Game On: Big changes at Big Jab a win for local sports fans 

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Eli Canfield and Javier Gorriti had a quick chat with Taylor Mannix as he left the radio station studio, ready to change over to their afternoon show.

With Canfield and two other new weekday co-hosts in the mix and a full 12 hours of local weekday sports talk radio, The Big Jab WJAB (96.3 and 92.5FM, 1440AM) is doubling down on local.

Greg Levinsky“I think it was a great move for the station for 12 hours a day,” Canfield said. “Some places are getting away from local, but they do things different here. I think it’s a good move and paying off.”

As of Dec. 1, brothers and University of Maine alums Jeff and Taylor Mannix moved from the Saturday morning show to a weekday midday slot. “Middays with Mannix and Mannix” airs from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Canfield, formerly of the Brunswick Times Record and a station intern, joined Gorriti on the “PM Jab” from 2-6 p.m.

Joe Palmieri and Dave “Shoe” Schumaker hold down mornings from 6-10 a.m. as hosts of “The Morning Jab.”

“It kind of feels like I’m picking up where I left off with the Internship,” Canfield said. “That’s been a great part of it for sure.”

The Mannix brothers replaced nationally syndicated programs hosted by Dan Patrick and Jim Rome. A good call, since the national shows are easily accessible, anytime, anywhere. (Full disclosure: I’ve been a frequent guest on the Mannix brothers’ Saturday show.)

Eli Canfield and Javier Goritti
Eli Canfield, left, and Javier Gorriti in the WJAB studio in Portland where they talk sports every weekday afternoon. (Portland Phoenix/Greg Levinsky)

“Thank you Big Jab, 12 hours of local, knowledgeable sportscasters,” a listener wrote in an anonymous and unsolicited text to the station line during a Mannix brothers show earlier this month. “It’s awesome.”

“It’s been easily one of the best weeks of my life,” Taylor Mannix said while signing off the first week of the new weekday show.

WJAB is owned by Atlantic Coast Radio of Portland, which has all but cornered the market on live sports in southern Maine: its stations carry play-by-play of the Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics, Maine Celtics, Portland Sea Dogs, NFL football, NCAA football, and University of Maine men’s hockey and women’s basketball.

Atlantic Coast General Manager Jon Van Hoogenstyn, who oversees The Big Jab and its sister stations, said after hosting their Saturday show for several years, the Mannix brothers earned a weekday spot.

“We noticed for years and years and years that our ratings were always lower in the middle of the day than they were in the morning or afternoon drive,” Van Hoogenstyn said. “We knew we had an opportunity, but it was just finding the right guys to take advantage of it.”

Canfield, a 2016 South Portland High School graduate and University of Southern Maine alum, took over on Dec. 6 for longtime “PM Jab” host and Maine Celtics broadcaster Chris Sedenka, who departed the station for a position at local rock station WBLM.

Van Hoogenstyn said there aren’t any more major changes coming to The Big Jab. For now, the station is in a better place with half a day of local sports content every weekday.

“I think at some point we will address Saturday mornings, but we haven’t made a plan as of yet,” Van Hoogenstyn said. “There are always opportunities and things we’re looking at.”

Greg Levinsky is a Portland native and follower of local sports. He is an alumnus of Deering High School and Boston University whose work has appeared in The Boston Globe, Detroit Free Press, and several Maine newspapers. He can be reached at [email protected].