According to al.com, “In addition to Cox, Finebaum has other, national suitors, including discussions with ESPN that include both television and radio (and would allow Finebaum to appear on 97.3 The Zone), and talks with SiriusXM Satellite Radio about being the exclusive provider of “The Paul Finebaum Radio Network.” SiriusXM had simulcast Finebaum’s show when it was on WJOX.”
Can you imagine Tammy or I-Man or Legend or maybe even All-Stars from the old days like Phyllis from Mulga or Don from Downtown on camera?
We could witness the “country-boy ass-kickings” live and in HD. The possibilities make the old Geraldo show and Jerry Springer look like Captain Kangaroo and Sesame Street.
OK, maybe that isn’t what ESPN has in mind, but the most recent update on the Paul Finebaum saga from al.com makes the imagination run wild.
A Paul Finebaum television program could form the foundation of the much-anticipated SEC television network. What is more SEC than the most powerful media figure in the SEC and his band of faithful listeners? It would rivet attention year-round on the promised cable network.
That is probably a dream that will never happen, but it would be must see SEC TV.
Whatever Paul Finebaum decides to do with his show, WJOX’s days as the dominant sports talk station are clearly numbered. The Opening Drive is a joke when compared with 97.3’s morning show with Kevin Scarbinsky. Scarbinsky has an opinion unlike former Alabama quarterback Jay Barker—who rarely has an opinion on anything and appears to be the most unprepared radio personality in Birmingham. The Roundtable is not much better. LT is clearly the best part of that show, but his co-hosts steal too much airtime with their generic conversation.
Who lands Finebaum is open for speculation. The Birmingham News reported Finebaum has offers from at least three players.
There are some strikes against Cox and its handling of the entire The Zone launch. First, Cox executives talked too much too early about landing Finebaum for a show on The Zone. Did this complicate the legal proceedings between Finebaum and Cumulus? Perhaps. At the least, it showed management lacked a certain finesse needed to navigate the complicated contractual situation. Second, The Zone’s handling of the Eli Gold and Stan White show left much to be desired. While the station and hosts of the morning show said the hosts ended the show for personal reasons, it was clear the station did not support the show sufficiently during the critical formative time for the station. It takes time to build an audience in the Birmingham sports market. Ultimately, the move worked out as Scarbinsky is doing a superb job in the morning slot. However, these issues raise real questions about Cox management at the local and regional level.
Despite this, it is clear Finebaum has several real options for the next big move of his career.
Finebaum has mastered investigative journalism at the Post-Herald, mastered the art of commentary as a Post-Herald columnist and while at WERC and WJOX became the master of sports talk radio in Alabama.
More Finebaum on television could let him master that too.
The only question, will it be Finebaum as a talking head on typical ESPN sports product or will we get to see Finebaum and his radio cohorts.
Whatever happens, it will be fun to watch.