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The Addition of Bernie Miklasz Is Paying Off For 101 ESPN

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The Rams’ season was just about to kick off when Bernie Miklasz made his major move, leaving the Post-Dispatch after 26 years as a high-profile sports columnist to go full-time into the radio business.

And the football season is a key time — arguably the most important time — for his new employer, WXOS (101.1 FM). It has been the Rams’ flagship radio outlet since joining the local sports-talk fray in 2009 and has much programming related to the team and NFL.

Miklasz was hired to bring listeners to the station and eyeballs to its website, and adding him was a major investment for parent company Hubbard Radio. The stake was more than financial — it also involved revising the lineup by reducing the amount of time allotted to ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike” show and pushing existing local shows back an hour.

The Rams’ season now is over, and the bottom line reads thusly: Ratings for the time slot he occupies, 7-10 a.m. weekdays, were flat at first with comparable months last year but rose significantly in December. The station’s overall ratings have improved and its website traffic has increased.

Arbitron measures radio listenership and for the first two full months he was on in which ratings are applicable (October-November), it says he was being heard by 6.9 percent of men in the market ages 25-54. That’s the target audience of sports-talk radio. In those months in 2014, when the station filled the 7-9 a.m. slot with “Mike & Mike” and the 9-10 hour with Kevin Wheeler’s local program, the average was virtually the same.

Then in December, Miklasz’s rating was 27 percent better than what the station drew in same block a year earlier. And his market share has grown each month.

In the bigger picture, the station’s overall rating for the 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekday slot, in which it now airs its key local shows, was 9 percent higher than the October-December quarter last year.

And Compete.com, which measures web traffic, says the station’s site was drawing about 15,000 “unique” visitors in November 2014 and the number jumped to about 53,700 in November 2015 — the most recent month for which figures are available.

The trend is upward, but is it a strong enough start for the return on a huge investment for Hubbard, especially at a time when it is in danger of losing its anchor property, as the Rams have applied to the NFL to move to the Los Angeles area?

“As talented as he is, and as well-known as he is, it takes time for people to find out he’s here, and here on a full-time basis,’’ said John Kijowski, who runs Hubbard’s local business. “It actually exploded several months quicker than I thought, to a higher degree than I thought. From a ratings point of view, it actuality is exceeding where I though it would be this quickly.”

Radio stations loaded with local talk shows and high-profile and well-compensated hosts, as 101.1 has, exist in an expensive format — much more so than music stations that have much less overhead. The acquisition of Miklasz and associated costs has created talk in the industry that 101.1 is overextending itself financially, with cutbacks inevitable.

Kijowski scoffs at that notion, saying the station is “100 percent better off” than it was six months ago and that no reductions are in the works. In fact, he said there have been additions to the digital side of the operation and that an editor will be hired for the website because of its growth fueled by Miklasz’s presence.

“Those are some things we didn’t have before on the digital side that we now can sell,” Kijowski said.

 

Overall, Kijowski said he is pleased with the early returns.

 

To read more of this article visit the St. Louis Post-Dispatch where it was originally published

Sports Radio News

Pat McAfee: Sean McVay Isn’t Ready For A Broadcasting Career

“I think the reason why the narrative was able to build so much was because we saw Tony Romo make $17 million. We saw Troy Aikman make $17.5 million.”

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Sean McVay was among those rumored to be potentially on the move to the broadcast booth this offseason, but ultimately the head coach of the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams decided to stay put. He was reportedly offered a mega-contract from Amazon to join the Thursday Night Football crew.

It appears McVay has a future in TV, but he’s made it clear he wants to remain a coach for the time being.

Pat McAfee on Monday told co-host A.J. Hawk that thinking about a future that doesn’t involve coaching in the NFL isn’t how McVay is wired.

“That’s how football people are. That’s literally how coaches are,” McAfee said. “It is just, we are either preparing for football season or we’re in football season. And when we’re not in football season, they’re wishing they were in football season so they’re acting like they’re in football season by watching more film, being more dialed in.”

