It’s certainly an unprecedented time. … but everyone in our building is looking forward to it.”

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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