Officials for the new CBS Sports Radio network felt good about its opening day lineup when the network went to air on Jan. 2:
6:00-9:00AM: Tiki Barber, Brandon Tierney and Dana Jacobson
9:00AM-12:00Noon: John Feinstein
12:00Noon-3:00PM: Jim Rome
3:00-6:00PM: Doug Gottlieb
6:00-10:00PM: Chris Moore and Brian Jones
10:00PM-2:00AM: Scott Ferrall
2:00-6:00AM: Damon Amendolara
Rome’s track record speaks for itself; Gottlieb established a following at ESPN; Feinstein, the bestselling sports book author of all time, has yet to shy away from an argument; and the morning team is an interesting mix. Here’s the Q/A I did with Jacobson.
I’d like to listen to CBS Sports Radio in my car, but there’s one problem. It’s not available on any AM/FM outlets in Chicago and it also isn’t on Sirius/XM.
The new venture can be heard in 250 markets. However, some of those markets only carry the morning show or Rome’s program. In some cases, such as CBS-owned WSCR-AM in Chicago, it’s just a periodic sports minute featuring a commentary from a CBS sports personality.
Clearly, in order for CBS Sports Radio to be successful, it needs to be available to the masses. Yes, you can access the network’s shows online. But if you’re like me, you do virtually all your radio listening in the car.
I spoke to Chris Oliviero, senior vice-president for programming, about the distribution and goals for the new network.
We just started. The hard part of my job right now is convincing people that we’re so far ahead of the game for being a start-up. If you look back at the history of ESPN radio, they were on weekend only for a few years.
I’m excited that people compare us to ESPN and their footprint. However, we want to make sure people judge us through the prism of being only a few days old. When you look at it through that prism, we’re way ahead of the other networks.
That may be the case, but the distribution levels are so much greater today than when ESPN started. So are the expectation levels.
We’re actively pursuing an affiliate in Chicago. Our goal is to clear every major market. Until we get to that point, people can experience the network (via online).
Having said, we’re a radio company. We want to be heard on radio. We’re going to try to get into as many markets as quickly as possible.
What is your plan to place the station on Sirius/XM?
We have no business plan based on being on satellite. I would say, the people who have satellite, it would be great to be able to give them our product. It’s not essential. With the way technology is going these days, I can get to those people without satellite. If somebody is listening on satellite radio, what is the likelihood that the person has access to the Internet and mobile? I’d say, it’s pretty high.
We had a pretty short window to pull together a 24/7 station. I think we put together a respectable, credible, engaging, high-quality lineup.
Having (Rome and Gottlieb) gave us instant credibility. Both left good positions to join us. They were betting on what we’re planning to do here.
What was your thinking with the morning show?
That was the last one we announced. We wanted to take our time. We knew it would be immediately compared to Mike & Mike on ESPN. That’s the standard bearer for a national syndicated sports show.
We wanted to offer something different in morning drive. We have three strong personalities. We have the former athlete in Tiki, and we’ll get the female perspective from Dana, which is something that’s missing in the market place. The three of them are a good combination. They provide a different sound to sports talk.
There’s a lot of sports talk radio out there. How does CBS Sports Radio differentiate itself from the rest?
You do it with content and you do it with distribution. This is a marriage between two very large radio operations: Cumulus Media and CBS.. So right off the bat, we have access to radio stations, which is critical. From a distribution standpoint, we have a great starting point.
Then it does go back to the content. Is our flavor of sports talk better than ESPN, Fox Sports, NBC Sports? We think with the talent we’ve hired and the lineup we’ve launched with, we’re in a good position. We’ve got a great staff. To use a sports analogy, we have great coaches and great players. When you put those two together, that’s going to be our opportunity.