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Francesa Addresses Future At WFAN

“Although Francesa said “outright lies” are being reported, he did confirm his future with WFAN is in question and a co-host is a possibility.”

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Two days after Andrew Marchand reported WFAN tried to pry Adam Schein from SiriusXM to their afternoon show for a second time, the timeslot’s placeholder, Mike Francesa tweeted he was going to address the rumors.  Three hours later, Francesa carried out his Twitter plan and commented on what he clarified as “outrageous misinformation and outright lies.” 

In a trilogy of Tweets, Francesa stated he hasn’t signed a long-term deal with WFAN, but “If I stay I would consider adding another person to the program.” Although Francesa said “outright lies” are being reported, he did confirm his future with WFAN is in question and a co-host is a possibility.

Recently, Francesa’s on-air gaffs have received more attention than the hard-hitting takes, interviews and breaking news stories New York sports fans grew accustomed to. Adding a new voice could light a fire under Francesa, while also helping develop a plan for when he leaves WFAN a second time. With Mike admitting he told the company he would “consider adding another person to the program,” it begs the question of who the second voice might be?

As Marchand reported last week, SiriusXM’s Adam Schein is no longer a possibility to join WFAN. Another SiriusXM employee and familiar WFAN voice, Christopher Mad Dog Russo’s SiriusXM contract is set to expire soon, but according to Marchand the two sides are nearing an extension. Russo signed a three-year deal with the satellite radio company in September 2016.

Over the weekend Bob Raissman of the Daily News reported WFAN reached out to Max Kellerman for a second time. Kellerman signed a multi-year deal with ESPN in December, but during their first recruitment, WFAN was willing to let him continue working on First Take, while also hosting their afternoon radio show.

NFL Network reporter and part-time WFAN host, Kim Jones turned down the opportunity to replace Francesa over a year ago, but would she be interested in being his radio partner? Francesa has long-respected Jones, relying on her as a source for college football and NFL news. Their at times opposite perspectives, most notably about Odell Beckham Jr. could make for a fun radio dynamic.

The most commonly mentioned candidate is WFAN overnight host John Jastremski. Since Francesa returned to WFAN last spring, he’s treated JJ as protégé, also making him one of the most featured contributors to the Mike’s On App. Jastremski would offer an infusion of enthusiasm to the WFAN afternoon show, but the Sports Pope would need to view him as an equal, rather than his disciple.

The other hurdle with Francesa’s future remains the Mike’s On App.  Entercom owning WFAN while dually being involved in Francesa’s app complicates any potential split.

When Mike retired from WFAN in 2017, the then 63-year old wanted to spend more time with his family and less time working five days a week.  Since ending his four-month retirement, not only is Francesa back to hosting a radio show Monday through Friday, he also needs to stay active on social media and the Mike’s-On App, essentially increasing his workload.  

By no longer offering three hours of free content on WFAN each weekday, Francesa could work less and provide his subscribers with a more valuable product. We already saw Francesa struggle with giving up WFAN’s prime real estate once, is the Mike’s On App a big enough platform to make him try signing off again?

Mike still has no time frame for remaining with WFAN and a co-host isn’t out of the question. While Francesa called Marchand’s New York Post report out for being inaccurate, his Tweets addressing the topic didn’t seem to offer any finalities.     

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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Parker Hillis Named Brand Manager of Sports Radio 610

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Goodbye snow and hello heat! Parker Hillis is headed to Houston. Audacy has announced that he will be the new brand manager for Sports Radio 610.

“Parker is a rising star,” Sarah Frazier, Senior Vice President and Market Manager of Audacy in Houston, said in a press release. “He has impressed us since day one with his innovative ideas, focus on talent coaching and work ethic. We’re thrilled to have him join our Audacy team.”

Hillis comes to the market from Denver. He has spent the last three years with Bonneville’s 104.3 The Fan. He started as the station’s executive producer before rising to APD earlier this year.

In announcing his exit from The Fan on his Facebook page, Hillis thanked Fan PD Raj Sharan for preparing him for this opportunity.

“His leadership and guidance set the stage for me to continue to grow and develop in this industry, one that I absolutely love,” Hillis wrote. “This is a special place, one that I am honored to have been a part of and so sad to leave.”

