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?

Brian Billick "Thrilled To Death" To Work NFL Playoff Game On Fox







In lieu of Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa, it will be Brian Billick, and presumably sideline reporter Laura Okmin (both pictured), along with Thom Brennaman, calling the NFC divisional playoff game on Fox scheduled for Saturday, January 12.

This just in: Kenny Albert, Daryl “Moose” Johnston and Tony Siragusa have been eliminated from playoff contention.

When Fox broadcasts half of its four NFL playoff games next weekend in the form of the divisional playoffs, viewers will see and hear the NFC playoff game scheduled for January 12 a bit differently.

That’s because Fox has given the assignment of that game to their duo of Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick, rather than their usual second-string trio of Albert, Johnston and Siragusa.

There was no detailed explanation given by Fox spokesman Dan Bell; just an assertion that “both broadcast teams had very strong years” and a decision was made to give Brennaman and Billick “the opportunity to call a playoff game this season.”

Incidentally, both Billick and Brennaman have missed one game each during the regular season: In Week 12, a back ailment forced Billick to miss the Falcons/Buccaneers game; Charles Davis worked alongside Brennaman for that one. And in October, Joe Buck snatched away Brennaman’s original sub assignment for the New York Giants/San Francisco 49ers game from Candlestick Park, as the San Francisco Giants ended up hosting a World Series game on the same day.

To give Billick and Brennaman a playoff game, especially after getting Buck-jacked back in Week 6, is a noble gesture on Fox’s part.

By the way, before news of Kenny, Moose and Goose’s apparent playoff demotion made the rounds on Friday, Billick himself actually broke the news of his divisional playoff game assignment Thursday morning during a weekly segment on a Philadelphia sports radio station.

“That is an honor… to get picked for a playoff game,” WIP-FM morning host Angelo Cataldi said.

“I’m thrilled to death,” Billick exclaimed. “Anytime you can… be involved with the playoffs… it’s such an exciting time, as we kind of stay in the tournament and move forward, so we’re really looking forward to it.”

As for the teams in the playoff game that Brennaman and Billick are calling, we can tell you that it will be in San Francisco, as the 49ers have been selling tickets to a game scheduled to start at 5 PM local time – or 8 PM Eastern.

In fact, the 49ers will be in the exact same position they were in last year, hosting a divisional playoff game on the second Saturday in January. However, there was an unfortunate moment during that broadcast, as Siragusa had reported a challenge flag being out – except he omitted a very important consonant in the word “flag”.

With Fox finding themselves in San Francisco once again, expecting to break out their “B” team (with Buck and Troy Aikman calling the Sunday divisional playoff game in Atlanta), did Siragusa’s slip of the tongue factor into Fox’s decision to reassign the 49ers game to another announcing team? Fox wouldn’t say.

While we won’t know the 49ers’ opponent for this year’s second-round game until the Wild Card round is through (they would play the higher seed of the NFC teams that prevail in the first round), we do know – as does Fox – that Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick are indeed ready for prime time.

UPDATE: As it turns out, Brennaman and Billick have been assigned the Sunday early game of Seattle Seahawks/Atlanta Falcons, with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman working the Green Bay Packers/San Francisco 49ers game on Saturday night.

Dana Jacobson To CBS Sports Radio With Tiki And Tierney

Dana Jacobson is going from “bottoms up” to “top of the morning,” as she is reportedly in the mix to co-host the morning show on CBS Sports Radio. Brandon Tierney is trying to shake his contract at a San Francisco radio station to join the show, but his employer is stirred, to say the least.

It looks as if the complete daily lineup for the CBS Sports Radio Network has been set – give or take a contract issue on the West Coast.

Back in late October, I reported about how plans for a new wakeup show co-hosted by former New York Giants running back (and epic NBC flameout) Tiki Barber and former New York sports radio host Brandon Tierney fell apart, as the latter’s current employer, Entercom Communications, which just recently signed him to a contract extension to continue hosting afternoon drive on KGMZ/”95.7 The Game,” was adamant in having Tierney honor his contract, and that was the end of that. Though Barber was “still a viable candidate” to be part of the CBSSR morning mix.

Toward the end of my post on October 28, I wrote: “With nine weeks to go until CBS Sports Radio Network signs on January 2, you’d think they’d want all of the regular dayparts in place by Thanksgiving at the latest. I would expect an announcement on their new morning show by then.”

