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The Tide Is Turning In The Houston Ratings Race

Jason Barrett

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The January ratings are now available for Houston, and this month there were some new developments which are certain to have one brand celebrating, another frustrated, and a third feeling encouraged but far from satisfied.

The ratings report covers December 31st to January 27th, and during that period SportsTalk 790 (KBME-AM) made some noticeable adjustments to their programming. The radio station moved Matt Thomas to mornings opposite Lance Zierlein, and shifted Adam Clanton from mornings to middays where he debuted a new program alongside former NFL player Sean Jones.

Additionally, Sports Radio 610 KILT made a change to their evening programming, giving Paul Gallant an opportunity to host a solo show.

In analyzing the numbers, here is the comparison for M-Su 6a-Mid among Men 25-54.

  • Sports Radio 610 KILT = 3.4 (tied for 11th)
  • ESPN 97.5 = 2.6 (tied for 18th)
  • Sports Talk 790 = 1.5 (25th)
  • KGOW 1560 = 0.1 (tied for 39th)

*** 610 added a half of a point from month to month, and 97.5 and 790 also added three tenths of a point. KGOW remained flat. Overall the format saw a spike from the Holiday book to January, but if you go back to the same period last year, KILT is down nearly a full point. They delivered a 4.3 last January. During that same time, 97.5 has gained a point, climbing from 1.6 to 2.6, and 790 is down seven tenths going from a 2.2 to 1.5. KGOW also has seen a major decline dropping from 0.6 to 0.1.

Next up is morning drive M-F 6a-10a. Here’s the Men 25-54 breakdown.

  • ESPN 97.5 = 3.5 (10th)
  • Sports Radio 610 KILT = 3.2 (12th)
  • Sports Talk 790 = 2.7 (tied for 16th)
  • KGOW 1560 = 0.1 (37th)

*** This was the third book in a row where ESPN 97.5 won mornings and they continue to gain share which is very impressive. When you consider that KILT and 790 go with local programming and 97.5 features “Mike and Mike” and 1-hour of the local program “Reality Check” hosted by Dylan Gwynn and Barry Warner, this is a major win for the brand. Making it even more impressive is that one year ago, the station was producing a 1.3 in mornings. This means they’ve gained more than 2 points in morning drive year to year. For KILT the news isn’t bad. They were up month to month and only three tenths away from tying 97.5. They’re also consistent year to year. For 790, they too saw an increase, which is great news given that they recently made a change in mornings. They improved by three tenths of a point from the Holiday book to January. The one concern would be the decline year to year which has seen the brand slip from a 4.1 to 2.7. However, with a new show in place, I’m sure they’re expecting bigger things to come in the future.

When you examine M-F 10a-3p this is what the midday story looks like with Men 25-54:

  • Sports Radio 610 KILT = 3.0 (13th)
  • ESPN 97.5 = 2.4 (tied for 18th)
  • Sports Talk 790 = 1.6 (25th)
  • KGOW 1560 = 0.1 (tied for 35th)

*** Middays are where KILT regains the lead and holds a comfortable six tenths of a point advantage. However, 790 rew from a 0.9 in December to 1.6 in January which is really strong and indicates that Clanton and Jones may have attracted an extra meter or two. KILT was up a tenth month to month, and 97.5 saw growth as well, picking up four tenths from the Holiday monthly to January. Looking back to the same time last year, KILT has lost 2 points slipping from a 5.0 to 3.0, 790 has dropped eight tenths falling from a 2.4 to 1.6, and 97.5 which has added John Granato to the local mix and also includes Sean Salisbury, has added nine tenths growing from a 1.5 to 2.4. Also, KGOW has fallen hard dropping from 0.9 to 0.1 during the past 12 months. 

Rounding out the key prime time matchups is the afternoon drive slot. Here’s how M-F 3p-7p with Men 25-54 stacked up.

  • ESPN 97.5 = 3.6 (11th)
  • Sports Radio 610 KILT = 3.2 (15th)
  • Sports Talk 790 = 1.4 (25th)
  • KGOW 1560 = 0.0 (tied for 41st)

*** This was a huge win for 97.5 as KILT has consistently led the afternoon battle. Month to month the radio station grew eight tenths of a point, improving from a 2.8 to 3.6, and during the past twelve months that number has risen from 2.3 to 3.6. Congrats are in order for AJ Hoffman, Fred Faour, and Russillo and Kanell who all contributed to the station’s afternoon growth. For KILT, I’m sure they’re not satisfied finishing behind 97.5 but they are only four tenths away, and one ranking position behind. They did experience slight growth month to month going from a 3.0 to a 3.2 but year to year they’ve suffered some bad luck, falling from a 4.9 to 3.2. For 790, they saw slight improvement climbing from a 1.2 to 1.4, but year to year they too are down, dropping from 1.9 in 2015 to 1.4 in 2016. KGOW had no impact for the month and are down 0.6 to 0.0 year to year.

