Mac McDonald to leave WINA mornings

Sports radio commentator Mac McDonald announced this morning that he will soon leave his post as a regular host on the WINA morning talk radio program to focus on other activities such as blogging and pod-casting with his actual employer, Cavalier Sports Marketing, an arm of the UVA athletic department.
Many listeners to the drive-time program on 1070 AM may not realize it, but McDonald, aka "The Voice of the Cavaliers," is actually paid by the Cavaliers.

News of McDonald's departure, delivered just before 8am, seemed to take morning hosts Jay James (filling in for medically recovering Dick Mountjoy) and Jane Foy by surprise. "You talked up to the end so we couldn't get a word in," said a seemingly faux-angry Foy, as WINA broke to another segment.

McDonald had been a regular presence on the station since 1996. He says that while May 31 will be his last day on the morning show, "It's not like I'm leaving." He says he plans to appear periodically on WINA in the future to call athletic contests and special events.

"There's not going to be a swan song, a salute-to-Mac day. I'm just going to slip out to the golf course."

During his departure announcement, McDonald alluded to "the Virginia contract," presumably a reference to WINA's right to broadcast UVA sports games, saying it would be decided in the "next two weeks."

In recent days, Saga Communications– the company that owns WINA, 3WV, WQMZ, and a new left-wing talk station– has begun sharpening its contract demands– including requesting that guests bring more to the table than merely their vocal skills. For instance, The Hook, a once-a-week WINA presence since the paper's 2002 founding, was recently asked to contribute about $14,000 worth of advertising to retain the privilege. We declined.


Just so long as UVA doesn't send the games to the ESPN outpost in "Charlottesville." I put "Charlottesville" in quotes, because the Earlysville-based station is swamped after dark by 840 AM out of Louisville, KY in downtown Charlottesville. Not being able to listen in Charlottesville to basketball games during the winter would suck.

If UVA drops WINA/3WV, they have ClearChannel in town - and all around the state. ClearChannel has coveted UVA since they opened up shop here. UVA could easily sign on with CC and do one-stop shopping. They'd have better marketing opportunities and a more effecient operation than they can get with their network of random stations. Now that Eure sold out to Saga, there's no longer any reason for them to continue to support WINA/WWWV as "locally-owned," and it wouldn't surprise me if that relationship started to sour when the Richardson family sold WINA and Z-95 to the Eures. The Richardsons drip class and are truly some of the nicest people you'd ever want to meet. The Eures are, well, the Eures.

Don't get me wrong- ClearChannel is super bad for broadcast radio and music in a thousand different ways, but a company like Saga is only a smaller version of CC that aspires to the same level of "greatness." While it's absolutely true that CC heavily plays artists that they have tour contracts with (ClearChannel owns a huge number of large and medium-sized concert venues all over the US) and has no problems pulling the Dixie Chicks because they said three years ago what a great many people (including Republicans!) are saying now, it's no better that some programming genius at 3WV thinks it's a good idea to play several songs from the band Boston every day.

Losing the UVA contract would be devastating to the Saga stations. That's a huge chunk of ad revenue and partnerships they'd be giving up - and then they'd actually have to sell their programming, which is probably not something their ad salespeople look forward to - especially since landing the UVA gig would completely legitimize ClearChannel in this market.

McDonald is an extremely good and professional sports announcer - he does a great job with the games. He's no Warren Swain, but nobody is. McDonald replaced a legend, and that's hard to do. Granted - he has no clue about music (his favorite local band is The Houserockers - seriously, does anybody remember him ranting when CDF gave Paint the Town Orange and Blue to a different band?), but it's a pleasure listening to him announce UVA games.

If ESPN 840 DID land the UVA games, it would only be if they bought another local broadcast entity with a better signal. And if that happened, it would be awesome. Van McElroy is the best thing to happen to the local sports scene since somebody invented softball, and it would be pretty cool if he teamed with McDonald to really talk up UVA and other local sports.

Back when I was an undergrad and expressed an interest in going into play-by-play, he offered to to set me up with a headset and tape deck courtside for a women's game, and then review the tape with me, giving me pointers. I decided against radio, but he stuck with me. Another name from that time, Robert Fish, is doing R-Braves work just down the road.

I'm a McElroy fan, even though he's too "Philly" for me, and I spent three years in grad school there, so I'm totally familiar with Angelo Cataldi and was in school with Howard Eskin's niece.

Clear Channel, feh. Will they put the games on an FM outpost here in town?

Totally "inside baseball," but I think Mac is paid by Cavalier Sports Marketing, which isn't really UVa, but is pretty close.

"Totally ââ?¬Å?inside baseball,” but I think Mac is paid by Cavalier Sports Marketing, which isn't really UVa, but is pretty close."

Actually, I'm pretty sure CSM is wholly-owned and operated by UVA - it's the marketing arm of the athletic department.