Changes at WIP Continue With Move to FM, Addition of Michael Barkann

Changes at WIP Continue With Move to FM, Addition of Michael Barkann

The time of leaks, rumors, and speculation regarding the future of Sports Radio 610 WIP is for the most part, over, with the official announcement coming down this morning that the station will indeed take over the broadcast signal of sister CBS Radio station 94.1 WYSP, a long-time rock staple of the Philly landscape.  

94 WIP. Try saying that regularly without mixing up the letters after all these years of hearing and saying "94 WYSP" and "610 WIP." Along with the move to FM, effective Tuesday, September 6, comes a major shakeup of the station's programming schedule. 

Thanks to Jamie for the new logo image

We already knew that Howard Eskin was leaving the post he's impressively held for 25 years, that of the PM drive time. On the WIP Morning Show, Angelo Cataldi and company announced that the station's current midday team of Glen Macnow and Anthony Gargano will move to the PM drive shift. I enjoy Glen and Anthony's show, so this was, to me, a natural next move to fill that slot if the station was not in full "blow it up" mode, which clearly they aren't. Moving into the 10-1 slot will be Comcast Sportsnet's Michael Barkann and Eskin's former host, Ike Reese. The morning show will remain intact, and Rob Ellis will take over at 6-10PM.

On paper, the moves appear to be a good fit for the station, which despite largely keeping its teams together, manages to make some significant changes. Eskin's departure alone is significant, whether you mourn it or celebrate it. The addition of Barkann is to me, a no-brainer. As divisive as Eskin was, that's how universally liked Barkann has always appeared to me. I can't speak for everyone else's thoughts on him, but I'm not sure there's a more popular figure in the Philly sports media. If you listen to sports talk or other morning shows, particularly 93.3 WMMR's Preston and Steve show, you've no doubt heard Barkann. He's knowledgeable, and he's genuinely funny. Exactly what I tune in to hear.  

Barkann is the anchor of Comcast SportsNet's Daily News Live, Eagles Pre- and Postgame Live, and various other shows, and he'll keep those roles. CSN says that they are excited for the new lineup at SportsRadio WIP, including the new Barkann and Reese show.

Sports talk radio is a tough, tough job that very few people can do well. I try and often fail to remember that when I hear someone say something I don't like, disagree with, or know to not be true, whether intentionally or not. I also know I'm not the only member of their target audience, which I've learned in my much more limited exposure writing for this site, can disagree on just about anything. I think if anyone can handle that pressure and manage to stay true to what made him so likable in the first place, it's Michael Barkann. What remains to be seen now is whether the safe choice is the smart choice, but that'd be true of adding any new host.  

I also came to like Ike Reese as a buffer to a host I wasn't a big fan of in Eskin. Whether the edict came down from management or there was pressure from Mike Missanelli's increasing popularity and ratings on 97.5 The Fanatic, already on FM, Ike usually complemented Eskin in a way I wasn't expecting. Though they would fight too, for the most part, the show was less caustic than when Howard was on his own.  

With Barkann, I don't think 'caustic' will enter the equation, though he can snark with the best of them while somehow staying positive (something else I think will benefit the station, whose two previous biggest personalities enjoyed going negative with the best of them). I thought Reese did reasonably well in a complementary role though, and after listening to him on his own evening show and then with Eskin, I do think he earned his place in the new lineup. I know others don't agree, and he still has some growing to do as a host. There has been a very noticeable effort in developing his radio voice and personality, and especially his knowledge of sports other than the one he played professionally. I've been impressed with that effort and the results, and apparently, so too were the folks who make decisions at WIP and CBS Radio.  

In many ways, the loss of WYSP is not unlike the departure of Eskin. It's monumental in that the station was a staple of our listening lives, whether we were listening or not. But radio has for a long time been shifting more toward talk than music, and people have every song they've ever wanted to hear on their iPod or phone or whatever else now. Rock certainly isn't dead, but rock stations have been suffering in the ratings battle against many talk formats. One guy I hope to see emerge in a sports capacity is Spike Eskin, Howard's son, who has been a host at WYSP but currently is not part of the WIP takeover. He's a likeable guy with great music and sports knowledge, and I've really liked him as a Sixers personality and general man about town. 

The ongoing ratings battle between Missanelli and WIP should be interesting if you're into that kind of scorekeeping. Mikey Miss has drawn a lot of listeners in his return to Philly. Some of those listeners simply wanted any alternative to Eskin, whereas others are just huge Missanelli fans. Whether he'll lose listeners as a result of the change in WIP's drive time remains to be seen. He too can be a polarizing figure, but as Eskin's run proved, that draws listeners and advertisers.   

More changes could be on the way as well. Brian Westbrook might be getting some on-air time, Jody Mac's appearances could become more frequent, and Larry Anderson will be doing a weekly segment with Glen and Anthony.  

So what are your thoughts on the changes at WIP? This is a topic that often brings out the opinions, just as the sports talk format itself is designed to do.

NFL Notes: Rams release former Eagles QB Nick Foles

NFL Notes: Rams release former Eagles QB Nick Foles

IRVINE, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Rams have released quarterback Nick Foles after failing to find a trade destination for the disgruntled quarterback.

The Rams announced the move Wednesday, one day before their veterans report to training camp.

Foles hasn't been around the Rams since they traded up to choose California quarterback Jared Goff with the No. 1 pick in the draft this spring. The veteran skipped offseason workouts while Los Angeles attempted to trade him.

Foles spent just one season with the Rams, who acquired him from Philadelphia in a trade for Sam Bradford. Foles started 11 games for St. Louis last season, throwing for 2,052 yards and seven touchdowns for the NFL's worst passing offense.

Goff and veteran Case Keenum are competing for the starting job at training camp.

Panthers: Former Eagles S Kurt Coleman extended 3 years
SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- The Carolina Panthers have signed safety Kurt Coleman to a three-year contract extension through the 2019 season.

Coleman led the Panthers and finished tied for third in the NFL with career-high seven interceptions in his first season in Carolina last year. He contributed to a team that ranked sixth in the NFL in total defense and led the NFL in interceptions (24), takeaways (39) and points off turnovers (148).

The 28-year-old Coleman finished third on the team with 103 tackles. Financial details were not released Wednesday.

Coleman called the contract a blessing, saying "when you go through situations you want what's best for your family and what's best for the team, and I'm really excited. I'm fortunate to be a part of this team for three more years."

Ravens: Jake Long signs 1-year contract pending physical
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens have reached an agreement with veteran offensive lineman Jake Long on a one-year contract, pending the condition of his oft-injured right knee.

Long played in four Pro Bowls after being selected by Miami as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft.

But he played sparingly in just four games with Atlanta last year after tearing his right ACL in back-to-back seasons.

The contract won't be official until the Ravens receive more information on Long's knee. He will visit Dr. James Andrews to receive an assessment of the knee, coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday.

The Ravens are willing to sign the 31-year-old Long if they're not on the hook to pay him for the entire season if he's forced out with another knee injury.

Baltimore has been looking for another tackle since releasing Eugene Monroe last month.

Vikings: 5-time All-Pro Kevin Williams to retire
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings have signed five-time All-Pro defensive tackle Kevin Williams to a one-day contract so he can formally retire as a member of the team.

The Vikings announced the news Wednesday. Williams will finalize his retirement Thursday after 13 seasons, including 11 with Minnesota.

Taken with the ninth pick in the 2003 draft by the Vikings from Oklahoma State, Williams is eighth in team history with 60 sacks. His 171 regular-season starts are the most all time by a Vikings defensive tackle, and his five interceptions are tied for the most by a defensive tackle in NFL history.

Williams played for NFC champion Seattle in 2014 and New Orleans in 2015. He was picked for six Pro Bowls.

Jets: Bernard Pierce signed; Zac Stacy waived
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets are signing running back Bernard Pierce and waiving running back Zac Stacy, who failed his physical after missing the last half of last season with a broken left ankle.

Pierce ran for just 11 yards on six carries in seven games last season with Jacksonville after spending his first three NFL seasons with Baltimore. He ran for a career-best 532 yards as a rookie with the Ravens in 2012 after being a third-round pick out of Temple.

Pierce was released by Baltimore in March 2015, when he was charged with drunken driving. He was claimed off waivers by Jacksonville the next day.

