TAMPA – The era of sports talk radio in the Tampa Bay area took a landmark step at noon Thursday with the official launch of 98.7-FM The FAN on CBS Radio.

Ushered in by a packed press conference at the University of South Florida Sun Dome, 98.7 The FAN becomes the first sports talk station to grace the FM dial in the Bay Area market. Its mission: provide fans with round-the-clock locally programmed content and a lineup of expert and engaging hosts from across the sports spectrum.

Fans can catch lively banter and interviews from on-air talent and guests, while getting in-depth news, scores, headlines and complete coverage of the Tampa Bay area’s professional and collegiate sports scene and the hot national news as well.

The choice of USF as a location for the launch was no accident. Ben Hill, Senior Vice President and Market Manager of CBS Radio Tampa Bay, also announced that the Fan will serve as the flagship station of USF althletics. The multi-year agreement begins with the 2012-13 school year and includes coverage of USF football and men’s basketball.

“USF Athletics is clearly on the rise and we are pleased to partner with the as their new flagship radio station,” Hill stated. “Today marks the beginning of Sports Radio the FAN – a station dedicated solely to Tampa Bay area sports. USF programming is an incredible complement to our lineup and a win for the local audience.”

The Fan’s hosts feature a 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. morning show team of Kirk McEwen, a fixture in the Baltimore and Washington airwaves on 98 Rock and DC 1010 respectively, and former Tampa Bay Lightning standout Chris Dingman, now an analyst on Bolts games for SunSports.

They’ll be followed by Tampa Bay Times columnist Gary Shelton and recent 1010 Sports host Justin “The Commish” Pawlowski from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Next up: former Tampa Bay Buccaneer star defensive tackle Anthony “Booger” McFarland and veteran sports-talk radio host Todd Wright from 2-6 p.m.

Rich Herrera, most recently the pre- and post-game host with the Tampa Bay Rays and an MLB Network radio host, takes over from 6-10 p.m., with the familiar national and local voice of the Fabulous Sports Babe, Nanci Donnellan, at the mike through the wee hours of 1 a.m.-6 a.m.

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