A familiar face—rather, voice—has joined 1070 The Fan sports talk radio station full time.
Veteran sports broadcaster Greg Rakestraw on Monday became program director for the Emmis Communications Corp.-owned station, which officially goes by WFNI-AM 1070.
Rakestraw has been a sports-talk mainstay in Indianapolis for nearly two decades.
Most recently, Rakestraw has been working on a variety of freelance projects, and before that he was vice president of programming and content at cable television operation Home Town Sports Indiana.
The door opened for Rakestraw to get back into radio full time when Alan Furst left as program director at Emmis-owned WIBC-FM 93.1 in December. Furst joined a Houston all-news station to be closer to his ailing father and other family members.
After a national search, Emmis officials in April hired Fan Program Director David Wood to replace Furst as WIBC program director and local director of talk programming, said Bob Richards, Emmis Indianapolis operations manager, adding that he interviewed 30 candidates before promoting Wood.
During the hiring process to replace Furst at WIBC, many of the candidates also expressed interest in The Fan program director job. So did Rakestraw.
“We had strong candidates for The Fan job, but the strongest was Greg Rakestraw,” Richards said.
There won’t be anything that Rakestraw doesn’t have his fingerprints on at The Fan, Richards added.
“If you hear it on the air, Greg one way or another will have influence over it,” he said.
Wood called Rakestraw “a prolific play-by-play announcer,” adding that he’s called “hundreds of games and matches … as varied as basketball to diving. Yes, he has done play-by-play for diving.”
In his new position, Rakestraw will continue to fill in on-air and write for the station’s website. He also will be the program director of Emmis’ soft rock station WYXB–FM105.7.
Rakestraw began as an intern in 1996 for WTHR-TV Channel 13 before embarking on a radio career. He was a sports reporter and producer for WNDE-AM 1260 for four years, when that station was the local sports talk radio ratings leader. In 2002, Rakestraw became program director for locally based Raven Broadcasting, which owns WXLW-AM 950. During busy sports seasons, it often seemed like Rakestraw was on the air around the clock at WXLW.
Rakestraw said of his seven-plus years at WXLW, “You name it, I did it.”
Rakestraw became a popular on-air host for the station when it was Indianapolis’ ESPN Radio affiliate. Now The Fan is that affiliate.
In 2009, Rakestraw joined cable television operation Home Town Sports Indiana, where he served as vice president of programming and content for two years.
Since 2011, he has been working on a variety of projects, including on-air fill-in duties for Dan Dakich and JMV’s shows on The Fan. Rakestraw also hosted The Fan’s Indianapolis Colts pre-game show. Last fall, Rakestraw became a regular columnist for The Fan’s website.