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Joe Benigno Celebrates 25 Years With WFAN

“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.”

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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.

Sports Radio News

Arizona Sports 98.7 Delivers Top 10 Finish in Phoenix Winter Book

“The Phoenix sports radio leader closed the quarter in 8th place among Men 25-54 in weekday prime.”

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The winter book results are in for Phoenix, and once again Bonneville’s Arizona Sports 98.7 FM delivered.

The Phoenix sports radio leader closed the quarter in 8th place among Men 25-54 in weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p). The other sports radio brands in the market, ESPN Phoenix 620, FOX Sports 910, 1580 The Fanatic, and KDUS Sports AM 1060 were further behind for the quarter.

Among 98.7’s local shows, Burns and Gambo produced the best performance for the quarter. The popular afternoon duo generated a 4.4 share, placing them 6th in their timeslot. Having worked together for a decade, Dave and John continue to thrive with no signs of slowing down.

Next best was Bickley and Marotta, the station’s midday show. Dan and Vince were just one tenth lower than afternoons with a 4.3 share. That earned them a 9th place finish in their daypart.

Finishing up in mornings, Doug & Wolf had a setback for the quarter. They turned in a 14th place finish with a 3.0 share. Doug Franz and Ron Wolfley have enjoyed fifteen strong years in mornings, becoming one of the most popular shows in Phoenix. Just two years ago they were 4th. I’d expect them to regain their footing and perform stronger in the spring, summer and fall books.

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Sports Radio News

1010XL/92.5 FM Introduces ‘Alumni Week’

“Jacksonville’s 1010XL/92.5 FM is reflecting on 15 years of history by returning to its roots, producing a special ‘Alumni Week’.”

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Jacksonville’s sports radio leader, 1010XL/92.5 FM is reflecting on 15 years of history by returning to its roots. Starting Monday May 10th, the station will produce a special ‘Alumni Week‘, showcasing popular hosts of the past, re-teaming hosts who previously worked together, and re-airing old audio, infamous moments, and classic characters who helped the brand become what it is today.

Frank Frangie, the station’s afternoon drive host, and Rick Ballou will reunite in afternoon drive for the entire week. The duo handled afternoons for more than seven years together beginning in 2009. They will be joined periodically throughout the week by Jessica Blaylock. The current Miami Marlins reporter was a mainstay on the show for most of Frangie and Ballou’s run as partners.

Mike Dempsey, host of Jaguars Today, will reconnect all week with his former cohost, former Jags’ linebacker Tom McManus. Guests on the show will include Jeff Lageman, David Garrard, John Oehser and Mike DiRocco.

Helmets and Heels, the station’s groundbreaking weekly show featuring all female hosts, will air every night during the week from 6-8 p.m. Current hosts Lauren Brooks and Donna Murphy, who have been on the show since its inception, will be joined by show regular Taylor Doll. Joining the trio will be former cast members Blaylock, Blythe Brumleve, Amanda Borges and others.

The station’s popular morning show, The Drill, will have interview segments with former co-hosts Jordan DeArmon, Mackenzie Thirkill, and Tony Boselli, along with a few surprises. Hays Carlyon, who is curently one third of the afternoon show, will spend the week on XL Prime Time with Joe Cowart, Matt Hayes and Leon Searcy.  XLPT will welcome Chadd Scott, Terry Norvelle, Scott Manze and more. Last but not least, Frangie and Ballou will reconnect with Joe Block, Ryan O’Halloran, Borges, former program director Jason Dixon, and others.

It’ll be a fun week revisiting some of the best times in Jacksonville sports radio history with the market’s undisputed sports talk leader, 1010XL/92.5 FM.

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Sports Radio News

Radio Only Gets 2.2% Of Sports Gambling Ad Money

“Whether or not the percentage of advertising dollars will increase for radio, the amount certainly will over time.”

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Sportico recently revealed that FanDuel outspends all of its competitors when it comes to sportsbooks advertising on local television. Nielsen ad-spend data shows that the company made up for 38% of the industry’s TV advertising dollars in the first quarter of 2021.

The study also showed where and how the sports betting industry is spending its ad dollars. More than 78 percent of the industry’s money went to spot advertising at local stations. Another 3.7 percent went to national TV buys, bringing the total sportsbooks spend on TV advertising to well over $160 million in Q1.

Radio is cashing in. It just isn’t cashing in the way TV or digital is.

According to Nielsen, just 2.2% of gambling ad money is spent in radio. That trails even traditional outdoor advertising. Nielsen estimates that radio took in $4.3 million during the first quarter.

Whether or not the percentage of advertising dollars will increase for radio, the amount certainly will over time. Sports radio in particular has inventory, live reads, and segment sponsorships that will be very attractive to advertisers as sports gambling legalization spreads across more states.

Forget getting more money than TV. Sportico suggests that radio should be optimistic for TV and excited to ride its coattails. Anthony Crupi suggests that by 2024, local spot television advertising could generate $590 million from sportsbooks. That is on top of the more than 1300 percent growth the category has seen in the last two years. That growth in TV likely means similar growth for other platforms as well.

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