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WFAN Begins Search To Replace Mike Francesa

Jason Barrett

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The summer months at WFAN are often filled by personalities who are stepping in to give the station’s main weekday hosts a much needed break prior to football season. But this year those fill-in opportunities could potentially have a lasting impact.

With Mike Francesa taking the majority of the summer off, WFAN will use the time to get a closer look at potential replacements. Francesa’s final show on The FAN is scheduled for December 15th.

In a conversation with Newsday, WFAN PD and CBS Radio’s Vice President of Programming Mark Chernoff said he hopes to have a succession plan in place by Labor Day.

The early favorite to be part of the afternoon mix appears to be Evan Roberts, who currently works middays with Joe Beningo. The thirty three year old host has been working full-time at FAN since 2007 and has a proven track record and long-term growth potential.

Chernoff plans to have Benigno and Roberts spend most of the summer working apart, but no matter what happens over the next few months, each are part of the station’s future plans.

One candidate who will earn consideration and a fill-in opportunity alongside Roberts is Chris Simms. Kimberly Jones is also expected to appear on the station’s airwaves during the summer months as she has in year’s past.

Morning host Craig Carton said the station discussed the possibility of an afternoon move with him and his partner Boomer Esiason but the talks were more a matter of professional courtesy. With the station performing strong in mornings it wouldn’t be a good business decision for either side to explore such a change.

In addition to Roberts, Jones and Simms, it won’t surprise anyone if Chris Christie is given a deeper look over the next two months. What will be interesting is if Chernoff has local plans for either Gregg Giannotti, Brandon Tierney or Damon Amendolara. All three hosts have New York roots and already work inside the same building. If either were to be considered on FAN that would require additional changes on the CBS Sports Radio Network.

Another question some executives in sports radio circles have raised is whether or not The FAN will look to some of its local markets where hosts with New York connections currently occupy key weekday timeslots. Chris Carlin is working in Philadelphia for WIP, Adam The Bull is in Cleveland hosting on 92.3 The Fan, and Mike Valenti remains a strong force in Detroit for 97.1 The Ticket.

There’s also the possibility of taking a look at Danny Kanell who moved to Connecticut to work for ESPN and ESPN Radio. Kanell was let go by ESPN in late-April. He played for the New York Giants during his NFL career so he too has local familiarity.

It’s possible that Chernoff could look at talent working for different broadcast companies but that would seem to be a long shot. If he went that route, Sid Rosenberg is already in the market working for WABC, Scott Kaplan is in San Diego hosting on the Mighty 1090, and Andy Gresh, who hosted on FAN last summer, is in Providence hosting for WPRO. All three have ties to New York. A previous report in the New York Daily News stated that Adam Schein was given strong consideration for the opening, so going outside of the company can’t be entirely dismissed.

Although most of the names mentioned above may be familiar to sports radio audiences and have an attachment to the big apple, there’s always the possibility of Chernoff doing something outside the box. When FAN replaced Don Imus they brought through a number of sports radio personalities for on-air auditions. Craig Carton was not one of them yet he wound up landing the opportunity.

It may be fun to speculate about what FAN will do in the upcoming months but remember that it’s not just about talent and resumes. There are the complexities of contracts, on-air chemistry between two hosts, and who is best suited to handle the pressure that is sure to follow when Francesa departs.

Regardless of who emerges, it’s safe to say that Mark Chernoff has a number of excellent options to choose from. Whether or not they can duplicate Mike Francesa’s success is a much different conversation. Right now the main focus is to hire a good show with long-term potential and maintain the brand’s current level of success.

Sports Radio News

Dustin Fox: Adam The Bull ‘Challenged Me Every Day To Get Better’

“To do good radio, you can’t just be sitting there and not taking a stance. He taught me to be tough.”

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After the April exit of Adam The Bull for Cleveland’s 92.3 The Fan, he and Dustin Fox shared an emotional on-air goodbye. The pair had worked together for 11 years, and Fox said he learned plenty from his now departed co-host.

“I learned a lot from him,” Fox told Crain’s Cleveland Business. “To do good radio, you can’t just be sitting there and not taking a stance. He taught me to be tough. Early on, he ran roughshod over me because he’s born to do this. He challenged me every day to get better.”

Fox added when you were taking constructive criticism from your co-host for so long, eventually you’re going to elevate to their level.

