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The WTEM Purchase: Feedback Rolls In

One aspect of this Red Zebra WTEM purchase I hadn't previously considered: don't expect any more (paid) appearances by Washington Post personalities like Mike Wise, Michael Wilbon and possibly John Feinstein. (Not sure if he's free from those restrictions.) The powers-that-be will likely have a dim view of allowing Post employees to cash Daniel-Snyder-signed checks. (And that's just a figure of speech, I can't promise that he actually signs the checks.)

Another aspect I forgot about yesterday: this won't be Andy Pollin's first appearance on the Snyder payroll. He hosted "Redskins Game Day" on Channel 5 during the 2000 and 2001 seasons.

"In the back of my mind," Pollin told The Post's Paul Farhi two years ago, "there was always someone saying, 'Don't blast Dan Snyder if you want to keep this nice little paycheck you're getting [from the team] every week.' "

This is something the Sports Reporters discussed with a degree of seriousness yesterday; whether the effect might be more subconscious than overt, especially for guys with kids and mortgages. Regardless, it should be an entertaining transition. Other opinions....

Steve Czaban, on his blog: "Well, before you think I'm going to be made to walk the plank because of my past, unflinching critiques of Snyder, hold the phone. You never know. I mean, seriously folks. This is business, right? I have an audience, right? Do you really want to start a new business venture and throw out an asset that will hurt your bottom line only on a grudge?

Hell, Marty Schottenheimer said he could never work for Dan Snyder. Then the two had dinner. Next thing you know he's making Bruce Smith do the "Oklahoma drill."

From Tim Lemke's report in The Washington Times: "This is a terrible thing for fans," said Charles Warner, a former radio station executive and journalism professor at the University of Missouri, who now serves as an industry consultant. "When a team owns a radio station, I don't think fans' needs are served at all. It's a terrible idea." (An industry consultant, meantime, said other teams should move in that direction.)

From Farhi's Post article: Bruce Gilbert, Red Zebra's chief executive, said that his company would encourage, "within reason," a freewheeling exchange of opinions. "You can't be in the sports radio business without talented talk-show hosts like Steve Czaban and Andy Pollin," said Gilbert, a former ESPN Radio executive, in an interview. "You hire people to be opinionated. You want them to be opinionated. If we didn't, why would we buy these stations?"...

Also, Gilbert said "it would be disingenuous" to suggest that Snyder's overlapping businesses "wouldn't collide at some point."

From Deuce of Davenport: Sadly for 980, it was and currently is the only sports talk radio station in town that is always critical of all of the sports teams in the nations capital, including the Redskins, and now that freedom to be critical of everything without big brother's corporate oversight might be lost.

By Dan Steinberg  |  June 5, 2008; 9:55 AM ET
Categories:  Media  
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Farhi went on to add, "Oh, and screw Kornheiser"

Posted by: Unsilent Majority | June 5, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Let's be real. It may well BE a terrible day for fans for all sorts of good reasons, but when did Dan Snyder ever see fans as anything but ATM machines? He has made the franchise valuable and himself rich by gouging his customers, and he can get away with it because he's the only game in town and knows it.

The one thing he hasn't done is put a consistently decent product on the field.

Face it, Dan Snyder doesn't care whether this is good for fans or not. He cares only whether or not it is good for him and his pocketbook.

Posted by: bethesdaguy | June 5, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Adios Czaban, don't let the door hit ya on your way out....

Posted by: RowdyRoddyPiper | June 5, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Uhm is Czaban serious? there is no chance snyder can afford all that "talent" on one roster. He likely will be let go that's how business is.

Posted by: Flip | June 5, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

What a guy like Snyder doesn't realize is that when people are ripping him and his team, they need to attend or watch the games to have enough information to do said ripping. There's no such thing as bad publicity.
If WTEM is now a happy, fun-time pro-Redskins station, people won't tune in as much. People don't like being snowed. If people don't tune in, there is less Redskins on the mind, and less watching of Redskins' games. They don't think that way in Asburn, though.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 5, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Pollin is unlistenable...Czaban isn't half bad, but all they talk about are the Skins and Maryland basketball (it is nauseating to keep hearing Pollin and Czaban referring to the Maryland coach as "Gary," as if they have a close personal relationship with him). The last month has been devoted to the NBA playoffs and no one outside of Wilbon and Kornheiser care about the Spurs, Lakers, and Celtics. If an out-of-towner tuned in, they wouldn't even know this city had a baseball team. They are critical of the Skins, especially Czaban and that's needed (to counter George Michael, who is so in the tank for Snyder it borders on hell, it is embarrassing).

