Led by an Old Grey Wolf, DFW’s sports radio market to add one more sports station

Scott Fischer/FortWorth

DFW will soon return to its previous status as a three sports-talk station region.

The man who brought us the first will soon bring us the third.

Mike Rhyner, the man is given the credit for helping start the popular Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket, is coming out of retirement to lend his talents to 97.1 The Freak.

“I can neither confirm nor deny this,” Rhyner wrote via text.

Rhyner, sometimes known as The Old Grey Wolf, retired from The Ticket in Jan. of 2020. He’s still been active on social media, and with his local band, “Petty Theft.”

Multiple sources confirmed that 97.1 The Eagle is planning to change its name to The Freak, and flip its format to sports talk.

That will give us 1310 The Ticket, 105.3 The Fan, and 97.1 The Freak.

Long time DFW sports reporter Richie Whitt first reported this on SI.com.

It sounds as if The Freak will be a Ticket 2.0, as many of the personalities that were established on 1310 are expected to join Rhyner.

97.1 The Eagle is the current home of the popular long-time local sports radio personalities Ben Rogers and Jeff “Skin” Wade, “The Ben and Skin Show,” which airs in the afternoons.

“Ben and Skin” previously hosted its show on 105.3 The Fan before leaving for The Eagle. Wade is also a long time member of the Dallas Mavericks television broadcast team.

In September of last year, the Mavericks announced it would end its 20-year relationship with 103.3 ESPN and have its games broadcast on 97.1.

As far as the lineup at The Freak, expect people you have heard before at other stations in town.

Sources said former 105.3 The Fan personality Jeff Cavanaugh is in the mix to join The Freak, as are former Ticket personalities Julie Dobbs and Mike Sirois.

Ex-Ticket personality Danny Bayless, who left the station in May, is another name on the table for The Freak.

Cavanaugh had been with The Fan for 12 years, and left the station early in 2022. He built a stable of loyal listeners with his analysis of the Dallas Cowboys, and NFL draft and prospect coverage.

He currently hosts a football-centric show on his YouTube channel.

Mike Sirois had been with The Ticket as a producer for 15 years, but left the station in June.

Dobbs has worked in DFW both on radio and TV for more than a decade. She currently hosts a podcast with Texas Rangers reporter, Emily Jones, “The Mom Game.”

Expect The Freak to follow a similar format The Ticket made so popular. Sports. Personalities. Entertainment. Lifestyle.

It will not be a repeat of ESPN.

ESPN’s 103.3 FM station in DFW was originally the second spot in town to compete with The Ticket. It had moderate success, primarily with former Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram sports columnist Randy Galloway hosting his afternoon show.

Once Galloway retired in 2013, the station was never able to challenge The Ticket in the ratings.

ESPN stopped local programming several years ago, opting for the more cost-effective national shows that drew minimal interest in town.

Earlier this year, Disney effectively sold this particular ESPN station and now 103.3 broadcasts religious programming.

After some initial turnover more than 15 years ago, The Fan has become a staple in DFW with hosts Shan Shariff, R.J. Choppy, Gavin Dawson, Mike Bacsik and a few others.

Now the market will soon have a third sports station, including the one that basically started this thing 30 years ago.