A changing of the guard was officially announced by WFAN. After nearly a decade of the same lineup, led off by Boomer and Carton from 6-10 in the morning, Benigno and Roberts 10-1 in the midday, and Mike Francesa’s solo 1-6:30 show, the number one sports radio station in the country will undergo an overhaul.
WFAN was aware for two years the station’s anchor of nearly 30 years, Mike Francesa, was targeting December 15th 2017 as his final show. Former “Mike and the Maddog” producer and most recently WIP’s afternoon host in Philly, Chris Carlin will be teamed up with ex-NFL player Bart Scott and CBS Sports Radio host Maggie Gray. Carlin was the original sports anchor for Boomer and Carton and produced the afternoon show on WFAN for over six years, but he did say he has not spoken to Francesa since 2010.
Carlin joined Philadelphia’s WIP as their afternoon host along with Ike Reese just over a year ago. When asked whether or not he was concerned Carlin might have his eye on the future WFAN opening when he joined the station, WIP’s Program Director Spike Eskin told me:
“I had no concern about the WFAN opening when we hired Chris. I believed then, and I believe now, that Chris came to WIP to make this his home and help WIP win for years. But situations change, as they almost always do in radio. You can never guess what things will change, just that they almost always will.”
Regarding WIP’s own changes after Carlin’s departure Spike said, “The idea of having a deep roster of talent, is having the ability to not just withstand a situation like this, but continue to grow. I believe Jon Marks is the best choice for afternoons on WIP in the entire country, and we will hit the ground running. I’m also really excited to be able to have Joe Giglio on WIP every night, which will give him even more opportunity to show everyone how good he is, and get even better. ”
The three person team to fill Francesa’s slot was questioned by former WFAN host Chris Russo. On his SiriusXM afternoon show, Mad Dog was most curious about the addition of Bart Scott, “He’s not from here. (He’s from Detroit.) He doesn’t know anything about New York. You have to be honest. You have to be fair. I should keep my mouth shut because I’ll get in trouble here. But there’s a lot of talk show hosts who have New York roots around the country. You’re telling me you couldn’t get someone in there and give him a shot?”
It’s a fair question from Russo as Francesa’s show was always baseball heavy during the summer, even when he was on vacation and the midday show filled in. When Mickey Callaway pulls Noah Syndergaard after six shutout innings only to watch the bullpen lose the game, how will the city respond to Carlin, a Texas Rangers fan, Scott an ex-NFL player who grew up in Detroit, and Gray from Binghamton? Time will tell, but there’s no question the hosts are being handed prime radio real estate to work with and fans of the station should give them a chance to succeed.
WFAN hasn’t experienced as much turnover as other sports radio stations throughout the country in their history, but when Don Imus departed the station in 2007, WFAN Program Director, Mark Chernoff hit a ratings home run with Boomer and Carton as his replacement.
When I checked in with Chernoff regarding the station’s announcement he said, “My only comment is how excited I am about the new show and how much I want to thank Mike for his 30 wonderful years here and anchoring afternoon drive since September, 1989 first with Dog, then solo. An amazing run.”
Amidst the two year debate of who should replace Francesa, Chernoff was also hit with the sudden dismissal of popular morning show co-host Craig Carton. WFAN confirmed this morning, former Joe and Evan producer and current CBS Sports Radio morning host, Gregg Giannotti will be Boomer Esiason’s new full-time partner to solidify the 6-10am timeslot.
During the announcement, Giannotti mentioned he received an unexpected phone call from Craig Carton. Gio said the conversation “really did mean the world to me,” and Carton was “unbelievably nice as you could possibly be.” Boomer followed by saying “I didn’t expect anything less because that’s the guy we knew,” referring to his former partner. Boomer also stated emphatically, “He’ll be back.”
The new schedule for WFAN launches January 2nd, 2018 with the Boomer and Gio show 6-10am ET, which can also be viewed on the CBS Sports Network, Benigno and Roberts in the midday with an additional hour from 10-2, and The Afternoon Drive with Carlin, Bart and Maggie from 2-6:30pm.
The only piece of the puzzle still missing is who will replace Giannotti in mornings on the CBS Sports Radio Network opposite Brian Jones.
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Mike Felger: Radio Row Allows Us to Do Something Different
“We don’t do a lot of guests…I don’t like having guests on. Let’s face it. Most guests don’t say anything anyway.”
When you are doing something you love as a job or when it gets very busy at your place of employment, the day can tend to go quicker than usual. While a four-hour show may seem like a long time to talk about sports, it can be the quickest part of the day for others. Mike Felger, the co-host of Felger and Mazz on 98.5 The Sports Hub, was a guest on The Press Box Podcast with Bryan Curtis this week and he said that the show is the quickest four hours of his day and it’s because of the prep that the guys put into the show.
“Quickest 4 hours of my day. It flies. We try to keep it moving, We put a lot into it. I think one of the reasons it goes quickly for me because we are pretty much working the whole time. We sort of map out the whole show before. All 16 segments, they are not scripted, but we will talk about this here, that there. We put something into all 16 segments.
“Mostly, if there is a game the night before, we will either have watched the game or portions of the game, we will have either watched or read the postgame press conferences, we will have read some of the coverage, and the trick there is to find something there that bugs you even if they won. What did you see in the game that you didn’t like? What did someone write that you thought was stupid or off the mark? Did someone say something that bothered you in the postgame? We put effort into the sports part of it and then we grind it out the next day. It goes quickly because we put a lot into it.”
The show is at the Super Bowl this week in Arizona as a part of Radio Row and Felger mentioned it allows the show to do something different since they don’t usually have guests on.
