The mood is about to change on the airwaves of SportsTalk 790. And the expected changes will have an impact on morning and afternoon drive on the Houston sports radio station.
BSM reported earlier that morning host Lance Zierlein informed 790 executives of his intentions to let his contract expire this summer and become a free agent. He has since confirmed the news on social media.
790 and Zierlein are both open to continuing a part-time relationship. Whether or not that will come to fruition remains to be seen. Sports Radio 610 and Gow Media have previously served as employer’s of Zierlein’s and depending on their local needs, could also be interested.
In recent years, the popular Houston radio personality has begun contributing as an NFL Draft Analyst for the NFL Network and NFL.com. He’s seen as an emerging talent by network officials and is expected to remain involved on multiple platforms with the network. Zierlein has hosted the morning show on 790 since 2011, working with different partners including Adam Clanton and his current partner Matt Thomas.
With Zierlein leaving, BSM has learned that 790 plans to move Josh Innes into morning drive. The change isn’t expected to occur until the summer, just in time for football season. Innes’ move earlier in the day will create an opening in afternoons. Sources I spoke with said former host Charlie Pallilo is not expected to be part of the new afternoon mix.
Since returning to Houston, Innes has been a magnet for local media attention. His ratings haven’t yet sent a jolt into the marketplace but his talent is undeniable. 790 is hoping that a move earlier in the day will allow Innes to further move the ratings needle and lift the station back to a stronger overall position.
Given the stylistic differences in the way Innes hosts his show compared to 610’s MaD Radio, Houston sports radio listeners will soon have different options to consider when listening each morning. Add to the equation 97.5 ESPN, who are losing Mike and Mike as a result of ESPN splitting up the long time duo, and the fall should produce an interesting report card for mornings in Houston.
The one situation which will be clarified soon is Matt Thomas’ role with 790. Thomas is currently paired with Zierlein on the morning show and contributes as a public address and radio play by play announcer for the Houston Rockets. It’s possible the station could shift him to afternoons or return him to a midday position. Sources close to the situation were unsure of the station’s plans for him but said he would not be paired with Innes.