Detroit Lions Moving To WJR As WXYT Host Claims Team Demanded He Be Fired If It Wanted To Keep Broadcast Rights
November 20, 2015 at 3:59 AM (PT)
DETROIT LIONS football will move from CBS RADIO Sports WXYT-F (97.1 THE TICKET)/DETROIT to crosstown CUMULUS News-Talk WJR-A under a new deal to start next season. The deal, initially reported by both the DETROIT FREE PRESS and DETROIT NEWS are reporting, was immediately followed by controversy, as news spread that the team had demanded that CBS fire TICKET host MIKE VALENTI if it wanted to keep the rights. VALENTI has been a harsh critic of the LIONS over the years.
After his agent publicly alleged that the team had issued an ultimatum to CBS, VALENTI, on the air FRIDAY, said, "It's absolutely true, 100% of it." VALENTI pointed to LIONS VP of Communications BILL KEENIST as having frequently called the station during breaks to try to control VALENTI's comments, and added that the LIONS are "an organization that has consistently made our lives miserable at this station... This is a petty, juvenile, nasty organization." He agreed that "the LIONS aren't here because of me."
...This is a petty, juvenile, nasty organization.
VALENTI's comments are in accordance with a statement from CBS RADIO SVP/Market Manager DEBBIE KENYON, who said. "It is sad to say goodbye, but in the end it came down to the integrity of CBS -- The refusal to be censored in talking about the team and making honest assessments on the air about this team."
The official announcement of the LIONS-CUMULUS deal made no mention of CBS or the VALENTI controversy, simply saying that the deal is for five years with no additional terms disclosed, and quoting CUMULUS VP/Market Manager as calling the deal a "natural partnership" and LIONS SVP of Marketing and Partnerships ELIZABETH PARKINSON as saying that "WJR’s signal strength and world class staff will ensure that our co-produced game broadcasts and weekly programming will be accessible over-the-air for LIONS fans throughout the entire GREAT LAKES region."
The LIONS were on WJR until 1988, when they moved to CBS' News WWJ-A. DAN MILLER and JIM BRANDSTATTER are expected to continue to call the games after the move to WJR.