Of all the regular daytime hosts on the new sports station 92.9/The Game, only one has worked for both rival stations 680/The Fan and 790/The Zone: former NFL player Jamie Dukes.
Since the Game launched Oct. 24, Dukes works 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays with Jerome Jurenovich, a Fox Sports South host and reporter.
Dukes, an Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman from 1986 to 1993, began his radio hosting career on the Zone with a late-night show called “Dukes After Dark” in the late 1990s, then worked mid days. Later, the Fan general manager David Dickey approached Dukes in 2002 to co-host a new morning show with former 96rock jock Christopher Rude. “It was great working with Chris, a radio professional,” Dukes said in a recent interview. “He taught me a lot of things about the business.”
In 2006, Dukes joined the NFL Network and continues to work with them. The network recently wanted him to move to Los Angeles to do a morning show. But he wanted to stay put for family reasons. NFL Network instead allows him to work from home in Braselton so he can still do the morning show remotely. From there, he goes to the Game, which is based at Colony Square.
“This opened up a window for me to be able to do sports talk again,” Dukes said. “I’ve always had a love for it. I love directly communicating with fans.”
He touted the strong points of the Game: its vastly superior signal and more diverse lineup compared to the Fan and the Zone.
“We have a powerful signal, a tremendous crew,” he said. “Given the nature of our signal, I think that’s going to cause problems in the landscape when all is said and done.”
(In its first two weeks in the ratings, the Game came out of the gate without almost no listeners. That was not unexpected. The station has chosen a soft opening since this launch lineup is not necessarily the lineup we’ll see in six months or a year. With little promotion of the new station, the format change simply washed out almost all the rock station Dave FM listeners but didn’t replace them. Ratings, as a result, tumbled about 90 percent between the final week of Dave Oct. 18 and the first week of the Game.)
And while the station is about sports, he opted for what PD Terry Foxx has been pushing: “Sports is the prism we are using. It’s really about life. Listening to Rachel talk about her dog passing away. We are real people with the same issues as everybody else.”
He loves immersing himself in football. “I don’t perceive it as work. The challenge is managing the schedule,” Dukes said.
So far, he said he’s enjoying his time working with Jurenovich. “Jerome’s a very seasoned guy who loves sports. We’re two good-natured guys who like to have fun. We pick at each other. We needle each other. At teh same time, we respect each other. When I was here as a Falcon, he worked at CNN doing Headline News. He’s worked with a couple friends of mine: [former Braves] Ronnie Gant and Brian Jordan. We kind of fit in as brothers right away.”
He takes pride in not just cheerleading for teams he played on. “On the NFL Network, I’m going to say it even if you don’t like to hear it. I can talk about [Packers quarterback] Aaron Rodgers being a whiner. It doesn’t matter I used to play for the Packers.”
Although the Game has yet to create a big marketing campaign to get the word out, Dukes expects the roll out will be big once they’re ready. CBS Radio also owns Atlanta’s No. 1 station V-103.
“A company like this doesn’t make moves like this lightly,” Dukes said. “They have infrastructure. They have assets like billboards to get the word out. That’s going to have a direct tie to ratings.” And having that relationship with V-103 is a good thing. (Ryan Cameron has come in and guested on the Game, for instance.)