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Paul Finebaum

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Paul Finebaum
Finebaum in June 2018
Paul Finebaum

EducationB.A., University of Tennessee
Years active1978–present
Notable credit(s)SportsCenter
SEC Network, Pardon My Take, The Paul Finebaum Radio Network
SpouseLinda Hudson (m. 1990)

Paul Finebaum is an American sports author, former columnist, and television-radio personality. His primary focus is sports, particularly those in the Southeast. After many years as a reporter, columnist, and sports talk radio host in the Birmingham area, Finebaum was hired by ESPN in 2013 for its new SEC Network. He produces a radio show out of the network's regional base in Charlotte, North Carolina.[1]


News reporter career[edit]

Finebaum became a columnist and reporter for the Birmingham Post-Herald in 1980. Finebaum earned more than 250 national, regional, and area sports writing awards, including an award for his Alabama basketball player Buck Johnson recruitment stories. In 1993, he wrote the story of Antonio Langham, a University of Alabama football player who signed a contract with a sports agent while playing for the school, which led to an NCAA probation for the school. Finebaum joined the Mobile Press Register in 2001, where he wrote a twice-weekly (later weekly) column that was syndicated to other newspapers. Finebaum discontinued the column in December 2010.[2] On September 1, Finebaum returned to writing with his first column for Sports Illustrated.

Radio career[edit]

Finebaum started his radio appearances in the mid-1980s by giving morning commentary on the Mark and Brian Radio Show on WAPI-FM (I-95). After starting his own afternoon radio show a few years later on WAPI-AM, his program became the highest-rated sports talk show in Birmingham. In October 1993, Finebaum moved his sport talk show to WERC.[This paragraph needs citation(s)]

The Paul Finebaum Radio Network[edit]

In 2001, Finebaum, along with Network Director Pat Smith and Producer Johnny Brock, launched The Paul Finebaum Radio Network, syndicated with affiliates across the southeast. It was named in 2004 by Sports Illustrated as one of the top 12 sports radio shows in the United States. In January 2007, his radio show moved to WJOX.[3]

In 2011, the poisoning of the trees on Toomer's Corner at Auburn University led a man, Harvey Updyke, to call the Finebaum show about the story. Finebaum was featured on the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams and appeared on CNN, ESPN, MSNBC, and several other networks. He was blamed by many for the event, including one caller saying, "if anything else happens, there will be blood on your hands."[4] On April 21, Updyke appeared again on the Finebaum show, speaking publicly for the first time since the incident. The interview appeared in The New York Times and ESPN's Sports Center. Updyke ended the 45-minute interview with his signature Roll Damn Tide.

Finebaum's show went off the air temporarily on WJOX on January 21, 2013, when his contract with Cumulus and WJOX expired. The New Yorker reported he "had talks with ESPN and CBS, about joining their national radio networks, and with SiriusXM, about moving permanently to satellite."[5] In May 2013, Finebaum signed with ESPN to appear on its new SEC Network beginning in 2014 and also host a daily radio show based out of Charlotte.[6]


In Birmingham, Finebaum currently[when?] appears as a sports analyst for WBRC. He was sports director for WIAT-TV from 1998 to 2002 and co-hosted individual shows on WVTM-TV and WBMA. Finebaum also had a leading role in ESPN's documentary Roll Tide/War Eagle. The producers used Finebaum and his program as the voice of the documentary, which debuted on November 8, 2011.

As part of the deal Finebaum signed with ESPN in May 2013, he agreed to appear on its new SEC Network starting in 2014, hosting The Paul Finebaum Show in simulcast for ESPN Radio.[6] As an extension of the radio show, Finebaum has also hosted special broadcasts on SEC Network as part of ESPN Megacasts involving SEC teams—the Finebaum Film Room—particularly during College Football Playoff National Championship games.[7]


Finebaum's books include his popular "I Hate..." series, including I Hate Michigan: 303 Reasons Why You Should, Too, and other similarly titled works. Finebaum's other books include The Worst of Paul Finebaum, a 1994 compilation of some of the newspaper columns he has written, and Finebaum Said, a 2001 collection of columns and interviews.

