Once in awhile, there will be a sports broadcaster that will land in a market, and work a host of sporting events in the area. In New York, it was Marv Albert. In Los Angeles, it was Dick Enberg.
And in Indiana, the person that best fits this description could be Greg Rakestraw.
His play-by-play resume consists mostly of college athletics; you may have seen him calling a game on ESPNU. He’s also served as pregame and postgame host on the Indianapolis Colts radio network, based at WFNI-AM/”1070 The Fan.” He’s actually been aligned with the station for a couple of years. Prior to, he had toiled at two other sports radio stations in Indy: WNDE-AM 1260, where he was a producer and reporter from 1996 until 2000; and WXLW-AM 950, the market’s former ESPN Radio affiliate, where he had been a jack of all trades, notably program director, for seven years (2002-2009).
Indy’s current ESPN Radio affiliate, Emmis Communications’ “1070 The Fan,” recently launched an FM translator at 107.5 FM which simulcasts some local programming, and also clears some shows from “the mothership”; local hosts on 1070 include ESPN announcer Dan Dakich.
Some of Rakestraw’s tasks at “The Fan” since 2011 include subbing for Dakich’s midday show, as well as the afternoon program hosted by John Michael Vincent (best known by his initials, “JMV”) when neither host is available for whatever reason. He’s also maintained a blog on the “Fan” website, titled “Rake’s Take.”
And now, Rake has but a giant take: he’s taking the program director position at the “Fan” tandem, a return to the PD chair for the revered local personality.
And even if he isn’t taking calls or doing play-by-play, Rakestraw will have a say in what you hear on the stations somehow.
“If you hear it on the air, Greg one way or another will have influence over it,” commented Bob Richards, the operations manager for Emmis’ cluster in Indianapolis, which includes WYXB-FM/”Soft Rock 105.7″.
In fact, as an added bonus, Rakestraw will be given the keys to operate the adult contemporary formatted music station as well.
This must be a first: a female-targeted music station that will be programmed by a man who’s worked in sports broadcasting for the last two decades. While the idea may sound far-fetched, it’s the current economics of the radio business that mostly dictates one person being a PD for two or more radio stations, regardless of the stations’ individual formats, and regardless of the programmers’ background in formats on radio.
That being said, Rakestraw’s following across the Hoosier State, combined with “Soft Rock 105.7” usually being the top-rated radio station in Indianapolis not playing country music, should make for a winning team. It’ll be an odd pairing, but with Rake’s involvement in the station, they should continue holding their own.
As for Emmis’ other station in the Indianapolis market, news/talk WIBC, which had been heard for seven decades at AM 1070 before migrating to 93.1 FM, their new PD is the old “Fan” PD, David Wood. So the entire cluster will not be under Rake’s watch. But something tells me he would be open to the challenge.
I’m sure Greg Rakestraw would somehow find a way to balance Steve Simpson, high school basketball, and Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love.”