Steel Dreams: Pittsburgh's "93.7 The Fan" Opens Airshift Up To The Listeners







Pittsburgh's "93.7 The Fan" will be holding public auditions for future air talent at various Steel City locations. The winner will be selected on the air on June 27. The process is similar to New York sister sports station WFAN's "Fantasy Phenom" contest, which current WFAN host John Jastremski (shown with Mike Francesa) won in 2011.

Pittsburgh’s “93.7 The Fan” will be holding public auditions for future air talent at various Steel City locations. The winner will be selected on the air on June 27. The process is similar to New York sister sports station WFAN’s “Fantasy Phenom” contest, which current WFAN host John Jastremski (shown with Mike Francesa) won in 2011.

Pittsburgh’s three-year-old FM sports talker, KDKA-FM/”93.7 The Fan,” is seeking an actual fan to host a weekly show.

The station has organized a contest, “The Next Fan Host,” which invites residents of the area, aged 18 or older, to show up at any of five designated locations, starting with Beer And Pop 4 Less this Saturday afternoon, or any of four other taverns, eateries or wireless phone stores over four nights between May 29 and June 18.

All they’re required to do is give opinions on the hot sports topics of the day (you know, kinda like what we do here at SportsRants).

The ten best entrants from these open auditions will be selected to compete in a semifinal round, with the top four advancing to a live final during Andrew Fillipponi’s nighttime show on Thursday, June 27.

If this process sounds familiar, it’s because KDKA-FM’s parent company, CBS Radio, has been implementing this concept at the original “Fan” of sports radio, New York’s 660 AM/101.9 FM WFAN. Dubbed “Fantasy Phenom,” the grand prize is the same as that of Pittsburgh’s “Next Fan Host” contest: a position on the iconic sports radio station for a year.

And it appears that all three “Phenom” winners are still with WFAN in some capacity. The first winner, Gregg Sussman, is still listed on WFAN’s website, as he occasionally can be heard doing weekend and swing duties; he’s still overseeing sports talk programming on a college radio station in Maryland, according to his LinkedIn page.

The second “Phenom” champion, John Jastremski, is the most visible of the contest’s three winners by far. He’s heard regularly on overnights, usually on weekends, and has also been heard nationwide on the CBS Sports Radio Network. And here’s a scary thought: just last week, he celebrated his 25th birthday – which makes the radio station he works for slightly one year older than him. But when you listen to “JJ After Dark,” with the energy in and on the air, you forget that you’re listening to a 26-year-old radio station – one that’s been an AM station for most of its existence (and CBS Radio is looking to fix that, in due time).

The announcement of last year’s “Phenom” champ, Joe Giglio, was about as low-key as his current association with WFAN, where his presence is mostly through a weekly column on the station’s website. But for the lead baseball writer of Bleacher Report, that’s fine with him.

There’s no plans currently available for a “Fantasy Phenom 4” contest, which would be the first one held during WFAN’s history on FM, but you can expect them to be unveiled sometime next month.

As for who will decide “The Next Fan Host” in Pittsburgh, I can’t help but wonder if “93.7 The Fan” morning co-host Gregg Giannotti – an alumnus of WFAN who has been with KDKA-FM since its inception in February 2010 – will somehow have a say in it.

Details on the contest, as well as the official rules, can be found here.


CBS Sports Radio Will Gradually Take Over 66 WFAN







The likes of Tiki Barber and other CBS Sports Radio talent could very well be heard on 66 WFAN as soon as this year. New York’s premier sports radio station has been simulcasting on 101.9 FM since last fall, but “the long-term goal” is clearing more national content on AM 660.

Back in October, when New York’s 66 WFAN, the original 24-hour sports talk station, began simulcasting on 101.9 FM, it looked like the writing was on the wall. A full-fledged flip to all-national CBS Sports Radio on AM 660 was imminent, perhaps as soon as the network’s launch date last Wednesday.

But at the time, CBS Radio President Dan Mason was coy on confirming such details, saying: “We don’t see this as a 30- or 60-day deal. We think there is a long period of time before an audience gets acclimated to moving back and forth from AM to FM. That’s not to say the stations will remain identical forever. We’re taking it a day at a time.”

