‘Kap & J.Hood’ morning show highlights ESPN 1000’s new lineup
With ESPN Radio revamping its schedule, ESPN 1000 market manager Mike Thomas said the time was right for the station to have its first local morning show as a network affiliate.
ESPN 1000 listeners have been clamoring about it for years, and starting Monday, they’ll finally have it: a local morning show.
And if all goes well for the station, it’ll gain some converts along the way.
When ESPN market manager Mike Thomas unveiled a new weekday lineup this week, the biggest change was David Kaplan’s “Kap & Co.” moving from 9 a.m.-noon to 7-10 a.m. and dropping the “Company” for “J. Hood,” a k a Jonathan Hood. With ESPN Radio revamping its national lineup, Thomas said the time was right for ESPN 1000 to have its first local morning show as a network affiliate.
“When they announced that they were going to be adjusting their schedule, we were able to have conversations with them,” said Thomas, who took over ESPN 1000 in January. “We’re still able to air four hours a day of their network programming during prime [hours]. So it’s kind of the best for everybody.”
ESPN Radio’s former morning show with Mike Golic and Trey Wingo wrapped up July 31. The new show’s cast is former NFL wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, NBA analyst Jay Williams and “SportsCenter” anchor Zubin Mehenti. The show airs nationally from 5-9 a.m., but ESPN 1000 will carry it until 7 a.m., making way for “Kap & J. Hood.”
Carmen DeFalco and John Jurkovic will move from noon-2 to 10 a.m.-noon. They’ll be followed by another national show with Mike Greenberg, who began his sports-media career in Chicago. The afternoon show with Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman stays in its 2-6 slot, and producers Chris Bleck and Adam Abdalla follow from 6-8 p.m. with their own new show that includes “The Baseball Show.”
But the headline is the morning show, which will combine early bird Kaplan with night owl Hood.
“I’m up at 4:30, so it doesn’t change my life in terms of what time I get up,” Kaplan said. “But morning drive in Chicago is the big leagues. This has been a career goal from the time I sat down to do the sports with the late Bob Collins [on the WGN morning show].”
Hood handled morning updates when he began at ESPN 1000 in 2005, but he has worked weeknights since 2006.
“I’ll be home from the bars at 10 instead of 3,” Hood said. “When you work weeknights, you don’t go to sleep right away. You’re going out or you’re watching movies, and I don’t fall asleep until 2 or 3 in the morning, and I get up at 8 or 9. It’ll be different, but it’s a welcome change.”
Kaplan and Hood will bring energy and enthusiasm to the show; they already have a friendship. They’ve known each other since their previous employment (Kaplan at WGN, Hood at The Score), and Hood has co-hosted on Kaplan’s show numerous times.
“Kap has earned this opportunity,’’ Thomas said. ‘‘He’s got polarizing takes, which is exactly what you want. And nobody has worked harder than Jonathan Hood. He has been grinding for years, waiting for an opportunity. They both like to have fun; they both have strong opinions. I think that it’s going to make for a fun dynamic in the mornings.”
They could give The Score’s 5-9 morning show, with Mike Mulligan and David Haugh, a run for its money. In fact, The Score’s longtime grip on the time slot appears to be slipping.
According to the website Barrett Sports Media, in the Nielsen Audio spring ratings book (March 26-June 17) for the demographic of men 25-54, “Mully & Haugh” ranked 13th in the market (2.8), four spots behind “Golic and Wingo” (4.3).