WFAN has found their man. After going thru months of conversations with the best programmers in the country, Chris Oliviero and Audacy New York have chosen Spike Eskin to follow Mark Chernoff, and take the reigns at The Fan in New York City.
Eskin moves to the big apple after serving as Brand Manager of SportsRadio 94WIP since 2014. He brings with him over 23 years of experience. Along the way he’s worked in both on-air and programming roles including working as a host for WIP, and spending two tours at 94WYSP – the rock station which previously aired on WIP’s current frequency. He has also worked with Philadelphia talk station KYW Newsradio, Q101 in Chicago, and hosts the popular Sixers-centric podcast The Rights To Ricky Sanchez.
The move to New York gives Eskin direct oversight of both WFAN and CBS Sports Radio, including their full portfolios of broadcast, digital and live experience assets. His tenure in New York will begin on July 1st, the day after Mark Chernoff wraps up an incredible career guiding the nation’s most recognized sports radio brand.
“Spike has the vision, creativity, and drive to craft the next chapter of the iconic and influential WFAN brand,” said Chris Oliviero, Senior Vice President and Market Manager, Audacy New York. “Along with CBS Sports Radio, his experience will be ideal to fuel our sports production powerhouse of 48 hours a day of original audio, 12 hours of quality television, all alongside a vibrant digital and social experience for both New York and the nation. As a long-time colleague of Spike, I am excited that he has joined our all-star team and have no doubt that he will succeed.”
“I’m humbled and excited for the opportunity to help lead WFAN into its next chapter,” said Eskin. “It’s an iconic station with incredible talent, and I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m grateful to Chris Oliviero and Audacy for the opportunity. Working at 94WIP over the last decade has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I’m grateful to David Yadgaroff for his belief in me and the staff who stepped up to every challenge.”
In an internal memo, Audacy Executive Vice President of Programming Jeff Sottolano added that under Eskin’s leadership, WIP has widened the gap against Philadelphia sports radio competitor 97.5 The Fanatic, becoming a dominant performer with Adults 25-54. Sottlano also paid respect to Chernoff for his leadership, support, and important contributions to making WFAN arguably the format’s most recognized sports radio brand over the past three decades. The soon to be New York State Broadcasting Hall of Famer and long time programming czar is expected to provide consulting support for Eskin and WFAN after stepping away from day to day affairs.
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Brian Gebhardt to Serve as Program Director of Sactown Sports 1140
“Learning under skilled leaders such as Terry Foxx, Sean Thompson, Reggie Rouse, and Mike Conti helped prepare Gebhardt for the next step.”
Sactown Sports 1140 has found their next program director. After an extensive search, GM Steve Cottingim and Bonneville Sacramento’s Group Director of Programming Chad Rufer have found their next leader in Atlanta, GA, tabbing Brian Gebhardt to guide the brand’s programming department.
Gebhardt heads west to join Bonneville Sacramento after enjoying over seven years of success at 92.9 The Game. He has served recently as the Executive Producer of the ‘Andy & Randy’ show featuring Randy McMichael and Andy Bunker. During his time with the Atlanta sports station, Gebhardt has learned under skilled leaders such as Terry Foxx, Sean Thompson, Reggie Rouse, and Mike Conti. Those experiences prepared Gebhardt for the next step, as did working with numerous on-air talents who have helped The Game become a model of consistency in Georgia.
“Brian’s experience working with both premiere talent and professional sports franchises will help us help the Sactown Sports brand grow both on-air and on-line ,” said Cottingim.
“Brian demonstrated to us a real passion for leading extraordinary talent,” shared Rufer. “We are very confident that he will help us grow Sactown Sports into Sacramento’s premiere sports brand.”
“I can’t wait to get started and I am beyond excited to be working with Bonneville,” added Gebhardt.
The hiring of the Georgia native as new PD allows Nick Cattles to focus exclusively on hosting the station’s afternoon show, a role he’s wanted to invest more time. Cattles joined Sactown Sports in November 2021 and has pulled double duty since arriving in Northern California. He hired Ramie Makhlouf as his afternoon drive co-host and the duo have built a solid foundation in afternoons. Having the ability now to focus solely on the show should allow Cattles and Ramie to elevate their program even more.
The first day on the job for Gebhardt will be Monday February 3rd. Depending on what develops with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC playoffs, there’s a possibility he could be walking into two straight weeks of Super Bowl planning. Regardless, Gebhardt has a new market to learn, a new team to meet, a new company to deliver results for, and an opportunity to take a big step in his radio career.
DNVR Sports Files Injunction Against Bonneville Over Denver Sports Brand
“We can’t allow someone that represents the exact opposite of us to damage the goodwill of our brand or create confusion in the community.”
After Bonneville International unveiled new branding for its Denver Sports properties, digital outlet DNVR Sports has filed an injunction to stop the radio company from utilizing the brand and logos.
In a Twitter thread, ALLCITY Network CEO Brandon Spano claimed DNVR Sports has already seen listeners, viewers, and readers confuse the two brands. “We can’t allow someone that represents the exact opposite of us to damage the goodwill of our brand or create confusion in the community,” Spano tweeted.
“Our branding was created purposefully, to be different from the way sports networks traditionally looked,” he said in another tweet. “To represent the city of Denver in a simple way while removing us from the gloss and pretentiousness of sports media. To create something that brings people together.”
Spano added that ALLCITY sent Bonneville a cease-and-desist letter last week, but claims the company failed to respond, so an injunction has been filed.
The Denver Sports branding utilized by Bonneville — which encompasses 104.3 The Fan and ESPN Denver — features a black and white city skyline as well as the Rocky Mountains inside a hexagon with block lettering. The DNVR Sports logo is a rectangle, similar to the city of Denver flag, with the sun centered between the mountain peaks and a block “DNVR” below the rectangle.
The complaint filed by StudioIP LLC — the law firm representing ALLCITY — claims the branding used by Bonneville constitutes “trademark infringement, unfair competition, trade dress infringement, dilution by tarnishment, and tortious interference arising out of Bonneville’s trademark infringement of Plaintiff’s trademarks,” according to Westword.
Bonneville has denied any wrongdoing, saying the accusations “have absolutely no merit, and our legal counsel is preparing a formal response. Denver Sports remains committed to delivering the most in-depth and inclusive local sports content for all Denver sports fans.”
Ray Didinger Returning to 94WIP
“Didinger will be a member of the new morning show with Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie on 94WIP once Angelo Cataldi officially retires.”
Longtime Philadelphia sports personality Ray Didinger stepped away from his media roles at NBC Sports Philadelphia and 94WIP in 2022, but he couldn’t stay away forever.
Didinger will be a member of the new morning show with Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie on 94WIP once Angelo Cataldi officially retires.
The 75-year-old returned to NBC Sports Philadelphia late in 2022 as a member of the Eagles Postgame show and decided to return to the venerable Philadelphia sports radio station as well.
Didinger will work on an as-needed basis for DeCamara and Ritchie, contributing to news surrounding the Eagles. Known for his yellow notepad, Didinger has covered the franchise for more than 50 years.
After his retirement, Didinger was the subject of an episode of NFL Films Presents… in December, at the time telling Cataldi he had stayed busy in retirement.
“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.”