Now, not even two weeks into the new year, and the network, Mason appears to have a new plan.

“I think the company purchased a $75-million FM station to not only expand WFAN but also to expand our sports offerings. There’s a natural migration of listeners that will want to hear ‘FAN on FM and that’s in process,” he told Newsday’s Neil Best.

Mason added that the existence of WFAN and WFAN-FM “creates a bigger platform, so the long-term goal is to have a two-channel business. That’s the long-term goal. You hear the “CBS Sports Minutes” on ‘FAN now, but over time, especially as the audience migrates to FM, you will hear more involvement from the sports network, probably.”

In other words: Locals could indeed be able to hear WFAN personality Marc Malusis do his Saturday morning network show on 66 WFAN.

Heck, they may as well go ahead and plug in CBSSR’s morning show on 660 AM. You know what they say about train wrecks, and Tiki Barber is the epitome of a train wreck career.

UPDATE, 1.27.13: In his New York Daily News column today, Bob Raissman reports that the network’s eventual takeover on AM 660 could come as early as February 11. However, there’s word of a power struggle behind the scenes between the network and WFAN, the latter of which is allegedly spearheaded by their afternoon drive host. “Spies say Mike Francesa has been throwing his weight around,” Raissman writes. (Yeah, we already know how much he loathes the network after just a few days on the air.)

Radio experts say that a reason for the continuation of the WFAN-AM/FM simulcast, even during sporting events where a conflict would arise (e.g. if a Brooklyn Nets game was being played at the same time as a New York Mets game, rather than broadcast the Nets game on AM 660, both 660 and 101.9 would carry the Mets game, with the Nets game being bounced to another radio outlet in the area), is because CBS Radio management wants to make sure that the 101.9 FM signal on its own would be enough to outrate their rival, WEPN/”ESPN Radio 98.7″, on their lone FM signal. There could very well be a large faction of WFAN listeners who are still listening via AM 660.

Here’s an idea for CBS Radio, especially if the higher-ups are adamant on CBSSR eventually supplanting WFAN’s local programming on AM 660: Start positioning the station as “Sports Radio 101.9 FM WFAN.” No more of this “Sports Radio 66 and 101.9 FM” business. Remove the “AM 66” from Francesa’s mic flag so even viewers of his show on YES Network will get in the habit of tuning to 101.9 FM.

When WIP in Philadelphia began simulcasting on 94.1 FM in the fall of 2011, they started being known as “94 WIP.” No longer was their longtime positioner of “610 WIP” being stressed, even though the local programming would be heard on both signals for sixteen months. (WIP-AM is now “CBS Sports Radio 610,” which does carry some local sports broadcasts in the event of a conflict.) If Philadelphia got a sixteen-month notice for their sports radio station’s migration to FM, the least that the listeners of the very first all-sports station in the country (in a bigger market than Philly) is at least sixteen weeks. Meanwhile, it’s been just 12 1/2 weeks since the WFAN-AM simulcast began back on November 2 of last year. “If [WFAN] leaves 660, it could lose a significant number of listeners,” Raissman writes. “Is CBS ready to take that risk?”

Absolutely not, for the reasons I stated above. Yes, the listeners are aware that they can find WFAN on 101.9 FM, but they just haven’t emphasized the 101.9 FM dial position. Their “66” spot on the AM has always got top billing for the duration of the simulcast. Before WFAN bids adieu to local programming on AM 660, they must rebrand themselves as “Sports Radio 101.9 FM WFAN.” I mean, the simulcast split is inevitable. How come CBS hasn’t been doing this since November 2?

Marc Malusis, John Jastremski To CBS Sports Radio Network

Staten Island native John Jastremski will be hosting a weekend show on the new CBS Sports Radio Network. And according to a CBSSR staffer, it will indeed be cleared in New York City.

Add a couple more WFAN alumni to the growing roster of talent at the new CBS Sports Radio Network, which fully launches one week from today.

