There’s a new radio station in Dallas which features a number of personalities familiar to local sports radio listeners. 97.1 The Freak made its much anticipated debut and the first voice to be heard belonged to the ”Old Grey Wolf” Mike Rhyner.
97.1 The Eagle stopped regular programming late Monday morning and began stunting, a technique radio stations use to separate listeners from old programming and prepare them for new content. The station began by playing songs with the word “freak” in them before transitioning into a continuous loop of “The Waiting is the Hardest Part” by Tom Petty until 3p CT. Then, a voiceover detailing the Eagle’s history switched into the voice that Dallas-Forth Worth residents have gotten to know so well, Mike Rhyner.
“So, where were we?” began Rhyner.
Rhyner went on to relive his final moments at The Ticket in Dallas. He said he was getting his “head around being a Paw Paw” before getting a call from Ben Rogers of the Ben and Skin Show and thus an idea for The Freak began to take shape.
After that, the show’s intro music played and Rhyner welcomed in Mike Sirois and before you knew it, the guys were wondering about a quarterback controversy in Dallas.
97.1 The Freak is off and running with a lineup that includes “The Speakeasy,” with Jeff Cavanaugh, Kevin “KT’ Turner, Julie Dobbs, and Matt Cather in mornings (7-11am), “Ben & Skin Show” in middays (11am-3pm) and “The Downbeat” in afternoons (3p-7p) featuring Mike Rhyner alongside Mike Sirois and Michael “Grubes” Gruber.
The station is positioning itself as a lifestyle brand but given its talent connection to local sports radio and the strong interest in Dallas sports, it’s likely the talent will weave sports talk into their on-air discussions. Sports Radio 1310/96.7 The Ticket and 105.3 The Fan have enjoyed good ratings with the male 25-54 demographic and The Freak is expected to challenge them and every other brand that produces spoken word content.
“We’re beyond excited to introduce 97-1 the Freak – the level of talent is insurmountable, and we’re thrilled for the opportunity to further connect with Dallas Fort Worth,” Patrick Davis, Regional Senior Vice President of Programming Dallas, shared in an announcement.
Fred Toucher Tells Paul Finebaum: Your Greatest Talent Is Not Losing It On Callers
“What you’re actually taught in radio — and not to the benefit of people — is to move things along and cut people off.”
98.5 The Sports Hub morning show Toucher & Rich has frequently pointed out the absurdity of callers into The Paul Finebaum Show. Thursday morning, the Boston show welcomed in the southern college football host to discuss what makes his show tick.
“I can’t tell you how big a thrill this is for me, because I didn’t realize how funny our show was until I started listening to you guys,” Finebaum joked.
“Part of the brilliance of your show is you just let these people go,” Fred Toucher said. “For those that don’t know, the instinct in what you’re actually taught in radio — and not to the benefit of people — is to move things along and cut people off. At what point did you realize ‘I’m just gonna let these dudes talk and see where they take it’?”
“I listened to all these radio goobs — I mean all these people in the corner office — tell us how to do it and I realized I can’t do that. I didn’t have the radio voice, I didn’t have the style, I didn’t have the energy. So I just sat there and literally listened to callers ramble on and I started to find the humor in it.
“It hit me one day that these people don’t have a voice,” Finebaum continued. “Especially in the south where we don’t have six or seven professional sports franchises. Callers started becoming famous and becoming a part of the show. We started having lunches with them for Christmas and various other things and days and I think we realized what we had and we made the most of it. Some of these callers really defy logic. I think I’ve given four or five eulogies at various callers funerals and I think that there’s a connection there.”
Finebaum then mentioned one of his more notorious callers, Legend. The caller actually spent more than 20 years in prison after shooting someone six times. Toucher said Legend has actually called into their show but they have never taken his call.
“We don’t take Legend because we’re not gonna do as good a job with him,” Toucher said. “I told our producer, I do not want to take Legend.”
“Paul’s a master with him,” Rich Shertenlieb added.
Gregg Giannotti: CBS Won’t Show Deshaun Watson Accusers Sunday
“I think people know what’s going on. You’re not gonna show them and start trashing them on the broadcast.”
