ESPN’s Max Kellerman and Stephen A. Smith were close to being TV partners in the morning and radio rivals in the afternoon, which would have made a very interesting daily dynamic.
WFAN 660 AM/101.9 FM in New York and ESPN have long been sports media rivals with The Worldwide Leader refusing to let any of their talent appear on WFAN. It’s hard to imagine a world where one of ESPN’s most recognizable personalities would host afternoon drive on the opposing WFAN, but it was a possibility. During WFAN’s 2017 search to replace Mike Francesa when he “retired,” the station was interested in hiring First Take host Max Kellerman with an agreement that could have allowed him to continue his ESPN gig.
In a story about Chris Simms departing Bleacher Report for NBC, the former NFL quarterback told The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand he was offered the opportunity to replace Mike Francesa. Simms’ decision to decline the offer was in part because he didn’t want to be on a three-person show and instead had his sights on a different radio partner.
According to Marchand, the preferred co-host for Simms was ESPN’s Max Kellerman. The ESPN personality reportedly has language in his contract that allows him to host a drive time radio show in New York while continuing to his role on First Take, even if that show is on their rival WFAN.
The available 2 – 6 timeslot on WFAN would have put Kellerman and his TV co-host Stephen A. Smith head to head for an hour in New York, with Smith’s syndicated radio show broadcasting on 98.7 ESPN from 1 – 3pm. Kellerman and Stephen A. would be spending their mornings working together to build an audience and their afternoons competing with each other for an audience.
It also would have been interesting to see if ESPN continued to refuse their talent the opportunity to appear on WFAN. After decades at the network, Kellerman has built strong relationships at ESPN and it’s difficult to imagine his close friends not joining him for segments on WFAN.
In the end a Kellerman and Simms pairing never came to fruition. WFAN chose Chris Carlin, Maggie Gray and Bart Scott and Francesa’s retirement was short lived, but an afternoon drive intersection for ESPN and WFAN would have been fun to watch.
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.
Rob Dibble, 97.9 ESPN Help Collect Nearly 5,000 Turkeys
“This year, the support from listeners, sponsors, partners and volunteers helped make a remarkable state-wide impact.”
The station, along with other iHeart Connecticut stations, also raised more than $189,000 during the 23rd annual Turkey Tuesday at Connecticut Foodshare’s headquarters.
“We are continually grateful of the outpouring of donations from our listeners and Connecticut community on our annual events to ensure a Thanksgiving for all,” said iHeartMedia Hartford and New Haven Vice President of Marketing Vanessa Wojtusiak. “This year, the support from listeners, sponsors, partners and volunteers helped make a remarkable state-wide impact.”
Dibble has been a longtime support of Connecticut Foodshare, hosting its director Al Marino on his show several times throughout the year to ensure families in Connecticut have access to the food bank.
Danny O’Neil is a sports media columnist for BSM. He has previously hosted morning and afternoon drive for 710 ESPN Seattle, and served as a reporter for the Seattle Times. He can be reached on Twitter @DannyOneil or by email at Danny@DannyOneil.com.
Ray Didinger Subject of NFL Films Feature, Tells Angelo Cataldi He’s Stayed Busy in Retirement
Former 94WIP host and Philadelphia Daily News and NBC Sports Philadelphia writer Ray Didinger retired earlier this year, but he told Angelo Cataldi he’s remained busy even though he stepped away from his media career.
“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.”
Didinger hosted shows from 10:00 AM-1:00 PM on Saturdays and Sundays for 94WIP. In total, he spent more than 50 years covering the NFL before retiring in May.
After Cataldi asked for Didinger’s opinion on the 2022 Eagles, he asked the now-retired reporter if he was still using his yellow notepad. Didinger admitted he does still use the notepad, and Cataldi chastised his former colleague after he said he would retire the notepad. Cataldi joked when he retires after the Eagles season concludes, he hopes to lose co-hosts Al Morganti and Rhea Hughes’ phone numbers.
Didinger will be the subject of an NFL Films feature about his longtime career covering the league. The program will air on FS1 on Friday at 12:30 AM.
Colin Dunlap: ‘Insane’ What Tom Rinaldi Has Done During Last Week
“He’s going from Doha to Dallas and Kansas City to Doha and Columbus to Doha. Something’s up! There’s two Tom Rinaldi’s.”
It was a banner week for FOX Sports during the Thanksgiving holiday, and no one got more work than the network’s Tom Rinaldi. 93.7 The Fan morning show host Colin Dunlap believes Rinaldi deserves props for his schedule.
“It’s insane what he’s done,” Dunlap said. “I wrote it down and I saw somebody tweet it. Listen to this schedule — and I don’t even know if it’s worth it — but listen to what Tom Rinaldi has done: Wednesday? Qatar. Thursday? Dallas for the Cowboys game. Friday? Back to the US-England match in Qatar. Saturday? In Columbus, Ohio for Michigan/Ohio State. Sunday? Kansas City for the NFL game.
“And then if you’ve gotta guess, he’s gonna be at the American game tomorrow so he’s travelling back to Qatar today. I don’t even travel back and forth to Baltimore like that. He’s going from Doha to Dallas and Kansas City to Doha and Columbus to Doha. Something’s up! There’s two Tom Rinaldi’s.”
Dunlap, co-host Chris Mack, and producer Adam Crowley then discussed whether FOX Sports was using Rinaldi enough. While noting that he’s travelling to all these locations, they believe he isn’t being utilized enough for the bigger stories he’s been known for.
They also joked about whether Rinaldi was flying back and forth on Rupert Murdoch’s private jet and whether or not that would make life easier.