Lee Hamilton’s 19-year career as the drive-time sports talk host at XTRA/570 has ended, ostensibly because he wasn’t entertaining enough in this new era where sports talk appears a lot less important than there being a “personality” behind the microphone. But seriously, folks. Has there ever been a more entertaining moment in Los Angeles sports talk history than the day Hamilton told a Raiders fan to put a gun in his mouth and pull the trigger? It was always pretty funny listening to the straight-laced Hamilton trying to put a little hip-hop and bling-bling into his otherwise Wonder Bread persona. Funny or not, he was always relevant; XTRA lost the Chargers as a client simply because team execs tired of getting bashed by Hamilton and his callers. But sports talk radio in the 21st Century has changed. All Hamilton wanted to do in his long career at XTRA was “talk sports with you,” and that’s not enough any more. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 Beginning Sept. 6, XTRA’s new drive-time team will be Joe Grande and Matt “Money” Smith, who come over after successful stints as the designated morning sports voices at FM radio titans KPWR and KROQ, respectively. Hamilton has signed a new three-year contract to fill a variety of roles in XTRA’s everyday line up. He’ll provide a daily morning drive commentary, do a 10-minute weekday segment with the “Loose Cannons” at 12:40 p.m., continue to do “the best 15 minutes in sports talk” at 4 p.m. (with short er versions at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.) as a lead-in to Grande and Smith, and host sports talk shows on the weekends, times to be determined. Hamilton was philosophical about the change. His contract ex pired late last year and talk of a major shakeup was ongoing from the start of negotiations. “We talked about a variety of things, going to a two-man show, mixing in some play-by-play,” Hamilton said. “It’s hard to accept, but we’ll see where it goes. Don (Martin, XTRA’s program director) asked me to do it and try to make it work, and I’ve always been loyal and dedicated to the station. “I’m proud of what I’ve done here. I think my legacy is sound and that I changed the face of sports talk radio in these last 19 years. It means a lot in this industry to have been in the same key time slot for almost 20 years.” Whatever one’s opinion of the decision, Martin does deserve some credit for not just blowing Hamilton out the way execs at KSPN did Doug Krikorian. ESPN nitwits rudely dumped Krikorian as Joe McDonnell’s longtime co-host without having a replacement or a game plan in mind. Martin went overtime trying to explain his decision. “The medium has changed more in the last five years than it did in the previous 100,” Martin said. “I went to a conference of program directors recently and all we talked about was the changing market we’re trying to program. “Today’s college seniors are the most powerful class ever. They have grown up in a 500-channel TV universe and live on their computers. They have MP3 players and those who don’t write blogs read them. They text message their friends on average 65 times a day and the information they want is as close as their cell phone. “The lesson is that you have to be able to reinvent yourself. If you do something the same way, espe cially in this market, you’re going to get beat. And the days of sports talk being all about Xs and Os are gone.” Martin said the Grande-Smith format will be 80 percent sports talk and 20 percent personality, and doesn’t think their relative in experience as a typical sports talk host someone who attends events, knows how to cull infor mation from sources, has spent time in clubhouses, has a back ground in reporting is a non-factor. “There is no ‘sports credibility degree,” ‘ Martin said. “Sports talk is all about strong opinions.” When asked if Grande has any credibility, Martin said he’s very close with several Lakers, so close that Shaquille O’Neal sent Grande a wedding present. Yes, things have changed. Grande studied radio, TV and film at San Jose State and has been a street reporter and sports commentator on Big Boy’s Power morning show for seven years, with a reputation for “getting away with some wild (bleep).” In 2003, he joined the pregame and halftime broadcast team on Raiders radio broadcasts. Smith studied speech communi cations at Pepperdine and began his career answering phones for the Kevin and Bean KROQ morning show 11 years ago. He left to work for Dream Works Records, then returned to KROQ, serving as music director and replacing Jimmy Kimmel as the sports voice for the morning show. He will join the Lakers pregame radio broadcast team this fall. “These were two free agents I felt we needed to sign,” Martin said. “We’re not bigger than the machine. You counter-program or die. “I love Lee as a person and talent. We’re repositioning him into a situation where he will touch every day-part at the station, and in some ways his image has a chance to get even bigger.” Hamilton said he will go into the change with an open mind and take advantage of the new factors it offers. He wants to get back into NFL play-by-play and was a candi date for jobs in Atlanta and Caroli na, but he was unable to figure out a way to work NFL games on the East Coast and meet his XTRA obligations. “Maybe there will be a different window of opportunity next time,” he said. This will also give the self-confessed workaholic him more time to care for his ailing 90-year-old mother, who lives with his family half of the year, and attend more of his son Scotty’s wrestling matches at Rancho Bernardo High. And now the news CBS kicks off its two weeks of U.S. Open coverage with the Arthur Ashe Kids Day telecast today (10 a.m.) hosted by Summer Sanders. The network will provide a late-night highlights show after David Letterman and then start match coverage next weekend. Mary Joe Fernandez has been added to the choir. USA Network’s 107 ½ hours of cover age starts Monday with two seg ments each weekday, at 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. … TNT has signed former UCLA standout and just-retired NBA star Reggie Miller as an analyst for next season. He’ll split time on Marv Al bert’s broadcast crew and the studio ducking barbs from Charles Barkley. … D’Marco Farr has been added to the college football studio show at Fox Sports Net. … Fox Sports Net’s new pro football stu dio show debuts Sept. 9 with ex-Raider Tim Brown and ex-Trojan Jason Sehorn as analysts. … Former Raiders quarterback Rich Gan non has joined CBS as a game analyst. … The NFL Network has added Emmitt Smith to its “Total Access” studio show, and league director of officials Mike Pereira will also become a regular on Wednesday’s TA show to talk about officiating. Butch Davis and Brian Baldinger have also joined the cast of “Playbook.” … Troy Aikman (Fox) and Bob Costas (NBC) have signed new contracts. … The cast of next month’s new edition of CBS’ “Survivor” will feature a female sports talk host and former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Gary Hogeboom. Sounds like a story for “ESPN Hollywood.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!