By Rodney Ho, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution #atlanta-ga
Sports talk 680/The Fan dropped veteran hosts Stephen “Steak” Shapiro and John Kincade this week and added several personalities from Xtra 106.3 including “Hometeam” Brandon Leak and Joe Hamilton.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the bottom lines of all radio stations. For the past three years, 680/The Fan has been operating a second sports talk station Xtra 106.3 that generates very little income and is, in effect, subsidized by the Fan.
David Dickey, who runs the Fan, was using the second station as a minor league team to develop talent. He couldn’t afford to do that anymore so he decided to take much of the talent from Xtra 106.3 and place them on the Fan.
At the same time, with several months of depressed revenues, he decided to let go morning host Shapiro, who has been there seven years since selling off his former rival station 790/The Zone. Given his level of experience and brand name recognition in town, Shapiro is one of the highest paid talents on the station. He has worked his entire time at the Fan with Sandra Golden and Brian Finneran. He also runs Atlanta Eats, which provides content about local restaurants, and Bread n Butter Content Studio.
Kincade was also released from his duties. He just celebrated 20 years at the station with Buck Belue and is a national weekend CBS Sports talk show host and podcast co-host with Shaquille O’Neal. The biggest name from Xtra 106.3 that didn’t make the transition was Mark Zinno, who previously worked at 92.9/The Game.
“John and Steak and Mark are great guys and talented broadcasters,” Dickey said. “They will always be a part of The Fan and my hope is we will continue to work together in many forms and functions.”
Shapiro, in a statement, said, “as a business owner, I absolutely understand what is going on here and hold no animosity. I’ve been paid incredibly well and had the time of my life for seven years but the timing of this is really perfect. The company I own is really taking off and two full-time jobs was taking its toll on the business and my three kids and my family. I feel incredibly rejuvenated although I will miss my cohosts Sandra and Brian incredibly. I love them, but not the crazy hours. Lots of great things coming.”
Zinno, who worked at Xtra 106.3 the past three years, said in an interview that he’s still in shock over the situation.
“I’m proud and happy to have been part of the Dickey broadcasting family however short at time it was,” Zinno said. “To Steak and John, those guys are still heroes of mine in the business. Every award and recognition they got along the way was well earned.”
He had previously worked at 92.9/The Game and said he is grateful Dickey gave him a “second life in this business. I have nothing but kind things to say about David Dickey. That man tried like hell to keep everyone employed.”
Dickey provided the Atlanta Journal-Constitution with the new daytime weekday schedule on the Fan, which is now five shows instead of four.
The Front Row: 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Sandra Golden, Brian Finneran and now John Michaels
Brandon Leak and Joe Hamilton: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Nick Cellini and Chris Dimino 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Buck Belue, Hutson Mason and Tug Cowart 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Chuck and Chernoff: 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Chuck Oliver and Matt Chernoff
The Fan will now have 12 full-time hosts from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays instead of nine. In comparison, rival 92.9/The Game runs three shows during that same time period with a total of six hosts.
Dickey said Xtra 106.3 will simulcast the Fan for the time being “until I start building more new shows and talent for further expansion.”