According to an industry source, Gary Radnich and his wife Alicia recently reached out to 95.7 “The Game” to explore the possibility of joining KNBR 680’s rival station. According to the source, Radnich and his wife requested — and got — a meeting with Dwight Walker, Vice President and Market Manager for Entercom San Francisco, and 95.7’s Program Director, Jason Barrett.
The subject of the meeting? Radnich and his wife were looking for a lucrative multi-year deal. It’s not clear how those talks progressed, but it looks like after the announcement that starting this morning at 9 am, Radnich and Larry Krueger will join forces for the “Gary and Larry Show,” Radnich will continue working at KNBR for a while.
“The Sports Leader” has undergone many changes since losing its status as the only “game” in town for sports talk four-plus months ago, and many wondered if Radnich’s time was coming to an end after KNBR forced him to work with Damon Bruce. The new 9-to-noon pairing created a noticeable shift from Radnich’s familiar topics to the sports news of the day. There was noticeable tension between the two, and Radnich’s dislike of Bruce’s sound drops and sign-off line (“sports don’t build character, they reveal it”) didn’t seem like an act. They fought for microphone time, and before long Radnich took a back seat to a certain extent and let Bruce drive the show. Then after two weeks, just like that, Radnich was gone.
Radnich went on a long vacation, something he does every year before his kids head back to school. But during the first week of Radnich’s time away from KNBR, he still worked at KRON. Then he reportedly went to New York last week, where Hurricane Irene provided a reasonable — albeit convenient — excuse to let Bruce fly solo on Monday and Tuesday of this week. It’s almost like Radnich refused to come back to work unless things changed — at least that was my premonition all along and why I harped on his absence the way I did.
Radnich probably still wants his own show, since that’s what he’s used to. Cumulus clearly wanted Radnich to have a partner, since his solo show was dying a slow death in the ratings. So it looks like they reached a compromise and exchanged Bruce with Krueger. Krueger, while certainly controversial, isn’t going to step on Radnich’s toes — not after Radnich defended him during “brain-dead Caribbean”-gate in 2005 and helped opened the door this week for Krueger to once again host full-time at KNBR.
Whether or not Cumulus knew about Radnich and his wife meeting with 95.7, the prospect of him leaving KNBR had to make them a little nervous. Whatever you think of Radnich, the only person who’s been hosting at KNBR longer is Ralph Barbieri, and if Radnich switched stations it would be big news. KNBR knew Radnich was unhappy with the decision to bring Bruce aboard, and disgruntled employees often look for ways out. It appears KNBR looked at the situation and sided with Radnich (and Krueger) out of fear — and to block Radnich from switching to 95.7.
If Bruce moved from KNBR to “The Game,” people would definitely talk. But nothing would drastically change in terms of Bruce’s show, which has maintained a consistent style and tone since he replaced Krueger on Sportsphone 680. It would be interesting for listeners to hear Bruce’s true thoughts on KNBR if he made the jump (it would also be fun to hear Bruce’s thoughts about Radnich now, but since he’s heading back to 1050 that’s probably a longshot), but he hasn’t been around this market forever. While it would make for an interesting story, Bruce switching stations would be looked at as just another career move of many he’ll make over the years, since barely anybody under the age of 50 works for the same employer for 10 years anymore in any profession.
It also isn’t a sure thing 95.7 FM is or would be interested in Bruce. If the two parties have had discussions, Bruce has been able to keep them quiet — unlike Radnich, at least in this case.
It isn’t certain if “The Game” would want Radnich either — especially since, as Dan Dibley noted, adding him would be “counter to our ad campaign” — but with Radnich’s reputation in the region and his lengthy tenure with KNBR, moving to a competing station would give him all new material. What would Radnich say about KNBR after leaving? Would the “battered performer” get a much-needed energy boost? How would Radnich change his tune after dismissing 95.7 several times on KNBR since Dan Dibley left?
It looks like we may never know the answers to any of those questions. But like everything else in these ongoing radio wars, schedules, hosts and partnerships are subject to change.