ESPN Houston's highly anticipated new afternoon show debuts Monday

The Wheelhouse will take over the afternoon drive slot. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

Sports talk stations ESPN 97.5 and 92.5 are shaking up their on-air schedule and host lineup Monday in bold moves that will rattle the Houston radio market. The simulcast FM tandem will introduce two new shows, four new personalities, move some pieces to new time slots and put a fresh coat of paint on the stations' sound.

Here's the new lineup: John Granato and Lance Zierlein from 7-10 a.m., followed by Charlie Pallilo in his earlier 10-noon slot. Afternoons get underway with Joel Blank and new partner Jeremy Branham hosting The Killer B's show from noon to 3 p.m. Perhaps the biggest difference maker will be an all-new show called TheWheelhouse from 3-7 p.m.

TheWheelhouse will be hosted by Jake Asman, Cody Stoots and Brad Kellner, three younger guys whose energy and perspectives on sports will be unique on Houston airwaves. Owner David Gow must have lots of confidence in the trio – he's given them the cleanup spot, batting fourth with the longest show on the schedule.

"In addition to being strong in radio, they are very digitally savvy. They do a great job of taking the content that they create and pushing it out over all the different platforms. These guys are content creators who will reach audiences in many different ways," Gow said.

The Wheelhouse guys will take over the afternoon drive slot from The Blitz, formerly hosted by A.J. Hoffman and Fred Faour. The Blitz ran for more than a decade, which is forever plus eternity in radio years. The show effectively ended when Hoffman left the fold last month for a position with a gambling enterprise in Las Vegas. Faour will stay with ESPN Houston as a roving betting analyst, popping up regularly on the other shows.

Let's take a closer look at the three hosts of The Wheelhouse.

Jake Asman's first job out of college was a producer for sports radio WFAN in New York. He moved to Houston in 2018 to start work on ESPN 97.5 and 92.5's sister property, the national SportsMap network.

SportsMap: How will you approach being part of a team on The Wheelhouse rather than your previous experience hosting a national show by yourself?

Jake Asman: Our show is going to be very collaborative. Cody, BK, and I all will have a voice in the direction the show will go. We want to make sure that if someone has a strong opinion that day or a unique angle to take on a topic, or a great segment idea that we follow through on it. Our goal is to create entertaining, informative, and high-energy radio that the city will embrace. The three of us plus our producer Andrew Carlson are going to make sure that we are always prepared, talking about the topics that people in this city care about, and providing a unique listener experience.

Cody Stoots, in addition to having the most Texas-sounding name ever, grew up in Houston and was Intern of the Year once at ESPN 97.5 and 92.5. He worked at "Double T 104.3" (the most Texas-sounding radio station ever), got his degree in journalism, and returned to Houston in 2014 to get his career moving. He's also worked for Sports Illustrated and the Outkick network.

SportsMap: Tell me about your vision for The Wheelhouse. Will you guys carve out distinct roles or will it be a free-for-all?

Cody Stoots: I think I am pretty funny but unfortunately I think Brad will be the funny one. He's had us rolling since we met him. I would say whoever has the juice each day is going to be the one to get us going. Some days that may be one of us and some days we will all be ready to get after it from the start. We are going to play off each other and have fun talking about what our listeners talk about.

Brad Kellner was born in Kansas but, as the saying goes, got to Texas as fast he could. Well, he was 5-years-old, when his family moved to Dallas. He went to the University of Texas and began his radio career as morning show producer at AM 1300 The Zone in Austin. A year later he moved 104.9 The Horn, the flagship home for UT sports, where he worked his way up to afternoon drive host.

SportsMap: Houston and Austin are 150 miles and worlds apart. Tell me about your learning curve of Houston sports.

Brad Kellner: My mom is from Houston and my dad is from Galveston. Houston has always felt a little bit like home to me. Most of my extended family lives around Houston and I spent a lot of my youth down here. I have always supported and kept up with the Clutch City sports teams. There are a ton of Houston fans in Austin, so I have been talking about the Texans, Astros and Rockets on the air for a number of years. I am excited for the opportunity to focus on these teams and attend more games, practices and events in person.

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The Houston Texans have just a couple of practices before their preseason debut. Here are 11 observations from Tuesday’s workout.

1.The offense stunk on Tuesday. It was inconsistent and resembled more of last year’s disappointing performances than any other practices in this training camp.

2. Davis Mills and his receivers had a few miscommunications on Tuesday. Mills sailed a pass to nobody when he and Brandin Cooks weren’t on the same page. There were some other throws to nowhere in the day. It was something that hadn’t been present at all in training camp to this point.

3. There were a few “good coverage” notes on Tuesday. Not to say there was one specific player, but a handful of team-level efforts that led to the note.

4. It wasn’t all wrong from the offense. After a pass to nowhere Davis Mills and the offense bounced back. It was a second down during a team drill and Mills fired a pass to Chris Moore for six yards. Rex Burkhead would pick up a first down on a rush a play later. A non-positive play last year on first down doomed this team. That hopefully won’t be the case for this year’s team.

5. Chad Beebe is going into his fifth season in the NFL, his first with the Texans. The former Vikings pass catcher has flashed a few times in training camp. He has an uphill battle being new to the team but is trying to make himself a factor.

6. Phillip Dorsett had a big catch over the middle. Davis Mills stood back and delivered as the offensive line held up and Dorsett reeled it in for a huge gain. No defenders were around him. It is between Dorsett and Chris Moore for the chance to be the slot wideout opening day. With Dorsett’s return to practice, it is becoming a fun camp battle.

7.Speaking of returns to practice, Tytus Howard was back. Howard has his reps managed and after practice, offensive line coach George Warhop Howard was “getting his wind” back. When Howard was having his reps managed rookie tackle Austin Deculus played at right tackle. Deculus looks much more consistent than minicamp and OTAs.

8. Kenyon Green is still out with an injury. It is getting to a critical time where the time missed might prevent the first-rounder from starting week one. Max Scharping hasn’t looked bad in his chances with the first team. Offensive line coach George Warhop said they believe in Green and his ability and he has been in meetings to stay up to date.

9. Ka’imi Fairbairn was perfect in one of the special team periods. He drilled all five kicks, each further than the last, and was crushing the football.

10. Derek Stingley was very sticky in some early reps on Nico Collins. The third overall pick is so smooth when he is working. Later his coverage forced a throw from the offense that had no chance of being completed.

11. The play of the day was made by Derek Stingley. The offense was about five or six yards out of the end zone needing a touchdown to win. With six seconds left on the clock, any completed pass that wasn’t a touchdown was game over. Davis Mills dropped back a step and fired to Nico Collins who Stingley covered. The rookie kept the second-year player out of the end zone to earn the defense a win. This was one of the better Stingley days and he did a lot of work. At one point, it looked as though he and Rex Burkhead had some words and almost led to an offense and defense scuffle, but it stayed to just some shouting. The rookie shined today.

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