In what is the worst-kept secret in the history of radio, longtime Dallas-Fort Worth rock radio station 97.1 "The Eagle" KEGL-FM has changed to a talk radio format, headed up by big radio name Mike Rhyner, effective October 3.
The station has rebranded as 97.1 The Freak, first reported by Richie Whitt on Sports Illustrated, featuring Rhyner, the former co-host of "The Hardline" afternoon show on 1310/96.7 The Ticket KTCK, from 1994 until he retired in January 2020.
"It is finally here, The Freak weekday afternoons from 3 until 7 pm; I can't tell you how happy I am to be here," Rhyner said, before welcoming what he called his "longtime soulmate," Mike Sirois.
Other programming on the channel will include personalities from SportsMap, the national sports radio network owned by Houston-based Gow Media, which also owns CultureMap. Airing on The Freak will be SportsMap Radio's Jason Page, who hosts a show called The Cash In, and Cole Thompson, who hosts a show called Just Sayin' It; they'll debut on October 3 at 10 pm.
Before unveiling The Freak, the station aired a quick history of KEGL's previous formats including rock, top 40, even Spanish oldies, since its 1981 launch, with eras featuring Kidd Kraddick, pop, grunge, and Howard Stern.
In their opening, Rhyner and Sirois discussed the weekend broadcast that led up to the switch.
"We had freak songs all weekend and then Tom Petty's 'The Waiting' all day long — this is called stunting," Rhyner said. "That's what radio stations did, to find some way to while away the hours, but not give away too much."
The new lineup is as follows:
- 7-11 am: The Speakeasy with Jeff Cavanaugh, Kevin “KT” Turner, Julie Dobbs, and Matt Cather
- 11 am-3 pm: The Ben & Skin Show with Ben Rogers, Jeff “Skin” Wade, Krystina “K-Ray” Ray, and Michael “Grubes” Gruber
- 3-7 pm: The Downbeat featuring Rhyner, Sirois, and Gruber
While Rhyner is known for helping to co-found the concept of sports radio, KEGL owner iHeartRadio is describing the new format as “We Talk About What We Want" — so not just sports, but "Guy Talk."
"We're going to be given the latitude to talk about whatever we want," Rhyner said. "Everyone here has a substantial sports background, we are sports radio nerds. But we also have another side to our radio profile and we're going to be allowed to explore that without fear of program director retribution. They know what we're going to do and they said, 'Go get 'em, boys.'"
"Welcome back to the show that apparently never ends," Rhyner said.