McAfee also said the recent shuffling of broadcast crews, and the paydays associated with those moves, is what really turned up the heat on McVay speculation.

“I think the reason why the narrative was able to build so much was because we saw Tony Romo make $17 million. We saw Troy Aikman make $17.5 million.”

Pat also made it very clear that whenever McVay decides to make it to the booth, he’s likely going to be a star.

“I do believe a lot of us think to ourselves, I can’t wait for that guy to get in f–king TV though,” he said. “He’s going to be amazing on the microphone I think, A.J.”

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Sports Radio News

T-Bob Hebert and Jacob Hester: Drew Brees Chatter Began With His Tweet About Saints

“They’ve had to know a life without Drew as the quarterback. They’ve had to have leaders step up that weren’t Drew Brees certainly on the offensive side of the football.”

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There have been rumors about what’s next for former New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, but nothing has been set in stone. He took to Twitter over the weekend to dispute a report that he is out at NBC and make it clear he’s still weighing his options.

Brees feeling like he still has a fire to play in the NFL got the attention of T-Bob Hebert and Jacob Hester on 104.5 ESPN in Baton Rouge. Hebert on Monday said Brees expressing interest in coming back throws a wrench in all the planning the Saints have done to hand over the reins to Jameis Winston.

“It almost feels unreal where it’s this deal where it’s like, OK you had finally moved on, you made peace with it, it was all good, it is what it is, you’re ready to roll with your new guy,” he said. “And right when you think you’ve finally moved on, that text comes in and cracks open that door. But you’re happy, right? But can you say no to him?”

Hester noted that it was a Tweet from Brees expressing the desire to return to New Orleans that began the conversations and speculation about his future in broadcasting. However, he thinks it may be too late for Drew Brees to walk back into the Superdome and be greeted with open arms.

“If this was last year, and he had just retired and maybe had the itch to come back, maybe he could have that feeling. But he also has to understand that the team has had to move on,” he said. “They’ve had to know a life without Drew as the quarterback. They’ve had to have leaders step up that weren’t Drew Brees certainly on the offensive side of the football.”

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Sports Radio News

Jeff Rickard Named Program Director of WFNZ in Charlotte

“After our first conversation I knew Jeff was the one to take us to the next level.”

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Jeff Rickard is headed to Charlotte. The sports radio veteran has been named the new program director of WFNZ, one of the Southeast’s premier sports radio brands.

Rickard replaces Terry Foxx who announced in February that he was leaving Charlotte to take over KUT in Austin. 

“We are committed to making sports radio even bigger in Charlotte, adding the 92.7 FM signal in March was just the beginning of that commitment,” Marsha Landess, Regional Vice President of Radio One, said in a press release. “Having a successful veteran like Jeff Rickard join our team will help take us to the level that a passionate sports city like Charlotte deserves. Jeff brings to WFNZ extensive sports experience, talent, drive, and a passion for success. He will be a great complement to our incredibly talented local Charlotte on-air team. After our first conversation I knew he was the one to take us to the next level. As the flagship station for the Charlotte Hornets as well as Charlotte FC we are looking forward to an incredibly successful future with Jeff leading the charge.”

Rickard’s resume in sports radio speaks for itself. He was most recently the brand manager at WEEI in Boston, a role he exited in January. Prior to that, he spent six years at 107.5 The Fan in Indianapolis serving as both a weekday host and the station’s program director. He has also worked nationally for ESPN Radio, FOX Sports Radio, and SiriusXM, and spent time during the early part of his career working in Denver and Salt Lake City.

“I had been planning on taking a professional sabbatical this year but after meeting with Marsha Landess and learning more about Radio One, I began to get more excited to get back to work,” shared Rickard. “Radio One as a company, combined with Marsha’s leadership and the potential for WFNZ, was just too appealing to not be a part of. I am extremely grateful to Radio One for this opportunity and can’t wait to start working with the talented staff in Charlotte. My family and I are all in on this situation and can’t wait to get started on this new chapter.”

Not one to waste time diving in, Rickard officially stepped into the Charlotte offices today to meet his new staff.

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