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In a move that will ratchet up the local radio ratings war, ESPN New York will for the first time have its own local program to compete against WFAN, The Post has learned.
Rick DiPietro, Chris Canty and Dave Rothenberg are moving to mornings and will be on from 5-8 a.m. daily on 98.7 FM, setting up a battle with WFAN’s No. 1 rated “Boomer & Gio.”
Keyshawn Johnson, Jay Williams and Zubin Mehenti will lose an hour in the New York market, but will remain on from 8-10 a.m. The moves were all made in the wake of Dan Le Batard’s departure that scuttled ESPN Radio’s national lineup.
After the morning shows on 98.7 FM, Mike Greenberg’s show from 10-to-noon will precede the newly made national program featuring Bart Scott and Alan Hahn from noon-to-2.
Max Kellerman will remain with an hour prior to Michael Kay’s heavyweight battle with WFAN’s new program, “Carton & Roberts,” from 3-7 p.m. Carton & Roberts’ first hour has the advantage of starting its 2 p.m. show against Kellerman for an hour
When reached for comment by The Post, ESPN New York’s GM Tim McCarthy confirmed the moves. The changes will go into effect next month.
It all sets up a new morning competition in New York sports radio that ESPN New York has ceded since its inception in 2003. From “Imus in the Morning” to “Boomer & Carton” and now “Boomer & Gio,” WFAN has had the luxury of going against national programming. Though “Mike & Mike” was a huge success, while “Golic & Wingo” was less so, it has been difficult for ESPN New York to start its day strong without a local focus.
This is still a half-measure as “Keyshawn, J-Will and Zubin” continue to clear New York for two hours. In its first months as a new ensemble, the trio has been fine so far as a national program, though it has room to grow. Mehenti has been too much of a pass-first point guard. He needs to show more range and take some shots.
Williams has things to say, but not being on the full shows the day after the NBA Finals and the draft is not good.
Williams had excused absences as he worked the TV studio shows late the nights prior. ESPN should probably decide where they want him to direct his time and energy.
Johnson understands radio and has personality. You can hear why ESPN wanted him in the spot, even if he is a bit more of a No. 2 than a No. 1 on radio.
In New York, ESPN will compete early in the morning. WFAN has given itself a head start as ESPN New York slept in the past. “The Warmup Show with Al Dukes and Jerry Recco,” featuring two key members of “Boomer & Gio,” airs from 5-6 a.m.
Now, though, DiPietro, Canty and Rothenberg will be up at dawn to challenge FAN. They have been together for three years. Rothenberg is the engine that makes the show go. He may need to pour a little more gas in at such an early hour. The trio has earned the promotion as a team, while its show has bounced around time slots.
While ESPN New York is not yet all the way in on local mornings, it is ready to really start competing.