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MEDIA VIEWS

Frank Cusumano brings back 'The Slop,' with 'Tuna' and Strickland, but long-term future unclear

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Cusumano, Edwards, Strickland

“The Slop” has consisted of Andy Strickland, left, and Charlie “Tuna” Edwards, right, joining host Frank Cusumano, center, on his radio show.

After an eight-month hiatus, Frank Cusumano was slopping around again on his radio show.

A raucous segment dubbed “The Slop,” in which fellow sportscasters Charlie “Tuna” Edwards and Andy Strickland joined Cusumano for a chat on Fridays, was dropped abruptly last spring amid acrimony. But it returned to Cusumano’s program on KFNS (590 AM) last week, and that might have been more than a cameo appearance.

Strickland’s specialty is hockey, but knows other sports. Edwards’ specialty is athletics-related controversy — especially stirring the pot on racial issues and criticizing area teams.

The banter often goes off the rails. But Edwards’ wild blasting of athletics programs at St. Louis University and Missouri on a show in March was the tipping point for the usually mild-mannered Cusumano, who has been prominent in the St. Louis sports-talk radio and television business for three decades and has won many sportscasting Emmy Awards at KSDK (Channel 5) — for which he has been the sports director for the last six years.

He was so angered in March that he canceled the segment — until last Friday, that is, when Cusumano revived it on his “Pressbox” show that airs from 10 a.m.-noon weekdays on KFNS.

Cusumano said when “The Slop” was dropped that the reason was because of scheduling conflicts that included moving Mike Claiborne into that Friday slot. He brought the sloppers back when Claiborne was unavailable last week.

“Mike was out, so I just thought it would be a great idea,” Cusumano said this week. “I genuinely like Charlie. I genuinely like Andy.”

Edwards, who has his own show on KFNS from 6-8 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, said he and Cusumano occasionally had run into each other at the station in ensuing months.

“We’re friendly,” he said, but added that he “was shocked” when he was invited back. “I kind of forgot about it” other “than when so many people I ran into asked about it.”

Friday’s segment took a familiar course as the hosts went back and forth. Edwards took shots at Mizzou, asking if new basketball coach Dennis Gates “is a real brother,” and got riled when talking about NBA player Kyrie Irving being given an indefinite suspension for an anti-Semitic controversy in which he was involved.

“Only with Black athletes when they’re suspended they tell them, ‘It’s indefinite,’” Edwards said. “With white guy’s suspended, (it’s) ‘OK he’ll be back in four weeks.’”

Edwards then turned to the NFL’s Deshaun Watson, who is serving a long suspension after being accused by many women of sexual misconduct. But Watson, who is Black, has not been charged with a crime.

“I still don’t know why he’s suspended,” Edwards said. “... He did nothing. He did nothing!”

Edwards added that the NFL’s Tom Brady, who is white, got a definitive length on his suspension when he was punished for deflating footballs.

Cusumano shot back: “Tom Brady — to compare what he did with a football as to what Deshaun Watson did with like 35 women ...”

Edwards also was reminded that Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer, who is white, in essence was put on indefinite suspension (it was termed administrative leave) in 2021 for alleged sexual misconduct before being suspended for the equivalent of two full seasons.

Strickland kidded Edwards that he should have worked more on “his (on-air) game” while he was on hiatus, and that kind for byplay among the hosts is typical of “The Slop” — which Edwards described as being “good for everyone” after he was dropped in March. “People learned a lot from it. We had me, a Black guy, and Andy, who is white, talking about things a lot of people don’t like to talk about.”

Strickland, who talks hockey for many outlets including KFNS, said he enjoyed the reunion of a segment he and Edwards have done for about two decades, on multiple stations, since Bernie Miklasz started it on KMOX (1120 AM).

“It’s always been in good fun, it never was personal,” Strickland said. “We never left mad at each other until the last show we did (in March). We always had a good time. It was fun.”

KFNS owner Dave Zobrist, who gives long-established hosts such as Cusumano a lot of leeway in their programming decisions, said he was not aware of the return of “The Slop” until it was on the air.

“I thought it was good,” he said. “I know listeners liked it.”

Cusumano indicated it could be back at some point, but it won’t be this Friday — the show is off because of the long holiday weekend.

Will it ever become a weekly feature again?

“Time will tell,” Cusumano said, adding that it “was great to see them again, great to be back on the air with them.”

Strickland was philosophical about the situation.

“Maybe a break was the best thing for the show,” he said. “But I’m not pressing Frank to bring it back. If we do it on a regular basis, that’s good. If not, so be it.”

But the key to its long-term future seems to be tied to the bottom line, and the segment isn’t believed to have been much of a revenue generator before ending.

“That’s where my head’s at,” Zobrist said.

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