Finebaum has had a national radio show for at least a few years now with callers from all over the country. He smart, funny and insightful. He may say it's the callers, but his show's success has more to do with the host. If other radio show hosts were interesting enough to go statewide and then national, they would. But local sports radio is now the same bland hosts taking the same bland questions from the same bland callers.
Last week, ESPN announced that it had hired long-time radio star Paul Finebaum to create a new show for a Southern audience (at first) and a national audience (down the road). That show will be based out of Charlotte and it will be simulcast every afternoon on the new SEC Network (also based in Charlotte) once that channel launches in August of 2014.
Finebaum is a controversial figure, but no one can deny that he’s a true alchemist… creating a caller-driven show that’s radio gold.
Of course, some — us, for example — aren’t thrilled with the idea of Finebaum’s often bizarro, over-the-top callers getting national attention. If/when the SEC Network gets carriage on cable- and satellite-providers across the country, Finebaum’s callers are likely to further the stereotype of crazed, hillbilly Southerners.
So will callers still be the focus of Finebaum’s new show? Or will ESPN and the SEC ask the host to start working in more interviews with actual newsmakers?
“I get this question a lot, and I’ve seen a few opinion pieces about how the show will change. And we’ve gone through that for a long time. When we went from a local show to a statewide and a regional show, those questions came up. And I don’t think the show has changed very much. I think the core of the show is the same. It’s caller-driven. We have our share of celebrity callers. And I don’t know why that will change simply because the show is emanating a couple of hundred miles to the east…
Someone asked me the other day: ‘The first week (back on the air) are you going to have (Nick) Saban and Mark Richt and Kevin Sumlin?’ And my thinking was, ‘No.’
It will then be five, six months since we have spoken to callers and I hope the first five callers are Robert, Legend, Tammy, Jim from Tuscaloosa and I-Man. To me, that’s what I’m looking forward to getting back to — not to listening to a coach say little about the upcoming football season. We’ll get plenty of that.”
Finebaum added that SEC commissioner Mike Slive has — in Finebaum’s words — told him “he wants the program to be compelling. He wants it to be what it’s always been.”
So get ready, folks. Paaauuuuulllll’s callers are about to become representatives of the Southeastern Conference.