The New Yorker On Paul Finebaum: An Unlikely Candidate For The Voice Of The South
Syndicated radio host Paul Finebaum is profiled by Reeves Wiedeman in this week's issue of THE NEW YORKER. Wiedeman writes Birmingham, Ala.-based WJOX-FM has "become the second-highest-rated sports station in the country, thanks largely to Finebaum." The Paul Finebaum Radio Network can be “heard on twenty-one stations in Alabama and throughout the South, but it emanates" from WJOX. Finebaum's show “attracts nearly a quarter of the adult male listeners in Birmingham ... with a broad demographic range.” Memphis-based WMFS-FM sports radio host Chris Vernon said outside of Alabama football coach Nick Saban, Finebaum is "the most famous person" in the state. Wiedeman writes Finebaum’s listeners “do not tune in for his thoughts on the sports world at large.” Finebaum, when asked how much airtime was devoted to topics other than college football, cupped his fingers into a zero and said, "The summers are hard.” Wiedeman writes Finebaum is, “by his own admission, an unlikely candidate for the voice of the South," as he is 57 years old, "Jewish, and bald.” He “prefers MSNBC to ESPN, and expresses surprise that he has not ended up in a more academic profession.” Finebaum said, “I have a very difficult time listening to sports radio.” Wiedeman writes, "This air of detachment from his listeners’ chief passion occasionally brings him in for criticism.” Almost “despite himself, Finebaum is deeply connected in the world of college football, especially" in the SEC. His show is “most popular when teams from the conference do well,” but it is “most compelling when the wheels come off” (THE NEW YORKER, 12/10 issue).