Low-Rated St. Louis Sports Talkers To Undergo Sex Change







St. Louis sports station KFNS/"590 The Fan," where Fox sports broadcaster Joe Buck (pictured) auditioned for a week last year in anticipation of a podcast plan that has yet to materialize, is switching formats this spring, along with its sister station KXFN, because ratings never materialized.

St. Louis sports station KFNS/”590 The Fan,” where Fox sports broadcaster Joe Buck (pictured) auditioned for a week last year in anticipation of a podcast plan that has yet to materialize, is switching formats this spring, along with its sister station KXFN, because ratings never materialized.

When last we checked in on the sports radio scene in St. Louis – just last weekend, in fact – the leading station in the genre, WXOS/”ESPN 101.1″, was so dominant that it accounted for 85% of the market share in the format, with the other two stations, KFNS/”590 The Fan” and KXFN/”1380 The Fan 2″ regularly posting Gary Keithley-esque ratings outside of one show in morning drive on KFNS.

Interestingly, the two are sister stations.

But now it appears that they will now become – get this – brother and sister stations.

That’s right: The firm that owns the duo, Grand Slam Sports, is expected to drop their respective sports formats as early as May. Their new identities will be – you’ve been warned – “590 The Man” and “1380 The Woman.”

As you would expect, the couple’s new formats remain spoken-word, but with talk programming that appeals to male and female listeners. In fact, “The Man”, which is expected to continue a tiny portion of sports talk, has announced that its new morning show will be the syndicated program hosted by Hulk Hogan’s best friend, Bubba The Love Sponge.

In giving birth to “The Man” and “The Woman,” Grand Slam Sports – which may or may not decide to change the name of its outfit to “Grand Slam People” – is cleaning house, displacing all on-air talent with the exception of KFNS late morning host Frank Cusumano, who will be a holdover with the new “Man” lineup.

“I felt the content of the shows was not drawing the audience,” admitted Dan Marshall, the president of Grand Slam Radio. I thought if we could change the formats, we could make better content… I think we can do better on the content and create more stable radio stations.”

Translation: The fact that the most popular sports radio show in St. Louis was not a local program, but ESPN Radio’s “Mike And Mike,” means the sports radio landscape in St. Louis is just brutal, so let’s cash out now, while we still have our dignity.

With the new “guy talk” approach on KFNS, it appears as if the station is taking the advice of its former host, Kevin Slaten, who was quoted as saying: “I don’t think the all-sports format works anymore… I don’t think you can win anymore unless you do ‘man-talk’.”

I wonder if Kevin’s going to hit up KFNS for a consulting fee, on the heels of this news.

Also quoted around the same time was KFNS/KXFN general manager Katy Pavelonis, who said this: “I don’t know how you can have ‘the best sports city in America’ and not have strong sports radio.”

Oh, yeah: they’ve relinquished her programming duties for “The Man” and “The Woman” but remains with the station in a sales role – which was the initial purpose for her hire in the first place, before being thrust into the GM role last year. Instead, Marshall will have a say in programming on “The Man,” while “The Woman” will be run by Robin Jackson – a male, by the way.

One of the casualties of the upcoming consummation of “The Man” and “The Woman” is Tim McKernan. It was on his program for one week last March that Fox sports announcer Joe Buck co-hosted, and their show included guests like Charlie Sheen. Buck did the radio cameo with the goal of setting up his own podcast, which apparently has not come into fruition a year after the fact.

Now that “The Man” is looking for talent that can appeal to male listeners, why not have Buck on its roster – excuse me, schedule? It’s certainly feasible for sports announcers to hold down radio shows as they work their schedule of games. New York Yankees announcer Michael Kay has been a fixture on ESPN Radio’s New York outlet virtually since its inception. Buck calls, what, a few dozen baseball games a year, playoffs included? Should be a piece of cake for him.

Then again, maybe Buck would be smart not to align himself with what sounds like the tackiest radio branding idea ever. “590 The Man” and “1380 The Woman.” Reminds me of when two AM radio stations in Washington, D.C. became “McCain 570” and “Obama 1260” just around election time five years ago.

But it looks as if “ESPN 101.1” won’t be the lone sports radio choice in St. Louis for long: McKernan is considering launching his own sports station, provided he finds enough capital commitment to it.

And wouldn’t it be poetic justice for McKernan, one-third of the highest-rated show on KFNS or KXFN at the moment, if his new sports station made sweet ratings genocide of “The Man” and “The Woman.”

They say you really can’t judge a radio format prior to its launch based on the name alone – I disagree. This makes the mid-2000’s “Free-FM” format look like “The Rush Limbaugh Show.”

That being said, I give it about a year – fifteen months, tops – before Grand Slam Broadcasting revokes their “Man” card.