Well, here we are, a couple of days before Thanksgiving, and while it isn’t an official announcement from the network, it’s at least a clue as to what the plan will be in morning drive.

SportsByBrooks tweeted that they’ve learned Dana Jacobson, who had departed ESPN earlier this year, would be co-hosting the morning show on CBS Sports Radio, along with Tiki Barber and, yes, Brandon Tierney.

There was no word of Tierney making any reference to returning to his native New York on his Twitter page (as this post was written, the 49ers were playing on “Monday Night Football”). But if you ask anyone in the Bay Area, the vibe there is that they probably wouldn’t miss him at all if he left “The Game” (he likely would still be heard, albeit at 3 AM local time, on one of the two AM stations that is slated to carry CBS Sports Radio programming when the network officially launches next year).

Meanwhile, the addition of Jacobson to the CBSSR roster is a breath of fresh estrogen amongst a medium that has long been dominated by male personalities (case in point: in the inaugural Talkers Magazine “Sports Talk Heavy Hundred” list, only one woman made the list, and even she was part of a four-person ensemble show; I’m referring to Sandra Golden from the “Rude Awakening” show). The only infamous moments in her career were at a celebrity roast for ESPN’s Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic – whom she will now be competing with in morning drive. We last heard from Jacobson via a CNN interview in which she revealed being molested by a babysitter at age 6; she was persuaded to come forward with her story following the verdict of infamous Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky.

As for Tiki Barber? Infamous is his middle name. You get the feeling he’ll be infamously removed from CBSSR’s morning show by summer.

So assuming that “BTD” (how’s that for a snazzy nickname for their possible morning show?) is a done deal, the daily lineup on CBS Sports Radio will look like this once it launches fulltime on January 2:

6 AM ET: Dana Jacobson, Tiki Barber and Brandon Tierney

9 AM ET: John Feinstein

12 Noon ET: Jim Rome

3 PM ET: Doug Gottlieb

6 PM ET: Chris Moore and Brian Jones (confirmed 12.6.12)

10 PM ET: Scott Ferrall

2 AM ET: Damon Amendolara

Amendolara, by the way, was officially tapped by the network late last week to hold down overnights; he comes to CBSSR via Boston’s WBZ-FM/”98.5 The Sports Hub”, one of CBS Radio’s many large-market FM sports talkers. My dark horse for that slot would have been “The Fabulous Sports Babe,” who had been hosting in that shift since the launch of “98.7 The Fan” in Tampa; she previously enjoyed success on ESPN Radio.

We shall hear from CBS Sports Radio soon – perhaps this week, as initially speculated – to confirm their morning show crew. The question mark is Brandon Tierney, but Dana Jacobson and Tiki Barber are all but confirmed.

If CBS knows what’s good for them, they will not simulcast the CBS Sports Radio morning show on television via the CBS Sports Network. They’ve learned from “The Today Show,” haven’t they?

UPDATE, 11.26.12: Exactly one week after I wrote about it, it’s official. Here’s how the press release reads:

CBS Sports Radio today announced it will launch on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013 with an exciting triumvirate of media veterans as hosts of morning drive.  Tiki Barber, Brandon Tierney and Dana Jacobson will anchor the program live from the brand new radio network’s New York City studio in Tribeca.  The program will be broadcast weekdays from 6:00-9:00AM.

“CBS Sports Radio has been able to attract some of the most renowned names in the business, and Tiki, Brandon and Dana are just the latest example of the network’s star-power,” said Dan Mason, President and CEO, CBS RADIO.  “We’ve assembled an impressive group of professional athletes and accomplished broadcasters to bring fans unrivaled sports commentary, and the most entertaining lineup in all of sports radio.

“The launch of CBS Sports Radio provides an additional way for us to use our content, debuting original programs to millions of listeners across the country on day one.  The network’s reach in the major markets is unsurpassed, and the marketplace has taken notice of our depth and broad range of offerings.”

Tiki Barber is a 1997 graduate of the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce (Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society), with a concentration in management information systems.  At UVA, Barber excelled both academically and athletically – football and track and field.  He left the Cavaliers as their all-time leading rusher and began a 10-year NFL career with the New York Giants.

Barber joined Marshall Faulk and Marcus Allen as the only players in NFL history with at least 10,000 yards rushing and 5,000 yards receiving in a career.  He retired ranking third all-time in yards per carry (4.7) and 10th all-time in yards from scrimmage (15,632; rushing and receiving).  Additionally, Barber holds almost every NY Giants rushing record – total yards, rushing yards, rushing attempts and is second in rushing touchdowns. In January 2011, he was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, located in Portsmouth, Va.

