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The Radio Business Slayed The Beast 980

Jason Barrett

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The beauty of “The Beast 980” crossed paths with the nature of the beast that is the business of radio.

It happened on Wilshire Boulevard this week, just down the street from the La Brea Tar Pits.

No one comes out smelling great when you’re stuck in this kind of muck.

CBS Radio has been trying to sell off the iconic KFWB-AM station since the end of 2011, hiring Diane Sutter as a trustee to take care of the “asset” and make it presentable.

Eighteen months ago, after the go-to all-news format was bastardized into various hybrids of news, talk and entertainment, they decided to give it a go with the all-sports route. This would finally allow Jim Rome the syndicated spot in L.A. that CBS has been promising, and it could build something around a relationship with the Clippers as their home base.

Then, a buyer showed up. CBS, which by all reports was at a point of just trying to get this beast off the books, somewhat surprisingly accepted the offer. With this proviso: The remodel may look spiffy, but it wanted a tear-down, replaced with foreign-language programs.

Those who’ve been employed at the fourth all-sports format in Southern California — one that gave off a much more home-spun, independent feel than what gets filtered with ESPN-owned KSPN-AM (710), iHeartMedia/the Dodgers’ KLAC-AM (570) and the Angels’ KLAA-AM (830) — have until mid-February to say goodbye, in the language of their choosing.

“You don’t know what will appeal to a new buyer — you try to create something with value, and what’s what we did with this sports format,” said Sutter, the president and CEO of Shooting Star Broadcasting who eventually arranged the sale to Universal Media Access, a company connected to a private equity firm that boasts of buying stations “at a distressed price” and turning them into brokered ethnic programming.

“This was a great programmed radio station,” Sutter added, “but the buyers liked the station for other reasons. That’s their right.”

Yeah, but they’re wrong.

No matter how many times those in the business of media have to endure this kind of change, it’s never a sporty process.

“When we were hired, we were told the station was for sale and the goal was to sell, but all the research out there indicated there was a need for real, localized sports talk in L.A.,” said early-morning co-host Jeanne Zelasko, there from the launch in September 2014 with experience working at San Diego-based XTRA-AM and Fox Sports Radio and TV.

“We can’t control the business aspect of all this, but I don’t think we had any game pulled on us. There are some young producers in the building who are learning a tough life lesson. You can’t commit yourself so fully to a job that just won’t love you back.

“It almost felt like we were ‘WKRP in Cincinnati,’ a small station in some ways that kept going when others were trying to swat us away. Maybe there was slow recognition at the start, but I felt we were turning a corner because of the Twitter activity and the Clippers’ exposure. We were hiring solid people (like Bill Plaschke in the morning and Chris Myers in the afternoon) and it was time to go kick some butt.

“What’s frustrating for me is I felt we were finally providing a good service to this city and we believed in it. When we first started doing mornings (with Marques Johnson), I felt we could stand on a rock on Highland and Wilshire and reach more people if we just screamed loudly. Eventually we were watching our ratings go from a 0.1 and hit a 1.2.”

Ratings will unfortunately be the bottom-line measure of semi-failure and true failure in the radio world these days. What “The Beast” generated wasn’t spectacular by any means compared to its direct competitors, even with the Clippers’ momentum.

A year ago, KSPN was cutting staffers and leading the L.A. sports-talk format with overall ratings at 1.3, well ahead of KLAC (0.6) and KFWB (0.2, last among the 41 stations monitored by Arbitron). While most ratings for these formats are broken down further into how the men 25-54 demographic fares, it looks more like a dissection of a sliver of pie that’s half eaten.

Program director Tom Lee, who came into his job just nine months ago replacing Owen Murphy, said he was “proud of our significant ratings growth and was very optimistic we were positioned well for 2016. But this is a tough business. It’s sad to see it end. The ‘buzz’ may have been there, but ratings are the real scorecard in programming.”

In assessing “The Beast” upon its arrival in 2014, and even months before that, the hope was KFWB would be taken into the 21st century in a more dignified way than predecessors that came and failed.

Survival of the fittest, ironically, won’t be legacy of the “The Beast.”

