ROCKVILLE – When Springbrook High School alumnus Bram Weinstein started his show on ESPN 980 (WTEM) last month, fellow network host Steve Czaban touted his return as a homecoming.
For Weinstein, it was an offer he could not refuse.
“I feel like I’m in the right place,” Weinstein said. It’s like home.”
Initially, it seemed unlikely he would return to the area after a mutual decision to part ways with ESPN in 2015, saying 980 executives did not offer him a radio show at the time.
Then, they approached Weinstein with what he described as a “vague proposition” about a potential opening.
It turned out to be the 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. timeslot as part of a schedule shuffle following long-time host Tony Kornheiser shift to podcasting.
“When they first came to me and talked to me about the position, I didn’t know it was Tony [Kornheiser’s],” Weinstein said. “[Finding out the opening was Kornheiser’s] confirmed it for me, once it was replacing him. The relevancy, the prominence of that and the importance of that, this was the obvious thing to take.”
This show marks Weinstein’s third stint at 980, his first being as an intern when the station opened during his collegiate years.
After a stint in Nebraska, he rejoined the station as the Redskins beat reporter until 2008.
That history with 980 served as key to Weinstein returning.
“It’s just familiar,” he said. “I like doing radio here, I really don’t like doing radio anywhere else. I love the teams and I like the community and I know it.”
Weinstein turned down radio positions in other markets because he said he was not as passionate and felt he would not be as successful.
Meanwhile his children, who are seven and three years old, were at the age where he needed to decide where he would raise them.
Returning to Montgomery County turned out to be an ideal fit.
“Family was a huge factor [in the decision],” he said. “Connecticut is a lovely community where we lived but we didn’t have any family. When I moved there with my wife, we didn’t have kids at that point. We have two of them now. That support system not being there was part of it and we just loved being in this community and family was a part of it as well.
“The idea of having the opportunity of having my kids here was always something that I was kind of pursuing and fortunately the right thing came up to make it worthwhile to come back,” said Weinstein.
The familiarity Weinstein has with the area comes through during his shows. Rather than exclusively focusing on sports, he and co-host Scott Linn discuss issues related to sports and regular life in the area though three-quarters of the show will likely focus on sports, Weinstein said.
Some listeners consider Weinstein and Linn as an improvement from Thom Loverro, who formerly held the 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. timeslot.
“It’s been positive,” said Andy Eckert, a long-time listener of 980. “Especially replacing Thom Loverro, (He’s a) huge upgrade in tone, interviews and ability.”
On the show, Weinstein said listeners should also expect many guests from ESPN.
“I made a lot of connections and a lot of friends [during my time at ESPN],” Weinstein said. “I left on what I hope is good terms.”
Weinstein also noted the show is a “work in progress” that “needs to grow organically,” but listeners can expect a fun and lighthearted program.
“The chemistry, while still developing with every show, was never in question as we have known each other for a long time,” said Linn.
“We share many interests, beliefs, in the sports world and out. Most importantly we can make each other laugh and do not take ourselves too seriously; if we even take ourselves seriously, at all.”
Eckert said he likes the pairing, noting unexpected similarities between the two hosts.
“I was thinking with ESPN having so many female anchors, 980 is behind the times with no female hosts,” he said.
Weinstein said his experience in the area will be a key part of why the show is successful.