KILLER B'S DEBUT MONDAY

6 "Killer" questions with ESPN Houston's new midday show

ESPN Houston's new lineup starts this Monday. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

It's a whole new ballgame on ESPN 97.5 and 92.5 starting Monday as the simulcast sports talk stations introduce two new shows with high-energy personalities in the afternoon while keeping popular and reinvigorated veterans in the morning. The new lineup will light a fuse on local talk radio, leading the charge into the future of Houston sports conversation.

Here's the new schedule and players: John Granato and Lance Zierlein from 7-10 a.m., followed by Charlie Pallilo from 10 to noon. Holdover Joel Blank and new addition Jeremy Branham will host the Killer B's (get it, their last names start with B?) from noon to 3 p.m., with The Wheelhouse, hosted by three debuting voices, Brad Kellner, Cody Stoots and Jake Asman, wrapping up things from 3-7 p.m.

Fred Faour, former host of The Blitz in afternoon drive, will make regular appearances on all four shows as the stations' roving "Sports Betting Analyst."

Owner David Gow said, "We are really excited about what we've put together, a combination of proven successful hosts and some new fresh faces." While the stations are "committed to local shows and local programming," he intends to take greater advantage of the ESPN network connection.

"One of the great things about the ESPN brand is that we can bring high-profile national voices and perspectives on our airwaves to talk about our local teams. We look forward to voicing our own local opinions, but we also want to include those national voices in local conversations when sports news warrants it," Gow said.

Today we will introduce the new Killer B's show, tomorrow The Wheelhouse.

Gow said that Blank has been an important cog of ESPN 97.5 and 92.5 programming for several years. Adding Branham puts the stations in position to win middays. "Jeremy Branham is a real pro. He is very savvy about topic selection and understands how to run a show. We think pairing him with Joel will help us create a very strong show from noon to 3, one that will be a favorite with Houston listeners."

Blank is the veteran voice of the Killer B's, having worked two decades as the director of broadcasting and radio announcer for the Houston Rockets. Before that he was part of the Portland Trail Blazers broadcast division. He joined ESPN 97.5 and 92.5 in 2016.

SportsMap : How valuable is your experience from both sides of sports, having worked on the inside as a Rockets executive, now a radio talk host commenting on our teams?

Joel Blank: I think it's extremely valuable because you understand what the teams would like you to focus on and talk about while knowing that you owe it to your audience to be honest, and unfiltered when calling it as you see it. The teams would like it to be all positive all the time while promoting their brand their way. The fans make you appointment radio when they realize you aren't about the spin or company line. On this station, we don't owe the teams anything and can speak openly and honestly.

SportsMap: Talk to me about developing a partnership with your new co-host Jeremy Branham.

Joel Blank: "The first step is getting to know the person, their personality, style, background, and preferences. On the air, you work on knowing "hot buttons" on topics and issues that bring out passion, and you grow and learn from each passing day and show. Jeremy knows me from the Rockets and I know him from U of H, but to truly get to know each other and build chemistry and a relationship, it takes effort, focus, repetition, and the desire to build a relationship that enhances the show on a daily basis.

SportsMap: What is your strategy for the Killer B's to take command of the noon-3 p.m. slot in Houston?

Joel Blank: I think it all starts with being true to ourselves, honest in our analysis, and dedicated to consistency in the way we execute the game plan on a daily basis. We should never try to be someone we are not, or say something we don't believe in 100-percent. The listeners are smart. They can read through the BS and tell when you are faking a take. Having some fun mixed in always helps the situation as well.

Branham has been the radio voice for University of Houston basketball (Final Four in 2021) and baseball since 2005. He's also done play-by-play for the Houston Dynamo and worked for the Legacy Sports Network. He is a UH grad.

SportsMap: You're best known as the play-by-play voice of UH sports. Traditionally that role requires a straight narrative, just the facts m'am. Hosting a talk show is all about opinions, fun and personality. How will you keep your two voices separate?

Jeremy Branham: It won't be hard keeping my roles straight. Play-by-play is a unique way of communication, you respond to what you see and try to describe it the best you can. I don't communicate that way in any other aspect of my life, so hosting a talk show is much more like I would talk to my family or my friends, a much more normal conversation."

SportsMap: Tell me your vision for the Killer B's.

Jeremy Branham: The vision for me is to talk about what the city is talking about. Living in Houston my whole life, I feel I have a good pulse of what is buzzing around town. I want to give listeners a place to go where they can hear what they'd be talking to their friends about.

SportsMap: What makes Houston sports so special to you?

Jeremy Branham: I was born in Houston, raised in Humble and went to the University of Houston. That's what makes Houston sports so appealing to me – mostly the agony of heartbreaking defeat, but also the joy of championships.

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DeMeco Ryans looks like the Texans' choice as the next head coach. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

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Ryans is a popular pick for the position in Houston, and fans will be super excited if he eventually gets the job. Let's hope Rapoport's sources are correct, and the Texans have their new head coach lined up.

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