Through months of rumors, radio listeners have wondered whether the D.C. sports talk market is big enough to support two full-time stations. We're about to find out.
With WJFK 106.7 set to flip to sports talk on July 20, multiple industry sources have confirmed this preliminary lineup:
6-10: The Junkies
10-2: Mike Wise and Bill Rohland
2-6: LaVar Arrington and Chad Dukes
As previously reported, CBS Radio's WJFK agreed to a multi-year deal to broadcast Wizards games and is continuing to talk with other local college and pro teams about broadcast rights. On nights when the station doesn't have game coverage, there will almost certainly be additional local programming, and the station has already talked to a few interesting names about filling that time slot. Expect updates on both of these fronts before the end of the month, and expect a formal announcement about the format switch next week. (DCRTV, which has been all over the switch for an extremely long time, posted this, for example.)
WJFK officials declined to comment on their lineup or any format changes. I reached Arrington on the phone, and he declined to comment about any specific schedule with the station, but he had this to say about his near future:
"If you thought I had a lot to say as a Washington Redskin, you have no idea. I have a lot to say. I have a whole lot to say. The wave is comin', bro."
From a sports talk perspective, the immediate impulse is to compare this prospective lineup against the existing schedule on ESPN 980. The morning drive competition remains the same: nationally syndicated Mike and Mike on 980, and the Junkies (or Sports Junkies, or whatever) on WJFK. From a D.C. sports fan's perspective, that's got to be considered a knockout for the latter.
From 10-12, it will be Wise and Rohland against Colin Cowherd; obviously Wise is both my friend and my co-worker, but if you're a D.C. sports fan and you listen to The Herd instead of Wise, you might as well cover your bedroom walls with Romo and Crosby posters. (Rohland, in case you're unfamiliar with him, is the play-by-play voice of George Mason basketball, which I used to cover. He's a lifelong Northern Virginia resident who has previously co-hosted guy-talk radio on Baltimore's Live 105.7 and sports-talk, with Chad Dukes, on Baltimore's 1300).
From 12-2, things finally get interesting with Wise/Rohland against the as-now solo Kevin Sheehan on 980. From 2-4, Arrington and Dukes (another Northern Virginia guy, from Lake Braddock/George Mason), would square off against John Thompson and Doc Walker, and from 4-6, against 980's franchise players, the Sports Reporters. And, of course, the bald orange elephant in the room remains Tony Kornheiser, who will wind up on some sort of air eventually.
Wise's program will be produced by Chris Johnson, who previously produced John Thompson's Show and held management positions at 980. Liz Drabick, another hire from 980, will do updates for WJFK, sources said. The station has also hired a Redskins beat reporter with national radio experience, but don't be surprised if some of these shows go a tad lighter on the Redskins talk than 980 has traditionally done.
Many of you will ask what this means for Mike O'Meara, Oscar Santana (the Big O) and others at WJFK; sorry to say I don't exactly know yet.
Now, please analyze this lineup in the comments below.