Taking a look at the evenings, where KILT debuted a new program, here’s what the picture looked like M-F 7p-12a among Men 25-54.

  • Sports Radio 610 KILT = 2.5 (18th)
  • ESPN 97.5 = 1.3 (24th)
  • Sports Talk 790 = 1.2 (25th)
  • KGOW 1560 = 0.0 (tied for 39th)

*** It was a good start for KILT’s new evening program, as the show added two tenths month to month. The concern however would be a drop year to year from 3.9 to 2.5. Given though that this is the first month of a new program, we’ll need a longer sample size to see how the changes are received, but so far so good. For 97.5 and 790, this is the area where they’re not as strong. Given that these are the off-peak hours, I’m sure they’re not too concerned about it. 

To summarize, it was a big month for ESPN 97.5. Make no mistake about it, when you win mornings and afternoons and unseat the leading brand in the market, it’s going to be a little sweeter entering the workplace. We weren’t privy to the M-F 6a-7p numbers with Men 25-54 but I’m sure the story is a strong one for 97.5, and as this train continues to pick up steam, I’m sure local and national advertisers are taking notice.

For KILT, they’re used to winning so this isn’t familiar territory. That said, they are only a few tenths of a point away from reversing the latest setback. The real test will come next month when the February monthly offers little play-by-play benefit and the market’s best personalities and content stand out. Their decision to run a trade deadline promotion around their personalities was smart, but only time will tell if it made a difference in the numbers.

Last but not least is 790. Where they have to feel really good is when they look month to month and they see their latest changes paying immediate dividends. To grow four tenths in mornings, and seven tenths in middays is excellent. Now the station needs to continue that momentum in order to make up ground from where they were last year and ultimately unseat one of the top two leading brands.

As for KGOW, they’re in a different category and not a factor in the ratings.

Credit to the Houston Chronicle who were first to report this story

Sports Radio News

Brian Mitchell: Chris Simms Is ‘Becoming a Doofus’

Jordan Bondurant

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Brian Mitchell doesn’t have time for outrageous takes on Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts.

On 106.7 The Fan in D.C. from Radio Row on Wednesday, Mitchell reacted to recent comments from Chris Simms, who said while Hurts is a big part of Philly’s success, the quarterback position has been set up to be “one of the easier quarterback jobs in the sport.”

“Right now he’s becoming a doofus in my eyes,” Mitchell said to co-host J.P. Finlay. “He just likes to say stuff.”

Mitchell added that the reason the Eagles QB job looks easy is because of the play of Hurts.

“Jalen Hurts makes it look easy. I don’t think playing quarterback for the Eagles is an easy job,” he said. “Because the quarterback has so much stuff to worry about and things to do. Jalen has become better, and the reason I think a lot of those other guys have a lot of easiness is because Jalen Hurts is the one taking the snaps.”

Finlay said if the position was one of the easiest in the league, why did back-up Gardner Minshew not play as well in his two starts?

“If it’s easy to do something, then anybody should be able to do it, right?” Finlay said. “If it’s easy to be quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, Gardner Minshew did two starts. He completed 58 percent of his passes, with three touchdowns and three picks. That doesn’t sound easy.”

“I guarantee you, for his football team, all the things he does, he’s as important as anybody out there,” Mitchell responded.

Mitchell said folks like Simms coming up with these kinds of takes about Hurts comes down to not giving credit where credit is due.

“When you have to nitpick with every little thing, you’re basically telling us how damn good the dude really is,” Mitchell said. “We nitpick so much at little things because we don’t want to give him credit for what he does right.”

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Rob Bradford Truly Believes Baseball Isn’t Boring

“I’ve been able to get a wide variety of people and honestly, it’s been a blast to do.”

Brady Farkas

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Look. It’s not all about the Super Bowl right now. Did you forget that pitchers and catchers report to spring training next week? And did you forget that the World Baseball Classic is back this year – for the first time since 2017? Baseball is just days away from turning its calendar to 2023 and the Baseball Isn’t Boring podcast is here to help you get in the mood. The podcast, hosted by Rob Bradford of WEEI, officially launched in October of 2022 through Audacy’s national platform, but it’s set to pick up major traction this season, launching episodes each weekday with some of your favorite players, managers, coaches, front office executives and media members.

“Every single weekday at 6:00 AM, the plan is to have something up,” Bradford told BSM this week. “And it’s challenging because I don’t have a built-in co-host and a lot of this is guest-driven but we’ve done it for about three months, and there hasn’t really been any days where I’ve had to mail it in.

“I’ve been able to get a wide variety of people and honestly, it’s been a blast to do. To talk to Joey Votto about chess or actor D.B. Sweeney about playing Shoeless Joe Jackson (in Eight Men Out), or executives, or managers, or players. It’s been a lot of fun,” Bradford said.

The podcast is just the latest explosion of the “Baseball Isn’t Boring” movement.

