LISTEN: Jeff Smulyan, Founder Of WFAN, Reminisces About Launching Nation’s First All-Sports Radio Station

NEW YORK (WFAN) — The founder of WFAN came home Friday.

Jeff Smulyan, chairman and CEO of Emmis Communications, appeared as a guest on Mike Francesa’s show. WFAN — and sports talk radio in general — was Smulyan’s brainchild.

“I had the idea when I was not paying attention in a class at USC almost 50 years ago,” he said. “It was one of those things you file away in the back of your mind.”

Years later, Emmis owned WHN, which aired country music and Mets games. It was “the largest country music station in America, which made it about 25th in New York,” Smulyan joked.

MORE: WFAN 30th Anniversary

“So we had to decide and said if I’m ever going to do this, this is the time,” he said.

Smulyan said he met with his senior managers to discuss changing the format to around-the-clock sports, and none of them thought it was a good idea.

“Rick Cummings, who then and now was head of programming in the company — he was the first employee of the company — came into my office with Doyle Rose, who was then running the radio group, and they said: ‘We still think it’s a stupid idea, but we owe you one. This is your baby. So we’ll do it,'” Smulyan said.

WFAN is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

To listen to full interview with Smulyan, click on the audio player above.

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