Parker has been a part of numerous sports-announcing teams, from color commentary during games to roundtable-type programs. He currently handles Mountain West Conference football broadcasts on the Vs. (Versus) Network (formerly OLN), as well as Qwest Sound Off and Cardinals Live for FSN Arizona.
"Believe it or not, you kind of get tired of traveling around," Parker said. "There's an opportunity in your hometown where you aren't traveling all the time. I've got five days a week sitting here, and it sure beats sitting on the couch."
On top of an NFL career that spanned a dozen seasons, Parker brings broadcasting credentials that are impressive. As a result, his game experience and national ties should open the doors for top-tier guests.
"I've already talked to some coaches and general managers across the league who have said, 'No problem; give me a call,' so whether that's an every day or two-time a-week occurrence, there will be guests of national stature on the show," Parker said.
The addition of Parker is clearly a feather in 1290's lineup, but the NFL veteran won't be doing the show alone. He'll be teamed with Dean Greenberg, an avowed fan who hosts Money Matters, a brokered program (meaning he pays for the time) Sunday mornings. Greenberg is also a major sponsor of sports packages and a significant booster for UA athletics. However, he has no sports-talk experience.
"What Dean brings to the show is a completely different angle than what Glenn brings to the show," said Citadel Tucson Market Manager Ken Kowalcek. "Dean has never been there. He's a huge sports fan, and he's done a lot of things in sports, but he can also be controversial. You like him, or you hate him, and that works well on radio when you're sparking callers, and you're getting people to be involved in the show. Dean is one of those guys who will disagree with you from time to time. That's why it's such a different element to the show than you're going to get from any other sports show."
The Parker/Greenberg pairing brings an end to The Shootout, hosted by KOLD Channel 13 personalities Laurence Scott and Scott Kilbury. Kilbury is no longer affiliated with the radio station, but Scott remains a part of the product. He hosts the station's football pregame show along with Brad Allis and yours truly. (I've also been subbing during the 3 to 6 p.m. slot during the transition.) Additionally, Scott will probably maintain a role in the new weekday show.
"I certainly hope we can use Laurence as much as possible," Parker said. "I think Laurence is a great reporter. I really like what he brings to the table, the way he builds story lines, the way he puts together packages. Hopefully, we use him as much as possible in that role, and maybe more down the line. Of course, there's an opportunity for him if Dean or I have prior commitments. Look for him to be a very big part of this show."
When 1290 wrested the UA sports contract from KNST AM 790 more than two years ago, it was an aggressive move that set the stage for the station's rise in ratings. But the rebuilding process has somewhat mirrored that of Arizona football: It's taken longer than hoped, and KNST continues to rank as the only AM station in an FM-dominated market that receives any Arbitron numbers of note.
Since landing the deal, 1290 has gone through its share of local sports programs. Jim Donovan left the station moments before an on-air shift, because he was frustrated with what he viewed as a lack of commitment behind the scenes. Rich Herrera and 1290 parted ways shortly thereafter.
"Rich, particularly, on the air, was a big-sounding talent, but he didn't have the skill set to be program director, on-air talent and manage the entire University of Arizona package," Kowalcek said. Pete Delgado, who continues his UA football postgame hosting role, was replaced by nationally syndicated talk show host Glenn Beck; Ryan Radtke, who maintains a position as part of the UA's network pregame and halftime show, landed a spot as the play-by-play voice of the Tucson Sidewinders; and now, The Shootout has been supplanted by the new Parker/Greenberg product.
But even though the ratings haven't lived up to expectations, it's not for lack of trying. 1290 is filled with familiar Tucson personalities. Long-time morning show stalwarts Mike Rapp and Betsy Bruce team with program director Chuck Meyer on the morning drive talk show. Parker brings added name recognition to the afternoon drive. Couple that with well-known syndicated programs Jim Rome, Beck and Paul Harvey, and Kowalcek believes it's just a matter of time.
"KNST has been around probably a minimum of 25 years, and they've always been kind of a middle-of-the-pack player," Kowalcek said. "They've never been one of the dominant radio stations in town, which is frustrating in a market like this with all the sports stuff and politics going on. You would think a radio station like that would be able to do a lot better. When we look at our cluster as a whole, where do we have a lot of growth, it's on 1290. That's why we've made big changes in the morning show with Mike and Chuck. That's why we put in Glenn Beck. With the tie with the University of Arizona, the sports element can be a big part of that radio station, and that's what we're trying to grow. If you look at what I can grow from a ratings and revenue standpoint, it's absolutely that station."