Yet, I listen. Why? Because the guests are decent and keep the conversation at a good level (Thom Lavarro, Feldman, etc). The Feinstein segment on Wednesday afternoons is their best time of the week by far. Feinstein is knowledgeable, articulate and is not afraid to call Czaban out on his outrageous comments.

I'll miss the Sports Reporters, but in these days of ever-changing radio, nothing lasts forever. I wish Pollin and Czaban luck in their next endeavor.

Posted by: Annandale Annie | June 5, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I randomly ended up listening to Riggins' radio show on Tuesday, and he went on quite a rant about the Moss hangover and how lame it was and how Zorn doesn't seem to have any respect/control. Sure didn't seem like he was censoring himself.

That said, I'd still like to see Czaban get canned.

Posted by: mike8 | June 5, 2008 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Though I'm sure he's tried, Snyder hasn't yet figured out a way to charge people to listen to terrestrial radio. But I think everyone should be ready for comprehensive, glowing coverage of a mediocre (at best) team interspersed with LOTS of commercials

Posted by: Stalk Much? | June 5, 2008 11:09 AM | Report abuse

This is just absolutely god-awful. Do you know how frustrating it is gonna be when now even 980 will be forced to spin everything about this team into a positive? It's theraputic as a fan to have guys on the radio calling out the consistent ridiculousness that comes from this team. And Czaban is by far the best thing about 980. I hope there's backlash when that coward Snyder fires him.

Posted by: Ryan | June 5, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

The next time I hear Czaban I hope it's over the speaker at the Wendy's driveup window.

Posted by: DirtyHarry | June 5, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

First of all, I'm a Redskins fan so the more coverage I get the better.

Second, Snyder won't can the Czabe. I would think he'll streamline the two stations and make sure the best talent won't compete. It wouldn't surprise me if he moves Brian Mitchell and Doc to 730 with Riggo and keep Sports Reporters on 980.

Third, chill out. all of you will stop complaining once the Skins win again.

Posted by: Dream Out Loud | June 5, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

I would think that Riggens will move to 980, since that will probably be the flagship and has a stronger signal.

Posted by: Kev | June 5, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Kev, you may be right. i just hope they don't make the Sports Reporters and Riggo compete.

and someone tell them to podcast the shows in their entirety. It's the only way I can listen to the shows...otherwise I'll only get snippets in the car.

Posted by: Dream Out Loud | June 5, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I think the problem facing the on-air staff at WTEM will not be criticizing the on-field moves, but criticizing the off-field moves. All of the local commentators on Sportstalk 980 have made negative comments about FedEx Field, ticket pricing, concession stand pricing, traffic, and the general business practices by the Redskins. This is where there will be issues with the new management. By the way, the Tribune Corp. here in Chicago owns the Chicago Tribune, WGN-TV and WGN Radio, and the Chicago Cubs. So this is not unprecendented.

Posted by: DC Ex-Patriate In Chicago | June 5, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

By the way, the Tribune Corp. here in Chicago owns the Chicago Tribune, WGN-TV and WGN Radio, and the Chicago Cubs. So this is not unprecendented.

Posted by: DC Ex-Patriate In Chicago | June 5, 2008 11:48 AM

Another reason to root for the South-Siders...

Posted by: snides | June 5, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

what exactly is everyone's problem with Czaban? he is right on target about the Skins in particular pretty much all the time. and he is also really funny.

Posted by: I don't get it... | June 5, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

It's one thing to say negative things but Czabe has said something similar to, "I'm thinking of giving up my tickets until Snyder sells the team" or something to that effect. that could be troubling.

I guess the bigger issue is that Snyder is in bed with ESPN via 730/TripleXESPN radio and some of the programming on 980 is FoxSports (Czabe, Dan Patrick). i'm not sure if the 730 contract has a non-compete provision (sorta).

Posted by: Anonymous | June 5, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Czaban's a douchebag...

Posted by: Anonymous | June 5, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I like (or liked) Sportstalk 980 for its objective opinion or criticism of the Redskins (on the field as well as off). I have a very hard time listening to anything on Triple X that is Redskin-related. You cannot honestly tell me that if someone has an opinion about the Skins that is not "rose-colored" that they are not going to think twice about saying it for fear of losing their paycheck. I agree that this is the worst possible scenario for the fans. Before this, at least you had a choice. You could listen to Pro-Redskin radio or you could listen to honest-Redskin radio. Your choice. But now we the fans will have one opinion forced upon us everyday, all the time. Can anyone suggest other radio outlets that will allow for honest Redskin talk? I think Comcast post game does a great job (for television). But what about during the week? Once the change is in place I'm done with 980.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 5, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully this will lead to a Kornheiser-Andy Pollie reunion. Reunited, and it feels so good.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 5, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Looking forward to that nine-part series on the NEW WTEM:

"Larry Michael: Visionary Broadcaster."

