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Chris Russell goes to ESPN 980

Loyal D.C. sports radio listeners will notice a pretty drastic personnel change by the time Redskins training camp begins next week. Chris Russell, 106.7 The Fan's Redskins beat reporter since the sports talker launched last summer, will be moving to the station's arch rival, ESPN 980.

Russell will be covering the Redskins at 980 (a job he'll share with Al Galdi), but his role will be more than just that. He'll be a regular on the late-afternoon Sports Reporters with Steve Czaban and Andy Pollin, and he'll be a large part of the game-day broadcasts, co-hosting the halftime show and doing breaking news and national updates from the booth with Larry, Sonny and Sam. He'll also potentially be involved in some Redskins TV projects, and will do sideline reporting during the preseason.

Russell, like just about every sentient member of the Redskins media, was at times highly critical of the franchise over the past year. He told me that he was initially concerned how fans and fellow media members would view him upon joining Daniel Snyder's Red Zebra, but that he was assured he would have "total independence, total freedom, total 100 percent ability to say it how I want to say it and to report it how I want to report it."

"They want a reporting arm and an original news arm as much as possible," Russell told me. "Obviously I'm not gonna be able to beat Jason Reid on every story, or Adam Schefter on every story, or Rick Maese on every story. But I think I've proven I can break my share of stories, and that's what I'm gonna work on, and I have full parameters to do that. That was a huge thing. That was one of the attractions to the job, is that's clearly what they wanted. I've been told it's not only a new era on the field, but in every facet of the organization."

Russell's most notable work over the past year was probably the hour-long sit-down he scored with Clinton Portis, which drew national headlines when Portis was highly critical of LaVar Arrington's behavior at Sean Taylor's funeral. Portis also told Russell that Donovan McNabb never had a lot of talent to work with in Philadelphia. More recently, Russell got Mike Williams to confirm The Post's report that he would miss the upcoming season, and has aggressively reported -- since the Donovan McNabb trade -- that the Redskins would have no interest in Terrell Owens. Russell is also a tireless worker who has helped land countless guests on 106.7's air.

"I'm thankful for the opportunity at CBS Radio to make a name here, but I'm obviously really happy that ESPN 980 and the Redskins recognized what I tried to do, and I was able to get this done," Russell told me. "Ultimately what turned it completely in [980's] favor was the opportunity to be a part of the game-day broadcasts from start to finish and to do some of the unique things that unfortunately The Fan just didn't have, and that's completely what tipped everything in [980's] favor. This move was not to stick a dagger in The Fan's back. I wish the timing could have been better, but this opportunity didn't come up until literally just a few days ago. Bottom line, I couldn't turn down the opportunity."

Russell, 36, previously worked as a nationally syndicated host for Sporting News Radio, and for XM's MLB Home Plate. The Fan will hire a new Redskins beat reporter, and plans to make the announcement soon.

By Dan Steinberg  |  July 22, 2010; 12:09 AM ET
Categories:  Media , Redskins  
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Didn't the 'Skins fire Frank Hanrahan, who ended up at 106.7 The Fan, where he worked with Russell? Didn't Hanrahan tell him that Skins beat reporters at Red Zebra are hired to be fired during the offseason?

Russell did a good job last season, but his tone definitely changed in recent months, especially when he had 'Skins players on his show as guests. He was very deferential, did not ask any tough questions, and did not allow callers to ask any tough questions. So I have a sense of what kind of "beat reporter" he'll be for ESPN 980.

That's cool that he'll do more game-day and Redskins TV projects, but when you are working for the de facto PR arm of the franchise, you will not be "breaking" any stories about the team. You'll be reporting the information the team wants to disseminate, serving in effect as a glorified press release reader. To insist otherwise is at best, naive, and at worse, disingenuous.

Posted by: rooster75 | July 22, 2010 2:14 AM | Report abuse

What will Doc Walker do now? I thought he was the sideline reporter during Redskins games?

Posted by: imfromdc88 | July 22, 2010 4:50 AM | Report abuse

People still listen to the radio?

Posted by: Section104 | July 22, 2010 7:39 AM | Report abuse

They better not bump Knoche out of his normal rotation slot. Also, RIP Knoche's dad.

Posted by: rdpinva | July 22, 2010 7:59 AM | Report abuse

"'Obviously I'm not gonna be able to beat Jason Reid on every story, or Adam Schefter on every story, or Rick Maese on every story.'"

