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.
Brian Gebhardt to Serve as Program Director of Sactown Sports 1140
“Learning under skilled leaders such as Terry Foxx, Sean Thompson, Reggie Rouse, and Mike Conti helped prepare Gebhardt for the next step.”
Sactown Sports 1140 has found their next program director. After an extensive search, GM Steve Cottingim and Bonneville Sacramento’s Group Director of Programming Chad Rufer have found their next leader in Atlanta, GA, tabbing Brian Gebhardt to guide the brand’s programming department.
Gebhardt heads west to join Bonneville Sacramento after enjoying over seven years of success at 92.9 The Game. He has served recently as the Executive Producer of the ‘Andy & Randy’ show featuring Randy McMichael and Andy Bunker. During his time with the Atlanta sports station, Gebhardt has learned under skilled leaders such as Terry Foxx, Sean Thompson, Reggie Rouse, and Mike Conti. Those experiences prepared Gebhardt for the next step, as did working with numerous on-air talents who have helped The Game become a model of consistency in Georgia.
“Brian’s experience working with both premiere talent and professional sports franchises will help us help the Sactown Sports brand grow both on-air and on-line ,” said Cottingim.
“Brian demonstrated to us a real passion for leading extraordinary talent,” shared Rufer. “We are very confident that he will help us grow Sactown Sports into Sacramento’s premiere sports brand.”
“I can’t wait to get started and I am beyond excited to be working with Bonneville,” added Gebhardt.
The hiring of the Georgia native as new PD allows Nick Cattles to focus exclusively on hosting the station’s afternoon show, a role he’s wanted to invest more time. Cattles joined Sactown Sports in November 2021 and has pulled double duty since arriving in Northern California. He hired Ramie Makhlouf as his afternoon drive co-host and the duo have built a solid foundation in afternoons. Having the ability now to focus solely on the show should allow Cattles and Ramie to elevate their program even more.
The first day on the job for Gebhardt will be Monday February 3rd. Depending on what develops with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC playoffs, there’s a possibility he could be walking into two straight weeks of Super Bowl planning. Regardless, Gebhardt has a new market to learn, a new team to meet, a new company to deliver results for, and an opportunity to take a big step in his radio career.
DNVR Sports Files Injunction Against Bonneville Over Denver Sports Brand
“We can’t allow someone that represents the exact opposite of us to damage the goodwill of our brand or create confusion in the community.”
After Bonneville International unveiled new branding for its Denver Sports properties, digital outlet DNVR Sports has filed an injunction to stop the radio company from utilizing the brand and logos.
In a Twitter thread, ALLCITY Network CEO Brandon Spano claimed DNVR Sports has already seen listeners, viewers, and readers confuse the two brands. “We can’t allow someone that represents the exact opposite of us to damage the goodwill of our brand or create confusion in the community,” Spano tweeted.
“Our branding was created purposefully, to be different from the way sports networks traditionally looked,” he said in another tweet. “To represent the city of Denver in a simple way while removing us from the gloss and pretentiousness of sports media. To create something that brings people together.”
Spano added that ALLCITY sent Bonneville a cease-and-desist letter last week, but claims the company failed to respond, so an injunction has been filed.
The Denver Sports branding utilized by Bonneville — which encompasses 104.3 The Fan and ESPN Denver — features a black and white city skyline as well as the Rocky Mountains inside a hexagon with block lettering. The DNVR Sports logo is a rectangle, similar to the city of Denver flag, with the sun centered between the mountain peaks and a block “DNVR” below the rectangle.
The complaint filed by StudioIP LLC — the law firm representing ALLCITY — claims the branding used by Bonneville constitutes “trademark infringement, unfair competition, trade dress infringement, dilution by tarnishment, and tortious interference arising out of Bonneville’s trademark infringement of Plaintiff’s trademarks,” according to Westword.
Bonneville has denied any wrongdoing, saying the accusations “have absolutely no merit, and our legal counsel is preparing a formal response. Denver Sports remains committed to delivering the most in-depth and inclusive local sports content for all Denver sports fans.”
Ray Didinger Returning to 94WIP
“Didinger will be a member of the new morning show with Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie on 94WIP once Angelo Cataldi officially retires.”
Longtime Philadelphia sports personality Ray Didinger stepped away from his media roles at NBC Sports Philadelphia and 94WIP in 2022, but he couldn’t stay away forever.
Didinger will be a member of the new morning show with Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie on 94WIP once Angelo Cataldi officially retires.
The 75-year-old returned to NBC Sports Philadelphia late in 2022 as a member of the Eagles Postgame show and decided to return to the venerable Philadelphia sports radio station as well.
Didinger will work on an as-needed basis for DeCamara and Ritchie, contributing to news surrounding the Eagles. Known for his yellow notepad, Didinger has covered the franchise for more than 50 years.
After his retirement, Didinger was the subject of an episode of NFL Films Presents… in December, at the time telling Cataldi he had stayed busy in retirement.
“It’s been busier than I thought,” Didinger said. “Just because of the way things have gone in the city. The Phillies going to the World Series, the Eagles are 10-1, I don’t think any of us thought it was going to be this kind of run.
“Consequently, my phone hasn’t stopped ringing. I had no idea everyone in the world has a podcast so I’ve been getting all those calls. My name and my phone number are on way too many rolodexes all around the country. When somebody says ‘Hey, let’s do a piece about Philly’, my phone rings. It’s been busy but it’s been good. It’s been great to see what this has meant to the city.”