Mike Francesa To Deliver Sports Radio Keynote Speech At Talkers Magazine 2013 Convention







WFAN sports god Mike Francesa will be a keynote speaker at the Talkers Magazine seminar this year - but unless you're connected to the radio industry, you'll be getting the handwave treatment.

WFAN sports god Mike Francesa will be a keynote speaker at the Talkers Magazine seminar this year – but unless you’re connected to the radio industry, you’ll be getting the handwave treatment.

It only makes sense that the host that topped Talkers Magazine’s first-ever “heavy hundred” list devoted exclusively to sports, appears at the publication’s popular annual convention.

Talkers has confirmed that Mike Francesa, afternoon drive host on WFAN/New York (whose show is also simulcast on YES Network), is scheduled to give a keynote speech titled, “The Sports Talk Radio Phenomenon,” at their event this summer. Note that I wrote “a keynote speech”; there will likely be a popular personality from the general talk radio genre that will be giving an address at the same event.

But because sports talk radio has become a phenomenon – two new sports radio networks launching last fall, need I say more? – it’s apropos that Talkers reaches out to a sports talk radio phenomenon himself in Mike Francesa.

“The addition of Mike Francesa as the sports talk radio keynote speaker at this year’s conference puts it over the moon,” says Talkers publisher Michael Harrison. “One of the big buzzes of the business is the relentless growth of this exciting branch of the talk radio universe… We are delighted.”

In past years, WFAN talent like morning co-host Boomer Esiason, who just last year received an award presented by Talkers for outstanding community service, as well as Craig Carton and Richard Neer have made appearances at the magazine’s event, which in recent years had been dubbed the “New Media Seminar.”

But it’s true that in its sixteenth year of existence – a year in which the event will simply be called “Talkers New York 2013” – they’ve booked the current most sophisticated sports radio host to date. Why, in just the last few months, he single-handedly canceled the running of the New York City marathon in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, while on the other side of the coin, wasn’t all that concerned about the recent winter storm known as Nemo that rolled through the Northeast. (Of course, that wouldn’t be the first time he would be asleep at the wheel.)

If you wish to attend this year’s festivities, which will take place Thursday, June 6 at the Concierge Conference Center, it costs just $199 per registration per person.

And if the cost, which to some is quite reasonable, isn’t appealing, consider this: Talkers is only allowing “members of the working media” to attend the convention, which was originally a two-day weekend affair in New York open to everyone; as of last year, the event has branched out into both coasts, with an annual convention based in Los Angeles in the fall. Harrison himself told me that the event has “grown consistently over the years,” and the implementation of two annual events in the top two radio markets is proof.

Anyone with interest in the sports radio genre that has broadcasting connections should take advantage and make their reservations for this event. Speaking as someone who experienced the 2008 seminar, it’s a lot of fun if you’re into radio – talk radio, especially.

And if you don’t? Maybe you can win your way in by playing some Super Bowl trivia.

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?

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 ESPN.com 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.


Philly AM Station Raptured By Family Radio

WPEN-AM in Philadelphia, the one-time “950 ESPN,” has been sold by Greater Media to Family Stations, Inc. Greater Media’s sports radio format will now exclusively be heard on sister station WPEN-FM, “97.5 The Fanatic,” which celebrates its fourth anniversary next month.

Once upon a time, the Philadelphia Flyers announced that they would be relocating from the market’s established sports radio station, WIP (610 AM/94.1 FM) to rival WPEN-FM (97.5 The Fanatic), with games simulcast on WPEN-AM 950, which was station owner Greater Media’s original frequency on the Philly radio dial for sports talk until they flipped 97.5 to “Philly’s first FM sports station” in the fall of 2009. This move came roughly one month after the 76ers abruptly shifted from WIP-AM/FM to WPEN-AM/FM as their flagship, effective with broadcasts of their 2012 postseason run. Up until then, WIP-AM/FM held the monopoly on radio play-by-play rights (sister station WPHT-AM is also the Phillies flagship). So the field is now split between Greater Media and CBS Radio, owner of WIP/WPHT.

And very soon, the programming between the AM and FM sides of both WIP and WPEN will be radically different. We already know that WIP-AM is going to become a 24/7 outlet for the new CBS Sports Radio network on January 2 of next year.

Now comes word that WPEN-AM, the one-time flagship station of the Phillies, has been sold to Family Stations, Inc. for an undisclosed price. For years, Family Radio had been heard in Philly via Camden-licensed WKDN-FM 106.9, but was sold earlier this year to Merlin Media. The sale of this station plus another in Washington, D.C. may have been brought on by the negative publicity Family Radio president Harold Camping received in 2011, when he predicted not one, but two raptures – May 21 and October 21 – that never came into fruition. (And for what it’s worth, the date of Family Radio’s acquisition of WPEN-AM is September 21.)

