Posted: 5:00 pm Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Exclusive: Chris Dimino joining the 680/The Fan Rude Awakening morning show March 17 

By Rodney Ho

Chris Dimino starts with the Rude Awakening on 680/The Fan (simulcast on 93.7 FM) March 17. CREDIT: publicity photo

Chris Dimino starts with the Rude Awakening on 680/The Fan (simulcast on 93.7 FM) March 17. CREDIT: publicity photo

Former 790/The Zone morning host Chris Dimino will be joining the morning show on sports talk 680/The Fan when he’s eligible to return to Atlanta airwaves March 17. He will be working with Perry Laurentino and Christopher Rude on the Rude Awakening, the Fan president David Dickey confirmed today.

Dimino has been with the Fan for five months but hasn’t been able to go on the air because of a non-compete clause in his previous contract with the Zone.

“We’re excited to have him on,” said Dickey, who simulcasts the Fan on 93.7 on the FM dial. “He spent a lot of time away. He misses it and is looking forward to being back in the saddle.”

Last June, Dimino lost his job as part of the Zone’s morning shot Mayhem in the AM after a brief bit his former colleague Nick Cellini thought up went viral – in a bad way.

In the bit, Cellini played Steve Gleason, an ex-New Orleans Saints football player suffering from the degenerative nerve disease ALS, in a robotic voice doing stupid knock-knock jokes. Dimino protested at the start of the bit and mostly kept his mouth shut during those two painful minutes. The audio bounced around the Web and by the end of the work day, he, Steak Shapiro and Cellini were gone. While it was Nick’s brainchild (and it was not terribly well thought out in the first place), the other didn’t stop it. (You can re-live that day here.)

All three have apologized in different ways.

A baseball specialist, Dimino had a nine-month non-compete clause in his Zone contract that prevented him from going back on air on a rival station until March. This non-compete clause went into effect despite the fact he was fired with cause.

After the firing, Dimino fell into a dark place but was buoyed when Dickey approached him and hired him in September, sources tell me. (He was also offered to return to the Zone, sources said, but he turned them down.) Though Dimino won’t receive a full salary until mid March, he has worked part time at the Fan since September behind the scenes with sales calls, production and Braves spring training interviews he can use once he’s back on air next month.

Dimino began his career at The Fan but spent the past decade-plus at rival 790/the Zone. He has declined interviews since last June, preferring to keep his privacy. (I’m still trying!)

Shapiro, who started and owned the Zone until 2010, is now part of the mid-morning show with Brian Finneran and Sandra Golden from 9 a.m. to noon. He began last month. (He had a much briefer three-month non compete clause.)

Of the three members of Mayhem in the AM, Dimino was the most popular. When I posted a poll last September gauging people’s reactions to his hire by the Fan, he received an 85 percent approval rating.

When he returns March 17, he will be in Orlando for spring training with the Braves, who use the Fan as a flagship station.

This leaves Cellini as the only one of the trio without an on-air radio gig. When I interviewed him last fall, he said the whole experience changed him, made him more empathetic of the plight of others. It made him less likely to make fun of people with disabilities. And he now helps ALS charity groups regularly.

Currently, 680/The Fan is the leader in sports talk, with higher ratings than 92.9/The Game in January. 790/The Zone lags far behind both, especially in mornings.

Some of my past stories on the Mayhem in the AM mess:

12/13/13: Steak Shapiro joins the Fan

9/9/13: Dimino joins the Fan

8/27/13: Nick Cellini talks about life after the bit

6/18/13: Who wins, who loses after Mayhem mess

6/17/13: Mayhem fired

6/17/13: Mayhem in the AM suspended

29 comments
BrookhavenGuy
BrookhavenGuy

At some point 790 has to give it up - since I assume he lives paycheck to paycheck, I guess Mike Bell has not yet jumped off the sinking ship because of a non-compete clause like the one that kept Chris Dimino off the air for 9 months  

DoubleEE
DoubleEE

The rumor according to people close to Nick Cellini is his current strategy is to play the "I've changed for the better" act in hopes of gettig back on radio and tv. Cellini has burned a bridge or two and thus he remains on the outside looking in.

