Local radio stations move from ESPN to CBS Sports Radio

January 4, 2013 10:38:56 AM

Adam Minichino - [email protected]


Don't let your radio fool you, the voices you're hearing on your local sports radio station have changed. 


Even though some commuters might be fooled by the familiar digital call letters ESPN that show up on their radio or dashboard, three local radio stations in Columbus and in Starkville have switched to CBS Sports Radio. In Columbus, 103.1 FM The Team is now North Mississippi's CBS Sports Radio station. On the AM dial, WJWS 1400 in Columbus and WSSO 1230 AM in Starkville also have made the change.  


Chris Stryker, who works in operations with Cumulus Broadcasting of the Golden Triangle, said the FM station will continue to carry West Point High School football games and University of Mississippi sports. It also will see the return of Bully BarkLine, a Mississippi State University sports talk show featuring Gene Swindoll, of Gene's Page (a FoxSports.com affiliate). Stryker said that call-in show will return at 6 p.m. Tuesday and run through May 19. 


The local sports radio stations made the switch to CBS Sports Radio at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. Instead of hearing the ESPN lineup of Mike and Mike in the Morning, The Herd with Colin Cowherd, Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Russillo in the mornings and into the early afternoon and Fox Sports Network's The Dan Patrick Show, the station now features a lineup mixed with former ESPN personalities and other notable sports figures. 


From 5-8 a.m., former NFL player Tiki Barber joins former ESPN broadcaster Dana Jacobson and veteran broadcaster Brandon Tierney. From 8-11 a.m., author and sports commentator John Feinstein will serve as host for "The John Feinstein Show." 


Longtime radio and television personality Jim Rome can be heard from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., followed by former college basketball player and veteran ESPN personality Doug Gottlieb from 2-5 p.m. 


Chris Moore and Brian Jones will work from 5-9 p.m., Scott Ferrall will broadcast from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., and Damon Amendolara will serve as host for the "overnight" show from 1-5 a.m. 


Stryker said 103.1 FM, which went to an all-sports format in the summer of 2010, made the switch with more than 100 stations across the country. 


"CBS Sports and Cumulus created this radio format to make (the programming) more content driven," Stryker said. He said he has heard feedback from listeners who have been disappointed to lose the ESPN programming and The Dan Patrick Show, but he encouraged the audience to give the new shows time because they feature a number of talented personalities. 


On Wednesday and Thursday, many of the shows featured significant listener interaction through calls, emails, and Twitter accounts. Stryker said Cumulus, the nation's second largest operator of radio stations and the parent company of the three local stations, wants digital involvement all the way around and on all of its radio platforms. He said the use of calls, emails, and tweets is an effective way to involve listeners in a timely manner and to develop a brand for the stations. 


"It is the way people are communicating," Stryker said. "(Cumulus and CBS Sports) made it this way. That is what they want, complete listener involvement." 


According to an article in The Patriot-News (Pa.) on Wednesday, Ron Giovanniello, regional vice president and market manager for Cumulus Media, said an AM and a FM station in the Harrisburg, Pa., area also made the switch from ESPN to CBS Sports Radio. Giovanniello said the move didn't reflect any "unhappiness" with ESPN. Stryker echoed those comments, but he remained upbeat that the move would be a good one for the stations in the Golden Triangle. 


CBS Sports Radio worked hard last year to make the launch. Last month, it completed the purchase of radio station 101.9 WFAN-FM in New York, which features a simulcast of the award-winning programming of Sports Radio 66 WFAN-AM. The acquisition helped CBS Radio secure ownership and operation of seven stations in the nation's No. 1 market. 


In July, CBS Sports Radio announced the hiring of Gottlieb, who had a radio show on ESPN since 2003. Gottlieb also was a college basketball analyst on ESPN and host of The Doug Gottlieb Show on ESPN Radio. Gottlieb was a point guard at the University of Notre Dame and Oklahoma State University. 


In addition to his radio duties, Gottlieb will serve as studio and game analyst for CBS Sports' coverage of regular-season college basketball and the network's joint coverage with Turner Sports of the NCAA tournament. 


In September, it was announced Rome left Premiere Radio Networks (Fox Sports Radio), the only network he worked for, and joined CBS Sports Radio. Rome also will provide his take on the day's sports headlines via the CBS Sports Minute, a 60-second commentary that can be heard hourly on CBS Sports Radio affiliate stations. 


Rome also will host a talk series for Showtime, a premium cable network. 


In October, Feinstein joined the network to do "The John Feinstein Show." The veteran sportswriter and author has written numerous books, including "Beyond the Brink" about Indiana University men's basketball coach Bobby Knight. 


Last year, Feinstein co-hosted a daily sports radio show on Sirius/XM's Mad Dog channel. 


Feinstein also has written "One on One," "Moment of Glory," "Are You Kidding Me?" (with Rocco Mediate), "Living on the Black," "Tales from Q School," "A Good Walk Spoiled" and six sports mystery novels for young readers. He writes for the Washington Post, Washingtonpost.com, Golf Digest, and Golf World, and is a regular commentator on the Golf Channel.

Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.