On March 27, 2013, The Birmingham News reported that Finebaum agreed to an advance (later reported to be $650,000) with HarperCollins to write a book about the radio show. HarperCollins Senior Vice President and Executive Editor David Hirshey said, "We expect this book to occupy the same spot on the best-seller list that Alabama occupies in the BCS rankings – number one." In February, Publishers Weekly reported that the book would arrive on August 5 with a first run of 150,000 copies.[8][9] The book, which was excerpted in the Wall Street Journal on the same day, made The New York Times best-seller list for five months, once landing at No. 6 among sports books.


Finebaum (left) at the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship media day

In October 2013, the University of Tennessee presented Finebaum with the "Accomplished Alumni Award," "which recognizes notable alumni for their success and distinction within their field."[10]

ESPN broadcaster Joe Tessitore said in a December 2018 podcast interview, "If you asked me who are the two greatest interviewers on radio and television, I would say Paul Finebaum and Howard Stern."[11]

Personal life[edit]

Finebaum was born in Memphis, Tennessee. He and his wife, Linda Hudson, have been married since 1990.[12] Finebaum is Jewish.[13][14][15] Finebaum attended Christian Brothers High School and White Station High School in Memphis before graduating from the University of Tennessee, where he received a degree in political science in 1978.[16]


  1. ^ "ESPN hires Paul Finebaum". USA Today. May 23, 2013.
  2. ^ Carter, Robert (February 2, 2011). "FINE-GONE: Paul Finebaum ends syndicated column". The North Jefferson News. Archived from the original on September 5, 2012.
  3. ^ "Finebaum joins WJOX radio station". The Decatur Daily (via Associated Press). January 20, 2007. Archived from the original on May 21, 2007.
  4. ^ "Is Finebaum to blame for Auburn tree poisoning? Will controversy help or hurt him?". February 18, 2011. Retrieved October 22, 2017.
  5. ^ Wideman, Reeves (December 10, 2012). "King of the South: How Paul Finebaum became Alabama's biggest booster". The New Yorker.
  6. ^ a b Bishop, Greg (May 21, 2013). "Radio Host Paul Finebaum joins ESPN". The New York Times.
  7. ^ "Paul Finebaum hears 'train wreck' predictions for live Iron Bowl show, phones ready this time". AL.com. November 26, 2014. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  8. ^ "Paul Finebaum agrees to book deal with HarperCollins for memoir about his radio show". March 26, 2013. Retrieved October 22, 2017.
  9. ^ "CHARLOTTE: Paul Finebaum: Can talk, will travel | Sports | the State". Archived from the original on October 14, 2013. Retrieved October 13, 2013.
  10. ^ "Renowned Sports Journalist Honored with Accomplished Alumni Award". October 18, 2013. Retrieved October 22, 2017.
  11. ^ Richard Deitsch (December 8, 2016). "Sports Illustrated Media Podcast". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  12. ^ Hester, Wayne (August 23, 2015). "Once a Birmingham sports columnist, Finebaum hits the big time at ESPN". The Anniston Star. Archived from the original on October 6, 2016.
  13. ^ Wiedman, Reeves (December 10, 2012). "King of the South". The New Yorker.
  14. ^ St. John, Warren (December 10, 2012). "Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer". ESPN. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
  15. ^ Fatsis, Stefan; Levin, Josh; Pesca, Mike (December 3, 2012). "Hang Up and Listen: The How To Talk About a Murder-Suicide Edition. Slate's sports podcast on Jovan Belcher, Alabama sports radio host Paul Finebaum, and the contretemps over the Spurs resting their starters". Slate.
  16. ^ "SMW 2014 - Paul Finebaum". College of Communication & Information. Archived from the original on November 29, 2014. Retrieved October 22, 2017.

General references[edit]

  • Barnes, Susan. (Summer 2005) "The Devil We Know". Tennessee Alumnus Magazine. Vol. 85, No. 3 – accessed April 16, 2006
  • "Paul Finebaum, the state's most influential sports columnist and talk-show host" – The New York Times, May 4, 2003.
  • Fowler, Jeremy. "Finebaum voted as one of the SEC's 10 most powerful people" – Orlando Sentinel, July 10, 2009.

External links[edit]