“For us, it’s a chance to get out of the studio, do something different, and talk to a few people. We are kind of a rare sports talk show where we don’t do a lot of guests. I don’t like having guests on. I don’t like phoners, I think it interrupts the momentum of a show, the flow of the show. Let’s face it. Most guests don’t say anything anyway.
“We don’t really do guests. We will go weeks at a time without a single phone guest or someone from outside the show. This sort of forces us to sit down and talk to some other people. It’s also just a change of scenery. We are also simulcast so it’s also a different backdrop, we are out of the studio. It’s just a little something different for us.”
While the show doesn’t have a lot of guests on, they will take a good amount of callers. With that being said, in Felger’s mind, the calls have to be quick and a good point has to be made for the show to have a good tempo.
“I like the way we do them. It’s 30 seconds. You get 30 seconds. At most, if it’s good, we will let you go to 45. It’s rare that a caller is on for a minute. If you suck, we will drop it at 12 seconds. It’s about tempo and pace of the show. I think calls are good if you go from one to the next to the next and they have to be good. If listeners can’t hear you, can’t do it. We have to hear you and you have to have a point. If you don’t have any of those things, I’m sorry, I love you, but you are gone.
“I think calls are valuable for how they pace the show. They bring tempo to the show if you do it quickly and pointedly.”
Ricky Keeler is a reporter for BSM with a primary focus on sports media podcasts and national personalities. He is also an active podcaster with an interest in pursuing a career in sports media. You can find him on Twitter @Rickinator555 or reach him by email at RickJKeeler@gmail.com.
ESPN 660 Orlando Officially Launches
“ESPN Radio offers the access to play-by-play, nationally known talent, and athletes that cannot be replicated.”
ESPN Radio has returned to Orlando with the launch of ESPN 660 Orlando from JVC Broadcasting.
The shift officially took place this morning, with former “Florida Man Radio” — a “guy-talk” and politics format — being moved to an FM translator.
“ESPN Radio offers the access to play-by-play, nationally known talent, and athletes that cannot be replicated,” JVC Director of Programming Stevie Demann said. “ESPN 660 Orlando will air events like the Daytona 500 and the College Football Playoffs, giving radio listeners long-awaited access to these ‘must listen to’ sports, that previously were not available in Central Florida. We will have the largest selection of compelling sports content on ESPN 660 Orlando.”
The ESPN Radio brand was last seen in the market on 580 WDBO until it flipped to a news/talk format in June 2020.
“I’m thrilled with the partnership our Orlando team put together with ESPN Radio. ESPN 660 Orlando brings the biggest sporting events in the world to the Central Florida radio audience,” said JVC President and CEO John Caracciolo. “A market like Orlando is on the go all the time. This is a great chance for our business partners to reach mobile sports fans across the region and giving radio listeners access to their favorite games on one radio station!”
ESPN 660 Orlando becomes the second sports station in the market, competing with iHeartMedia-owned 96.9 The Game, the flagship station for the Orlando Magic Radio Network.
Toucher & Rich Continue Fake Liner Gag With Super Bowl Players
“There’s always a moment when their about three-fourths of the way down where they kind of look up at you like ‘What’s happening?'”
Super Bowl Opening Night is an eclectic mix of hardworking, serious journalists, mixed with interesting characters. It is safe to say 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich fall into the latter category.
As an ongoing gag, the show asks lower-profile players from the teams participating in the Super Bowl to record liners for their show. However, it isn’t for their show, it’s for fake shows that do not exist, with ridiculous taglines. The show’s Rich Shertenlieb said the premise is quite easy to pull off.
“Everyone is available for interview and only 11 people are at those big important podiums and everyone else just kind of wanders,” Shertenlieb — who is at Radio Row in Arizona while Fred Toucher remained in Boston — said. “You can just go up and speak to them and interview them.”
The first victim of the gag was Grant Calcaterra, a backup tight end for the Eagles. After a quick interview, Shertenlieb asked him to read a liner for a show that doesn’t exist.
“Hey this is Grant Calcaterra, and you’re listening to Captain Fiddlesticks and the Banjo Bandit. All aboard the hot take train. Woo Woo.”
“There’s always a moment when their about three-fourths of the way down where they kind of look up at you like ‘What’s happening?’ and then you just grab it and go ‘Thanks!’ and you walk away and find yourself buried in the crowd and hope they don’t see you again,” Shertenlieb said.
Tyrese Robinson, a rookie offensive lineman for the Eagles, was also recorded by the show.
“Hey this is Tyrese Robinson and you’re listening to Wilford Brimley and the Quaker Oats Kid. Want sports for breakfast? Why not? You’re already obese,” the Eagles rookie said.
“He caught on to your game,” Toucher said.
“By the time he got to ‘obese’, he just handed me the paper and walked away,” added Shertenlieb.
Eagles safety Reed Blankenship was interviewed by Shertenlieb, where he was asked to record a liner reading “Hey this is Reed Blankenship and you’re listening to Nard Farnsworth and Bill the Sad Hobo on 98.3 The Goat. It’s hobo-rific.”
“That is a guy that did not think you were kidding,” joked Toucher.
Another Eagles offensive lineman — Andre Dillard — was quickly interviewed by Shertenlieb. The 98.5 The Sports Hub host asked Dillard to read “Hey this is Andre Dillard and you’re listening to The DA Show. Hope you like feet,” to which Dillard responded “Wait, what?!” while reading the line. “Because DA really likes feet. Foot-tastic.”
One of the higher profile players the show recorded was Eagles backup quarterback Gardner Minshew, who incorrectly pronounced one of the words in the read.
“Hey this is Gardner Minshew and you’re listening to The Syracuse Guys, dudes in suites (sic) with nice teeth. We love lukewarm takes, safe hip hop, and The Bachelor.”