Paul Finebaum Leaves Birmingham's WJOX

Paul Finebaum, the afternoon host of Birmingham, Alabama's popular WJOX sports talk radio station, is leaving one of Cumulus radio's Southern sports powerhouses for a big payday from a competing station, 97.3 the Zone owned by Cox Communications. It's a big move in sports talk radio because Finebaum brings in several million dollars a year in ad revenue on one of the highest rated sports talk stations in the country. Finebaum's show is also simulcast nationwide on Sirius satellite radio, although the present satellite airing leads to minimal additional revenue. (Exactly how the satellite radio component to Finebaum's new deal will work going forward remains to be seen. It's possible that thanks to the popularity of the show satellite could be a substational revenue component in Finebaum's new deal.)

Finebaum will also be accompanied on the move to Cox Communications' 97.3 the Zone by Ryan Haney, program director at WJOX, who will now become program director at the new station, which has been to this point a perennial ratings doormat, regularly being trounced by WJOX in the ratings. Expectations are that Finebaum will be replaced in afternoons at WJOX by the mid-day show, the Roundtable with Lance Taylor, Jim Dunaway, and Ryan Brown. That trio's midday show, airing from 10 am-2 pm daily, is presently the highly rated lead-in to Finebaum's show. This will leave JOX with a large hole in the middays to fill.

Finebaum's relationship with Cumulus Media, which purchased his former employer Citadel in September of 2011, has been tumultuous, with the two sides recently engaging in a protracted lawsuit. That lawsuit was settled in July of 2012

Finebaum's departure is a major blow to Cumulus and COO John Dickey who told the trade show magazine Talkers back in July that "Finebaum will never work for Cox in Birmingham." Those comments came after Cox Communications has avidly wooed Finebaum for months, even going so far as to play a clock counting down the amount of days left until Finebaum's contract with Cumulus expired. That contract expired on Monday, leaving Finebaum a radio free agent. Finebaum, who has recently been profiled in the New Yorker, will have to serve a three-month non-compete in the Birmingham market. Conveniently that non-compete will arise during the dead season of college football, leaving Finebaum free to reemerge in time for the lead-in to the 2013 football season. (Depending on how his contract reads, Finebaum might not have to serve any non-compete at all for a national radio show, but indications are that Finebaum will take off the three months anyway.)

OKTC reached out to Finebaum and Ryan Haney seeking comment from both men, but neither replied.

The Finebaum Twitter account has been silent for two days and this morning the official JOX website removed all reference to Finebaum on the show lineup.


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Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021. One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape. Throughout the college football season, Travis is on Big Noon Kickoff for Fox Sports breaking down the game and the latest storylines. Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide. Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions and was on Fox Sports Bet for four years. Additionally, Travis started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports. Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers Too.