Beating Schefter might be a problem. But the way that Reid and Maese get beaten like a drum on almost every Redskins-related story by the national media, Russell should really set his sights higher than losing out to those schlubs.

Posted by: rufus_t_firefly | July 22, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Section104, yes, people still do, it's called @ the office.

Posted by: novaprogressive | July 22, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

I thought Al Galdi had been named to replace Frank Hanrahan, who I thought was good covering the skins. I didn't sense Hanrahan being soft or "Larry Michaels-like" with his Skins coverage. In light of these changes,& as controlling & hands-on as Danny seems to be, it's hard to believe that he'd allow his stations's Skins-reporter to have total independence. Russell's cred will depend on how critical he'll be and how much news he'll break from behind-the-scenes.

Posted by: Hattrik | July 22, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Who are these yuppies on the radio now. Give me Harry Wismer, Frank (Semper Fi)Herzog, Sam and Sonny anytime.

Posted by: boyn4884 | July 22, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

I can't even listen to 106.7 its so bad. Wise and Arrington are the worst. Who is running that station???

Posted by: hughesbob19 | July 22, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

This is a kick in the nutes for 106.7. One of the few good things they had going for them was amazing access to players and what not all last year, since they don't know how to cover any sport other than Football, this could destroy some of these shows.

Posted by: alex35332 | July 22, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Not only that, but Russell is one of the few guys who can talk Capitals intelligently and was happy to do so. That skill will be totally lost at ESPN, which is anti-Caps.

Posted by: poguesmahone | July 22, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Yea, 106.7 needs to be honest with themselves in regards to their "talent". Lavar is embarrassing on the radio. He stumbles over his words, CONSTANTLY botches his vocabulary and uses words and figures of speech incorrectly, and he knows next to nothing about anything other than football. His partner, Chad Dukes, very clearly knows nothing about sports as well. He has no real insight on anything, no inside info, no original takes on anything. It's just a weak weak show.

And don't get me started on that bleeding heart Mike Wise. He might have some good contacts in the sports world or whatever, but to say he is not funny and/or entertaining would be the understatement of the year.

I don't know how 106.7 does in the ratings, but I have a feeling the novelty is going to wear off pretty quickly if it hasn't already.

Posted by: SadieV | July 22, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Ooooo, he gets to join Al Galdi, the worsts voice on radio. If it weren't for TK and John Thompson (shout out to Doc as well), the TEAM would be unlistenable (haven't had much of a chance to listen to Sheehan and Lovero). Haven't listened to a Skins game on the radio since Danny Boy dumped Frank and hire Larry "The Blind Homer" Michael.

There is no way you can get me to believe Snyder will give any of these guys 100% ability to "say it how I want to say it." Also, their lack of Caps and Nats coverage is pathetic for a "DC" sports station. And please don't get me started on the pathetic late afternoon morons, Pollin and Czaban.

Posted by: teamohall | July 22, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Lol Sounds like Chris Russell knows that 106.7 is going down the drain.....the only one of their shows I can stand is the Junkies, and even they are beginning to get on my nerves. When 40-something year old men sit around saying how everything's "silly", you lose respect. How Mike Wise ever got a show is beyond me. And Lavar Arrington is quite possibly the worst radio host EVER!!! You could really tell how much it hurt them to have to cover World Cup this year; what was funny to me was how painfully obivous it was that they know NOTHING about futbol/soccer, they had to resort to hating on it b/c they could analyze a game if their lives depended on it. "THE FAN" DOESN'T REPRESENT THE FANS!

Posted by: jakeyrotten | July 22, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Yawn. It's not exactly Bob Ryan ditching ch 4 for ch 7.

Posted by: Barno1 | July 22, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: terpfan4141 | July 22, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse


i know it's just your opinion, but you're way off base. Czaban is BY FAR the best sports radio personality in this area. Pollin's grumpy old curmudgeon act is annoying, but the Sports Reporters are a great way to spend my evening commute home.

