680/The Fan has ended its affiliation with ESPN as of midnight last night and is using Fox Sports syndicated product instead.
This means that Colin Cowherd will no longer be on the station from 10 a.m. to noon. Instead, you will start hearing Dan Patrick.
Starting January, the Fan (also heard on FM 93.7) will use a combination of Fox Sports syndicated talk shows and the upcoming CBS/Cumulus sports syndicate, according to David Dickey, who runs the Fan.
“We now compete with [ESPN], so why not clear our own network in a top 10 market?” Dickey wrote in a text. The Fan had an affiliation with ESPN for 11 years.
Cumulus and Dickey Broadcasting (which owns the Fan) have common owners but are not the same company. Cumulus also owns several other sports stations nationwide where it will be directly competing with ESPN in terms of syndicated sports programming thanks to its alliance with CBS.
To add even more confusion, CBS just started its own sports talk show on FM/92.9 called the Game which competes with the Fan here in Atlanta. So in a sense, Cumulus (if you count the Fan as a sister station) is both working for and against CBS at the same time in Atlanta.
The competitive landscape has shifted since Oct. 24, when the Game arrived. Now we have three sports stations. 790/The Zone, owned by Lincoln Financial (which also runs Star 94), is in the weakest position with no FM option but it’s too early to count them out. The next couple of years in Atlanta sports talk should be fascinating.
Logically, the Zone will likely pick up ESPN programming. I have left a message with station manager Neal Maziar to see if that will be the case.