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Report: Benigno Could Return to WFAN Next Week

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According to Andrew Marchand of The New York Post, Joe Benigno could return to WFAN by next week, although nothing is definite.

WFAN’s longtime midday show, co-hosted by Benigno and Evan Roberts, remained a staple for the station as the rest of their weekday lineup underwent major changes in the last 12 months, but that changed when Benigno fell victim to controversy on July 19.

After being named in a sexual harassment lawsuit by a former FAN employee, Benigno has been on a leave of absence since late July while the station’s owner, Entercom Communications, works to resolve the case.  Entercom did not own WFAN while the alleged sexual harassment took place.

If Benigno was going to be permanently removed from the program, a clean break right after Labor Day would have made the most sense.  While the Tuesday after Labor Day is generally when shows reset and hosts stop taking their summer vacations, Marchand notes the more important date is next Thursday when the fall ratings book begins.  However, if Benigno does return next week, it does not mean the pending legal matter will be completed.

According to Marchand, some within Entercom believe keeping Benigno off the air would appear as if the company is admitting guilt, although they continue to deny allegations and avoid a settlement.  If Joe does return to the show while Entercom still works to handle the lawsuit, a valiant call-screening effort would be needed to keep the program from turning into Benigno repeatedly saying he “can’t talk about legal matters.”

Since Benigno’s absence, Roberts has continued as solo host of the midday show and has had a number of guests sit-in for a full hour, including Barstool’s KFC (Kevin Clancy) on Thursday.  Even during his absence, Benigno’s presence remains in the midday as his name was never removed from the show, the Joe and Evan jingle is played daily and Joe’s voice is still heard on Smithtown Nissan commercials.  Evan continues to reference Joe on the show to callers and guests, also telling listeners he will offer an update as soon as he receives one.

Last year Benigno signed a three-year contract to remain in WFAN’s midday timeslot, but he made it clear he was retiring and headed to Florida as soon as his current deal is up.  Until he returns, an early retirement for the 65 year old Benigno will remain a possibility.

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

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Sandra Golden: Pat McAfee ‘Can’t Work Eight Days a Week’

“I just wonder if Pat McAfee is having that ‘know thy self’ moment.”

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Photos of 92.9 The Game host Sandra Golden and Pat McAfee

Earlier this week, The Athletic’s Andrew Marchand reported Pat McAfee has yet to ink a new contract to return to College GameDay on ESPN. Marchand reports the two sides are continuing to talk but no agreement has been reached as of yet. During The Steakhouse today on 92.9 The Game in Atlanta, Sandra Golden and former NFL punter Drew Butler, who was hosting in place of Steak Shapiro, gave their thoughts on whether or not it would make a difference to them if McAfee was back on the show.

“I am watching either way,” Golden said. “I’m kind of in Switzerland. I just wonder if Pat McAfee is having that ‘know thy self’ moment. It may not be a good fit for him and y’all he can’t work eight days a week. [He has] other things that he is doing that he has more control over. First of all, he’s asking for a ton of money, I can guarantee you that. And he should get it. But if it’s not [a fit], and it may not be…especially with Nick Saban now sitting up there.”

Butler explained to the listeners how McAfee’s agreements with ESPN work. “Keep in mind, McAfee has a separate deal with ESPN that allows the network to air The Pat McAfee show, Monday through Friday. He licenses that to ESPN. This is an employment agreement I would assume or some sort of contractor agreement…and I think one of the big things that he is probably weighing right now is that The Pat McAfee Show on Fridays during college football season would often be live at the College GameDay desk at that campus.”

Butler added, “I’m really excited for Coach Saban to be at that desk though, he is going to bring something special.”

After discussing McAfee, the two brought up another of College GameDay’s participants, Lee Corso. “What about Lee Corso?” Butler asked Golden. “What are we doing with Coach Corso?”

Golden replied, “I think [he is there] as long as ESPN wants him up there. I would like for them to set him up to succeed more. I think he can do great taped segments. I think that he doesn’t need to be traveling to all these places…maybe they work him in a little bit different and make it better for him.”

Corso, who played at Florida State in the 1950’s and was the head coach at Louisville, Indiana and Northern Illinois, will turn 89 in August.

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ESPN LA 710 and the ESPN LA App Are the New Audio Home for LA Kings Hockey

“This collaboration opens new avenues for our partners, providing them with unique opportunities to engage with a passionate sports audience.”

