When he jumped ship from NJ 101.5 to 97.5 The Fanatic, Eric Johnson hoped his tenure would last longer than two years.
Johnson, who took over as The Fanatic’s program director in November 2017, found out Monday he no longer has a job at the sports talk station. Johnson declined to discuss the reason for his departure, but sources at the station pin it on cutbacks by parent company Beasley that already forced out one personality — former midday cohost Jayson Myrtetus.
“It was great to be part of the team to improve the Fanatic ratings the past two years,” Johnson said. “I’ve been at this radio game for 41 years and have met many talented people along the way — and will always be grateful for that.”
“Now I have a little time to enjoy the holidays and decide what to do next,” Johnson added.
It’s unclear if Beasley will replace Johnson with an outside hire. For now, it appears assistant program director Eric Camille will oversee programming at the station. Crossing Broad was first to report the news of Johnson’s departure.
Johnson wasn’t afraid to mix things up during his brief tenure at The Fanatic. He launched a new morning show with Marc Farzetta and Tre Thomas, moved Anthony Gargano to middays, and said goodbye to longtime host and fan favorite Harry Mayes.
Over the last two years, ratings have trended up at The Fanatic, though outside of Mike Missanelli’s afternoon show the lineup continues to fall well behind rival 94.1 WIP.
One on-air host, who was not allowed to speak publicly about Johnson’s dismissal, summed up his thoughts about Johnson’s departure in one word: “Sucks.”
ESPN’s Booger McFarland sure does love ‘The Wire’
Philly sports fans are often forced to endure cringe-worthy references to cheesesteaks during national coverage of local sports events. For Baltimore, that point of annoyance is the celebrated television show The Wire.
On Monday Night Football, ESPN analyst Booger McFarland drove Ravens fans nuts with his constant references to the HBO show, which he leaned on multiple times to fill airtime as the game quickly turned into a blowout against the Los Angeles Rams.
“One is The Wire. The other is Melrose Place," McFarland said multiple times of the two teams on the field. Play-by-play announcer Joe Tessitore was all in on the comparison as well, calling The Wire — a show about murder, drug deals, and how the system fails everyone — “the epitome of Baltimore.” They mentioned the show so often that The Wire became a trending topic on Twitter Monday night.
At least Tessitore had the good sense to warn McFarland he was going to hear it from fans and pundits on Twitter, which he did:
• It looks like former WIP host Chris Carlin is going to end up as the evening host for ESPN New York after being taken off the air at WFAN despite strong ratings. Carlin also does play-by-play for Rutgers football games.
• The New England Patriots’ win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday drew a massive 19.5 overnight rating, making it the most-watched regular season football game since 2007 and Fox’s highest-rated game since 1996. The ratings were helped in no small part by the NFL flexing out of Eagles-Seahawks and moving 49ers-Packers into Sunday Night Football, giving the game full national exposure.
• I guess Gronk the Fox Sports analyst is here to stay. Rob Gronkowski announced on Sunday he will not return to the Patriots this season, choosing instead to remain a cringe-worthy addition to Fox’s pregame and halftime studio coverage.
“The tension, anxiousness and build up to see if he’d actually complete his segment without combusting from saying so many words was more dramatic than anything we’ve seen on the field today,” Sports Illustrated’s Jimmy Traina wrote of Gronk’s appearance Sunday, where the former tight end looked more like a Bond villain than a studio analyst.