For the past nine years, Savannah’s sports radio scene has revolved around one show. “Three & Out” has aired on ESPN Radio Savannah weekdays from 3-6 p.m. since 2013, but last Wednesday (August 24), the show’s longtime host Kevin Thomas announced that WSEG 104.3 FM/1400 AM had been sold to new owners, meaning its show will air for the last time on Wednesday, August 31.
“Our radio station that we work for is being sold,” Thomas said during a show with co-hosts BJ Bennett and Ben Troupe. “That being said, at 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 purchased by Shanks Broadcasting, run by Macon sports radio personality Bill Shanks. Starting in early September, Shanks will bring a different kind of product to Savannah’s only 24/7 sports radio station. It will change from being called ESPN Savannah (or ESPN Coastal in surrounding areas like Brunswick, Wayross, Blackshear) to simply “Sports Radio 104.3”.
Shanks and Thomas spoke to me on the phone last week about the upcoming change. What I took away from these calls is that for better or for worse, there is an undeniable shift in direction with the transition of ownership.
“We’re going to flood the airwaves with sports talk in the state of Georgia,” said Shanks, who moved to Macon in 1996 and was born in Waycross. “I know what people are talking about in Waycross, and I’m pretty sure in Savannah too. They want to talk about the Bulldogs and the Braves.
“Our biggest competitor, we have always believed, is satellite radio. But satellite radio can’t deliver hyper-content about the state of Georgia like we can. So relative to national content (which is the majority of content on 104.3 FM right now outside of Three & Out), I think that kind of conversation will do well in any city in the state of Georgia.
Shanks confirmed that the new dial will continue to receive game calls from the Braves, Falcons, Georgia Hawks University football and basketball, as well as Friday night football calls from fall games. Benedictine cadet football. So it will stay the same. No change in this department.
The significant change here is that Savannah will no longer have a local sports radio show starting at 6:01 p.m. Wednesday night when Three & Out goes offline for the last time.
Many of the local 104.3 FM shows (like Three & Out, Second Down with Christian Goeckel & PJ Zucco and The Back Nine Boys with Rich Styles) were made from Brunswick studios, so technically they weren’t strictly Savannah sports radio broadcasts. But many of them were made here too. Topics discussed and covered came from a Savannah angle. And for a sports fan living in Savannah, it feels 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. These are the Braves, Bulldogs and Falcons. Everything else comes second. The difference will come in all the other programming. Instead of national shows like “Keyshawn, JWill and Max” or “Bart and Hahn” or “Greeny”, 104.3 FM listeners here will now see Southeast-focused 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 worked because we were able to last and stick,” said Thomas, a 44-year-old who has been in radio for 21 years. “I don’t think we did anything wrong or it didn’t work or it was bad or anything like that. We’ve been bought and sold and the guy who buys the station has a show at the same time as us. These are just simple calculations.
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. The troupe joined in September 2017 and the trio had been doing their thing ever since.
Going forward, the trio still wants to work together and create content using Bennett’s popular college football website, SouthernPigskin.com, as a catalyst. What it will be and what it will look like is still being worked out, Thomas says.
“We still have a desire to work together,” he said. “Obviously it will probably be in digital form. But we are trying to decide what it will be.
MONDAY TO FRIDAY PROGRAMMING ON SPORTS RADIO 104.3
7am-9am: Bill King show
9am-11am: The Dan Patrick show
11am-1pm: Noon Sports Zone with Russ Brown & Daniel Shirley
1-3 p.m.: The Chuck Oliver Show
3-6 p.m.: Bill Shanks show
FOLLOW Travis Jaudon on Twitter/Instagram @JaudonSports. Email him at [email protected] Listen to it on Hot Grits Podcast, Savannah’s #1 sports podcast. New episodes are released every Tuesday.