The “Coach” is on the afternoon clock, which suits him just fine.
“It’s perfect for me,” John Kentera said. “At this stage of my career, I couldn’t have drawn it up any better.”
Kentera, 61, is known as “Coach” in local radio circles and just about any other local orbit one travels in. He’s back with a noon to 3 p.m. weekday gig on 97.3 The Fan, where he talks all things sports and does it in a manner few can duplicate.
Whether it’s at Petco Park, an area diner or at a prep football game, Kentera always has time for others. That includes his radio show where listeners call in and the host actually listens.
“I like to engage with them and talk to them instead of at them,” said Kentera of Solana Beach. “I like to hear what they have to say. I’ve probably said this thousands of times on the air, but I look at my listeners as an extension of the Kentera family.”
It’s Kentera’s folksy way and down-home manners which has made him a favorite of the region’s airways for three decades. Since playing sports at then-San Dieguito High School and switching to Torrey Pines in the 1970s when its doors swung open, Kentera has been a part of the local sports scene.
After coaching at various levels in high school and college, he lifted his curtain on a lengthy radio career in 1990. The long-gone Mighty 690 wanted to do a late-night prep show which, of course, took callers.
The energetic Kentera was a rookie in every sense of the broadcasting world, but a veteran in the proper way to treat people. Whether a listener wanted to yap about a forgotten prep star or brag about his overachieving child, Kentera handled everyone with kid gloves.
“Some radio hosts don’t like to take calls because it exposes them if they don’t prepare,” Kentera said. “And a lot of them don’t care what the listeners have to say.”
Kentera is money by letting everyone get their two cents in. He’s on San Diego’s only FM sports station and his frequent smile leaps through the frequency.
“I’m blessed to be doing this,” Kentera said. “I knew it was going to be hard to get back in after I took some time off.”
Kentera, who also served at the San Diego Sockers general manager, stepped away after a 25-year run at what became the Mighty 1090 on Oct. 3, 2015. His deep pipes were silenced until 2018, when he started filling in at The Fan and handling Padres pre- and post-game shows.
But it was Oct. 3, 2009, which made Kentera pause for more than a station identification. He suffered a serious heart attack and he’s not forgetful of his upcoming 10-year anniversary of having a clean bill of health.
He does so with a show produced by the talented Adam Klug and keeping, as always, tabs on San Diego County’s prep sports.
Kentera orchestrates the popular “High School Football Show” on Thursday nights with co-host Braden Surprenant and calls a football game on Friday nights on the station’s app link with radio.com.
“Radio.com is really neat,” Kentera said. “Relatives of these players can listen to the games from all over.”
When another losing Padres season ends, radio listeners are winners, too. As well as the games being on radio.com they will air on The Fan.
Speaking of the Padres, there is no bigger fan of the local nine than Kentera. He cut his teeth on the Pacific Coast League Padres by attending his first game in 1959 and if slicing his arm, it’ll bleed Padres brown.
His thoughts on his favorite club careening toward its ninth straight losing season, which matches a franchise high (low).
“They’ve got to get some veteran starting pitching,” Kentera said. “All these weaknesses aren’t as drastic when you’re giving up three-to-four runs a game instead of six-to-seven. I also might revamp the outfield and they have to figure out what to do at catcher.”
The catch with Kentera? Finding someone he doesn’t enjoy conversing with.
“I like people,” Kentera said. “That’s just who I am.”
+ Contact Jay Paris at email@example.com. Follow him @paris_sports
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports