Howard Eskin is Setting the Record Straight

So the other day, Spike Eskin started his new gig at WFAN in New York. He’s replacing the legendary Mark Chernoff, who spent nearly three decades running the show up there.

In an appearance on the Boomer and Gio morning show, Spike referred to WFAN as “the Mecca” and said “this is where sports radio was born.”

That line bothered his father, Howard “The King” Eskin, who took to Twitter to set the record straight about where and when sports talk radio actually began:

First of all, I love how Howard tried to tag Twitter accounts in the notes app. Howard vs. technology will continue to be one of the best rivalries in Philadelphia sporting history. Right up there with Cowboys/Eagles and Flyers/Penguins.

Second, Spike basically poo-poo’d Howard’s full time/part time thing, saying the following in response:

“WFAN was the first full time sports talk station big guy. I appreciate the notes app statement though.”

As you know, the current iteration of WIP broadcasts on 94.1 FM in our area. Prior to the 2011 WYSP format flip, WIP existed on 610 WTEL, and it was a music station up until the 1980s, when programmers began to dabble with some talk shows as well. Larry King’s syndicated radio show aired on 610, and there was a time when it was music during the day and talk shows at night. A split format.

Howard is correct when he says that WIP added sports in the summer of 1986, which was when Judas Priest was touring the United States in support of the Turbo album. Love that album. So many good songs. But anyway, sports on WIP was indeed a part-time thing until 1988, when the full format switch was complete and Angelo Cataldi joined Tom Brookshier for the launch of “Brookie and the Rookie.”

WFAN made their all-sports conversion in 1987, about a year before WIP, according to Radio Ink, which wrote this anniversary story back in 2007:

Sports Radio 66 WFAN New York is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The never-before-tried All Sports format debuted on July 1, 1987 at what was Country-formatted WHN at 1050 AM. In 1988 The Fan moved down the dial to 660 AM at what was the Peacock Network’s WNBC, which provided the station a huge morning show hosted by the recently-retired Don Imus.

July 1, 1987: WFAN signs on at 3:00 PM at 1050 AM. Suzyn Waldman is the first voice heard on the station and also serves as WFAN’s Yankee’s beat reporter. Some of WFAN’s original hosts were Greg Gumbel, Jim Lampley, Art Shamsky, Howie Rose, and Steve Somers. Pete Franklin was hired for afternoon drive but had a heart attack just before joining the station. He did not do his first show until Fall 1987. The format change does not effect the station’s previous agreement to serve as the flagship station for New York Mets baseball – a tradition which continues to be broadcast on the station till this day.

What we have here is a dispute over a technicality. WIP did indeed do sports talk before WFAN, and Howard got his start about one year before the New York guys, but it was only a part-time gig. So… does that mean WIP was first? Or does it have to be full-time to count? You can come to your own conclusion.

At Crossing Broad, we report, you decide.

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