It’s the end of an era in Detroit. Longtime sports radio station WDFN will be one of fifteen radio stations operated by iHeartradio which will flip formats at 12pm ET today to make room for BIN: Black Information Network.
Additional sports radio stations which are expected to cease sports talk operations are Fox Sports 1340 in Augusta, GA, Fox Sports 1440 in Greenville, SC, Fox Sports 1670 in Macon, GA, and Sports 1280 in New Orleans, LA. Radio Insight was first to report the news.
Of the bunch, WDFN represents the largest market sports station to be flipped, and the station with the most history and success, though it’s been a shell of what it once was. In prior years, the station served as the home to a number of notable Detroit personalities including Mike Stone, Rob Parker, Bob Wojnowski, Terry Foster, and Mark ‘The Man’ Wilson.
Upon hearing the news, sports media professionals took to Twitter to share their thoughts on the news and the station’s importance to the format and their individual careers.
In a press release, iHeart says BIN will be the first and only 24/7 national and local all news audio service dedicated to offering an objective, accurate and trusted source of continual news coverage with a Black voice and perspective. It will also rely on the support of National Founding Partners who share and support the network’s mission. Those partners are Bank of America, CVS Health, GEICO, Lowe’s, McDonald’s USA, Sony, 23andMe and Verizon.
The company will make BIN available nationally through the iHeartRadio app and accessible via mobile, smart speakers, smart TVs and other connected platforms, and on dedicated all-news local AM/FM broadcast radio stations providing local news, weather traffic and sports in addition to national news — all focused on the Black community and from the Black perspective — in markets including Atlanta, Augusta, Charlotte, Cleveland, Columbus, GA, Detroit, Greenville, Macon, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, Norfolk, Riverside, San Francisco and Seattle, with additional local markets being added over the next 60 days.
iHeart confirmed that the network’s birth was the result of a research study which showed that 86% of Black listeners believed a service like BIN was necessary, and likely to be utilized as an important news source. The same study showed that 83% think BIN provides a key service and important information they can’t get on radio or TV today. Additionally, iHeart says the BIN concept tested strongly with both the 18-34 year old and 35-54 year old segments of the Black community.
As it pertains to WDFN, the station which launched in 1994, and once created the ‘Millen Man March‘ and featured ‘Stoney and Wojo‘ in mornings hasn’t been the same since the mid to late 2000’s. Detroit sports fans have long supported sports radio programming, and 97.1 The Ticket remains one of the more dominant brands in the format today, but for WDFN and former Greater Media sports brand Detroit Sports 105.1, it was hard to produce similar results.
Parker Hillis Named Brand Manager of Sports Radio 610
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.”
Schopp & Bulldog: NFL Has To Figure Out Pro Bowl Alternative That Draws Same Audience
“The game just could not be less interesting.”
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.”
Iowa Adds WCKG As Chicago Radio Affiliate
“The Hawkeyes open their season at home on September 3 against FCS power South Dakota State.”
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.