With the 2022 National Football League fast approaching, a major announcement was made Wednesday morning regarding the radio broadcast rights to Washington Commanders games in 2022 and beyond. As first announced on The Team 980’s The Kevin Sheehan Show in Washington, D.C., Commanders football games will no longer be broadcast over Audacy stations, including The Team 980 and sister station 106.7 The Fan, along with 910 The Fan in Richmond, Va.
In the announcement, Sheehan cited a disagreement between Audacy and the Commanders organization regarding “the value of the broadcasts” as one of the reasons for the split, along with ensuring that the stations can provide objective coverage of the team. While games will no longer be available to hear on Audacy, ESPN 630 The Sports Capitol, at the moment, will still be broadcasting games in 2022, although that could be subject to change.
After the news went public, The Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan reacted to the news of Audacy dropping the Commanders from their programming lineup, and provided some telling insight regarding the relationship between the team and stations now formerly part of its radio network.
“It doesn’t change our show one bit or another,” said show host John-Paul Flaim. “Like, we’ve done our show with the rights and without the rights.”
Aside from the Commanders failing to win a Super Bowl championship since 1991, the team has had its fair share of issues off of the gridiron, including outrage at resisting to change the team’s name from “Redskins” and team owner Daniel Synder being investigated by the NFL for allowing a workplace culture of unchecked sexual harassment throughout the organization.
Snyder, who once owned the flagship station of the team, has been at the center of debate regarding his responsibility in the team losing various sponsorship deals, such as a multi-million dollar contract with Anheuser-Busch InBev. Additionally, attendance has been considerably lower over the past few seasons at the team’s home stadium, with the apparent lack of maintenance and repairs at FedEx Field making for less than ideal conditions for attendees and players alike.
Junkies host Eric Bickel stated that he did not believe 106.7 The Fan received any benefit from putting Commanders games on its airwaves, and in a particularly revealing remark, said that the station has had no relationship with the team for two decades.
Being able to cover the team in an objective manner while holding the radio rights was something that, purportedly, affiliates were struggling to do without complaints or fear of retaliation from the organization. This morning, co-host John “Cakes” Auville reaffirmed 106.7 The Fan’s commitment to bring its listeners thoughtful and honest commentary and analysis about the football team.
“Look, if the team does really well and then starts making the right moves, we’ll praise them – we’ll be the first to praise them,” Auville said. “If they continue to flail and be mediocre to bad, we’re [going to] spotlight that too. That’s just what we do. We’ve been doing that for 25-plus years, and this news doesn’t affect us.”
“No, it doesn’t affect us at all,” interjected Bickel into the conversation. “It should affect us… We should have probably gotten some better treatment [in the past]. It actually really didn’t help us.”
The Sports Junkies will not be changing the format of their show because of the station dropping the Commanders. Instead, the program will now be able to more comfortably provide objective coverage to its audience.
However, one thing the show hosts hope eliminating team broadcasts will do for them is to allow the station to allocate more money towards the show – something that the hosts believe provides more value to the station than the Washington Commanders.
“Let’s hope they’re assembling a war chest for the Junks instead of sending it on [to] the [Commanders],” quipped Auville.
Jeff Rickard Named Program Director of WFNZ in Charlotte
“After our first conversation I knew Jeff was the one to take us to the next level.”
Jeff Rickard is headed to Charlotte. The sports radio veteran has been named the new program director of WFNZ, one of the Southeast’s premier sports radio brands.
Rickard replaces Terry Foxx who announced in February that he was leaving Charlotte to take over KUT in Austin.
“We are committed to making sports radio even bigger in Charlotte, adding the 92.7 FM signal in March was just the beginning of that commitment,” Marsha Landess, Regional Vice President of Radio One, said in a press release. “Having a successful veteran like Jeff Rickard join our team will help take us to the level that a passionate sports city like Charlotte deserves. Jeff brings to WFNZ extensive sports experience, talent, drive, and a passion for success. He will be a great complement to our incredibly talented local Charlotte on-air team. After our first conversation I knew he was the one to take us to the next level. As the flagship station for the Charlotte Hornets as well as Charlotte FC we are looking forward to an incredibly successful future with Jeff leading the charge.”