Marc Malusis, who began at the country’s first 24/7 sports radio station in 2001 as a board op, then became executive producer of the popular “Mike And The Mad Dog” afternoon drive program, and eventually branched out as a sports talk host in 2007, is getting his own show on CBS Sports Radio on Saturday mornings.

This according to Marlow Donohue, who herself will be a board op for Malusis’ new weekend program. “I’m very excited,” she tweeted to Leslie, a regular listener and caller to WFAN of Malusis, nicknamed “Moose.”

This will not be Malusis’ first foray on national radio; he had previously been heard doing updates on SiriusXM Satellite Radio’s “NFL Radio” channel.

Also being assigned weekend duties on CBSSR is John Jastremski, who joined WFAN about a decade after Malusis, as winner of the station’s second edition of their “Fantasy Phenom” contest last year, in which the grand prize is a radio show on WFAN (read: subbing for less visible hosts on WFAN who move up and fill in for Mike Francesa during his vacation days).

And how do we know Jastremski will be involved with CBS Sports Radio? Well, he’s updated his LinkedIn page recently. Hmmm…

It was basically a matter of time that CBSSR began rounding up weekend talent, with just shy of a week before its 24/7 launch. The other upstart sports radio network, NBC Sports Radio, which currently has daily programming in place from 5 PM ET into overnights, recently unveiled their own roster of weekend hosts, whose shows begin next year. NBCSR also announced that they themselves will also be reaching 24/7 status on Monday, April 1. (Hmmm, is that when Dan Patrick’s Fox Sports Radio contract runs out?)

By the way, getting back to Ms. Donohue: She was so in the Christmas spirit that she gave yet another morsel of information on Christmas Day to our same Malusis P1 via Twitter.

“It will be in NYC,” Donohue disclosed, addressing the listener’s concern that he would be unable to hear Malusis’ new national show locally. “I’m unsure of the channel just yet, but… you will definitely hear it in NYC, that I do know.”

We’ve been reporting on the possibility of CBS Sports Radio launching on FM stations in the top three radio markets when it goes live Wednesday. Including Los Angeles, where of the four AM sports stations available, SoCal’s own Jim Rome apparently won’t be any of them. Listeners were advised to attempt to pull in a San Diego station to get their Van Smack fix.

I’m sure we’ll hear just a little more information about CBS Sports Radio’s presence in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles as 2012 winds down.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE, 12.29.12: There’s actually a couple of updates: First, CBS Sports Radio has unveiled its new weekend lineup. In addition to Malusis’ Saturday morning show, Brandon Tierney, who is co-hosting the network’s morning show with Tiki Barber and Dana Jacobson, follows Moose from 10 AM-2 PM on Saturdays, then former WFAN/current “93.7 The Fan”/Pittsburgh employee Gregg Giannotti is on from 2-6 PM. Later on Saturdays, another former WFAN host who’s now working at another station called “The Fan” in Cleveland, Adam Gerstenhaber, a.k.a. “Adam The Bull,” can be heard from 10 PM-2 AM. Jody MacDonald, who’s had experience at WFAN and WIP/Philadelphia as well as ESPN Radio in New York, has two shifts, 6-10 PM on Saturdays and 2-6 PM on Sundays. And former ESPN Radio personality Amy Lawrence has a whopping three shifts: Saturday and Sunday morning from 2-6 AM as well as Sunday nights from 10 PM-2 AM.

Based on this report, that means one name in particular is missing from this list, and that leads to the second update: that being of the LinkedIn profile of the person in question, John Jastremski. It no longer reads “CBS Sports Radio Network,” though it did just a few days ago. Did plans for a CBSSR show fall through for him? Or was there a bit too much anticipation on JJ’s part? At any rate, he’s a talented host that I’m sure will eventually be heard on the network in some capacity. So at some point, this post will be entirely true.

UPDATE, 2.15.13: It was only a matter of time, huh? As JJ tweeted today:





As you know, Amy Lawrence is the regular host in this time slot, but as you also know, she has three shows every weekend. J.J. tells me he’s only subbing for the “next few weeks” at that time slot. That being said, I’m sure we’ll be hearing from again on CBSSR again afterward.