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AM sports radio changes include new CBS network

Local sports talk radio is shifting gears - and getting ready to roll out a new set of wheels.

Local sports talk radio is shifting gears - and getting ready to roll out a new set of wheels.

As of 6 p.m. today, 97.5 FM will be the only home for the Fanatic, as a Christian broadcaster takes over the 950 AM spot.

As of Jan. 2, WIP's full local lineup will be heard only at 94.1 FM, as owner CBS launches a new national sports radio network, airing in Philadelphia on 610 AM, the original home of WIP.

Not that WIP's pulling out of AM entirely.

"We can and will preempt national content for local programming," said WIP program director Jeff Sottolano. "We will continue, for instance, to broadcast Eagles game coverage on both 94.1 and 610. That includes not only the game action itself but pre- and postgame coverage."

Preemptions are also expected for Villanova and St. Joe's basketball, while selected national NFL and NCAA games, including March Madness, might run on both stations, thanks to deals secured by WIP.

The new network's weekday lineup will consist of former N.Y. Giants running back Tiki Barber, with Brandon Tierney and Dana Jacobson, both formerly with ESPN, in the morning, sportswriter John Feinstein from 9 a.m. to noon, veteran talker Jim Rome from noon to 3 p.m., and basketballer-turned-analyst Doug Gottlieb from 3 to 6 p.m.

94 WIP will continue to air its current cast of characters, beginning with Angelo Cataldi, Al Morganti and Rhea Hughes in the morning, followed by Ike Reese and Michael Barkann at 10 a.m., Anthony Gargano and Glen Macnow at 1 p.m., Rob Ellis in the evenings, and Big Daddy Graham overnight.

Likewise, at the Fanatic, no changes are expected to the usual lineup, which includes Mike & Mike in the Morning, Brian Baldinger, Jon Marks, Tony Bruno and Mike Missanelli, as well as Sixers and - eventually - Flyers games, once the NHL lockout is settled.

If the Sixers and Flyers conflict, the hockey game will be broadcast on WMMR (93.3 FM).

The station will also continue to air some national games, such as college bowls and the NBA playoffs, made available through its affiliation with ESPN.

Greater Media sold the AM station to Family Radio, which will broadcast Christian content, starting this evening, under the call letters WKDN.

The deal made business sense, because 95 percent of the Fanatic's audience was already listening on FM, said John Fullam, market manager for Greater Media.

"It's just a better signal, a better sound," he said.

WKDN used to belong to Family Radio's Camden-based station at 106.9 FM, but after a sale to Merlin Media last spring, the station became conservative news-talker WWIQ.

CBS says its sports radio network will involve more than 100 radio stations, including ones in the 10 top U.S. markets.