Posted by: SadieV | July 22, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Both Sports Talkers are dreadful. Being "one trick" ponies doesn't serve either very well, especially with the Caps, Wiz and Nats all part of the mix now. There is actaully nothing even remotely worth listening to on either station. If you have ever traveled around the country its amazing how good local sports talkers are in say New York (WFAN), Boston (WEEI), Philly (WIP), Chicago (MVP/WGN) in comparison to the garbage we have here.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | July 22, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

The Fan started out with great promise but they honestly have nothing left. I can say this, Russel is the hardest working man in radio. The Redskins put up tons of roadblocks to his access last season and he still broke stories. Anybody who listens to Czabe and Pollin know that there's no limit to what they can and can't say. JT only praises Snyder because they're buddies and he doesn't know anything about football.

Posted by: TheBobby | July 22, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

I'd listen to 106.7 if they picked up Dan Patrick from 9 to Noon. Shave an hour off The Junkies and move Wise to Noon.

Posted by: Kev29 | July 22, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I agree with everything people are posting about how awful 106.7 is. The Junkies are occasionally entertaining, but other than that it is a wasteland. Mike Wise is unlistenable on so many levels - faux modesty, Kornheiser wannabe, smarmy, and generally clueless for someone who gets paid to pay attention to nothing but sports. LaVar isn't good for anything other than an occasional sour-grapes rant.

I used to hate Czaban but love him now, and I think Sports Reporters is the best show on sports radio. Sheehan and Lavaro are good as well.

Although he's sophomoric, I do miss Jim Rome.

Posted by: hokiehi90 | July 22, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

i kinda find it funny that folks complain about a radio station that they obviously continue to listen to. do your radio's have buttons? please use them and find another station. nothing will get a guy off a radio station like bad ratings. if you dont like what you hear, turn off the radio, it really is that simple.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | July 22, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

106.7 flipped formats one year ago this week. I loved the old station so much, and tried to give the sports format a chance. but its unbearable, and I havent listened in about 6 months. my biggest gripe was the manufactured drama they would come up with, and Chris Russell was a huge part of that. the Portis v Lavar garbage about ST21 was such a non-story, and Russell turns it into the biggest thing in DC radio. "Be sure to tune in at 4:15 today to hear Lavar's response to Portis..." its just garbage. CBSRadio f'ed up big time when it flipped WJFK, and I hope 980 wipes them up for it.

Posted by: VTUnited | July 22, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

This is a good move for him, bad look for The Fan.

And Lavar does need some formal training because he's not an announcer or a broadcast journalist. He can't always keep his passion in check and stumbles over words, which is understandable given that he's not formally trained. But that can come with time and education.

Wise is just a wiseazz; He kinda strikes me as a hater. I do like B-Mitch's show because he brings it 'strong to the mic' (a Doc Walker-ism).

The question now is will dude suddenly turn kissazz and not go HARD on the Skins like he did at The Fan?

Posted by: kahlua87 | July 22, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Chris Russell was pretty good but I'm surprised how much confidence 980 has in him. DC area loves homegrown talent for the most part. I just don't see he's going to pull so much interest with as much responsibility as he's getting.

I'm a little surprised to see all the hate about the Fan too. I think their shows are great and switch back and forth between the two depending on the topics.

The Junkies are by far the most entertaining on either station, no one can top their chemistry. Lately though their sounding like gripey old man with short fuses.

Wise's show is one where you'll be listening for a while and its a dud then all of the sudden he'll pull a great interview or get in the middle of an entertaining fued. Wise needs more in his co-hosts. I always thought Al Koken was gratly underappreciated and shocked no one has picked him up yet, I think he'd be a great fit for the Wise show. Jason Reid is another one that would be a great fit with him. I just think who they have now with him don't work, yhey are 'new generation' and Wise is somewhere in between, although their fine co-hosts themselves.

Arrington/Dukes in the beginning I thought were great. Very appealing and were very fan orientated but they've gone away from that. I still enjoy listening to them but certain things I just tune them out.

JT and Doc Walker are great, probably the more refined show of the bunch and if they still had Koken the most complete with Capitals coverage.

I think all in all the problem is the Redskins are down. The Wiz, Caps, And Nats are up and most of the talent on the broadcasts are geared for a Redskins town which IMO is becoming just a sports town. The shows in my opinion need to add Hockey, Baseball, and legitimate basketball expertise to keep the fans happy.

Posted by: Eman8 | July 22, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

4 and 12

Posted by: mitlen | July 22, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Will 980 come out on top in D.C. SportsTalk?

Posted by: Beltwayboy7 | July 22, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Junkies are great in the morning--you can't beat that chemistry.

