At WTEM, the flagship home of the Washington Football Team, Kevin Sheehan remains the morning drive host from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Travis Thomas, a southern Maryland native whose career has included stints as a producer and host at NBCSW, will host a new show from 9 a.m. to noon, replacing Al Galdi, who last week announced his departure from the station after more than 20 years. Thomas will be followed by Prince George’s County native, comedian and WUSA anchor Reese Waters from noon to 3 p.m., while Pete Medhurst and Chris Russell, familiar voices to listeners of both stations, will be paired together from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
“The main thing was trying to put together shows that featured compelling and interesting personalities who can credibly talk about a wide range of sports topics in a really entertaining way,” Chris Kinard, the operations manager for Entercom’s cluster of D.C. stations, which also includes 94.7 the Drive, said in a phone interview. “The goal is for both 980 and 106.7 to be great sports stations, but the stars are the personalities. We wanted to find — like what we have with the ‘Sports Junkies,’ ‘Grant and Danny’ and other shows in the past — great personalities who we feel like we can build a brand around.”
Finlay, who grew up in Bethesda, has served as the Washington Football Team beat reporter for NBCSW since 2016. He will continue in that role, including co-hosting the popular Washington Football Talk podcast with Pete Hailey and Mitch Tischler.
“Doing sports radio in my hometown is a dream come true,” Finlay said in a statement. “Doing it with BMitch means even more. What he has done on and off the field is remarkable, but my favorite times with Brian are usually talking sports over a few drinks, and that’s exactly the vibe we will bring to the show. Without the drinks … mostly.”
Waters, a former Versus host and ESPN “SportsCenter” correspondent, hosted WUSA’s “Get Up DC” morning show for more than three years before announcing last month that he was moving to a new 7 p.m. show at the station. Both Waters and Thomas have experience as weekend fill-in hosts on 106.7 the Fan.
Medhurst, who will continue to host the Nationals postgame show on WJFK, was the station’s primary fill-in host in the afternoons after Chad Dukes was fired in late October and has served as the interim midday host since last month. Russell, a former Washington Football Team beat reporter for both WJFK and WTEM who has appeared on both stations since 2009, has been the interim afternoon drive host at 980 since Steve Czaban announced in December that he was leaving his weekday role to host a Saturday morning show on 106.7.
After Entercom acquired WTEM in November, there was some uncertainty about the future of D.C.’s first all-sports radio station, which launched in May 1992. WTEM program director Chris Johnson and hosts Rick “Doc” Walker and Scott Linn were laid off two weeks after the acquisition was announced. Kinard, who will be responsible for the programming on both stations, said Entercom never considered replacing the live and local weekday model with nationally syndicated shows.
Thomas has been hosting his new show all week, while Finlay’s and Mitchell’s new show will debut Thursday. All other program changes will take effect Monday. While most hosts will continue to work from home, producers for both stations now occupy the same office space near Nationals Park. Kinard, who was named the program director at WJFK in 2007, said watching the two stations transition from competitors to teammates has been interesting.
“For years, when one station got a big interview, it would be alluded to but never mentioned by the other station,” he said. “Without me ever directing anyone to do that, very quickly the talent just decided to start talking about each other. What we want to do is get people excited about sports, to bounce back and forth between two great products and get engaged in consuming sports radio on all platforms because they’re invested in the teams and into the personalities that are talking about them.”
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