25 years ago, Joe Benigno made the unlikely jump from being a food salesman to a full-time sports radio host on WFAN, at the age of 41. A far cry from the typical route hosts take to make it in the industry.
In 1995, Benigno was still known to WFAN ‘Joe from Saddle River,’ until he grabbed the unlikely opportunity to become a full-time host on the station.
Earlier this week, the New York Post’s Mike Vaccaro shared a screenshot of an article written by his colleague Phil Mushnick from ’95, which presented Benigno as WFAN’s new overnight host. Mushnick, who 25 years later rarely has anything kind to say about WFAN hosts or the modern sports media in general, noted Benigno’s ability to offer “a point of view that was generally honest, fresh and worthy of consideration” as a caller.
Then and now WFAN program director Mark Chernoff made the decision to hire the 41-year old Benigno in 1995, but even he didn’t sound totally sold on his staying power. “A good caller doesn’t necessarily translate into a good host,” Chernoff told Mushnick at the time. “But who knows? We might have lightning in a bottle,” he added.
In Dec. 1994, Chernoff gave four regular callers the opportunity to host a show during the quiet sports radio week between Christmas and New Years. After that show opportunity, Benigno attended broadcasting school twice a week and bought airtime on New Jersey’s WJDM 1530 following the advice of Chernoff. Not long after, Benigno won the audition and was named a full-time sports radio host at WFAN.
25 years later, it’s fair to say The FAN and Benigno’s unlikely marriage was indeed a strike of lightning in a bottle. Nearly a decade on the overnight, followed by more than 15 years in middays, Benigno helped bring much needed consistency to what was previously a timeslot known for having a revolving door of hosts. Set to turn 67 years old later this month, I have no idea if Benigno was a good food salesman, but his second career as a radio host has been pretty damn impressive.
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.
ESPN Radio 94.1 Sells Station Naming Rights To Priority Automotive Group
“The programming on the station does not change.”
Max Media has found an interesting new revenue stream in Virginia Beach. ESPN Radio 94.1 has sold its naming rights. The station has rebranded as Priority Auto Sports Radio 94.1 ESPN.
“This is an important partnership for us,” said Priority Automotive COO Matt Elmer. “At Priority Automotive we think sports ties everyone together, so this is a great opportunity for us to be a voice in the community and partner with the number one voice for sports in Hampton Roads, ESPN 94.1.”
The programming on the station does not change. Listeners in the 757 will still hear the nationally syndicated ESPN Radio lineup except for in afternoon drive when The Tim Donnelly Show is on the air.
“The partnership between ESPN 94.1 and Priority Automotive is a natural evolution for both companies,” President and Market Manager Keith Barton added. “From the many youth organizations to college teams, Priority Automotive Has been dedicated to sports in Hampton Roads for decades. Max Media is incredibly proud to be partnered with such a class organization.”
Priority Automotive owns 17 car dealerships across Virginia.
SiriusXM Plots Super Bowl LVII Coverage
“SiriusXM will deliver fans around the country the unique mix of sports, music and entertainment programming that you can only find on SiriusXM.”
SiriusXM has announced its extensive plans for coverage of Super Bowl LVII and the events leading up to the big game.
A dedicated Super Bowl pop-up channel on SiriusXM Channel 104 will be just one of the avenues SiriusXM plans to cover the event. Amber Theoharis will conduct interviews with players, and personalities making their way through Radio Row throughout the week that will air on the pop-up channel.
Mad Dog Sports Radio will have a large presence on Radio Row, with shows hosted by Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, Adam Schein, Dusty Dvoracek, Danny Kanell, and Steve Torre all airing live on location in Arizona. Former NFL All-Pro wide receiver Brandon Marshall will be on hand to host I Am Athlete Tonight from the event, as well.
“With all eyes and ears focused on Phoenix for Super Bowl Week, SiriusXM will deliver fans around the country the unique mix of sports, music and entertainment programming that you can only find on SiriusXM,” said SiriusXM President and Chief Content Officer Scott Greenstein.
“With multiple game broadcasts, several channels in Phoenix covering the latest news and providing expert analysis on the teams, interviews with many of the celebrities in town for the game, and our exclusive concert with Luke Combs, our subscribers will have exceptional access throughout the biggest week on the NFL calendar.”
ESPNU Radio hosts Colt McCoy, Rick Neuheisel, and Max Starks will also be in Arizona on Radio Row, in addition to Dusty and Danny hosting their shows each day from Radio Row.
Fantasy football expert Jeff Mans and SportsGrid Radio host Scott Ferrall will also originate content from Radio Row.
SiriusXM will offer four different game broadcasts of Super Bowl LVII. The Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles home broadcasts will each air, as will the national Westwood One call. Additionally, a Spanish-language broadcast will also be provided. Listeners will also be able to hear the halftime show — performed by pop star Rihanna — on Sirius XM Hits 1, The Heat, and Super Bowl LVII Radio.
BetQL Network Going to Arizona for Super Bowl Week
“Three shows will be at the BetMGM Sportsbook in Glendale.”
BetQL is headed to Radio Row. Audacy’s sports betting radio network will be in Arizona ahead of Super Bowl LVII.
Three shows will be at the BetMGM Sportsbook in Glendale. BetQL Daily and You Better You Bet will be live Monday through Friday. BetMGM Tonight will be live Monday through Thursday.
The network’s hosts will stay busy in the desert. BetQL is producing 52 hours of live audio and video content. Hosts are also scheduled to make 25 live appearances across other Audacy radio stations and digital channels.