I said it back in June and I'll say it again now....those three (Cellini,Dimino,and Shapiro) will never have it as good as they did at 790 the Zone. Dimino may come the closest to making a full comeback though.

ukwildcat
ukwildcat

Are there two more tired radio personalities on Atlanta airwaves than Domino an Shapiro?

GATiger
GATiger

Way to go, Chris.  One of the best sports talk hosts anywhere.  His interviews with Jim Brown and Ted Williams (obviously years ago) were probably the best I've heard locally or nationally.

ElStinko
ElStinko

Rodney Ho...

Did Dish Network and Peachtree ever work out the 40 plus games that were taken away last year?  Will those game be on dish network this year?

DoubleEE
DoubleEE

I am happy for Dimino.

CD will be an asset for 680 The Fan.

I knew Cellini would have the longest/hardest time getting back into radio/t.v. because (1) the bit was mostly his doing and (2) his disparaging comments about 790 the Zone immediately after his firing.

ZAZ
ZAZ

I can tolerate most of the shows on 92.9. But have lost any interest to suffer through the mindless shows on the other stations. 

HarveyPooka
HarveyPooka

The Fan gained an on air personality (laughable), and have lost another listener.  I doubt I am the only one they are losing.

EdStone28
EdStone28

I still think it's ridiculous those guys lost their jobs over a harmless two minute bit. The PC Police have too much time on their hands.

patriotdog
patriotdog

Dimino will be a welcomed addition. Extremely knowledgeable, especially about baseball. I've never figured Rude's place in the sports talk thing....more of an emcee for the show. Laurentino is simply a loud mouthed know it all. I don't understand why he's not moved to strictly doing updates. Overbearing and knows what you'd expect a former restauranteur to know about sports......not much. I believe I'd go Steak, Rude and maybe poach Crumpler from 92.9 for my morning show. Dimino, Sandra, Finn 9-12 thereby minimizing the time Steak is on the air...or let Steak and Laurentino do the morning show. Perry knows how to cook, and Steak apparently knows how to eat, based on his world famous TV show. If you're sensing disdain for Steaky and Laurentino. you're right. Two transplanted blowhards from the lovely northern regions.

At any rate, welcome back Chrissy D!!!

agentoranj90
agentoranj90

This will be a great addition for 680.  I like Rude & Laurentino, but they need some fresh ideas & new blood.  I still think they are partial to pro football on both 790 and 680 AM shows.   I can hardly stand to listen to 790 am b/c all they talk about is the Falcons.  Dimino is a good interviewer and his forte is baseball.  I actually hope 790 can improve their show because I like having 2 shows to flip around to.   As far as the skit that went bad; if you listen to it; you can hear that Dimino wasn't even a part of it.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Keep Dimino and get rid of Shapiro.

Wayne_stuck_in_AL
Wayne_stuck_in_AL

Is Leo Mazzone still part of 680's lineup?


BTW: I'm shocked that 680 didn't make this one of their overrated, irritating "Big Announcements"

LostGoat
LostGoat

790 need to bring back the stews---they know their stuff!

Andy123
Andy123

The Steve Gleason interview of Pearl Jam was awesome! 

JohnDeere2
JohnDeere2

Please take Perry off the air and have him do strictly sales calls next Month.  He is holier-than-thou

Alberta
Alberta

I think I became "less likely" to make fun of people with disabilities when I was a kid.

JeffHarris
JeffHarris

Can't wait, I already listen to Rude in the Mornings. He will be a Great addition.


jarvis1975
jarvis1975

@DoubleEE Totally agre. I think the post-firing comments are what really did him in.

jarvis1975
jarvis1975

@HarveyPooka He's the best baseball guy in the market by leaps and bounds.  You a hockey guy?

atl30075
atl30075

@EdStone28 I bet the Falcons had something to do with it.  I personally don't get offended at anything, & while I thought it was tasteless, it didn't bother me.  If I owned the Falcons, a billion-dollar business, and that was my flagship station, I would have demanded their heads on a platter simply because that sort of stuff is bad for business.


It's not always the "PC Police."  It's like the anti-gay stuff that was just in the legislature.  Big business came out in force against it & killed it. It's all about the $$$.


HotDawg
HotDawg

Are you kidding? They're two illiterates.