Czaban is the man in the afternoon!! Polley is ok for subjects about which he is knowledgeable (e.g., Redskins), but lacks insight for other sports/teams. Also, he might want to invest the $5 per month for a DVR and watch some games once in a while.

Posted by: thebone | July 22, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

So Russell and Hanrahan just swapped spots from last season? Be careful Chris. You can't make the same critical commentary about Snyder's team on Snyder's station like you did at JFK. Or else you'll end up like Al Koken, Brian Mitchell, Frank Hanrahan, Carol Maloney, Dave Feldman, and Jerry Coleman before you.

Posted by: seriesoftubescleaner | July 22, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Lavar may not have the best radio voice, but he brings a ton more insight than Abe "I got a job because of my family" Pollin who is a complete dope and Steve Czaban. Czaban is entertaining, but he ranks up with Kornheiser as far as sports knowledge goes.

Perhaps acquired tastes, but I feel The Fan's personalities far outshine anyone on 94.3. I've refused to turn that station on from the day The Fan came on the air because I knew I could get real Redskins news instead of just what Snyder wants put on the air. But it's just like presedential elections, most vote for the entertaining guy, not the one who can get the job done.

Posted by: RobInVaBeach | July 22, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Jes like the media always sez, "It's all about da money"

Posted by: ho-skin | July 22, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I've never been a huge fan of Russell. I find him annoyingly over-serious. I really do think they area is well served by having 2 sports talk stations. I enjoy Czabe and Polly, but the Junks are by far my favorite show of either bunch. Why don't the Junks nominate someone from their gang to be the beat reporter? I be happy to hear Rom, BDK, Matt Valdez, or best of all, Sactown Mike. Any of them would be a refreshing change from Russell. I would pay money to hear "Game Changer"BDK reporting from training camp.

Posted by: jack_mo_99 | July 22, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: terpfan4141 | July 22, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Exactly. It seems the WaPo online folks agree with you, as they've changed the title of the link on the sports homepage to from "Chris Russell goes to ESPN 980" to "106.7 reporter jumps to 980"

Posted by: Barno1 | July 22, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

I am kind of shocked Russell would sell out and work for 980, which is kind of like being free to report on soviet repression in 1980s east Germany. I really enjoyed his reporting last year tho, so good luck to him.

106.7 has some underappreciated talent, like Danny rouhier and bill Rohland at night. Station is too football oriented but frankly that's where the ratings are from what I've heard.

Posted by: CJArlington | July 22, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I'm with RobInVaBeach.

I haven't listened to 980 since 106.7 arrived... I think the personalities on 106.7 are so much more interesting and entertaining than 980. Plus they always have live and local stuff every single day, including weekends... unlike 980. And who wants to listen to the O's? Especially since this is a D.C. (!) radio station. I hate the O's and I can't stand it. The Nats have a crappy signal on AM 1500 and I'd much rather be able to hear the Nats on a clear signal. I hate the Tony K. show, the John Thompson is boring as hell (sorry) and the Sports Reporters is just retarded. And I hate the O's.

Posted by: rachel216 | July 22, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

I'd listen to 106.7 if they picked up Dan Patrick from 9 to Noon. Shave an hour off The Junkies and move Wise to Noon.

Posted by: Kev29

Wow really?

I think Dan Patrick has got to be the most boring-est radio "personality" EVER. I can't listen to one second of that show. It's even worse than the Herd with Cowherd... and that's sayin' something.

Posted by: rachel216 | July 22, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Completely agree Rachel....Patrick and Cowherd are both way too self absorbed and downright dull. I only turn on the John Thompson show if I'm trying to take an afternoon nap.

And yes, enough with the O's. They are no longer DC's baseball team and really should be contracted. With any luck, the Norfolk Tides will change affiliations ASAP because the only thing worse than watching a terrible MLB team is watching their terrible farm team.

Posted by: RobInVaBeach | July 22, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

The current state of the region's sports radio lineup is not good. The 3 shows I enjoy, even though they do not cover the Caps & NHL very much, but do cover Skins,Caps, Terps & Wiz, are 980's Sports Fix, Sports Reporters & 106.7's Lavar Show.

Posted by: Hattrik | July 22, 2010 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Another person who they threw money at and he sold his soul to bend over and pick it up.

Snyder's take on "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." is "If you can't beat'em, buy 'em."

Posted by: nojunk4me | July 23, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

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