“We’re trying to evolve and make the station as great as we can make it,” said new Game brand manager Mike Conti in an interview. “It’s a pure enhancement.”
Conti believes Shapiro and Golden can bring more lifestyle elements to a sports talk show, something the pair has specialized in over the years: “I look forward to having food discussions with Steak and talk entertainment and current events with Sandra.”
Shapiro, a fixture on sports talk in Atlanta for a quarter century, was cut from 680/The Fan in 2020 as a mid-morning host of the Front Row after the pandemic began in 2020 as a cost-cutting measure. Golden, unhappy without Shapiro, left in early 2021.
Shapiro joined his former rival the Fan in 2013 after owning 790/The Zone, the now defunct sports station, for 14 years and staying on another three years as a morning host. Shapiro makes a bulk of his income nowadays as owner of his successful Bread n Butter Content Studio and the award-winning “Atlanta Eats” franchise since 2012.
Golden has been in Atlanta media since 1997 as one of the few women in the business. For several years, she worked at Fox Sports South covering the Atlanta Braves and ACC sports, then landed at the Zone in 2004. She jumped to the Fan in 2011 and stayed there a decade.
>>RELATED: My profile of Sandra Golden from 2015
There will be no departures on 92.9/The Game. The morning show with John Fricke and Hugh Douglas will move back an hour and run 5 to 9 a.m.. The midday show hosted by Randy McMichael and Andy Bunker will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. instead of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a fourth digital-only hour in the works.
After years of regular changes in its lineup since the station launched in 2012, the Game eventually found a stable set of broadcasters. This is the first change in its weekday lineup since 2019. (The only original host from day one is Carl Dukes in late afternoons.)
Brian Finneran, formerly part of The Front Row at the Fan, last year moved to the Locker Room, the current morning show at the station.
Shapiro said in an interview that he was fine with not going back to radio and in fact had offers from other markets. But he is well established in Atlanta and the only option in his mind was the Game. When he first arrived in Atlanta in the mid-1990s, he worked with Rick Caffey, who runs Audacy’s Atlanta division including the Game and V-103. They have been friends for decades.
The Game tried to woo Shapiro back in 2013 after he lost his job at the Zone but he ended up taking the Fan job instead. “We kept talking and the conversations got more real,” he said. “Then the opportunity started to present itself.”
Shapiro said he’s excited by the prospect of being on the Game. “It’s a 100,000-watt FM flamethrower, the biggest station I’ve ever been on,” he said. “You can hear it from Lake Burton. I’m not used to that.” The Game airs all the games for the Atlanta Falcons, the Atlanta Hawks and the Atlanta United.
The radio schedule will allow Shapiro to keep running his production company. Sports talk, he said, “is a passion.”
Golden said she spent the past 18 months honing her fishing skills and taking care of her family. (Her father died in the interim.)
“Once again, I’m riding Steak’s coattails to the top,” she said. “He makes it easy. We have fun. It will be the fastest two hours in radio.”
Shapiro said having Golden as his primary partner in crime on the Front Row was important: “She’s not an anchor or a sideline reporter. She is that rare female sports talk host. It’s nice to have someone like her who has 25 years in the market.”
And Shapiro plans to use his own sales and financial acumen to bring in sponsorship and endorsement money for the Game.