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Graphic announcing ESPN LA as the new flagship station of the Los Angeles Kings
Graphic Courtesy: LA Kings

It has been a big week for ESPN LA 710 as they have already announced a new partnership with USC to air football along with men’s and women’s basketball games. They also announced a new multi-year deal for afternoon drive co-host Scott Kaplan. Today the station announced a new multi-year partnership with the LA Kings which will see the team return to the station after they had previously partnered from 2002-06.  

All of the Kings games will stream live on the ESPN LA app. Additionally, approximately 25 games will air on ESPN LA 710 which also has partnerships with the Lakers, the Rams and LAFC.

“It’s great to be part of the ESPN Radio Family once again and we are thrilled to be partnering with their passionate team to take our radio play-by-play and audio programming forward,” said Kings President and Hockey Hall of Famer Luc Robitaille in a release.  “We look forward to bringing the excitement of LA Kings hockey to our core fanbase while also having the opportunity to reach new listeners. We are also thrilled to work with the on-air talent and leadership at ESPN Radio 710, who share our vision and are long-time friends based at L.A. LIVE.”

Sam Pines, Vice President for ESPN LA 710 owner Good Karma Brands said, “Our partnership with the LA Kings allows us to bring fans closer to the action than ever before. Both of our fan bases can look forward to an enhanced live broadcast experience with all games streamed on the all-new ESPN LA app as well as expanded Kings coverage, year-round. This collaboration opens new avenues for our partners, providing them with unique opportunities to engage with a passionate sports audience.”

The station said it will also air Kings podcasts and additional unique club audio content on the app.  


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Bill Riley Exiting Host and PD Role at ESPN 700 to Become Utah’s Director of Broadcasting

“This opportunity is a dream job, and it would not have been possible for me without the great experience that I’ve had at ESPN 700 here in Salt Lake City over the past 20 years.”

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Graphic announcing Bill Riley as the new Director of Broadcasting for the University of Utah
Courtesy: Utah Utes Athletics

Bill Riley, the long-time radio voice of Utah Athletics, will be joining the athletic department in the role of Director of Broadcasting. Riley, a three-time Utah Sports Broadcaster of the Year is being brought in to oversee the launch of the school’s new endeavor where it will self-produce digital game for ESPN+ as a part of its move to the Big 12 Conference.
 
Utah Athletics says it will produce 50-plus live broadcasts of home athletics competition during the next school year via the conference’s Big 12 Now digital platform on ESPN+.

Riley has been the play-by-play voice for Utah’s football and men’s basketball radio broadcasts on ESPN 700 and 92.1 FM since 2010, and also hosted weekly coaches’ shows. He will continue those duties and will also continue to teach a sports media class at the school, which he started in 2022. He will not, however, continue in his role as program director or daily host for ESPN 700 as he moves to the athletic department full-time at the end of the month.
 
 “We are very excited to bring Bill Riley into our team and benefit from his extensive experience in broadcasting and his deep connections and familiarity with Utah Athletics spanning nearly three decades,” said Charmelle Green, Utah’s Deputy A.D. and Chief Operating Officer in a release.

“This is an important new endeavor for our department and the University of Utah, and this position is critical for us to have immediate success in the broadcasting space. We’re looking forward to working closely with our university partners to build a robust broadcasting department and establish a strong presence in this industry as we enter the Big 12 Conference later this summer.”

“I am thrilled to join the amazing team at the University of Utah in this exciting new position,” Riley said. “Not only do I look forward to continuing as the Voice of the Utes, but the opportunity to play a role in this significant expansion of the U’s broadcasting capabilities will enable me to become more deeply involved with all of the Utes’ teams as we grow their coverage and expand the broadcast curriculum for students.

“The talent, vision and commitment of the Utes’ athletics staff has built a tremendous foundation for the production and distribution of digital broadcasts, as well as elite storytelling and content creation, and I’m excited to come alongside that team as we take on this new endeavor.

“This opportunity is a dream job, and it would not have been possible for me without the great experience that I’ve had at ESPN 700 here in Salt Lake City over the past 20 years,” Riley added. “It is a first-class station with first-class people, and I’m grateful that I can continue to be part of Utah radio broadcasts on the ‘Home of the Utes’ in my new role at the U.” 

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