The sports radio landscape here in Nashville is going through more dramatic change these days, with 102.5 The Game launching "The Sports Revolution" on Monday. Willy Daunic, host of the pre- and post-game shows for Nashville Predators games on that station, returns to the afternoon airwaves from 3-7 p.m. with a general sports call-in show that will go head-to-head with 104.5 The Zone's 3HL crew, which recently moved to the drive-time slot as well.
Willy won't go into this fight all alone, however, as Joe Dubin (who can be found on Twitter as the wildly entertaining @BIGJOEONTHEGO) has left his position at WKRN to join 102.5 The Game full-time. Mike Organ at The Tennessean breaks it all down:
Dubin, who worked the past two years for Channel 2 without a contract, said he did not like the direction in which local TV sports newscasts are headed.
"Now with Twitter and Facebook nobody's waiting around until 6:30 to watch sports," Dubin said.
The Sports Revolution will replace The Aaron Solomon Show. Solomon has been named the station's sports director, General Manager Tincy Crouse said.
Follow after the jump for a Q&A conducted with OTF, in which you get the scoop from Willy himself on the new show, his take on the Predators' play so far, and how the sports market here in Middle Tennessee has grown over the last two decades...
OTF: First off, give us a basic overview of the new show, and what "The Sports Revolution" means for Nashville:
Willy: The challenge will be to build an audience from basically scratch in a brand new sports format. Fortunately it is something I have experienced before having had a big role in starting The Zone back in 2003. It will be a fierce competition, but I am confident the Nashville sports fans will enjoy what they hear on The Sports Revolution. The formula won't change much from what people have come to expect from the shows I have been a part of. Our goal will be to have a show that is informative, insightful, local, and entertaining-- all while not taking ourselves too seriously.
OTF: Is there any chance you might have a co-host joining you at some point, one whose name rhymes with Forge Blaster?
Willy: That is probably the most often asked question I have gotten throughout this process. Joe Dubin has been brought on board to be our Executive Producer/co-host as of yesterday, making a huge commitment to The Game by signing on full time and walking away from his gig at Ch. 2. Joe's energy and enthusiasm is going to serve our show very well, and I am excited to have him. As for George, he is currently in a non-compete situation which prohibits him from being on the air at this time. He is now and always will be my friend and mentor, and when he becomes eligible he will be a tremendous asset to somebody. While I can't say for certain how it's going to play out, it is my opinion that it would be foolish for any station not to want to have him on their team. Nobody in the history of Nashville sports radio has had a greater impact than him.
OTF: The Nashville sports radio market has undergone a number of significant changes in the last 12-18 months, with teams moving their coverage from station to station, and on-air talent shifting around quite a bit as well. How would you compare the level of competition within the sports radio business locally, with how it was when you broke into the biz?
Willy: I have been doing this now for 18 years. When I first started, we had no major league franchises. The only hockey we ever talked was when Mark Hollingsworth would call to tell us that the New Jersey Devils might be moving to Nashville (remember that?), and we went through all of that. If you kept track of the SEC, you knew enough to get by as a host. But I have enjoyed seeing how our city has grown larger and more diverse with the Predators and Titans coming to town. With that growth, it changes how you have to approach the show. You must be broader with your coverage, and you have to make sure that you are informed on a lot of subjects so that your audience feels like they will get value from your take on a particular topic. For example, a Predator fan is not going to make the effort call a show and ask for a host's take on the Predator Power Play if he/she knows that host lacks the knowledge to answer the question.
OTF: ...OK, so how about that power play? Right now, the Preds are in the middle of the pack there, which for Nashville fans is relatively good news. Can they keep it going?
Willy: The way the team is structured, they will never have the best power play in the league. What you are looking for is to have an average/slightly better than average power play. Craig Smith is a guy that can help them there, and hopefully Colin Wilson will produce more there. The other guy down the road that can help is Ryan Ellis, but of course he has to be ready to handle the defensive duties before they bring him up. Right now, there is a hole on the second D-unit with Cody Franson gone and Ellis not ready. David Poile has been saying that the Predators will be better the second half of the season-- and this is an example of why he thinks that. It will still be considered a big question mark until then.
OTF: So where do you see the Nashville sports market headed in the next 5-10 years? There has been a lot of discussion around a new minor league ballpark for the Sounds, speculation about the feasibility of Major League Soccer, etc., but is there a particular direction in which you see things heading?
Willy: I see some things never changing, like Nashville's insatiable appetite for football---and we will be sure to feed that appetite on our show with outstanding football coverage. I also believe the generation that has grown up with the Predators in town from childhood will broaden the hockey audience. As for the Sounds, I hope they work out the deal for a new stadium soon. There are an unprecedented amount of big league players with Nashville area ties, with more on the way.
OTF: For those listeners who have been getting used to Aaron Solomon in that afternoon time slot, do you know what's happening with his show?
Willy: Aaron will be contributing to The Game in a broader role. He will be helping both the morning show (The First Quarter) and our show with reports from pertinent venue where the action is that particular day, plus one-on-one interviews from inside the locker room and other creative features that will air in both day parts. To have a guy with his experience in that role is something no show in Nashville has ever had the luxury of enjoying.
OTF: You're as plugged in to the Predators as anybody locally, what has impressed you so far about the team's start?
Willy: The Predators once again seem to be extremely adept at the old "Ali rope-a-dope". They are very good at hanging in there and picking up points when they have guys injured or have areas of weakness they are trying to mask/improve. This is thanks largely in my opinion to the resourcefulness of Barry Trotz and the brilliance of the Big 3 (Rinne, Suter, Weber). But they really need some young players get alot better quickly and/or add to the current roster at some point soon in order to achieve their goal of another deep playoff run. The good news is they have some good assets in terms of prospects and cap dollars to address their needs when the opportunity arises.
Thanks to Willy for participating in this Q&A!