Followed by:

"Dan Snyder: He Loves Kittens."

Oh, this is going to suck.

Posted by: TMU | June 5, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I will no longer listen to those stations and just stick to the Post (especially will love reading Jasno's blogs). $nyder will never get his hands on the Post. He should concentrate on the pending lawsuits from Six Flag (SIX) shareholders.

Posted by: Greased Up Deaf Guy | June 5, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Where am I going to get to hear my Orioles games?!

Given the choice between the Morning Sports Reporting and Mike & Mike, well, I suppose Czab can always do the DC Sportscenter stuff, or maybe the traffic report.

If I lose my Orioles and my Mikes, I am going to be one putout fangirl.

And worse, since I already hate the Redskins and rich guys who cut down trees to improve their waterfront view, I'm not going to be able to find the energy to hate Dan Snyder anymore.

I will have misplaced anger issues and it will be all Dan Snyder's fault!

Posted by: NC2 | June 5, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Snyder can suck it. CZABE for life.

Posted by: J Bonius | June 5, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Snyder can suck it. CZABE for life.

Posted by: J Bonius | June 5, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse


WTEM New Programming Starting July 1st

12am-6am: Radio broadcasts of old Redskins games
6am-9am: Rise N' Shine with Joe Washington
9-11am: Redskins Ring of Honor
11-1pm: Redskins Today
1-1:30: DC Sports Update
1:30pm-2:30pm: Joe Theisman Today
2:30-4pm: The Zorn Zone w. Larry Michaels
4-7pm: The Joe Gibbs Show
7-8pm: Joe Gibbs Nascar Today
9-11pm: Finding Christ with Joe Gibbs
11-12am: The Rehab Hour with Dexter Manley

The Calm Before the Storm: Redskins before Game Day.

6 hour Sunday Morning Pregame with Sonny and Friends

Redskins Game 4 hrs

6 hour Redskin Post-Game Extravaganza with Ex-Senator George Allen, Joe Jacoby, and John Riggins.

Posted by: Vic | June 5, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Can someone wake up Coach Thompson and let him know the exciting news?

Posted by: Petunia Pete | June 5, 2008 3:40 PM | Report abuse

I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords. I'd like to remind them that as a trusted radio personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves.

Posted by: Czabe | June 5, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Czaban is a out-n-out racist and homophobe. Just the other day I heard use the term "gay" in a derogatory manner several times. Pollin is nothing more than Czaban's setup man. Neither has any experience playing professional sports or writing professionally yet they have the audacity to call their show the "Sports Reporters".

Brian Mitchell makes the most incoherent, non-sense laden arguments I have ever heard. Al Coken is a one trick pony who sole skill lays in dismissing, criticizing, and ridiculing anything any Washington sports franchise (except the one that plays on ice) has ever done.

The Redskins and Dan Snyder deserve criticism, but the current 980 lineup criticizes him and his franchise disproportionately to his success or failure on the field. The best show on the air is Dan Patrick's nationally syndicated show.

I would welcome a shakeup of the entire lineup.

Posted by: Chris in DC | June 5, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Oh, Christ, does this mean we are going to have to listen to the A**hole Colin Cowherd. That guy is the worst in Sports Radio.

Posted by: Chris in DC | June 5, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Two people who deserve some blame for this are former FCC Chairman Michael Powell and current FCC Chairman Kevin Martin. Both have done everything they possibly can to loosen the federal government's media ownership restrictions and make this problem even worse.

Although I felt that the team gave Bram at least some editorial independence while he was there, its leaving Red Zebra in the dark during the coaching search was laughable.

Combine this with the fact that when Cowherd trashed Sean Taylor's efforts to enrich the lives of his fiance and child on the air, Red Zebra did nothing. They just sat there like a bunch of cheese-eating surrender monkeys. It would've been pretty easy to dump Cowherd and run the tape of the previous night's "SportsNation" show (the one that gets preempted so they can run Riggins) instead. However, I guess they didn't want to anger the strip clubs and sports gambling hotlines who give them advertising revenue.

I'm sorry, but I just won't trust coverage of even a semi-controversial Redskins issue from Red Zebra at this point. At least 980 had been there to keep them honest, but no more.

Posted by: Rocks! | June 5, 2008 8:48 PM | Report abuse

This is what the Lineup will be in my opnion on July 1.
6:00-10:00 Mike and Mike
10:00-1:00 Doc Walker
1:00-4:00 Sports Reporters Andy Pollin and Steve Czaban
4:00-7:00 John Riggins show
7:00-10:00 Larry Michaels everything is perfect with the Redskins show.