Quarterback Deshaun Watson is set to make his 2022 season debut against his former team on Sunday following an 11-game suspension. Watson has been accused of sexual misconduct, and 10 of the women who believe the now-Cleveland Browns QB preyed upon them are planning to attend the game in Houston. On Boomer & Gio on WFAN on Wednesday, co-host Gregg Giannotti had a thought on CBS cameras dedicating a snippet of the game broadcast to showing the women in attendance.
“I wonder does like the broadcast show them?” Gio asked to co-host Boomer Esiason. “Are you guys gonna have to talk about that on The NFL Today?”
“I have no idea,” Esiason responded. Boomer explained that they hadn’t had their production meeting for this week’s show, but he felt like beyond that he and Gio had already discussed the Watson situation at great length.
Still, Gio said if he were in charge of the CBS broadcast, he would find a way to show the alleged victims’ faces.
“I mean you could show them and explain the situation,” he said. “I think people know what’s going on. You’re not gonna show them and start trashing them on the broadcast.”
Once the 2022 NFL season started, and Watson accepted the suspension and began going through the various processes he needed to go through in order to be reinstated, the focus shifted away from the story. But Gio added that now that Watson is ready to play, the story gets thrust back into the limelight.
“Nobody was talking about it for weeks and weeks and weeks, and now he’s back,” he said. “And now it’s back.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He works full-time as a multimedia specialist at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, while also putting in part-time work for News Radio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond. Additionally, you can find Jordan contributing coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and ABC 8News. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
98.7 ESPN New York Shuffles Lineup, DiPietro & Rothenberg Expanding To Four Hours
DiPietro & Rothenberg will now move to 6:00-10:00 AM to compete directly with WFAN morning show Boomer & Gio.
Andrew Marchand and Ryan Glasspiegel of The New York Post reported yesterday and ESPN has since confirmed that 98.7 ESPN New York is expanding its local programming. The station’s morning show DiPietro & Rothenberg will increase to four hours as part of a revamped daily lineup which will go into effect on January 3rd.
DiPietro & Rothenberg currently airs on the station from 5a-8a while ESPN Radio’s national morning show — Keyshawn, JWill, & Max — airs from 8a-10a. By extending the local show, 98.7 ESPN New York will now look to compete locally in all four hours with WFAN’s Boomer & Gio.
Vinny DiMarco, market manager, ESPN New York said, “Our fans will have the opportunity to listen to local coverage on 98.7 ESPN FM all throughout the day.” He continued, “Both DiPietro & Rothenberg as well as Bart & Hahn will give fans valuable insight, expertise, and live reaction about all things New York sports. The change also provides more opportunities for our partners to align with the station and achieve their marketing goals and objectives.”
Additionally, ESPN Radio’s Bart & Hahn will move back to 98.7 ESPN New York as an exclusively local show. Bart Scott played a portion of his NFL career for the New York Jets, and worked at both WFAN and 98.7 ESPN New York before the show moved to the national stage. Alan Hahn has spent more than 25 years working in New York media with Newsday, MSG Network, and 98.7 ESPN New York.
“We are always looking for the best ways to serve sports fans and we are excited to bring even more New York flavor and content to local fans throughout their day on 98.7,” said Scott McCarthy, vice president, ESPN Audio. “Expanding DiPietro & Rothenberg in morning drive, being fortunate enough to have Bart & Hahn back as a local New York show, and continuing with all of our other outstanding local shows will create consistency for listeners and give our hosts a greater opportunity to engage with audiences, and each other, on the day’s top stories.”
The local changes do require some additional adjustments on ESPN Radio’s side as well. The national network will install Jason Fitz and Harry Douglas into the newly opened 12p-3p slot. The 7p-9p evening show will now belong to the team of Joe Fortenbaugh and Amber Wilson. They fill the void created by Sarah Spain who recently announced her departure.
Greeny — hosted by Mike Greenberg — will remain in its current 10a-12p timeslot on the station. However, the move to a local morning show on 98.7 ESPN New York does raise questions about KJM‘s future on ESPN Radio.
The Michael Kay Show, and the station’s other local programs hosted by Dan Graca, Larry Hardesty and Gordon Damer all remained unchanged.