For the last nine years, Savannah’s sports radio scene has revolved around one show. “Three & Out” has been on the ESPN Radio Savannah airwaves each weekday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. since 2013, but last Wednesday (Aug. 24), Kevin Thomas, the longtime hostQ of the show, announced that WSEG 104.3 FM/1400 AM had been sold to new owners, meaning his show will air for the final time on Wednesday, August 31.
“Our radio station that we work for is in the process of being sold,” said Thomas while on-air with co-hosts BJ Bennett and Ben Troupe. “That being said, come the end of this month, there will be no more Three And Out.” (Watch below.)
Owned by Southern Media Interactive LLC, the 104.3 FM frequency was bought by Shanks Broadcasting, spearheaded by Macon sports radio personality Bill Shanks. Beginning in early September, Shanks will be bringing a different kind of product to Savannah’s only 24/7 sports radio station. It’ll go from being called ESPN Savannah (or ESPN Coastal in surrounding areas like Brunswick, Wayross, Blackshear) to simply “Sports Radio 104.3.”
Both Shanks and Thomas spoke with me over the phone last week about the upcoming change. My takeaway from those calls was that for better or worse, there is an undeniable shift in focus coming with the transition of ownership.
“We’re going to flood the airwaves with talk about sports in the state of Georgia,” said Shanks, who moved to Macon in 1996 and was born in Waycross. “I know what people talk about in Waycross, and I’m pretty sure in Savannah too. They want to talk about the Bulldogs and about the Braves.
“Our biggest competition, we’ve always believed, is satellite radio. But satellite radio cannot deliver hyper-content about the state of Georgia like we can. So compared to national content (which is currently a majority of the content on 104.3 FM outside of Three & Out), I think that kind of talk will go over well in any city in the state of Georgia.”
Shanks confirmed that the new dial will continue to have game calls from the Braves, Falcons, Hawks University of Georgia football and basketball, as well as the Friday night fall football calls of the Benedictine Cadet football games. So, that’ll remain the same. No shift in that department.
The significant change here is that Savannah will no longer have a local sports radio show as of 6:01 p.m. Wednesday evening when Three & Out signs off for the last time.
A lot of the 104.3 FM local shows (like Three & Out, Second Down with Christian Goeckel & PJ Zucco and The Back Nine Boys with Rich Styles) were done from the Brunswick studios, so they technically weren’t strictly Savannah sports radio shows. But a lot of them were done here too. The topics discussed and covered were coming from a Savannah angle. And for a sports fan living in Savannah, it felt good to have a daily show with that point of view.
On his show, Shanks talks about the same kind of things that Thomas, Bennett and Troupe do. It’s about the Braves, the Bulldogs and the Falcons. Everything else comes second. The difference will come in all of the other programming. Instead of national shows like “Keyshawn, JWill and Max” or “Bart and Hahn” or “Greeny,” 104.3 FM listeners will now here southeastern centric shows like The Bill King Show (from Nashville), Midday Sports Zone (Macon), Chuck Oliver Show (Atlanta) and The Bill Shanks Show (Macon).
“I think what we did, and what we were doing, it was working because we were able to last and stick,” said Thomas, a 44-year-old who has been doing radio for 21 years. “I don’t think we were doing anything wrong or that it wasn’t working or it was bad or anything like that. We got bought and sold and the guy who is buying the station has a show on at the same time as us. That’s just simple math.”
Thomas and Bennett started Three & Out with Matt Osborne in January 2013. When Osborne left a few years later, the show needed a third wheel. That came in the form of former University of Florida and NFL tight end Ben Troupe. Troupe joined in September of 2017 and the trio had been doing their thing ever since.
Moving forward, the trio still wants to work together and create content using Bennett’s popular college football website SouthernPigskin.com as the catalyst. What that will be, and what it will look like, is still being worked out, says Thomas.
“We still have the desire to work together,” he said. “Obviously that’ll probably be in digital form. But we are trying to decide what that will be.”
MONDAY-FRIDAY LINEUP ON SPORTS RADIO 104.3
7-9am: The Bill King Show
9-11am: The Dan Patrick Show
11am-1pm: Midday Sports Zone with Russ Brown & Daniel Shirley
1-3pm: The Chuck Oliver Show
3-6pm: The Bill Shanks Show
FOLLOW Travis Jaudon on Twitter/Instagram @JaudonSports. Email him at travisLjaudon@gmail.com. Listen to him on Hot Grits Podcast, Savannah’s No. 1 sports podcast. New episodes are released each Tuesday.