Wednesday, June 10, 2009

WJFK considering a switch to sports talk format

The CBS Radio-owned station WJFK (106.7 FM) may be "switching... from its guy-centric talk programs to sports talk" in an effort to battle Daniel Snyder, who owns ESPN 980 and is the unofficial "king of sports talk radio" in the D.C. area, according to Paul Farhi of The Washington Post.

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.


  1. The Junkies, BigO&Dukes, and Mike O'Meara are the most refreshing things on the radio right now. There is reason Jim Rome failed on this station. It is because the listeners don't want straight up sports talk. It doesn't make any sense what so ever and I feel like CBS is making a huge mistake.

  2. Agreed, changing the entire format of the station would be a mistake. But I disagree with your take on the Jim Rome show's stint on WJFK. I'm not sure exactly how long WJFK carried the Jim Rome show at that evening timeslot, but listeners didn't get much of a chance to get in a routine listening to it. During the winter, the show aired maybe two or three times a week because when area college basketball games were on, those were aired instead.

    The Mike O'Meara show is probably my least favorite of the big three programs on WJFK during the week, but, say, replace that show with Jim Rome's at that timeslot, and I'm sure it would have done much better. Again, that won't happen, but it would have been interesting to see what the ratings would be like. But I'm sure it's also much cheaper to have WJFK Overtime from 7-10 instead of paying Rome.

  3. This seems like a terrible decision to me. People already have a local sports station. Many listeners like myself don't care much for sports. They'll now be competing for a small section of the listening audience rather than having their niche. I also think they've handled this very unprofessionally. They have even locked out the old websites.

    They have lost my loyalty and I will not be listening to them in future.

  4. This is rediculous!!! It is apparent that people running WJFK did not know how to manage or market the best personality radio in the DC area. My radio is now worthless. I say we do something about this. I propose that a group of fans get together and start a new radio station. I am willing to work with all who are didicated and driven. If we come up with a good plan we can make it happen. Emai me at if you are interested.