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Radio & TV Talk

Posted: 9:22 a.m. Friday, Jan. 25, 2013

680/The Fan creates new mid-morning show with Sandra Golden, Brian Finneran and former Star 94 host Ray Mariner 

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The Front Row
Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com
680/The Fan's new Front Row show: Brian Finneran (left), Sandra Golden (center) and Ray Mariner (right)

By Rodney Ho

680/The Fan, for the first time in years, is going fully "live and local" during the weekdays with a new 9 a.m. to noon show starting Monday featuring former Star 94 morning host Ray Mariner, former Falcon Brian Finneran and long-time sports host Sandra Golden.

It's dubbed "The Front Row."

The show effectively replaces a short-term fill-in - syndicated talk show host Dan Patrick - and prior to that, a much longer run with syndicated host Colin Cowherd, now on 790/The Zone.

This thins the morning show a bit, with Christopher Rude, Perry Laurentino and Leo Mazzone (during the baseball season)  remaining and also ending an hour earlier.

I was invited to the offices to talk to the trio.  Golden was positivtely giddy about the change after nine years collectively doing morninigs on the Zone and for the past two years, the Fan.

She will now have closer to normal hours. At the same time, she gives props to Rude, a former rock jock who made the transition to sports talk more than a decade ago. "I've learned so much about radio from him," she said. "He's so good with callers and he's fan friendly."

Mariner, who left Star 94 in May, 2012, with no explanation, said he loves how quick witted Golden is.  (I talked to him in the hallway with people walking by every five seconds so I felt  awkward asking him about his mysterious departure. I'll try him later on the subject though I doubt  he's going to reveal much.)

He is a sports buff, he said, despite his background as a radio DJ and record label rep. In fact, the first time I met Mariner was more than a decade ago when I attended a Cake 99X Live X  and he was repping the band so he's familiar with what is now the Cumulus radio space. (Back then, when Susquehanna was the owner, the floor had just two stations: 99x and Q100. Today, it fits 98.9/The Bone, Q100, Rock 100.5, Kicks and All News 106.7. The bathrooms, I'm told, get super busy.) Mariner, before he joined Cindy Simmons as an afternoon (then morning) host at Star 94 in 2004, worked with acts such as Destiny's Child, Train, John Mayer, Aerosmith and Mariah Carey

Mariner and David Dickey, who runs the Fan, met last fall. Dickey gave Mariner a test run with Golden on Saturdays through the fall. Then Dickey placed Golden, Mariner and Finneran together over Christmas to sub in for Rude and Laurentino. It clicked.

"This is a dream job for me," Mariner said. "I couldn't really talk about sports on Star 94. This is the place I really wanted to be." (Ironically, he used to work at the Star 94 studio in Buckhead across the way from 790/The Zone's studios.)

One aspect of radio he learned from Star he feels he can transfer to sports talk is teasing to the next segment. "You want to keep them listening," he said. With most sports fans knowing the scores from the night before by the time 9 a.m. rolls around, "we need to find another layer of the onion, another part of the story. We're going to embrace callers and fans on Twitter. Brian and Sandra do a really good job with that."

Finneran began his radio career a decade ago while he was still active with the Falcons doing a weekly football talk show with Max Howell and Laurentino. In 2007, while injured, he filled in on the morning show. Last year, he joined the Rude Awakening. "I built my resume," he said, before he even left the NFL.

"Being a free agent, a scrub and a backup at times, I didn't know if I'd get a contract the next year or get cut the next day," said Finneran, 36, who spent 10 years with the Falcons until 2010.

Doing the test shows with Mariner and Golden, he said, "we had a blast and we had great feedback. We were just yukking it up."

Rodney Ho

About Rodney Ho

I cover local radio and TV for both the print and online editions. I write a blog on the same topics.

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