ESPN New York spent nearly two decades in WFAN’s rearview mirror, and after finally finding a recipe to beat their sports radio rival in afternoon drive, the station decided it’s time to shuffle their lineup.
After Stephen A. Smith departed the 1 – 3pm window in January, 98.7 ESPN New York’s local offering was growing, as was the station’s continuity. According to Andrew Marchand of The New York Post, 98.7’s latest move will see the addition of star power with Mike Greenberg and Max Kellerman, but it creates a schedule far from the traditional three-show weekday lineup. From 6am – 6pm WFAN currently airs three shows, while ESPN New York will now have six shows all chopped up.
From 6 – 9am, 98.7 will pick up ESPN Radio’s new national morning show featuring Keyshawn Johnson, Jay Williams and Zubin Mehenti, and bypass their final hour. Following the national morning show, ESPN New York will shorten Rick DiPietro, Chris Canty and Dave Rothenberg’s program and shift the trio into the 9 – 11am hours. Humpty, Canty and Rothenberg will be followed by Bart Scott and Alan Hahn from 11am – 1pm.
Hahn previously hosted from 10am – 1pm on ESPN New York, but left the show because of his commitments to MSG as a studio analyst. He moved to evenings and returned to 98.7’s weekday lineup earlier this year, co-hosting with Scott from 1 – 3pm where they served as a local lead-in for The Michael Kay Show.
TMKS will once again return to having national programming as its lead-in, with ESPN New York picking up the final hour of Mike Greenberg’s new show from 1 – 2pm, and the first hour of Max Kellerman from 2 – 3pm, creating a pieced together early afternoon.
In terms of ratings, 98.7’s recent locally focused lineup has enjoyed success, with gains being made in the 10am – 3pm hours, and The Michael Kay Show dominating WFAN in afternoon drive. Traditionally, national programming hasn’t worked as well in competing against WFAN. Recently, there was even thought of 98.7 looking to go local in morning drive as ESPN Radio gets set to replace Golic and Wingo. Instead, ESPN New York will challenge WFAN with an arsenal of national shows.
WFAN has shown vulnerability in recent ratings books, trailing ESPN New York in afternoon drive as they attempt to move on from the Mike Francesa era. But ESPN’s disinclination for continuity and fresh focus on national programming could buy FAN time in their transition.
Brandon Contes is a former reporter for BSM, now working for Awful Announcing. You can find him on Twitter @BrandonContes or reach him by email at Brandon.Contes@gmail.com.
Barstool’s Big Cat Recalls Awkward Moment of Aaron Rodgers Interview
“If there’s one thing I know how to do well, it’s to reroute a conversation when a guest is like, ‘Oooh, I don’t like you guys.'”
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers recently appeared on the Barstool Sports podcast, Pardon My Take, and the interview seemed to go well.
Podcast co-host, Dan “Big Cat” Katz, who is a die-hard Bears fan and well-documented Aaron Rodgers hater, relished in the fact that Rodgers agreed to take trash talk from him.
But there was one moment where things almost derailed.
Big Cat, in his weekly appearance on ESPN Chicago with Tom Waddle and Marc “Silvy” Silverman, talked about asking Rodgers how many grandmothers he had killed (A reference to Rodgers not being vaccinated against COVID-19 and his beliefs on vaccine mandates).
“That was a good lesson that PFT and I sometimes have to learn,” Big Cat said, before saying he saved the interview by finding a way out of the subject. “If there’s one thing I know how to do well, it’s to reroute a conversation when a guest is like, ‘Oooh, I don’t like you guys.'”
Katz said it was a moment where they had to pause and understand what they were actually asking and insinuating with Rodgers.
“That was one of those ones we really don’t live in the real world, so when we go out into the real world and we say something that we’ve been joking about within the confines of our studio on ears that haven’t heard those jokes before, it’s kind of like, ‘Wait what did you guys just say? Are you really joking about grandmothers that died from COVID?'” he said. “And then when you get it repeated back to you, you’re kind of like, ‘Oh, yeah that is kind of messed up. Right, good point.”
Katz mentioned Rodgers went with the whole bit for the interview the entire time. So while there was a brief second where things could’ve gone south, everyone just let it go.
“Score one for Aaron, but he was smiling,” Big Cat said. “It was all in good fun.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett News Media. He also works for ABC8 News and Newsradio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond, Virginia. His prior experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and iHeartradio Richmond. He can be reached by email at Jordan.E.Bondurant@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
Fescoe in the Morning: ESPN Has a History of Ignoring Non-Partner Leagues
“They are risking being ignored by ESPN now,” replied Klingler.
ESPN is out of the running for the Big Ten football and basketball media rights. Those will be awarded to a combination of other networks and likely a streaming service. ESPN appears to be focusing on NCAA Championships next.
Josh Klingler, co-host of Fescoe in the Morning on 610 Sports Radio in Kansas City, took time on their show on Tuesday to break down what that might mean for the Big Ten in terms of coverage.
“You’re (Big Ten) going to network television, which is better; more eyeballs and what have you,” noted Klingler. “But also, let’s not forget ESPN has a history of ignoring you when you’re not on their air. That’s the risk they are going to run.”
Klingler would add, “They are going to take the money. They are going to get network viewers, which is good. I guess the highlight and the hype and all those things that we are accustomed to doing that ESPN provides. We’ve already seen they ignore you if you’re not on their network.”
Bob Fescoe chimed in a reminder about another prominent league that chose not to partner with ESPN.
“Ask the National Hockey League what happened when they took the money from NBC and ran,” said Fescoe.
“They are risking being ignored by ESPN now,” replied Klingler.
“Right, but I think they are willing to do that for a billion dollars per year,” Fescoe responded.
Fescoe then said that the Big Ten might make up for the perceived shortcomings of not being on ESPN by being on network television.
“If you’re going to be on network TV in all three windows, Josh, quite honestly all your marquee games are going to be free,” said Fescoe.
“That’s exposure,” said Klingler.
NESN’s Dave O’Brien Says National Networks “Blew It” By Not Hiring Dennis Eckersley
“I don’t know how they blew it as badly as they did but Dennis Eckersley should have been a national icon… they made a mistake on that. I hope somebody regrets it.”
On Monday, Dennis Eckersley decided to make it known that this season would be his last with NESN in the booth. He mentioned that after 50 years in baseball, it was time to go be with the grandchildren in San Diego.
His broadcast partner for a lot of those years in the NESN booth was Dave O’Brien. On the latest Sports Media Mayhem podcast, O’Brien joined show host Alex Reimer to talk about the retirement of Eckersley. Reimer pointed out that it took awhile before Eckersley became the main color analyst for the team. O’Brien remembered the time well.
“When he started, he was pre- and post- and he did that most of his career at NESN,” said O’Brien. “It was really, only the last six or seven years that he really started to get on as a game analyst.”
O’Brien was named the lead play-by-play announcer for NESN’s Red Sox coverage in 2016 which is about the same time Eckersley slid into the role of game analyst. In the time since, O’Brien has seen the work of Eckersley up close and is floored that he was working for a regional sports network and not somewhere more nationally prominent.
“I think the national people totally blew it on Dennis Eckersley,” blurted O’Brien. “And that includes Turner. They had an opportunity, I can say that because a lot of those people there now didn’t make the decision. He should have been the lead analyst doing national games. He should have been on ESPN on Sunday Night Baseball or FOX. I don’t know how they blew it as badly as they did but Dennis Eckersley should have been a national icon… they made a mistake on that. I hope somebody regrets it.”