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WFAN Begins Search To Replace Mike Francesa

The summer months at WFAN are often filled by personalities who are stepping in to give the station’s main weekday hosts a much needed break prior to football season. But this year those fill-in opportunities could potentially have a lasting impact.

With Mike Francesa taking the majority of the summer off, WFAN will use the time to get a closer look at potential replacements. Francesa’s final show on The FAN is scheduled for December 15th.

In a conversation with Newsday, WFAN PD and CBS Radio’s┬áVice President of Programming Mark Chernoff said he hopes to have a succession plan in place by Labor Day.

The early favorite to be part of the afternoon mix appears to be Evan Roberts, who currently works middays with Joe Beningo. The thirty three year old host has been working full-time at FAN since 2007 and has a proven track record and long-term growth potential.

Chernoff plans to have Benigno and Roberts spend most of the summer working apart, but no matter what happens over the next few months, each are part of the station’s future plans.

One candidate who will earn consideration and a fill-in opportunity alongside Roberts is Chris Simms. Kimberly Jones is also expected to appear on the station’s airwaves during the summer months as she has in year’s past.

Morning host Craig Carton said the station discussed the possibility of an afternoon move with him and his partner Boomer Esiason but the talks were more a matter of professional courtesy. With the station performing strong in mornings it wouldn’t be a good business decision for either side to explore such a change.

In addition to Roberts, Jones and Simms, it won’t surprise anyone if Chris Christie is given a deeper look over the next two months. What will be interesting is if Chernoff has local plans for either Gregg Giannotti, Brandon Tierney or Damon Amendolara. All three hosts have New York roots and already work inside the same building. If either were to be considered on FAN that would require additional changes on the CBS Sports Radio Network.

Another question some executives in sports radio circles have raised is whether or not The FAN will look to some of its local markets where hosts with New York connections currently occupy key weekday timeslots. Chris Carlin is working in Philadelphia for WIP, Adam The Bull is in Cleveland hosting on 92.3 The Fan, and Mike Valenti remains a strong force in Detroit for 97.1 The Ticket.

There’s also the possibility of taking a look at Danny Kanell who moved to Connecticut to work for ESPN and ESPN Radio. Kanell was let go by ESPN in late-April. He played for the New York Giants during his NFL career so he too has local familiarity.

It’s possible that Chernoff could look at talent working for different broadcast companies but that would seem to be a long shot. If he went that route, Sid Rosenberg is already in the market working for WABC, Scott Kaplan is in San Diego hosting on the Mighty 1090, and Andy Gresh, who hosted on FAN last summer, is in Providence hosting for WPRO. All three have ties to New York. A previous report in the New York Daily News stated that Adam Schein was given strong consideration for the opening, so going outside of the company can’t be entirely dismissed.

Although most of the names mentioned above may be familiar to sports radio audiences and have an attachment to the big apple, there’s always the possibility of Chernoff doing something outside the box. When FAN replaced Don Imus they brought through a number of sports radio personalities for on-air auditions. Craig Carton was not one of them yet he wound up landing the opportunity.

It may be fun to speculate about what FAN will do in the upcoming months but remember that it’s not just about talent and resumes. There are the complexities of contracts, on-air chemistry between two hosts, and who is best suited to handle the pressure that is sure to follow when Francesa departs.

Regardless of who emerges, it’s safe to say that Mark Chernoff has a number of excellent options to choose from. Whether or not they can duplicate Mike Francesa’s success is a much different conversation. Right now the main focus is to hire a good show with long-term potential and maintain the brand’s current level of success.

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