While Greater Media had planned to simulcast Flyers and Sixers games on both 950 AM and 97.5 FM, it would have been ideal for both frequencies to air both teams’ games in the event of a conflict (though upon the announcement of their new deal with Greater Media, the Flyers announced that some overflow games would be heard on sister station WMMR/93.3 FM). But with the NHL currently in lockout mode, thus no Flyers/Sixers conflicts to be concerned about, Greater Media likely decided that now would be the best time to unload AM 950. And at a time where the AM band is all but being phased out in favor of FM and smartphones, you’ll want to unload those AM sticks as soon as someone has a reasonable offer.

It’s likely that once the NHL lockout ends, Flyers games will be heard on WMMR by default, should a Sixers game be played at the same time (and heard on WPEN-FM – which would become simply WPEN once Family Radio receives a new callsign for AM 950).

But whither WFME in New York? The frequency, at 94.7 FM – which at one point Family Radio applied for the status of its license to be changed from its current non-commercial status to commercial – once rumored to be purchased by ESPN (which eventually turned out to be 98.7 FM in an LMA deal with Emmis Communications)? Does Family Radio’s buying back into the Philadelphia market mean Harold Camping’s got his groove back?

Well, the deal was made exactly three months before the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar

Dan Patrick To NBC Sports Radio?

On the heels of CBS luring Jim Rome's radio show to their new sports radio network, launching full-time in January, it's only a matter of time before his peer, NBC television personality Dan Patrick, brings his own radio show to NBC Sports Radio.

Logic dictates that Dan Patrick’s syndicated radio show will eventually be making its way to NBC Sports Radio Network. Consider these facts:

Earlier this week, sources have reported that Jim Rome’s radio show would be moving to CBS Sports Radio next year.

Rome’s current deal with Clear Channel/Premiere Networks, which has been syndicating “The Jim Rome Show” to hundreds of radio stations since 1995 – mostly Fox Sports Radio stations – expires at the end of this year.

CBS Sports Radio’s 24/7 lineup is scheduled to bow at the beginning of next year.

How convenient.

As you know, this past spring, Rome relocated his television post from ESPN, which aired the “Rome Is Burning” program (later retitled “Jim Rome Is Burning”), to CBS Sports Network, current home of the succinctly-titled “Rome” show. Which means that both of Rome’s daily programs will be under the CBS Sports umbrella once CBS Sports Radio fully launches on January 2 (its official launch, upon which they will offer hourly updates and commentaries, is Tuesday).

Now, let’s look at Dan Patrick, who, along with Rome, rounded out the top three of Talkers Magazine’s inaugural “Sports Talk Heavy Hundred” list this year – and with local New York host Mike Francesa topping that list, that means Rome and Patrick host the two most popular syndicated sports radio shows in the country.

Like Rome’s radio show, “The Dan Patrick Show” is heard on most Fox Sports Radio affiliates (the aforementioned Clear Channel distributes Fox Sports Radio). When it launched in the fall of 2007, the show was produced via Jimmy DeCastro’s The Content Factory, which owned the show’s rights; Clear Channel’s Premiere Networks handled sales and syndication. In the fall of 2009, DirecTV Sports Group took over as the show’s parent producer; a television simulcast of Patrick’s radio show had just started on DirecTV months earlier. Yet Premiere still acted as a sales and syndication liaison; in fact, last January, Premiere renewed its long-term agreement with DirecTV.

Like Rome, Patrick is a notable name that left ESPN. And like Rome, Patrick has a presence on television, having been on the NBC payroll since 2008.

So, you have CBS and NBC both starting up their brand new sports radio networks. CBS has all but secured their big-name television star for their radio side – so who’s to say NBC wouldn’t do the same at some point?

I would imagine NBC is chomping at the bit to bring Patrick into the NBC Sports Radio fold. It would likely be contingent on when Premiere’s long-term agreement with DirecTV expires.

For Clear Channel/Premiere to let Rome walk is one thing; for them to lose Patrick on top of that would be a one-two punch that might enable either CBS or NBC’s sports radio networks, if not both, not only to surpass Fox Sports Radio as far as popular talent on their rosters is concerned, but with both hosts possessing the two most popular syndicated sports radio programs, this could lead to more clearances for CBS and/or NBC – and, in turn, less for Fox.

More food for thought: Patrick’s NBC “Football Night In America” colleague Rodney Harrison will be hosting a weekly show, “Safety Blitz,” on NBC Sports Radio starting next weekend.

Give NBC Sports Radio credit for having some regularly scheduled shows right out of the gate when they also sign on the air Tuesday, but there is still no target date for a 24/7 NBCSRN launch. Perhaps that’ll be made known as soon as they’ve acquired syndication rights to Dan Patrick’s radio show?

If and when that happens, the battle between the two neophyte sports radio networks will really be, dare I say, en fuego.