Silver Spring-based media conglomerate Urban One assumed operational control of The Team 980 (WTEM-AM) on Wednesday, two months after the sale of Redskins owner Daniel Snyder’s flagship and final radio property was announced. The changeover has left the station’s programming lineup in flux, with several longtime hosts conspicuously absent from the airwaves this week.
“We don’t comment on personnel decisions,” The Team 980 program director Chris Johnson said when asked about a report from DCRTV that four 980 hosts, including former Redskins tight ends Chris Cooley and Rick “Doc” Walker, were let go as part of budget cuts. “However, we’re still in the process of finalizing our lineup.”
Urban One did not immediately respond to phone and email messages seeking comment.
The Team 980 has been the flagship home of the Redskins since 2008, when Snyder-owned Red Zebra Broadcasting, which will be liquidated in the coming months, purchased WTEM. Terry Bateman, the chairman of Red Zebra Broadcasting, said Thursday that Redskins games — as well as pregame and postgame coverage — will continue to air on The Team 980 and WMAL, and that Cooley and Walker will remain part of the broadcasts, no matter the status of their respective shows.
“The broadcast will be controlled by the Redskins organization going forward,” Bateman said in a phone interview. “The broadcast team remains the same, so it’s Larry [Michael], Sonny [Jurgensen], Chris and Doc. The pregame is still being finalized, as is the postgame. Those will be announced shortly, but the broadcast will be the same as it’s always been.”
Cooley, who was not on the air Wednesday or Thursday, has co-hosted a weekday morning drive-time show from with Kevin Sheehan since 2016. Before that, he co-hosted an afternoon show, “The Drive with Cooley and Czabe” with Steve Czaban, for four years.
“I would love to continue to do the show with Kevin,” Cooley said Thursday. “I think it’s awesome, I think people enjoy it. I love going to work and doing it every day, I know Kevin loves going to work and doing it every day, and we’re trying to figure it out.”
Walker, who did not respond to a request for comment, has been a regular contributor to the station since shortly after it began as Sportsradio 570 “The Team” in 1992. Walker was one of the original co-hosts of “The John Thompson Show,” which debuted in 1999, and has hosted the afternoon show “Inside the Locker Room” with Brian Mitchell and Scott Jackson for several years. Walker and Jackson have been off the air since Tuesday; Mitchell co-hosted on Wednesday and Thursday with Chick Hernandez, whose contract with NBC Sports Washington expired and was not renewed in June.
Al Galdi, who has hosted “The Morning Blitz” from 5-7 a.m. since May 2016, has hosted an extended version of his show over the last two days and Czaban has continued to host his afternoon drive time show. Former Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot and Al Koken have filled in during the midday 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. slot, which had been occupied by Bram Weinstein since Tony Kornheiser left the station to run his own podcast in July 2016.
Dan Steinberg contributed to this report.
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