Rickard’s resume in sports radio speaks for itself. He was most recently the brand manager at WEEI in Boston, a role he exited in January. Prior to that, he spent six years at 107.5 The Fan in Indianapolis serving as both a weekday host and the station’s program director. He has also worked nationally for ESPN Radio, FOX Sports Radio, and SiriusXM, and spent time during the early part of his career working in Denver and Salt Lake City.
“I had been planning on taking a professional sabbatical this year but after meeting with Marsha Landess and learning more about Radio One, I began to get more excited to get back to work,” shared Rickard. “Radio One as a company, combined with Marsha’s leadership and the potential for WFNZ, was just too appealing to not be a part of. I am extremely grateful to Radio One for this opportunity and can’t wait to start working with the talented staff in Charlotte. My family and I are all in on this situation and can’t wait to get started on this new chapter.”
Not one to waste time diving in, Rickard officially stepped into the Charlotte offices today to meet his new staff.
Kirk Herbstriet Wants To Be Held To Same Standard For NFL As College Football
“Herbstreit was on The Pat McAfee Show on Friday and he said he is already at Pro Football Focus in Cincinnati doing his research.”
The NFL schedule was released last week, and Thursday Night Football has a lot of interesting matchups for its first year on Amazon Prime. It is also a new broadcast booth with Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit on the call.
With Herbstreit now adding Thursday Night Football to College Gameday, he has already started preparing for the upcoming season. Herbstreit was on The Pat McAfee Show on Friday and he said he is already at Pro Football Focus in Cincinnati doing his research.
“I’m just trying to lay a foundation,” said Herbstreit.
Herbstreit told McAfee that whenever anyone asks him to talk about a college team, he can quickly tell them what the DNA of that team is. Now he wants to bring that level of preparation to his NFL broadcasts. He will look at a different matchup every week this summer to get a more detailed idea of what each team is about:
As for his connection with Al Michaels, Herbstreit mentioned he has gone out to dinner with him a couple of times and he wants to make going out to eat with his broadcast partner a frequent deal.
“Hung out with him 2-3 times. Had a chance just to get to know him. When you go into a new deal, I love like Wednesday night dinner, I want to make a staple and just hang out and get to know him and hopefully he will get to know me. When you do that, it allows you to have natural chemistry.”
Andrew Mason To Succeed John Clayton At 104.3 The Fan
“Mason comes to The Fan from DNVR, a digital outlet where he provided written and audio content for the last three seasons.”
John Clayton passed away earlier this year. That left 104.3 The Fan without a lead Broncos writer for the 2022 season. On Monday, the station announced that it had hired a successor in Andrew Mason.
Mason comes to The Fan from DNVR, a digital outlet where he provided written and audio content for the last three seasons.
“Mase’s work speaks for itself as one of the market’s most respected analysts when it comes to writing about and discussing the Broncos,” Raj Sharan, The Fan’s program director, said in a press release. “Replacing someone of the legendary stature of John Clayton was not something we took lightly, and we believe Mase is the perfect person to pick up that mantle and bring tremendous credibility and content to our rapidly growing digital platforms.”
Andrew Mason has a lot of credibility with Broncos fans. He has covered the team for 19 years. He has also written a book called Tales from the Denver Broncos Sideline.
The Fan won’t be his first foray into Denver radio either. Mason has previously been a host on Mile High Sports Radio and the defunct KDSP- AM.
“I’m thrilled to join The Fan team and add what I can to the efforts of building Denver’s premier online destination for Denver fans,” said Mason. “Being tasked with replacing a legend like John Clayton is a responsibility I take very seriously, and I’m honored The Fan has entrusted me with this opportunity.”