Fox Sports Radio Bringing A Blueprint For A Revamped Talk Format

Lance's Line RadioInsight Blog

Fox Sports Radio Rich Eisen Dan Patrick Jay Mohr Sports iHeartMediaWhen iHeartMedia’s “Fox Sports Radio” debuts its new lineup on November 3, the network will have ten hours of its daily lineup that will be dedicated to general entertainment Talk as opposed to just sports.

Rich Eisen’s first guests on the show that will add the radio simulcast on 11/3 were actor Paul Rudd, San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York and “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan showing an ability to stretch the format beyond just Sports Talk. The show’s producer Ted Mulkerin, comes to the program from CBS’ Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson bringing late night television sensibilities to a radio program. Dan Patrick has always had a pop-culture lean on his program, and Jay Mohr came to the program following a long run as a regular guest on the Opie & Anthony Show in addition to his general Mohr Stories podcast. The trio are followed by Black Crowes drummer Steve Gorman.

In an interview with the Orange County Register, Eisen stated, “There’s no question a late-night format could be brought to the sports world. If it happens to start in the late morning Pacific Time, so be it.”

With ESPN, CBS Sports, NBC Sports, and Yahoo! Sports Radio’s lineups all focusing nearly exclusively on Sports, this give FSR an ability to differentiate and reach a potentially broader audience. If not for the name holding it back.

A name that doesn’t include Sports in the moniker could help broaden the lineup’s appeal beyond those who wouldn’t tune in to a Sports formatted station. Eisen and Mohr’s podcasts are ranked in the more competitive Comedy section of ITunes in addition to Sports. Eliminating the S in FSR could bring people who have abandoned radio for podcasts or satellite radio back into the commercial radio fold by bringing an edginess and wider style of Talk missing from a medium that is mainly Sports or Politics outside of morning drive.

Cumulus’ 890 WLS Chicago is also heading away from just politics with the return of Steve Dahl. In that instance, Cumulus is trying to bring one of the stalwarts of the Hot Talk format from the 90s/early 2000s back in an attempt to resuscitate its slowly dying demographics.

Both moves are the first major steps by the big broadcasters to widen the appeal of their Talk stations after years of letting them run stagnant with non-stop Conservative ideology and aging audiences. How successful they are will potentially lead to more adventurous moves by these and other operators.

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  1. Nathan Obral says

    The problem is, what can Fox Sports Radio call itself then? Removing “sports” while retaining the Fox name would create even more of an albatross due to confusion with said polemic opinion & news & network. They could erase “Fox Sports” completely, as the only actual connection Fox Sports has with the network is a simple licensing agreement with iHeart/Premiere.

    The other issue to consider is, how badly damaged is the “talk radio” brand because it had become so closely tied to conservatalk? Stations are either removing the “talk” name from positioners in favor of “News Radio” or just the station calls.

    Yes, “talk radio” includes the multitude of sports talkers, but the name itself has become toxic by neglect and poor usage. It needs to totally reinvent itself, like country music and Classic hits have done in the past decade. Rich Eisen’s show hopefully could – and should – spark that reinvention.

  2. vjm1 says

    Looks like FSR is trying to go more “mancave” (sports + hot talk + serious talk when warranted).

    In Cleveland, we have several local shows that meet that criteria –

    Kiley and Booms (WKRK)
    The Really Big Show (WKNR)
    Mike Trivisonno (WTAM)

    Also in Cleveland, WMMS (as a station) has also branched out (though in a different way).

    Adding hot talk and sports to it’s longtime rock format to make themselves a “mancave” station – combing several male targeted formats into one hybrid package.

    FSR is just trying to take the idea national.

  3. raccoonradio says

    Pittsburgh had “the man station” at 93.7 but that didn’t work out too well.

    In the UK there was and maybe still is a station/network called TalkSport
    (UK calls the plural of sport… “sport”). I heard it once when Boston had the “nanny” case (Brit nanny accused of killing toddler in US) and there was a host named
    James Whale, and it was simulcast one day on WRKO Boston during that controversy.. Maybe they too
    blended different types of talk, but I don’t know if a name like that would work for a rebranded FSR.

    Politics, politics, politics all the time can drive some listeners away, so some hosts do bring in entertainment talk and off-politics topics,. Howie Carr in New England has on Max Robins to talk TV; he’s done “dumbing down of
    America”; “jukebox from hell”; interviews with Al Kooper, Lily Tomlin, Mike Love, and the guy from Mannheim Steamroller; lots of gangster talk and so on. Mystery author interviews. Bit of variety.
    Dennis Miller has some entertainment people on, doesn’t he? Like former
    co-worker Dana Carvey.

    1. Nathan Obral says

      The difference being, 93.7 The Zone was an odd configuration of national hosts (from O&A to Tony Bruno and Dennis Miller) and had minimal local presence… one local host, IIRC. No way could any station make headwinds with a lineup like that.

      As 93.7 The Fan, I’d say that the station has done fairly well.

  4. BRW says

    On a local level, it’s being done in many markets for many years. In Boston for example, Toucher and Rich on CBS’ SportsHub 98.5 dabble in mostly non-sports topics when there are no major sports stories to discuss. T&R came from male-targeting rock radio form where sports/music/lifestyle/culture/politics have always intersected.

    1. Nathan Obral says

      Ditto with 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit. It’s mostly mancave-oriented with sports thrown into the mix, and has been since the format lept from AM to FM. It’s usually in the top 5 in the market, propelled mostly by the strength of Tigers baseball.

      Even 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland has mancave-talk in the morning (with onetime FSR hosts Kevin Kiley and Chuck Booms) and in the evening (with Ken Carman, as counter-programming to Indians and Cavs games on WMMS/WTAM).

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