Wednesday afternoon, the Redskins put a halt to 106.7 The Fan's (WJFK-FM) planned live broadcast of Robert Griffin III's pre-training camp press conference, which was broadcast on the team's flagship radio station, ESPN980 (WTEM-AM), CSN Washington, and all four of D.C.'s network TV affiliates. The team's intervention prompted a rant from 106.7's afternoon host, Chad Dukes, who has been known to express his frustration with the Redskins before.
Reached by phone Wednesday night, ESPN 980 Program Director Chuck Sapienza said that he had no prior knowledge that the Redskins would stop 106.7 The Fan's planned broadcast of Griffin's press conference.
"That had nothing to do with us," Sapienza said. "We had no say over it ... Nobody called me from the Redskins.
"If someone had asked me if I would want exclusive coverage [of Griffin's press conference], of course I would. But I don't have the authority to stop [rival stations from broadcasting]."
However, Sapienza did criticize 106.7 for using what he believes are similar tactics in keeping potential guests off 980's airwaves.
"They put a stop to us having [Nationals General Manager] Mike Rizzo on the air," Sapienza said. 106.7 is the Nationals' flagship station; however, games are also carried on Richmond's WXGI-AM and the AM and FM stations of Virginia Beach's WXTG. All three stations, like ESPN 980, are owned by Red Zebra Broadcasting, which was founded by Redskins owner Dan Snyder, and both WXGI and WXTG-FM carry Redskins games as well.
Sapienza said that Rizzo had not been on 980's airwaves since before Major League Baseball's All-Star Break. He added that the station had been prevented from honoring TV sports broadcaster and D.C. native James Brown in its "Lunch With A Legend" series due to Brown's position as the host of CBS' The NFL Today. Similarly, Sapienza said, the station was unable to have former Redskins General Manager Charley Casserly on air due to the latter's position as a CBS NFL analyst. CBS owns WJFK, as well as all-news station WNEW-FM (99.1) and talk station WNEW-AM (1580).
"I like 90 percent of the guys over there [at WJFK]," Sapienza said. "I like [WJFK program director] Chris Kinard. He's a smart guy. But CBS does this all the time to us as well ... It's kind of funny that they're upset about this, when they just did the exact same thing."
Sapienza also reaffirmed that the presence of Snyder on Red Zebra's board of directors does not interfere with 980's programming.
"I've been program director for two years and vice president of programming for one year," Sapienza said. "This conversation we're having now [15-20 minutes] is longer than any I've had with Dan Snyder."
Kinard responded Thursday afternoon by email: "Having an exclusive personal services contract with an individual is a lot different than barring a station from covering a news event. This was a press conference, not an interview request. The Redskins barred 106.7 The Fan... and ONLY 106.7 The Fan, from covering a live press conference. And only because the Redskins own 980. Listeners can make their own minds up about how this will affect their listening habits."