When 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.