In one week’s time, CBS Sports Radio Network will officially launch, albeit with limited content during the football season, and an ensuing 24/7 broadcast emerging on January 2 of next year.
Of course, before a sports radio network backed by the resources of CBS Sports can sign on, they have to appoint the right folks in upper management. And who better than someone who’s been, more or less, a part of the premier 24/7 sports radio station in the country.
When WFAN signed on for the first time twenty-five summers ago, Eric Spitz was the station’s desk assistant. Since then, he had made his way to the role of assistant program director. He departed in 2002 to head up the Metro Traffic/Shadow unit, which was overseen by Westwood One, thus remaining in the CBS family. (Of course, Westwood One is now Dial Global – and based on DG’s affiliation with a new national sports radio network powered by NBC, also set to bow next week, DG is obviously not associated with CBS.) Whether he was homesick or sportssick, Spitz returned to WFAN in 2005 to become the station’s program director, filling a vacancy made possible by Mark Chernoff, who had become WFAN’s director of operations. (Way to drop the “assistant” tag with a lateral traffic network gig.)
Once again, Eric Spitz will be leaving WFAN, and once again, it’s for a CBS entity – but it’ll have more to do with gridiron than gridlock. Spitz has been appointed director of programming at CBS Sports Radio. Among his duties will be programming, scheduling and talent development.
And when you read what Chernoff said back in 2004 about “Eric’s knowledge of the New York market,” and couple that with Boomer Esiason’s recent appointment as the senior NFL analyst of CBS Sports Radio, it may or may not mean all signs are pointing to the syndication of WFAN’s morning show, “Boomer & Carton,” when CBSSR goes 24/7 next year. This fall, Boomer will be recording one-minute commentaries that will be heard in morning drive on CBSSR stations – perhaps to whet listeners’ appetite for what to expect in January? By the way, other known figures who will be presenting sixty-second commentaries throughout the day include Doug Gottlieb, who’s got the afternoon drive spot on CBSSR.
As a WFAN employee, Spitz reported to Mark Chernoff. Now, Spitz will be reporting to the Mark Chernoff of CBS Sports Radio in Chris Oliviero, CBS Radio’s vice president of sports programming. Oliviero’s tenure at CBS Radio also started with a bright spot: he was an intern for Howard Stern’s old WXRK-based morning drive show. Following his graduation, he went on to toil as a producer at WFAN, and later, the former WNEW-FM during its “hot talk” days in the early 2000’s. In the latter part of the decade, he worked corporate positions and eventually made his way to the management tier at the company. Under his current position, Oliviero oversees the sports format airing on over a dozen CBS stations in local markets. I’m sure nobody had to twist his arm to take on similar responsibilities for the national sports network on top of it.
And while Chernoff himself won’t have an official title at CBSSR, his presence pretty much influenced its coming to fruition. “His continued guidance will be a huge advantage as we craft programming we are confident will be of great interest to our affiliates around the country,” Oliviero said of Chernoff, whom he dubbed “without a doubt, the most successful sports radio program director of all time.”
So with CBS Sports Radio’s updates and commentaries airing on upwards of 90 stations nationwide – and new upstart rival NBC Sports Radio touting a hundred stations of their own for their launch next week – time will tell if either or both of them will be around twenty-five years from now.
The games begin on September 4.