Posted by: Skins fan 1970 | June 6, 2008 1:06 AM | Report abuse

If WFAN was purchased by the Yankees, there'd probably be a huge backlash in New York - perhaps even a lobbying campaign aimed at persuading the FCC to void the deal. Unfortunately, too many Redskin fans wear rose colored glasses and would have no problem with the team being exempt from any criticism by local media outlets.

We may be heading back to the pre-WTEM days when Ken Beatrice's weekly "analysis of the game" (from the point of view of both teams) was the closest thing to hard hitting Redskins commentary on the radio.

Posted by: Mike, Fairfax | June 6, 2008 1:59 AM | Report abuse

The question about Orioles games is an interesting one.

If the Redskins truly air a hexacast on all six owned stations, they would bounce late season Sunday afternoon Orioles games off both 980 and its alternates (570 & 1260).

Once pre-game and post-game are taken into account, a Redskins hexacast would also force the Baltimore Ravens off D.C. affiliate 570 as well.

Posted by: Everett W. | June 6, 2008 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Listen, I really am not a fan of this move. But, I understand it from $nyder's perspective. He needs a station that has a strong enough signal to broadcast the games, and 980 was his Sports Talk competition. This kills two birds with one stone. Nice move. Checkmate.

That said: Larry Michaels is a tool. I fear that we are in for a big dose of his stumbling stupidity for good while now. Listening to him not know what he is talking about, while Bram Weinstein talked over him and laughed at himself was enough to make you want to poke holes in your eardrums.

I like John Riggins on television. But, on radio, I find his show (as it is currently produced) to be boring and slow. They should team him up with Doc Walker. That paring would be very interesting. But, it is too I'm sure no program director would have the balls to put those two egos in one room.

I know and listen to Czabe and Pollin, and I can tolerate the paring. But, their show tends to be a little too light as far as insightful takes. And, Czaban (whether he thinks so or not) is about as close to Rush Limbaugh on ESPN as you can get. He masks his comments in sarcasm, but his condescending perspectives on athletes (other than pro golfers and NASCAR drivers) are peppered with a little racism, sexism, and homophobia. If it sells, I won't "hate the player." If Czaban can keep his show, God Bless Him. But, honestly, I won't be sad to see him go if he is shown the door. There are better voices to could be heard.

Posted by: We need more guys like Brig Owens!!! | June 6, 2008 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Part of me doesn't like the idea of having 980 owned by the Redskins, because it will diminish coverage of the Nationals, Capitals and other D.C. teams. Then again, part of me realizes that 980 doesn't really currently cover those teams to begin with. And all parts of me are upset that few, if any, here seemingly care about that topic, if this thread is indicative.

You people are ignorant.

Posted by: Vincent | June 6, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse


It's Sport Talk Radio for Gosh Sake!!!

As listeners, we are by DEFINITION ignorant.

Posted by: A Clone | June 6, 2008 6:48 PM | Report abuse

WTEM 980 should try to get the Nats games after this season the Orioles are the Baltimore's team and the Raven should also only be heard in Baltimore too. They didn't want anything to do with the Skins when Irsay moved their team so I say we don't have anything to with their teams get them out of DC airwaves. That said I might be in the minority here but I think Czaban won't be fired. I think they won't mind him being critical of the teams play on the field or bad player personnel moves which as w know there is plenty to be critical of. They will probably tell him not to take any personal shots at Snyder

Posted by: Comcast fan | June 6, 2008 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Who really cares? 980 is completely unlistenable (is that a new word?). Czaban is OK, in a Homer Simpson kind of way. At least he's entertaining. How Pollin has kept an on-air job is beyond me. Do the Poll on him, and I guarantee he's down in Larry Michael territory. He's an unsufferable boar. The only local sports radio personality worth a damn is Tony K, and his show isn't even about sports.

Posted by: UMD's Burning Couch | June 6, 2008 11:51 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else notice that Czabe's blog now points to The RSS feed and all the old "Daily Czabe" posts are gone and the links to the mailbag and podcast are dead?

Posted by: Steve in VA | June 7, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

They said there will no be changes at WTEM when new ownership takes over in July but I think there could be changes during football season.I think they want to hear what kind of criticism is going to be leveled at the Skins and if they think it is too tough they will fire people. I think
Czaban could be in trouble in trouble then but I hope I'm wrong because I do like Czabe evn though I think he never should have called Joe Gibbs a liar.

Posted by: Skins Fan 1970 | June 18, 2008 11:05 PM | Report abuse

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