Rob Pate and Justin Hokanson had the best show on radio with their Eyes on Auburn show on 97.3 The Zone in Birmingham. Not simply the best show during an evening slot on a local station in Birmingham. Rob Pate and Justin Hokanson had the best radio show in the entire country in any time slot.
If you are an Auburn fan.
Eyes on Auburn brought a unique perspective to the state of Alabama; it gave sports fans a chance to peek into Auburn sports and develop a taste for what Auburn people and Auburn athletics are all about.
Sure, Auburn is discussed on other programs, and there are some that do make an honest effort to include objectivity when it comes to discussing Auburn, with varying degrees of success. However, more often than not, even the few shows that bother feigning to include an Auburn voice are comparable to saying that Alan Colmes brought a true balance to Sean Hannity’s show.
It’s tough being an Auburn fan if you’re looking for good, honest radio, and Eyes on Auburn offered that, even if it was for just a short period of time late in the evening once a week. The show offered actual insight into the program, with interviews from coaches, commitments, and former players. No mindless WWE style call-outs. No wide-reaching conspiracy theories about any program, even Auburn’s rivals, receiving the death penalty. And certainly none of this being encouraged and perpetuated by the hosts themselves.
But now, that is gone. Eyes on Auburn has, for all intents and purposes, been cancelled. At least temporarily.
Meanwhile, 97.3 has apparently tried to eschew fairness for all and has publicly courted the most divisive man in the state, Paul Finebaum.
Very, very few Auburn fans out there would claim that Finebaum has any positive interests for Auburn in his heart. His shtick has always been the same – When Auburn is good, there are reasons why they shouldn’t be. When Auburn is bad, they’re fun to laugh at because they are comprised of mostly lunatic, inept football fans. When Alabama is good, all is right with the world, and when Alabama is bad, there are plenty of reasons why they shouldn’t be.
And that’s fine. If Paul Finebaum wants to run his show that way, he is welcome to. This is America. It’s a free country comprised of capitalistic ideals. Based on ratings, it would seem that the Alabama public actually craves the kind of mindless drivel spewed by Finebaum and others. Radio stations believe in making money, and if purely Auburn radio shows made money, they would be on the air.
As much as it may pain some to read this, Auburn fans can turn off Paul Finebaum. They can also turn off Jay Barker in the morning. They can even turn off the Roundtable, simply for being an admitted trio of Alabama fans, if they so choose. But one thing that Auburn fans are no longer free to do is turn on a radio show that is pro-Auburn.
Along with Finebaum to 97.3, comes his longtime Programming Director Ryan Haney. However, Haney is completely inactive from any decision making until the terms of his non-complete clause expire 90 days after leaving WJOX.
“Haney has been a fan of the show and tried to get us to JOX before we started at 97.3,” said Pate when asked for comment.
Auburn University produces thousands of new graduates each year and has had a profound impact on the progression of our state. We have one of the largest, most active fan bases in all of college football. Yet, as a fan base we cannot bring ourselves to support Auburn shows and we constantly find ourselves tuning in to the shows that feature hosts who would like to see Auburn struggle. More importantly, Auburn continues to produce several successful business owners and executives who must support pro-Auburn programming through advertising dollars.
Pate continues…”We appreciated the opportunity Cox Media gave us, but need the support of Auburn businesses and people to provide the forum to continue the show. We can’t give the business executives any reason to cut our program. Very few sales equals no show. We know Auburn people are listening. We now need them to step up with the resources needed to make a show happen.”
Despite a growing listening audience, the powers-that-be at 97.3 failed to make strong efforts to sell Eyes on Auburn. Never to Yield has learned that the show’s hosts made multiple efforts to do so themselves by submitting sales leads and other ideas to management, but none of these ever materialized. In fact, the suspicion is that management actively discouraged sponsors who were interested in supporting the show.
All eyes should be on Auburn fans. This is a call to action. Do you demand that Auburn fans get at least one show free from anti-Auburn bias and vitriol? If you get that show, do you tune in, listen, call, discuss, advertise, and support it like you do our Auburn team on Saturdays in the fall?
The ball is our court, and we have the opportunity to make a difference in what is broadcast on the airwaves. Are you game?
To get involved contact the current Programming Director, John Olsen, at firstname.lastname@example.org as well as the new General Manager David Dubose at email@example.com and let them know that you would like to see Eyes on Auburn return to the airwaves. If you own a business, please contact them as well to request advertising space once the show returns. Or better yet, contact Justin Hokanson directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to ensure that your request is not ignored.