Saturday, June 3, 2017

NYC Radio: Jeff Smulyan Visits WFAN, Station He Started

Jeff Smulyan, chairman and CEO of Emmis Communications, appeared as a guest this week on Mike Francesa’s show. WFAN 660 AM / 101.9 FM — and sports talk radio in general — was Smulyan’s brainchild.

“I had the idea when I was not paying attention in a class at USC almost 50 years ago,” he said. “It was one of those things you file away in the back of your mind.”

According to CBS Local, years later, Emmis owned WHN (then at 1050 AM), which aired country music and Mets games. It was “the largest country music station in America, which made it about 25th in New York,” Smulyan joked.

“So we had to decide and said if I’m ever going to do this, this is the time,” he said.

Smulyan said he met with his senior managers to discuss changing the format to around-the-clock sports, and none of them thought it was a good idea.

“Rick Cummings, who then and now was head of programming in the company — he was the first employee of the company — came into my office with Doyle Rose, who was then running the radio group, and they said: ‘We still think it’s a stupid idea, but we owe you one. This is your baby. So we’ll do it,'” Smulyan said.

WFAN is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

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