Paul Finebaum Inks Radio, TV Deal With ESPN Featuring SEC Network Simulcast
Broadcaster Paul Finebaum "is leaving the Birmingham, Ala., market where his contract expired in January, for Charlotte, N.C., and a national forum: ESPN," according to Rachel Bachman of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Finebaum signed "a five-year contract," but "neither he nor ESPN would give financial details." His "multi-tiered platform will include a radio program on ESPN networks, 100 televised appearances annually on ESPN and a TV simulcast of his radio show on the ESPN-owned SEC Network launching in August 2014." Finebaum’s four-hour daily radio show on Birmingham-based WJOX-FM was “syndicated on nearly 30 stations across the South and revolved around legions of listeners.” Bachman: "The question is whether Finebaum can retain the distinctly southern feel of the show in a slick, nationally packaged product.” ESPN Senior VP/Programming Justin Connolly said that Finebaum's radio show “at first will air primarily in the Southeast.” Finebaum also will “appear on a range of ESPN TV programs that relate to college football before the debut of the SEC Network” (WSJ.com, 5/21). In Birmingham, Bob Carlton notes Finebaum “began his radio career in Birmingham” in ’85. His show, which “later became known as ‘The Paul Finebaum Radio Network,’ quickly became a lightning rod for controversy, but year after year, it was consistently one of the top-rated radio shows in Birmingham.” But since Finebaum’s contract with WJOX owner Cumulus Media expired in January, he has been off the air "while pondering his next move” (BIRMINGHAM NEWS, 5/22).