In 1998, Barber began his broadcasting career working for Sports Radio WFAN in New York, which led to stints at WCBS-TV, Sirius Satellite Radio, the YES Network and Fox News Channel.  Upon retiring from the NFL, he signed a contract to work as a correspondent for NBC News and Sports, primarily for The Today Show and Football Night in America, but also covering the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing for MSNBC.

Active in the community, Barber is a board member of the Fresh Air Fund, the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation, the Advisory Board for the Hospital for Special Surgery, and the Board of Managers of the University of Virginia Alumni Association. He is also a member of the Leadership Council for the Robin Hood Foundation.

Brooklyn native Brandon Tierney makes a return to his hometown in joining CBS Sports Radio.  He currently hosts The Drive with Tierney and Bucher, broadcast weekdays in San Francisco on 95.7 The Game.  Prior to moving west, Tierney was a popular staple at 1050 ESPN Radio in New York City for nearly nine years.

In addition to his hosting duties at ESPN Radio, Tierney also anchored New York Knicks pre-game, half-time and post-game shows for three seasons and occasionally served as play-by-play announcer for the station’s Knicks broadcasts. His game experience also includes serving as lead analyst for St. John’s basketball for six seasons.

His broadcast career also includes experience in radio and television including the syndicated Sports Fan Radio Network, Sports Radio 1130 The Fan in Detroit, SportsNet New York’s (SNY) The WheelHouse, and Red Storm Report with St. John’s head coaches Steve Lavin and Norm Roberts. In addition, he was a frequent contributor to ESPN’s Outside the Lines.

Tierney is a New York Emmy award-winner and was named to the first annual Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk by the editors of Talkers Magazine.  He was graduated from Marist College with a degree in journalism while also lettering in baseball.

Dana Jacobson is an award-winning anchor and reporter.  In addition to her role at CBS Sports Radio, Jacobson will contribute to studio programming for CBS Sports Network, the cable home of CBS Sports, debuting in January.  She is best known for the versatile roles she filled during nearly a decade of work at ESPN.  Jacobson began her ESPN career as an anchor on SportsCenter, and later went on to anchor and host ESPN First Take (originally known as Cold Pizza), Outside the Lines, and College Football Live.

Jacobson also has served as sideline reporter for ESPN’s Sunday Night NBA showcase game and became a well-known part of ESPN’s Summer and Winter X Games, hosting the event’s nightly wrap up show: XCenter.  Additionally, Jacobson has written for and filled in as a radio host on both The Dan Patrick Show and Mike and Mike.

After graduating from the University of Michigan, Jacobson took her first job in television broadcasting as an assignment editor at the CBS station in her hometown of Detroit.  She also worked in Traverse City, Mich. and Sacramento, Calif. where she was honored with National Headliner and Regional Edward R Murrow Awards for sports reporting.  It was in Northern California that she also first gave sports radio a try, co-hosting an NBA show on the Sacramento Kings flagship station, CBS RADIO’s KHTK 1140.

Okay, so it isn’t Boomer and Carton. But at least I was right about the announcement being made around Thanksgiving.


Mike Francesa Sic'ed By Former Partner "Mad Dog" Russo On Radio Row

No, you're not seeing - or hearing - things: Mike Francesa was joined by his old on-air companion of twenty years, Chris "Mad Dog" Russo, for a colorful discussion today on Francesa's WFAN radio/YES Network television show. Francesa later returned the favor on Russo's "Mad Dog Unleashed" program on Sirius XM's "Mad Dog Radio" channel.

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand, good afternoon, everybody!”

That was the popular greeting on New York sports radio for two decades by Chris Russo on the “Mike And The Mad Dog” program. Of course, Russo left WFAN for a new challnge at Sirius XM Satellite Radio, in which he is now in his fourth year as host at the “Mad Dog Radio” channel. Since then, Mike Francesa had sailed solo on WFAN, with a show renamed “Mike’d Up” for about four years, and now “Mike’s On” for about four months.

With both Russo’s “Mad Dog Unleashed” show and Francesa’s “Mike’s On” on location in Indianapolis for Super Bowl Week – WFAN is the flagship station of the New York Giants, who are in this year’s big game – there were rumors early on that the two would get together and do a segment.

