Although Farhi fails to produce any direct comments from CBS Radio on the potential changes to the station, which means the move is probably just speculation at this point, he still does an effective job of breaking down WJFK vs. ESPN 980:
At the moment, neither WJFK nor ESPN 980 is widely popular. During the first three weeks of May, according to audience figures compiled by Arbitron Inc., WJFK tied for 17th place among local stations, attracting an average of just 2.4 percent of the audience during its broadcasting day. ESPN 980 ranked 19th, with 2.2 percent. Both stations did somewhat better among the core market of adults 25 to 54: WJFK tied for 13th among this age group and ESPN 980 ranked 17th.
In addition to trying to broaden its audience, CBS also might be looking to reduce WJFK's operating costs. Its programming lineup has not been completed, but WJFK likely will retain the Junkies program in the critical morning "drive" hours. CBS has been talking with former Redskin LaVar Arrington and Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise about hosting daily programs.
A few thoughts here:
First, I've listened to Mike Wise a few times on ESPN 980, and I have a hard time believing he could host a daily radio show. If Wise and Arrington worked together on a program, I guess that could work since Wise writes interesting columns and Arrington certainly has in-depth knowledge of the game and was a star for a few years with the Redskins, but maybe I just haven't seen or heard enough of them on TV or on the radio to have a better opinion on that.
Second, I don't think it's possible for the Junkies to go back to an all-sports format. I do listen to them routinely on my drive to work in the morning, but that's mostly because I refuse to listen to the dreadful Mike and Mike show on ESPN 980. Unless they're talking about the Redskins or the NFL as a whole, only two of the Junkies seem to care about other sports -- Lurch and JP -- and some of the conversations on sports topics seem a little awkward at times. I guess they could switch back if really necessary, but they have way too much fun talking about plenty of things that have nothing to do with sports, which is fine.
And third, Farhi mentions this briefly toward the end of the article, but I was sad to see Al Koken laid off and removed from The John Thompson show. Koken usually knew what he was talking about and has/had a great passion for D.C. sports, not to mention that he had solid chemistry with Thompson on the air. As for Brian Mitchell's similar departure from the show, I'm a little less bothered. Mitchell was extremely critical of the Redskins and particularly of running back Clinton Portis, though I can't say that I didn't enjoy the on-air battles between the two. But after a while, it got old to hear the same negative comments from Mitchell week in and week out.
But back to the topic at hand, I just have one question for CBS Radio on the possible decision: Why? The Junkies have a popular show with what their format is now, and lots of people love the Big O and Dukes show too. If they were going to get rid of one show, it should probably be the Mike O'Meara Show, which might make a little more sense than messing with the entire station. Replacing that program with a well-run sports show could work. But if they mess with the entire station's format, they may risk upsetting a lot of listeners.