Sports Radio 610 began the process to find a new brand manager in February when Armen Williams announced he was leaving the role. Williams also came to Houston from Denver. He started his own business outside the radio industry.

“I’m excited to join the Sports Radio 610 team in Houston,” said Hillis. “The opportunity to direct and grow an already incredible Audacy brand is truly an honor.”

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Sports Radio News

Schopp & Bulldog: NFL Has To Figure Out Pro Bowl Alternative That Draws Same Audience

“The game just could not be less interesting.”

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After years of criticism and declining television ratings, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell publicly stated this week that the Pro Bowl, as it is currently contested, is no longer a viable option for the league and that there would be discussions at the league meetings to find another way to showcase the league’s best players.

Yesterday afternoon, Schopp and Bulldog on WGR in Buffalo discussed the growing possibility of the game being discontinued, and how the NFL could improve on the ratings it generates with new programming.

“The same number of people [who] watched some recent… game 7 between Milwaukee and Boston… had the same audience as the Pro Bowl had last year,” said co-host Chris “The Bulldog” Parker. “….Enough people watch it to make it worth their while; it’s good business. They’ll put something in that place even though the game is a joke.”

One of the potential outcomes of abolishing the Pro Bowl would be replacing it with a skills showdown akin to what the league held last year prior to the game in Las Vegas. Some of the competitions held within this event centered around pass precision, highlight catches and a non-traditional football competition: Dodgeball. Alternatively, the league could revisit the events it held in 2021 due to the cancellation of the Pro Bowl because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which included a virtual Madden showdown and highlight battle, appealing to football fans in the digital age.

Stefon Diggs and Dion Dawkins of the Buffalo Bills were selected to the AFC Pro Bowl roster this past season, and while it is a distinct honor, some fans would rather see the game transformed or ceased entirely – largely because of the risks associated with exhibition games.

In 1999, the NFL held a rookie flag football game on a beach in Waikiki, Hawaii before the Pro Bowl in which New England Patriots running back Robert Edwards severely dislocated his knee while trying to catch a pass. He nearly had to have his leg amputated in the hospital, being told that there was a possibility he may never walk again. Upon returning to the league four seasons later with the Miami Dolphins, Edwards was able to play in 12 games, but then lost his roster spot at the end of the season, marking the end of his NFL career.

“You might not want to get too crazy with this stuff, but there’d have to be some actual contests to have it be worth doing at all,” expressed show co-host Mike Schopp. “Do you not have a game? I don’t know.”

The future of the Sunday before the Super Bowl is very much in the air, yet Goodell has hardly been reticent in expressing that there needs to be a change made in the league to better feature and promote the game’s top players. In fact, he’s been saying it since his first days as league commissioner in 2006, evincing a type of sympathy for the players participating in the contest, despite it generating reasonable television ratings and advertising revenue.

“Maybe the time has come for them to really figure out a better idea, and maybe that’s what’s notable [about] Goodell restating that he’s got a problem with it,” said Parker. “If there’s some sort of momentum about a conversation [on] creating a very different event that could still draw your 6.7 million eyeballs, maybe they’ll figure out a way to do something other than the game, because the game just could not be less interesting.”

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Iowa Adds WCKG As Chicago Radio Affiliate

“The Hawkeyes open their season at home on September 3 against FCS power South Dakota State.”

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Iowa City, home of the University of Iowa, sits just over three and a half hours from Chicago. It makes sense to assume plenty of alumni move to the Windy City after school and that other Iowa fans live in the metro area as well. That is why the Hawkeyes have struck a deal with WCKG to become their radio affiliate in Chicago.

The station, which is heard on 1530 AM, will air the entire season of Iowa football.

“Iowa Football’s storied history, continued success, and loyal fan base and alumni network throughout Chicagoland made this move a no-brainer for WCKG,” WCKG Sports Director Jon Zaghloul said in a press release. “I’m excited to bring the Hawkeyes to Chicago, and can’t wait to start airing games this Fall. It’s a huge acquisition for our brand, and, more importantly, our devoted listeners.” 

The Hawkeyes open their season at home on September 3 against FCS power South Dakota State. Gary Dolphin has called all of the school’s sports on radio since 1996. Ed Podolak is his partner in the booth during football season.

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