With 92-9 The Game (WZGC-FM) having settled in, it's time to step back and take a look at Atlanta's first full-market Sports FM. Loyal Sports Talk listeners tend to be passionate about the format and know what they like and don't like. I am not one of those ardent All-Sports folks, but I'll do my best to give you my take.
The Game has some very obvious and very big advantages over its direct competition. It's on a mammoth FM signal from the best transmitter site in the market. I like its processing; it sounds just right for the format to me. The station is live and local at night and on weekends, making the competition akin to daytime operations.
The Game's framework is not as relaxed and less Atlanta-centric than 680 The Fan and 790 The Zone. Shows such as The Fan's Rude Awakening and The Zone's Archer and Bell are just so comfortable sounding, and entertaining as well.
Morning drive on 92-9 The Game is well done. Rick Kamla does a nice job of running things, and Randy Cross adds insight and talent. I have a hard time, however, getting myself to think of CJ Simpson as a sports expert. Her Atlanta radio experience has been on Hot 107-9, where she specialized in being a white woman sounding black, and on 95-5 The Beat. (It's nice to see that her former other half on The Beat, Murph Dawg, wiggled his way onto The Game for a weekend show. I'm sure his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Dawg, are proud.)
The Jerome & Jamie Show in middays is my favorite on The Game. Jerome Jurenovich seemed kind of formal on the Braves pre-and-post game shows on Sports South, but I find him knowledgeable, entertaining and appreciative of his callers. He and former Falcon Jamie Dukes have jelled nicely.
I'm still forming my opinion of the afternoon show, Game Time. Carl Dukes is a capable host, and former Pittsburgh Steeler Kordell Stewart, he of the sometimes controversy, offers informed comments. I have not yet embraced the sound or commentary of Rachael Baribeau, but maybe she'll grow on me.
Mac McDonald and Jason Goff, who handle early evenings, are both seasoned broadcasters who sound solid. In late nights, I really enjoy Jim Murray's sincere, conversational style. He transferred from within CBS Radio's Sports station chain, and he contributes both logic and expertise.
I have always been a fan of longtime Atlanta sports broadcaster Mitch Evans, who is buried in the wee hours. And 92-9 The Game was wise to bring in Atlanta favorite Bob Neal for his college football and other expertise, and his commanding sound. Finally, I'm liking those jingles.
Interestingly, almost everyone who commented about The Game on
Rodney Ho's AJC blog and on a local radio discussion board has been
negative. I personally think 92-9 The Game will be a success, but growth will come slowly and require patience on the part of management.
Major spoken-word stations, even the legendary WSB-AM, have added or moved to FM along with many of their listeners. But, I think this situation is somewhat different. Going back to how passionate Sports Talk listeners are, I feel that loyalty to The Fan's and The Zone's hosts and greater local emphasis will initially outweigh the FM band and signal advantages of 92-9 The Game.
Before long, however, I believe the forces of a full-power FM signal, and live and local 24/7 will win out. The Game PD Terry Foxx has done it before with CBS's 93-7 The Fan in Pittsburgh. And CBS Radio has been too successful with FM Sports outlets to fall on its face. But the company had better have patience, and they probably will. Think of how Dave-FM was a dead station walking for months and months.
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Link to Rodney Ho's AJC Radio & TV blog: http://blogs.ajc.com/radio-tv-talk/