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Hiring Clay Travis to be part of the team to fill Rush Limbaugh’s old time slot could not have been easier. Travis is a part of FOX Sports Radio, which is owned by Premier Networks. Limbaugh’s old show was distributed by Premier. It was a way to get some name recognition to fill the slot without having to do an exhaustive search.

Courtesy: FOX Sports Radio

For the sports side of talk radio, it brings more questions than answers. As of this writing, FOX Sports Radio has not announced what the status of their morning show is.

If Clay was up for double duty, then being owned by the same company would make it very easy for him to talk sports in the morning and the war on Christmas in the afternoon. Both networks could say they have a well-known name brand filling their respective opening, and Clay Travis could use each show to promote the other. But Travis made it clear earlier that hosting two daily radio shows will not be part of his or the network’s future plans.

That wouldn’t be the ideal path forward for FOX Sports Radio though. Remember, Limbaugh’s show generated more revenue than just about anything else in the history of radio. While Travis and his new partner Buck Sexton won’t have those expectations put on them from day one, it is a safe bet that Premier will want Travis to make the new show his top priority and FOX Sports Radio isn’t going to want to use a prime day part to play second fiddle to anyone.

With that in mind, let’s look at what FSR’s options may be.

1. MOVE AN ESTABLISHED SHOW ALREADY IN THE LINEUP

FOX Sports Radio is built on talent already known by sports fans. With that in mind, it seems like the two most likely in-house options would be moving either afternoon host Doug Gottlieb to mornings or making the same move for The Odd Couple, which airs in evenings on the East Coast.

The problem is that both shows are based on the West Coast. Travis is based in Nashville, so while a 6 am Eastern start time meant 5 am for him, it was certainly a more reasonable ask than what would be a 3 am start time in California. That doesn’t mean this option is out of the question necessarily. It’s just something to note.

Could Up on Game be another option? The show launched in late 2020 and features three former NFL players. It certainly would be very different, and FOX Sports Radio VP Scott Shapiro recently spoke very highly of the show in a conversation with BSM’s Rob Taylor.

The question Scott and Don Martin would have to answer is are these three guys capable of taking what they do once a week and translating it to three hours a day, five days a week.

2. BRING IN ANOTHER LOCAL FLAME THROWER

People that follow college football knew Clay Travis before he joined FOX Sports Radio. He already had a profile in sports radio from his time at The Zone in Nashville, but the reality is that his national profile was pushed largely by FOX Sports Radio. Can the network recreate that formula?

Some logical candidates might be Dan Dakich in Indianapolis, Mark Schlereth in Denver, or Sean Salisbury in Houston. All of them have strong names in the sports radio world. All of them deliver strong opinions on every topic.

There are plenty more options. Those are just the first three that spring to mind, because they could be utilized by both FOX Sports Radio and FS1 or FOX Sports and offset some of the cost.

3. BRING IN A BIG NAME FREE AGENT

Let’s see…who is someone that knows how to entertain on the radio, doesn’t currently have a gig, and has years of experience talking to sports fans across the country on their drive to work and/or school?

Mike Golic, with family, signs off ESPN Radio after 22 years: "This was why  we did it" Mike Golic, with family, signs off ESPN Radio after 22 years:  "This was why we
Courtesy: ESPN Radio

That’s right, Mike Golic, come on down!

I’m not sure this is the direction FOX Sports Radio would go, but man would it be a coup. It also would put ESPN Radio on its heels as suddenly, there might be an option for the affiliates unhappy with Golic’s exit last year.

Another, albeit less likely, possibility is Nick Wright. Granted, he isn’t truly a free agent, but after exiting SiriusXM last year, he is currently without a radio home.

Wright is based in New York City and a featured part of First Things First on FOX Sports 1. The partnership between FOX Sports Radio and FOX Sports is strong, so it’s unlikely a situation would be created where Wright leaves FS1 for FOX Sports Radio, but Nick did build his career on the radio including hosting mornings in Houston. It’s a medium he’s got familiarity with. I also know that if Colin Cowherd is asked to weigh in, there’s been no more high profile champion of Wright than him.

4. CREATE YOUR OWN STARS

A few months back I wrote that with Will Cain leaving ESPN Radio, the Bristol based network had the opportunity to do what it did with Colin Cowherd and find a local host that is ready for a national stage. What if FOX did that instead? My list is still available in the event that the Don and Scott want ideas.

This may be the best way for FOX Sports Radio to do a pivot away from the formula Clay Travis followed. I don’t mean politically. This may be the best way for FOX to build a morning team and have a show that sounds like a big party instead of being centered on one dude.

So it is clear that FOX Sports Radio has options. This job will be very attractive. They also have time to make their hire, which means they have a good shot at getting this right.

Fox Sports Radio

Whether you loved or hated Travis, it was clear that in the sports talk world, he carved out a pretty specific niche. I don’t know if he is a “no one can do what that guy does” kind of talent, but he is certainly a talent with a very distinct presence. That means the audience will have a standard it will use to judge whatever comes next. The people making the decisions at FOX Sports Radio already know this.



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