For some Philadelphia area radio listeners, it may not seem like football season during weekday afternoons following the announcement that Howard Eskin will no longer be hosting afternoon drive on WIP 610 after Labor Day. Some listeners will be disappointed, and it's likely that others will be pleased. Eskin has been talking sports in Philadelphia regulary for 25 years, longer than there have been any full-time sports stations in most markets.
Eskin's final 3 to 7 PM show is scheduled for September 2nd. As of press time, WIP has yet to announce a replacement, as the station needs to continue its battle against The Phanatic 97.5 and (Eskin's former co-host) Mike Missanelli.
For all of the tradition and ratings Eskin has delivered over the years, there seems to be some degree of mutual benefit from this announcement. Eskin will continue hosting the station's Eagles coverage and is expected to fill in for vacationing hosts. He also has done some fill-in work on Fox Sports Radio and rumors have begun circulating that Eskin has national aspirations in mind, and now has the time to devote to that.
WIP figures to have listeners check out the new afternoon drive show once the host or hosts are announced, and hopes to gain listeners who did not like Eskin's outbursts. Among those rumored for consideration are Anthony Gargano and Glenn Kacknow. I have to think that the announcement will be made prior to Labor Day. Going with interim hosts during the week leading into the NFL opening weekend would not be a good choice, especially with nearly 3 weeks to arrange for a replacement.
It's been a busy few days overall in sports media, even in the courtroom. Or out of the courtroom in this instance. The lawsuit over Conference USA Football TV rights has been resolved via settlement. While Fox Sports Media Group retains the majority of the rights, the settlement results in ESPN having telecast and distribution rights to the Conference USA Championship game for this year and through the 2015 football season. ESPN2 will air this year's game at Noon ET on December 3rd. Fox Sports Media will hold the regular season telecast rights during the same period.
Meanwhile, it was a sad day for long-time baseball fans upon learning of the death of Ernie Johnson Sr. this past Friday (8/12) at the age of 87. Ernie Sr. came to Atlanta with the Braves in 1966 (as did Milo Hamilton) to begin the team's tenure in Atlanta, and called Braves games until 1990. Ernie actually was part of the Milwaukee Braves broadcast team before the team moved to Atlanta.
Fans growing up during the late 60's and 70's around the eastern half of the country could hear Ernie, along with Skip Caray, call the Braves by picking up WSB from Atlanta. In the late 70's when cable TV started to grow, the WTBS (at the time) Atlanta telecasts of the Braves gradually grew to be seen in millions of homes, associating Ernie, Skip, and Pete Van Wieren.
Ernie enabled a lot of viewers around the country to watch and listen to him every day for years, and I'm sure helped to get a lot of TV viewers hooked on regularly watching baseball. Keep in mind this was years before we had practically every MLB game televised and regional and national networks showing games almost every day. For years it was "Braves or nothing" for a lot of cable TV viewers. He will be very much missed.
On the same day (Friday), Montreal sports fans lost Ted Tevan at the age of 78 due to a heart attack following hip surgery. Tevan hosted sports talk on CFOX going back to the 70's, and also worked on CKO, CFMB, and CKGM. Recently, he hosted a weekly sports show on The Team 990.
Two of our long-time play-by-play voices have been awarded more honors. Brent Musburger and Vern Lundquist have been named as co-recipients of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame's "Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football" Award. Each will be honored at an Awards Dinner in New York City on December 6th.
DETROIT: Speaking of the end of an era, it is still hard to believe that it was a struggle to get University of Michigan games on a Detroit radio station. The school was without a radio station there until last week, when CBS Radio went for a five-year renewal after all. WWJ 950 will now carry the football and basketball games, starting in September (in place of WOMC 104.3), while WXYT-AM 1270 will also air some hockey and women's hoops broadcasts.
MINNEAPOLIS: KSTP ESPN 1500 has added local programming from 9 AM to Noon and has pulled Colin Cowherd's show. Judd Zulgad, who joined the station in February from the Star-Tribune, is leaving the newspaper (after more than 20 years!) to devote his full-time attention to the radio show.
ATLANTA: The hiring of David Pollack (former Cincinnati Bengal and U. of Georgia player) by ESPN means that Pollack is leaving his 3 to 7 PM co-hosting gig on The Zone 790. "The Pollack & Bell Show" with Mike Bell had become the highest rated show on The Zone, which just added the 4th hour to the show a few weeks ago. No word, as of press time, as to whether or not another co-host will be named, or if the show will continue to be four hours. Speculation has "2 Live Stews" moving back to afternoon drive and Bell to middays.
PITTSBURGH: The Pirates' recent fade in the N.L. Central standings started after the most recent ratings period. WPGB-FM certainly hopes the Pirates can jump back into September contention, as the station jumped up into 3rd place in the market during the July ratings period.
LOS ANGELES: KSPN 710 has decided to air all New York Jets regular season games this year instead of one of the national packages, and will carry the Jets broadcasts with Bob Wischusen and Marty Lyons. After being perplexed at first, I can see the reasoning behind this.
In addition to the following that Jets QB Mark Sanchez has in Southern California, there are a lot of transplanted New Yorkers in the area who would welcome this. Since the L.A. market is, for some reason, now considered a primary market for the Chargers telecasts, it means that not many of the Jets games would be shown there on Sunday TV. By taking one of the "national" NFL packages, KSPN would often be airing a game also shown on TV.
DENVER: The Ticket 102.3 has moved Joel Klatt and Charles Johnson into afternoon drive, while Les Shapiro and JoJo now air in the Noon to 3 PM position. A cost-cutting move via the buyout of Rich "G-Man" Goins from the afternoon show is part of the reason for the change. Yet, as still happens in radio, Goins, who left the station on July 15th, was not replaced, and may return to the station in a part-time or fill-in role.
BALTIMORE: WJZ 105.7 is adding Glenn Younes, who has been on the Sirius/XM Mad Dog Channel to its pre-game and post-game Ravens coverage.
LOUISVILLE: WHAS-TV has added Kent Spencer as a sports reporter, who comes over from WTVQ-TV Lexington. Also in Lexington, WLEX-TV sports anchor Mary Jo Perino takes over the Sunday morning sports talk show on WVLK 590 from Larry Glover, who continues his weekday afternoon show with the station.
NATIONAL: The Big Ten Network announced its football telecast play-by-play teams for the coming season. Eric Collins and Chris Martin will be the lead team. Other play-by-play and color teams are Tom Hart and Derek Rackley as well as Matt Devlin and Glen Mason.
Yahoo Sports Radio Network (formerly Sporting News Radio) has added "The Arian Foster Show" for Thursday nights at 7 PM ET for the rest of this year, naming the former running back as the host of a new weekly show, focused on the NFL.