To read the full article visit the LA Daily News where it was originally published

Sports Radio News

Jonathan Peterlin Takes Over Night Show On 92.3 The Fan

“”Being the guy that you turn on after a day of listening to Ken and Anthony or Andy and Jeff or Nick and Dustin is truly an honor and a privilege. I won’t take that for granted.””

Jordan Bondurant

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92.3 The Fan in Cleveland now has a permanent host for its nightly show in Jonathan Peterlin.

Peterlin wrote in a post for the Audacy station’s website on Tuesday that his show will be called Overtime with Jonathan Peterlin and will air each night starting at 7 p.m.

“This is a dream job,” he said. “Being the guy that you turn on after a day of listening to Ken and Anthony or Andy and Jeff or Nick and Dustin is truly an honor and a privilege. I won’t take that for granted.”

Peterlin had been the afternoon update anchor at 92.3 The Fan since 2016, even hosting on weekends and on a fill-in basis. Prior to that, he spent three years in a similar role at Yahoo Sports Radio.

He wrote that listeners in Cleveland will not need an introduction or reintroduction to who he is.

“You know me and I know you,” he said. “We’ve spent the past nearly 7 years getting to know each other on a daily basis…We were there for each other. Along the way I hope that I’ve earned your trust. Through the good times and the bad, the ups and the downs.”

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Sports Radio News

Layoffs Hit Pro Football Focus

“The reduction in workforce comes less than 18 months after securing a $50 million investment from Silver Lake.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Pro Football Focus has laid off 16 employees, according to a report from Front Office Sports.

The reduction in workforce comes less than 18 months after securing a $50 million investment from Silver Lake.

The company, which Sunday Night Football analyst Cris Collinsworth owns a majority, still employs just over 200 people.

NFL reporter Doug Kyed was among the layoffs. Kyed had been at PFF since July 2021.

Additionally, 11 interns were also let go.

While PFF remains popular and profitable from a football analytics perspective, there had been a shift since the Silver Lake investment into attracting more sports betting and fantasy football customers. The FOS report indicated a chunk of the $50 million funding was used to develop an iPhone app.

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Sports Radio News

Laurence Holmes: Tim Jenkins Twitter Beef With Mike North Proves The Score Has Gotten Smarter

“Where now every show has a film guy. Like we’re not just out here just guessing. To a certain extent we are, but we go get confirmation and information from people who are smarter than us.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Former NFL quarterback Tim Jenkins had an interesting back and forth on Twitter with former 670 The Score host Mike North over Bears quarterback Justin Fields. Jenkins broke down a piece of film from Chicago’s game against Green Bay on Sunday, saying he didn’t agree with the notion that Fields doesn’t go through his progressions and is more of a runner.

North disagreed, saying wide receiver Dante Pettis was wide open on that particular play, and that Fields missed him.

Jenkins responded, saying North’s take was “not intellectually honest.”

In his weekly appearance on Bernstein & Holmes on The Score, Jenkins talked about the exchange not knowing North’s connection to the station.

“There’s a radio guy up there, Mike North, he was real mad,” Jenkins said. “And I tried to handle it gently because like listen, the first thing in his bio was he was born in 1952. And if my grand-pappy is on Twitter roasting somebody, I hope to handle them gently. And I tried to.”

Host Laurence Holmes said it was truly a meta moment for their show and the station. He talked about how having access to a guy like Jenkins is a sign the station, like many others have done across the country, have grown with the game.

“It speaks to the evolution of this radio station,” Holmes said. “Where now every show has a film guy. Like we’re not just out here just guessing. To a certain extent we are, but we go get confirmation and information from people who are smarter than us.”

The discussion turned to the evolution of the quarterback position in the NFL, and Holmes noted that there are some who just don’t recognize that the game has changed and called for a quarterback to be able to throw accurately but pick up yards and keep plays going with their legs.

“I’m here for the nuance, but people continue to ignore what is a trend,” Holmes said. “And I don’t mean that as a pejorative. The trend in the NFL is dual-threat quarterbacks. Look up and down the rosters.”

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