And so, for the first time in over two years, since both of their respective shows crossed paths at Yankee Stadium, Francesa and Russo were together again, in person (Russo phoned into Francesa’s show in 2010 after the San Francisco Giants, Russo’s favorite baseball team, won the World Series; that was the last time both have talked to each other, at least with millions listening in).

There were a few exchanges during the fifteen-minute conversation (click here to watch video in a new window) that were amusing. One started with Francesa invoking an ugly ordeal involving Russo last year: he had went to Port Charlotte, Florida for an interview with Yankees skipper Joe Girardi, but Girardi was a no-show. “Are you going to spring training this year, and then blame us for not getting into the building?”, Francesa asked Russo. “I’m getting blamed for you being in spring training… I didn’t even know you were in Florida!”

Russo responded by telling listeners (and viewers on YES Network): “It wasn’t Mike’s fault.” And he’s right. True, in the past, Francesa’s employer had issued a mandate that Russo may not broadcast his show live from Yankee Stadium or the Mets’ ballpark, CitiField. But Francesa had absolutely nothing to do with Girardi blowing off Russo in Florida last year.

The Mets also came up in conversation, as well. “You have a good job,” Russo told Francesa, “[but] you have nothing with the Mets now, you’re dead.” WFAN is also the flagship station of Mets baseball, and has been well before “Mike And The Mad Dog” went on the air (and there’s a possibility that the relationship may come to an end after the 2012 season).

“The Mets,” Francesa opined, “you feel bad for them… I wish something would happen.”

Russo also asked Francesa about Kim Jones, a WFAN contributor who just recently parted ways with YES Network as the pregame, postgame, and in-game reporter for Yankees games. “[New York Daily News sports media columnist Bob] Raissman wrote [about Jones leaving], didn’t he?”, Francesa asked Russo. “You probably gave it to him… if you don’t talk to Raissman, he’s got nothing!” Russo: “I dig that one… Funny!”

The top of the 2 PM (ET) hour was approaching, which meant Russo’s “Unleashed” show for the day would begin, so it was time for the Francesa/Russo reunion to come to an end – though Francesa would appear hours later on Russo’s radio show as soon as he finished up his WFAN/YES business.

“Dog has his show now,” Francesa told listeners/viewers, “but he don’t care, he’ll stay here.”

An animated Russo shot back: “I got some calls!”

To which Francesa, painting a picture of the demographic that calls Russo’s Sirius XM show, replied: “We’ll get one from the Eastern time zone.”

Parting in such sweet sorrow.

Ain’t that right, Mikey?

What a “good afternoon” for New York sports radio.

The Grammar Flag Is Out For FOX's Tony Siragusa

Broadcasters like Tony Siragusa should know better than to betray their circle of 26 friends known as the alphabet. During a playoff game in San Francisco, he was close to pronouncing the word “flag” and certainly did not earn himself a cigar.

I’m only going to post this one more time: When you’re a responsible broadcaster, be it in sports or any other field, don’t let your phonics fail you.

In other words, you’ve got 26 important friendships to mind: each and every letter of the alphabet. For if you were to neglect one of them when you really, really need it, there might be unfortunate consequences.

I’ve already had to give NBC’s Mike Milbury a type-lashing just two days into the new year. Now, I have to give a syntax scolding to Tony Siragusa.

In the second quarter of the Saints/49ers divisional playoff game on Saturday, Darren Sproles appeared to have lost a fumble after being tackled by a 49ers defensive player.

Siragusa, working the sidelines, as he is part of Fox’s No. 2 booth of Kenny Albert and Daryl Johnston, announced to viewers that “the challenge flag is out.”

Except Tony left out a very important letter in that sentence… yep, the “L” in “flag.”

What boggles the mind is that Siragusa so freely pronounced an “L” less than a second prior to the word “flag” – two of them, in fact, back-to-back.

And consider this took place in San Francisco, which is known to have a huge gay/lesbian population.

Now, I’m sure Siragusa didn’t mean to offend any homosexuals with what he said (as opposed to people who crack jokes about gays on their radio show, and then follow it up with a less-than-sincere apology). And I’m sure if this was an ESPN game, Siragusa would be forced to make an apology no sooner than the next commercial break.

But I’m not suggesting that he should apologize for what came out of his mouth.

What he should apologize for, however, is betraying one of his 26 friends.