“Not in a negative way, but it’s like playing your older brother in basketball. You want to get better and that’s what happened with us. He brought out the best in me, and that made the show really good.”

Adam “The Bull” Gerstenhaber left 92.3 The Fan on April 1st. He now is the host of The Ultimate Cleveland Sports Show on YouTube, which streams daily between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM.

Dustin Fox also had high praise for his current co-host, Nick Wilson, who joined the program on July 18th.

“He’s ready for this and he’s perfect for what I was looking for. When we auditioned people and I gave input on who we interviewed, I wanted someone similar to Adam. I wanted somebody with a strong voice, someone where you’re going to have fun together and have a good rapport. A lot of good candidates auditioned and we could have done the show with anybody who reached the final stages of the audition, but I’m happy Nick’s back.”

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Sports Radio News

T-Bob Hebert: Bally Sports is Taking Advantage of Customers

“Pathetic, Bally, read the room! You suck!”

Jordan Bondurant

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T-Bob Hebert

Bally Sports is getting set to roll out its premium streaming service Bally Sports+ on September 26.

All 19 of the Bally regional sports networks will be able to stream games on the service.

Those interested can pay either $19.99 a month or $189.99 per year for the service. But one Baton Rouge host thinks the asking price to watch New Orleans Pelicans games this season on the service is too steep.

“I‘m going to put this as succinctly as I can. F Bally Sports,” T-Bob Hebert said on Off The Bench on 104.5 ESPN Wednesday. “The worst part is I love (Pelicans broadcasters) Joel Meyers and Antonio Daniels. I think they’re one of the best combinations in the entirety of the NBA. And it’s not even that you’re asking me to pay. I’m down to pay.”

“But $20 a month?!? That is rapacious,” Hebert added. “You are taking advantage because you know that you have the only avenue with which to view this Pelicans team.”

Currently Bally Sports New Orleans is only available in the market on DirecTV. Apparently none of the other cable providers carry the network, so Bally seems to have fans by the jugular. That doesn’t sit well with Hebert.

“‘Just bundle it with DirecTV,'” Hebert said mockingly. “I don’t want to!! I just want to watch the games!”

Hebert added that given the added excitement level surrounding this Pelicans team, it’s really doing the fans a disservice to charge $20 a month to watch.

“They’re making it oppressively hard and expensive on the actual people who care and want to watch,” he said. “Pathetic, Bally, read the room! You suck!”

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Sports Radio News

Brady Quinn Calls Paul Finebaum A “SEC Thumper”

“Give him a break. He’s an SEC thumper,” Quinn said.

Jordan Bondurant

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Brady Quinn, Paul Finebaum

College football season kicks off in the next couple of weeks, and earlier this week the Associated Press released its preseason national top 25 rankings.

Alabama claimed the top spot, with Ohio State, defending national champion Georgia, Clemson and Notre Dame rounding out the top five.

But Paul Finebaum apparently took issue with Notre Dame being ranked where they were, and said partly why the Fighting Irish shouldn’t be in the top five is because of their Week 1 matchup.

“They should not even be in the top ten. It’s an absolute joke, and it happens every year with the AP poll, which is about as worthless as NFL preseason football,” Finebaum said in a recent appearance on ESPN. “It’s ridiculous. Notre Dame is going to get run in the first game of the season. I mean they’re going to get destroyed at The Big House…They’ll be fortunate to go 9-3. It’s laughable they’re in the top five or six.”

On FOX Sports Radio, former Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn felt the need to set Finebaum straight. He did firstly by correcting the SEC Network host, who said Notre Dame would be playing Michigan to open the season. Notre Dame is playing at Ohio State in Week 1.

“Give him a break. He’s an SEC thumper,” Quinn said on 2 Pros and a Cup of Joe on Wednesday. “So I’m surprised he even knows where Ohio State is to be honest with you, or Notre Dame. Apparently he doesn’t.”

Hey Paul, how many teams are going to walk in to Ohio State and Columbus this year and beat them?” Quinn asked. “Probably no one.”

Quinn finished by taking a little jab at the fact that the Notre Dame/Ohio State game would be in primetime for ESPN, which runs the SEC Network.

“He’s bashing his employer’s matchup between these two and trying to downplay it,” he said. “So well done, Paul, lot of logic there.”

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