New WFAN program director Ryan Hurley, center, joins Jerry Recco,...

New WFAN program director Ryan Hurley, center, joins Jerry Recco, left, and Gregg Giannotti on the "Boomer and Gio" show on April 15, 2024. Credit: Audacy/WFAN

Ryan Hurley called it “a dream come true,” the culmination of a path that began when he was an avid sports talk radio listener while growing up in Commack.

At night, he would set the 59-minute timer to fall asleep to WFAN. Come morning, he would wake up to Mike Breen’s updates on Don Imus’ show.

Now he runs the place.

On Monday, WFAN’s parent company Audacy named Hurley brand manager for WFAN and Infinity Sports Network, a national station previously known as CBS Sports Radio.

He will succeed Spike Eskin, who is leaving WFAN after three years to become an on-air host at WIP in Philadelphia.

For Hurley, 47, who now lives in Northport, the news ended a long process that began when he was let go last April after 19 years at ESPN New York as part of a wave of layoffs at that company. And it continued through the news last week that Jon Weiner, a popular radio host known professionally as “Stugotz,” was a strong contender for the WFAN job.

Hurley said he knows and respects Weiner and considers him a “really good radio guy.” But Hurley believes he is the right man for the job.

“I thought I was the guy from the beginning that would be the best fit,” he said.

Even though Hurley grew up with WFAN, until now he professionally has been associated with ESPN, including as producer of “The Michael Kay Show” and later as program director for the entire station. (In Audacy parlance, “brand manager” is akin to the role traditionally known as program director.)

So Hurley, a Hofstra alumnus, now is in the position of competing for the station he spent two decades competing against.

“This is going to be a perspective that no one else has really ever had,” he told Newsday. “So I'm thrilled about it.”

Hurley said he is proud of the work he did at ESPN and the culture that was built there, and still has many friends at that station. But he is on the other team now.

Hurley pursued his interest in radio as a student at Hofstra. But by then he already had had plenty of exposure to the sports media business in general through his father, Gerard, a longtime camera operator who covered sports and other live events.

The hiring seemed to go over well at the station.

Morning co-host Gregg Giannotti said when Hurley visited the set on Monday, “I’m very happy for you. It’s really cool. I know what it’s like to get the job you always wanted. Let’s do it.”

Hurley will be assisted by David Mayurnik.

Hurley praised the work done by Eskin, who has been criticized in some quarters for evolving WFAN beyond straight sports talk to more general “guy talk,” which has been a trend throughout the genre.

How does Hurley feel about that debate?

“I’m in the mode that you need both,” he said. “This is sports talk radio. So there's room for the hardcore sports talk. But you have to be entertaining or you're just not going to keep people's attention . . . I think there’s definitely a balance.”

Hurley plans to get settled before making any major decisions or changes, if any. For now, he still is soaking it all in.

“I'm absolutely pumped to be part of this,” he said. “The fact it happens to be a station that I grew up listening to, being a huge lover of, it's icing on the cake.”

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