ESPN Radio’s WEAE (1250) will take its time in finding a replacement for ousted afternoon drive host Mark Madden, reports Bob Smizik in the Post-Gazette.

Replacing Madden is crucial; as Smizik notes, the outspoken, controversial host has long been WEAE’s “main attraction” for advertisers and audience.

WEAE GM Mike Thompson tells Smizik that the station has “a couple of people in mind” and wants to have a new host in place before football season.

Madden was fired after making a joke about the assassination of U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts.

Smizik speculates on several possibilities to fill Madden’s slot, including Ellis Cannon of “FM NewsTalk” WPGB-FM (104.7) and Tribune-Review columnist Joe Starkey, who hosts a weekend chat show at WEAE.

What’s not clear is where Madden will land next in Pittsburgh. Although Madden has attracted attention and ratings for years, this PBRTV correspondent has talked off the record to former co-workers and employers who wonder if he’s burned too many bridges to work in the market again any time soon.