The NFL announced in May that Pierce will be suspended for the first two games of this season, likely stemming from the DUI arrest.

Stacy ran for 89 yards in eight games for the Jets last season, but he was lost for the rest of the season in November when he broke his ankle on a kickoff return.

Doug Pederson not worried about Eagles' young linebacker corps

Doug Pederson not worried about Eagles' young linebacker corps

With another one of his players, Nigel Bradham, landing himself in off-field trouble (see story), Doug Pederson was predictably peppered with questions about how he handles player conduct Wednesday after Day 3 of Training Camp at the Novacare Complex.

On the field, his resources at the linebacker position may become a larger concern depending on Bradham’s legal situation. After the Eagles cut linebacker Travis Long from the 90-man roster, Pederson insisted he still feels positively about the team’s linebackers.

“I love the fact that we got three starters coming in," Pederson said. "Of course you mentioned Nigel [Bradham], and Jordan Hicks is coming back healthy and ready to go, and Mychal Kendricks. And I tell you, Joe Walker has done a great job for us this offseason, and he’s going to put himself in a great position to be a solid backup. And we got some young guys there, but at the same time, we’re going to continue to monitor that position and just watch and see, and keep upgrading if we can. But right now, very pleased with the work these guys have done in the offseason, what the rookies have shown these last three days, and just look forward to putting the pads on.”

Pederson is right when he says the Eagles have “some young guys” at linebacker. In fact, backup Najee Goode, 27, is the oldest returning player at the position. Bradham, who the team signed to a two-year deal from Buffalo in the offseason, is 26 years old, while Kendricks is 25 and Hicks, the team’s leading tackler last year as a rookie before his season-ending pectoral tear, is only 24. Walker is an Oregon product and one of the team’s three seventh-round picks. He’s 23 years old.

Scanning over that depth chart probably makes the average fan a bit uneasy. Yet according to Pederson, he’d be content entering the season with his current personnel at linebacker, even if that means Goode, a player with 32 NFL games, one start, and 24 tackles, is his most experienced player.

“If you had to go into the season that way, yeah, I’m comfortable with [Goode]," Pederson said. "Would you like to continue to have more depth at that position, and at any position? Sure. But yeah, I’m very comfortable with him.”

After releasing Long, who Pederson says the Eagles wanted to “give an opportunity to catch on with another football team,” it left the team with 89 players. On Wednesday afternoon, the Eagles filled the 90th spot by signing wide receiver David Watford (see story).

Unless they pull off a surprising move, the Eagles will likely settle for the linebacker rotation they have. They may be young, injury-prone, and legally embattled, but Bradham, Kendricks, Hicks, Walker and Goode will probably be the players anchoring the middle of the Eagles’ defense this season.

Eagles put Ryan Mathews on non-football injury list, sign WR David Watford

Eagles put Ryan Mathews on non-football injury list, sign WR David Watford

Many fans are worried Ryan Mathews won't be able to stay healthy this season. 

Well, it's a day before the first full-team practice and the running back is already hurt. 

The Eagles placed Mathews on the Active/Non-football Injury list Wednesday. The Eagles say he hurt his ankle last week while training. 

Mathews, 28, can be activated at any time, but can't practice while he's still on the list. The severity of the injury is unclear, but seems to not be severe, as Mathews was seen walking into the team facility this afternoon without a noticeable limp. 

Without their starting running back, the Eagles will be giving more reps to Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, Kenjon Barner and a couple of undrafted rookies as practice continues Thursday. 

The Eagles also filled out their roster, signing wide receiver David Watford. Watford, who was a QB at Hampton University, was with the Eagles during rookie camp on a tryout basis this spring. They're now at 90. 

Every Eagle on the roster has now reported to training camp, except long snapper Jon Dorenbos, who has been competing (doing magic) on the NBC show "America's Got Talent." His absence was excused and he's expected to make himself appear at the facility Thursday. 

Head coach Doug Pederson said he's pulling for Dorenbos in the show, but was asked about the show will conflict with the training camp schedule. 

"We've just got to see," Pederson said. "Obviously, he went through this show and he'll be back tomorrow for the conditioning test. We'll just go day-by-day and just see where it ends up in the next couple of days."