At 980, Walker hosted “Doc & Galdi” with Al Galdi, and Linn worked with Brian Mitchell and Steve Czaban on their shows from noon to 7 p.m. Johnson will continue to produce Washington Football Team game broadcasts as an independent contractor for WTEM as he has since 2018.
Walker, who worked at the station for 27 years, said he holds no ill will over the move and will continue to give his thoughts on the Washington Football Team during and after games.
“Why would I have hard feelings? They gave me an opportunity,” Walker said Friday in a phone interview. “Everything that happens in life is an opportunity. I loved what I was doing, loved working with Al and doing all that. But that might have been hindering me from something even bigger and better, and you don’t know that until you’re put in a position to have to figure it out.”
The former Washington tight end said he will remember the “friendships” and “brotherhood” he formed at the station fondly, especially with those who work behind the scenes.
Linn, who had been with WTEM since 1993, said he is “overwhelmed, humbled and honored” by the support he has received since he announced his departure from the station on Twitter. He will continue to host the “Linn Murray Solly” podcast on Patreon and has “lots of ideas pending” for his next move.
“If I told you you could do something you loved for 27 years with people you liked and loved, you’d be like, ‘Sign me up,’ ” Linn said in a phone interview.
This month, Entercom and Urban One made a swap involving six stations across four markets. The move, which had been in the works since July but was announced Nov. 5, netted Entercom the Team 980, a competitor of 106.7 the Fan, which Entercom already owned. WTEM’s FM station, 95.9, was not included in the swap, and there is no plan for Entercom to air WTEM content on an FM station.
The underperforming 980 was a throw-in in the deal for Urban One, which purchased the station from Washington Football Team owner Daniel Snyder in 2018. Urban One CEO Alfred Liggins had described WTEM as “breaking even or slightly losing a little” in revenue.
Employees at 980 were informed of the deal a few hours before it was announced via news release but weren’t told anything regarding their job status over the past two weeks. A Zoom conference call was held Friday night to update staff members on where things stand with the new arrangement. The staff will eventually share floor space at the Fan, whose studios are three blocks from Nationals Park.
Monday marks the beginning of an operating lease agreement until Entercom’s acquisition of 980 is finalized in early 2021. Entercom plans to continue to run 106.7 and 980 as live and local sports stations independent of each other without any nationally syndicated shows in the daily lineups.
An announcement about updated lineups for both stations is expected by the end of the year. In the meantime, the Fan will continue to feature “The Sports Junkies” in the mornings, Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier midday, and Pete Medhurst as the primary fill-in host in the afternoon drive slot, as has been the case since Chad Dukes was fired in October.
With Walker out at 980, Galdi will host a solo show from 9 a.m. to noon after “The Kevin Sheehan Show,” followed by shows hosted by Mitchell and Czaban. Starting Monday, hosts on one station will be able to promote upcoming game broadcasts or discuss newsworthy content from the other station, but shows booking hosts from the other station is unlikely.
Competing stations owned by the same company are rare but not unheard-of. Entercom owns multiple sports stations in the Miami, San Francisco, Buffalo, Houston and Kansas City, Mo., markets, among others.
Entercom now owns the D.C. radio broadcast rights to the Washington Football Team, the Washington Nationals, the Washington Capitals, Maryland basketball and football, Georgetown basketball and Virginia Tech football.
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