Competition in sports radio is always a good thing. It keeps things lively, can stir up some controversy every now and again, and provides listeners with variety.
In Philadelphia, there is plenty of competition in the sports radio landscape with Beasley-owned 97.5 The Fanatic going head-to-head against Audacy’s 94 WIP.
Crossing Broad’s Kevin Kinkead presented his list of five stories he plans to pay attention to in Philly sports talk for the coming year.
First off, Kinkead is banking on longtime WIP voice Angelo Cataldi actually retiring at the end of the year. Cataldi, who will be 71 years old in March, agreed to a contract extension that will run through some point in December. The Philadelphia Inquirer, which covered Cataldi’s retirement announcement back in October, notes that he will be on the air four days a week once the Eagles current season ends.
Kinkead wrote he has a bet with another local writer that Cataldi will in fact call it a career this year, otherwise he’ll be buying that person lunch.
The other story to pay attention to will be whether Mike Missanelli leaves The Fanatic. Missanelli’s contract was supposed to end around the same time Cataldi is set to retire, but he and Beasley Media agreed to a short-term contract extension that presumably will keep him on the air into 2023.
Keeping an eye on progress John Kincade at The Fanatic is making in the mornings is another story Kinkead will be watching. He wrote that the format of the show Kincade does alongside Jamie Lynch, Bob Cooney and Pat Egan provides the alternative listeners want. Additionally, it could mean an opportunity for the group to chip away more at Cataldi’s grasp at No. 2 overall in the market once he retires.
There was a change in leadership at WIP in 2021, with Rod Lakin taking over for Spike Eskin as the station’s brand manager. Kinkead writes he’ll be following what the extent of Lakin’s influence will be over the course of the year. He feels that Lakin was brought on to keep things pointed in the right direction and not to let anything go haywire.
Finally, Kinkead wrote that he hopes to get a better gauge on listenership in the market over the course of the year. With Nielsen using what Kinkead believes is an antiquated way to measure audience, it’s tough to get an idea of the exact number of people that tune in. He did say that both stations are factoring in streaming into their numbers, so there’s a little room to potentially purchase a way into Nielsen’s data.
Overall, lots to listen to and look for in sports radio in the City of Brotherly Love in 2022.
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett News Media. He also works for ABC8 News and Newsradio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond, Virginia. His prior experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and iHeartradio Richmond. He can be reached by email at Jordan.E.Bondurant@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
Mark Chernoff: ‘I Didn’t Believe Mad Dog Was Going To Leave WFAN’
“I wish they hadn’t separated, because it was the most amazing team.”
Mark Chernoff offered some great stories and insight on the latest episode of The Jason Barrett Podcast. The former program director of WFAN in New York began his appearance by paying tribute to the station’s three soon-to-be Hall of Famers.
He reflected on Jeff Smulyan’s vision in creating sports radio, Suzyn Waldman’s gravitas and versatility as a reporter and talent, and all of the success he shared with Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo.
Russo and his long time radio partner Mike Francesa split up in 2008 after Russo left WFAN for Sirius. Chernoff admitted that even as he was told it was about to happen, he still didn’t believe it.
“You know, I misread a little bit the situation with Mike and Chris,” he admitted. “Mike said ‘Dog’s gonna leave. I know he’s gonna leave.’ He even intimated that he had spoken to Mel [Karmazin, the then-CEO of Sirius], not Mike but Chris, and it was likely he was going to go over to Sirius. And I just couldn’t believe it.”
Mike and the Mad Dog is as dominant a show as local sports radio has ever produced. The duo was together from 1989 until 2008. When they split up, Mark Chernoff says that he took it personally.
“I was sad for a really long time. I was angry too.”
The move hurt his relationship with Russo for a while. The two did not speak for a long time.
He told Barrett that that is over now. They share occasional texts and always hug and catch up when they see each other. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t still some lingering disappointment.
“I wish they hadn’t separated, because it was the most amazing team,” Chernoff said of Mike & the Mad Dog. “But both [Chris] and Mike were certainly successful on their own.”
New episodes of The Jason Barrett Podcast are released each Tuesday morning.
Eli Gold To Miss Start of Alabama Football Season
He’s faced his share of health challenges recently. His streak of 409 consecutive Alabama football games was broken in 2020 after a COVID diagnosis.
Legendary Alabama play-by-play announcer Eli Gold will miss the beginning of the 2022 football season with health issues.
Jim Carabin, Vice President and General Manager of Crimson Tide Sports Marketing announced the news Wednesday. The school did not elaborate on Gold’s ailment, only saying he would be sidelined to begin the season.
Chris Stewart, who handles play-by-play duties for Alabama’s basketball and baseball teams will fill in during Gold’s absence. Stewart will also host The Nick Saban Show and Hey, Coach until Gold returns.
The 68-year-old Gold is a 2014 inductee to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Gold, who’s contract runs through the 2023 season, has been the Voice of the Crimson Tide since the 1988 season.
He’s faced his share of health challenges recently. His streak of 409 consecutive Alabama football games was broken in 2020 after a COVID diagnosis. Gold also had both shoulders replaced that same year.
In addition to his work with the Crimson Tide, Gold has served as an announcer for NASCAR, NFL, NHL, and the NBA G-League, among others.
Andrew Marchand: Mad Dog Has Surpassed Mike Francesa
“Russo, you could probably make the argument, he’s the best sports talk show host of all time. And the reason is he’s missing a screw.”
Chris “Mad Dog” Russo has been in the limelight recently after the announcement he’ll be inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame later this year, and on the latest edition of the Marchand and Ourand Podcast, Andrew Marchand said Russo might have surpassed his former co-host in the annals of sports radio history.
“I feel like when you look at Russo and Francesa, Russo has surpassed Francesa,” The New York Post sports media columnist surmised. “He’s kinda Tom Brady’d to Peyton Manning of Francesa. They had their legendary, iconic, run in New York. They came up at the right time when sports radio exploded. They had tremendous chemistry and it was a great show. And so they’ll always have that, and that’s what they’ll always be most known for.”
While Francesa has bounced back and forth between retiring and hosting a show on WFAN, his digital show Mike’s On, and The Mike Francesa Podcast, Russo has hosted his afternoon show on his SiriusXM channel Mad Dog Radio. He also started a weekly appearance on ESPN’s First Take, and that, according to Marchand has put Russo past Francesa.
“A new generation is seeing Russo at work with Stephen A. (Smith). Russo, you could probably make the argument, he’s the best sports talk show host of all time. And the reason is he’s missing a screw. But for sports radio hosts, it’s a good screw to be missing,” Marchand joked.