NBC Sports Radio officially began its 24/7 lineup today. Since September of last year, it's been unveiling its schedule in short drips, first weekday on-the-hour updates followed by weekend programming. Finally, NBC Sports Radio is a full-fledged 24/7 sports talk network with weekday and weekend programming.
Let's go over the weekday lineup show-by-show: All times are Eastern.
Erik Kuselias, 6-9 a.m.: Kuselias is a known entity, a former ESPN Radio afternoon drive host whose past exploits in Bristol have been well chronicled. He's been with the NBC Sports Group since 2011 as a co-host of Golf Channel's Morning Drive and now on NBC Sports Network co-hosting Pro Football Talk. He was originally tapped to host an evening show for NBC Sports Radio, but moved to morning drive. Kuseilias is not everyone's cup of tea. He can come off as arrogant and unlikable. His stint as a host on NASCAR Now gave motorheads a bad taste as he showed a lack of knowledge of the sport. Kuselias has loyal fans, but I'm not sure if he's the right guy to anchor a lineup as the morning drive host. He'll go against Mike & Mike on ESPN Radio, the crowded CBS Sports Radio morning show of Brandon Tierney, Dana Jacobson and Tiki Barber, Fox Sports Daybreak with Andy Furman and Artrell Hawkins.
Brian Kenny, 9 a.m.-noon: Probably the best hire of the group, Kenny is another former ESPN Radio refugee. Kenny will also double up on radio and television as he'll co-host the new MLB Network show MLB Now with Harold Reynolds. In addition, Kenny will be on Showtime as a boxing host. On NBC Radio, Kenny will continue to show the personality and knowledge that made him popular on ESPN. The 9-noon slot is quite crowded with Dan Patrick on Fox Sports Radio, John Feinstein on CBS and there's Colin Cowherd from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on ESPN Radio.
Newy Scruggs, noon-3 p.m.: Scruggs is a sports anchor on the Dallas NBC station. Not quite well-known nationally, Scruggs will be asked to do some heavy lifting as he'll have rotating co-hosts in the second hour every day including Chipper Jones, Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix, former Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine and Stan Van Gundy. One more co-host has yet to be announced. Scruggs has talk show experience in Big D and he was on NBC Sports Radio's weekend lineup until recently. The question is, can he attract listeners in a midday lineup full of heavy hitters including Jim Rome on CBS Radio, Jay Mohr on Fox and Scott Van Pelt & Ryen Russillo when they hit the air at 1 p.m daily.
Donovan McNabb & Mark Malone, 3 p.m.-7 p.m.: This is the X Factor. Neither McNabb nor Malone have extensive sports radio experience. McNabb comes in after a long NFL career. A former NFL quarterback, Malone has been a sports anchor in Chicago and more recently, an analyst and reporter on Dial Global's NFL coverage. But can they hold an afternoon drive spot for four hours? And can they show knowledge on baseball when the sport holds down the agenda for the summer months? That's the big question. They'll be opposite Fox Sports Primetime with Pat O'Brien and Steve Hartman, Jonathan Coachman and others on ESPN Radio and Doug Gottlieb on CBS. The sledding for this show will be very tough.
Jon Stashower, 7 p.m.-10 p.m.: Stash becomes a full-time host after being known for the "Stash Flash" on ESPN Radio. On ESPN Radio, he did weekend shows as well as hosting for MLB and the NBA. Stash will handle a lot of breaking news during this timeslot. He'll be up against Chris Moore and Brian Jones on CBS Radio, the increasingly popular Petros & Money on Fox and Mike Hill and Mark "Stinky" Schelerth on ESPN Radio. It will be interesting to see if Stash can hold his own opposite the other shows.
Amani Toomer & Eytan Shander, 10 p.m. – 1 a.m.: Toomer is a former New York Giants wide receiver. Shander has been an update and talk show host on SiriusXM's Mad Dog Radio and before that, he was in Philadelphia on WIP and WPEN as well as a reporter for the Tennessee Titans Radio Network. This show has been on the air for the last few months holding the fort for NBC Sports Radio on weeknights. Just like Stashower's program, "Amani & Eytan" will handle breaking news and the West Coast games. They'll tackle Scott Ferrall on CBS Radio, a very good Fox Sports Tonight with Rob Dibble and Amy Van Dyken and ESPN Radio's SportsCenter Nightly with the venerable Doug Brown that extends until 2 a.m.
Dan Schwartzman, 1 a.m.-6 a.m.: The overnight shift is always thankless and the key is attracting calls from all over the country. Schwartzman has worked in the Delaware Valley and also on ESPN Radio in New York. Not an easy shift and he'll be on at the same time as JT the Brick on Fox, the very good Damon Amendolara on CBS and Jay Reynolds on ESPN.
So as you can see, NBC Sports Radio will be entering a suddenly crowded sports radio marketplace. It has the power of Dial Global as a distribution partner. The key will be attracting affiliates away from ESPN Radio and Fox which have been around for years and there's also Yahoo Sports Radio and CBS Sports Radio to contend with. NBC Sports Radio has to find a way to establish a foothold, otherwise, it will be lost in a sea of sports radio voices.
For more information on NBC Sports Radio, go to its recently relaunched website.