Mon. Sep 24th, 2018

Changes Come To 107.5 The Game

Starting Monday, one familiar voice for Midlands’ sports fans will be missing from WNKT-FM, 107.5 The Game. Meanwhile, another familiar voice (and face) will join the lineup of Columbia’s top-rated sports-talk station, though not for the first time.

Departing is Michael Haney, co-host for 107.5’s “Halftime” show. He’s headed to Nashville with a goal of getting into the music industry. Coming on board is longtime WOLO-TV 25 sports director/anchor Tim Hill. He’s slated to team with Jay Phillips in the station’s 1-4 p.m. time slot.

In each case, Haney and Hill said it’s about fulfilling a dream.

Start with Haney, a 107.5 regular since the station signed on in November 2007. The Columbia resident and 2003 USC graduate shared a microphone with Phillips for three hours each weekday, and then produced (and occasionally shared a microphone on) Heath Cline’s “Gametime” show from 4-7 p.m.

Haney said he’ll relocate the week after Labor Day to Music City, where he hopes to work with singers and songwriters.

Patrick Davis, a Camden native and writer of songs for, among others, Darius Rucker, Jewel and Lady Antebellum, “has been a mentor for me,” Haney said. “We’ve talked about this for years.

“This is my window,” he said. “The longer I wait … I don’t know if the opportunities will be there.”

Haney’s move opened a spot for Hill, who until 2008 augmented his local TV presence by serving as half of the “Matt & Tim Show” for SportsRadio 1400 The Team. That ended seven years ago when Barrie (now with ESPN) moved to Dallas. Hill said he never lost his love for the freedom of live radio and has filled in as a guest host at 107.5 on several occasions.

“I love (TV), don’t get me wrong,” he said, “but it’s a completely different thing than radio. You get instant feedback (from listeners) in radio like no other format. If you want to have your finger on the pulse of sports issues, this is the only way to get it.

“(Taking on the radio job) was an easy call. I’m not worried about burning out; I’ve juggled it before, and anyway,” he added, laughing, “I know Jay will do 95 percent of the work.”

Hill’s desire to get back into talk radio – it helps, he said, that WOLO-TV is just down Gervais Street from 107.5’s studios – made things easier for WNKT’s program director Brent Johnson, who said Dave Adair will take over Haney’s afternoon producer’s role, while Jennifer Jensen replaces Adair in the mornings.

“Tim adds something to the show with his great quick wit. It’s a win for all of us,” Johnson said. “And TV-25 is excited, too. With both of us doing cross-promotion, it’s a good, good thing.”

Haney also sees his move that way, even if he’s taking the bigger risk. Still, at 34 and single, he says, this is the time to do what he’s doing.

“The music business has been a passion of mine for a long time,” he said. “Music is the only thing that could pull me away from sports.”

His past suggests as much. After earning his USC broadcasting degree, Haney says he walked into the office of Phil Kornblut, longtime host of “SportsTalk” on the S.C. Radio Network, and “told him I’d work for free” to get a foot in the door. He later worked at an Anderson radio station, where he was “selling my own ads and sleeping on a couch” while commuting to Columbia to work weekends.

Johnson, though, understands why Haney is moving on. “Being originally a music guy myself, I’ll be living vicariously through him,” he said. “He’s following his dream.”

Hill also feels that way about his move. “The back-and-forth (of radio) is what I enjoy the most, talking with random people (that) I had no idea I’d be talking with five seconds before. … That’s the fun part, what I miss in TV.”

Haney says he’s “proud of what we did here, and we kind of caught USC in its golden age,” citing the Gamecocks’ back-to-back College World Series victories (2010-11) and 33 wins in three football seasons (2011-13).

“It’s been fun every single day,” Haney said, and smiled. “I mean, we got to talk sports all day long.”

Credit to The State who originally published this article