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Scenes as Radio Row Takes Over Mall of America

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — It was perhaps a scene unlike anything ever seen at the Mall of America.

Fans clamored at glimpses of their favorite media personalities or just soak in the sights and sounds from the Fan Gallery of Radio Row, which opened Monday..

"Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen hosted his 9-to-Noon show from one of dozens of tables near the third-level food court as smells of fried foods mixed with media personalities chatting about the scope of the football world.

It was Allen's first time experiencing the madness of Radio Row.

"I didn't really have any expectations," Allen said. "But now that I'm doing the show at Mall of America, Level 3 by the food court, it's spectacular.

"I've never been to a Radio Row, but I can't believe anyone could possibly do it better than what's taking place here right now."

Allen had a handful of guests Tuesday morning and will continue to do so throughout the week.

Hall of Fame left tackle Orlando Pace, who spent 13 seasons in the NFL, was a guest on Tuesday's show. Allen said the chance to get a wide array of perspectives is what makes Radio Row so fascinating.

"I really loved that," Allen said. "I'm such a snob for the history of the game, I remember him playing in the Super Bowl and back to his Ohio State days.

"It was fun to bring all of that up and let him know that he genuinely is remembered," Allen said.

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman will join Allen on Thursday's show, a segment Allen highlighted as one he is looking forward to. 

"I'm excited to talk to Rick in this setting," Allen said. "I haven't personally or professionally chatted with Rick since we lost the NFC title game.

"I want to see mentally and emotionally where he is [after] that game," Allen added.

There were also plenty of national radio stations on the scene, as notable stations showed up from major cities across the country. Well-known national stations from CBS Sports, ESPN, NBC, FOX Sports and Sirius XM were also in attendance.

Former NFL quarterback Chris Simms had a plethora of guests on his Bleacher Report show, and the pace was only expected to pick up throughout the week.

"Gosh, what don't I have cooking?" said Simms, the son of former NFL quarterback Phil Simms. "I've got a busy week, but it's a good problem to have. It means the business part of my life is going in the right direction."

NFL Media analyst Gregg Rosenthal said he was most impressed by the crowd, as throngs of people surrounded the radio tables to snap a picture or revel in the once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"Here we are in the middle of the mall, and you've got pretty big crowds here," Rosenthal said. "I think with guys like Joe Montana or the top-shelf NFL stars that will be here … you'll hear the buzz of the Joe Montana train coming from like 100 yards away." 

Allen played to the crowd, getting them going with cheers and applause multiple times throughout his show.

"I feed off fans, positively or negatively," Allen said. "To have them around my radio show when all of these guests came by, it's an energy you can't feel unless you live it."

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