Fox Sports adds Bendel to local radio lineup

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Veteran newspaper reporter Joe Bendel has joined the staff of broadcasting giant Clear Channel and will be heard mostly in afternoon drive time on Fox Sports Radio 970.

Bendel also will do reporting for other Clear Channel stations.

Bendel yesterday resigned his position at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, where he had been the Steelers' beat reporter for one year.

Prior to that he covered Pitt football and basketball.

Tentative plans call for Bendel to work from 4 to 7 p.m. on Fox Sports Radio in what appears to be an unusual arrangement with Tim Benz to fill the time slot formerly occupied by Stan Savran.

Benz, who was hired away from ESPN Radio 1250 last month, had been working Savran's time slot as well as doing morning drive on WXDX, another Clear Channel station.

Benz will work solo from 3 to 4 p.m. Bendel will come aboard at 4 and work one hour with Benz. Bendel will then host the final two hours by himself.

It's the first full-time radio job for Bendel, who has done fill-in work and guest appearances for Clear Channel.

This is all part of a move by Clear Channel to upgrade its sports coverage in general and its Steelers coverage in particular. Benz had served as a full-time beat reporter on the Steelers for ESPN.

Although former Steeler Tunch Ilkin will leave the morning show he created two years ago with ex-teammate Craig Wolfley, Clear Channel has no plans to go back to national programming from 7 to 10 a.m.

"We are sad to see Tunch go," said Gene Romano, senior vice president for programming at Clear Channel. "He did a terrific job with the show. Our plans are to continue with a retooled local show. We are in the process of working through our options now."

Wolfley, who co-hosted the show with Ilkin, hopes to stay on and is involved in negotiations with Clear Channel.

Bendel and Benz join Mike Prisuta, columnist for the Tribune-Review who does sports on WDVE's top-rated morning show, to give Clear Channel three voices steeped in Steelers knowledge.

"We want Clear Channel to be the sports destination in Pittsburgh," said John Rohn, the regional vice president for Clear Channel. "We think there is some great sports talent in this town. We feel we have the platform for that. You'll continue to see us highly active."


Bob Smizik can be reached at bsmizik@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1468.


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