It’s the brainchild of Bradford and former Red Sox-turned-Dodgers-turned White Sox reliever Joe Kelly. Bradford has been the Site Editor of WEEI.com and has covered the Red Sox for more than a decade. His relationship with Kelly helped them form this partnership which has morphed into the podcast – and a book, which is set to come out on February 28th.

“Joe Kelly and I knew we wanted to do a book, and we knew that the premise of the book was going to be making people understand how good baseball is and all the things that are good about baseball and entertaining about baseball, all of that,” Bradford said.

While baseball was mired in labor strife during the lockout last offseason, Bradford and Kelly knew they had to get the ball rolling on the project.

“We started the ‘Baseball Isn’t Boring’ accounts with Cooper Leonard helping a ton and then we got down to spring training and we started handing out the t-shirts… The Red Sox players were wearing them all over the place… I think Kike Hernandez wore his every single day.

“Then Joe wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times stating our message and what we were talking about with baseball not being boring. ‘We should love the game. Let’s not forget about that through all the labor stuff.’ So we just kept it going and the more we talked about it, the more we understood how much meat on was on the bone when it came to that conversation.”

With Bradford being around the Red Sox, prominent players like Xander Bogaerts proudly displayed their t-shirts on social media, and Kelly, who was at White Sox spring training in Arizona, helped proliferate the message on the West Coast.

“Everybody wanted a t-shirt. Everybody liked the slogan. Everyone liked the logo,” Bradford said. “The first guy who put it on social media was (former Dodger) Justin Turner and that was because Joe gave him a t-shirt and Justin did this Instagram post where he showed up to spring training, got his equipment out of his trunk, and he is wearing this “Baseball Isn’t Boring” t-shirt. That was because Joe was handing them out to his buddies. It’s just an easy and fun conversation to be had.”

As he continues his work for WEEI, Bradford will continue to cover the Red Sox. He’ll make appearances on the station’s radio shows and write for the website, and he’ll stick with an additional Sox-based podcast called the Bradfo Sho but some of his priorities will change as a result of the national endeavor.

“I have to prioritize talking to people on other teams and other people when I get the opportunity to. “Obviously when the Red Sox play someone, I can talk to them,” Bradford said.

Bradford will be a part of nearly 20 spring training podcasts for WEEI but says on days when he has no Red Sox responsibilities he may take in some World Baseball Classic action.

“Am I going to cover the Red Sox like I did in 2008 when I joined WEEI? No. But you know what? No one covers it that way anymore. You pick the most interesting stuff and you lean into it. It’s not like you have to obsess over the minutiae as much as you used to,” he added.

The t-shirts are popular, the book is coming out, and the podcast is set to get bigger. But Bradford says there’s still much more good news to come.

“Audacy made a commitment to me and I’ve made a commitment to Audacy,” he said. “I think we have a pretty big announcement coming up in March about a partnership and I think we’re going to get into the gambling space at least one day with Jonathan Papelbon as our gambling expert.”

“There’s a lot of different things you can do and I think we’re just at the tip of the iceberg here.”

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Kevin Harlan: Play-by-Play Guy Most Important Thing on Radio, 4th on TV

Jordan Bondurant

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Kevin Harlan is set to make history on Sunday, calling his 13th consecutive Super Bowl.

Harlan, who is the voice of Monday Night Football on Westwood One on the radio and calls NFL games on TV for CBS, said on Bernstein & Holmes on 670 The Score it’s not lost on him what a privilege calling games like the Super Bowl is.

“When I put on that headset wherever I am, it’s a pretty special moment,” Harlan said. “And I never take it lightly and always think of the people that preceded me.”

Since Harlan has experience in both TV and radio, he was asked about the primary differences in calling NFL games. Kevin said the play-by-play voice isn’t the main priority on TV.

“On TV the play-by-play guy is the fourth most important thing on there,” he said. “It’s the picture – what the cameras are shooting – then the analyst, cause he’s gotta tell a lot of people and helps everybody in deciding why a play worked or didn’t. Then the graphics, then the replays and the bells and whistles, and all those fun things we see that they do in the truck. And then the play-by-play guy.”

Harlan meant no offense to his colleagues who have called games on television, but Kevin said he just understands where his position on the broadcast stands on TV versus radio.

“I’m there to accentuate the picture, accentuate the graphics and the statistics they put on the screen, set up the color analyst, give some pockets of space on television – let it breathe and give people a chance to digest what they’ve seen – what they just heard the analyst say,” he said. “Maybe try to digest the statistic or the graphic that’s been thrown up on the screen. They don’t want to overload them.

“On the radio, all you have for the listener is the theater of their imagination and their thoughts and their emotions,” Harlan added. “So the play-by-play guy on the radio is number one. So it’s all about pacing, delivery, word usage, reporting skill, and using the crowd as an orchestra if there’s a big play. But making sure that they’re constantly aware of score and time.”

Harlan has always found radio to be the dream industry to work in. He said there’s nothing quite like a radio broadcast.

“It’s the purest form of broadcasting,” he said. “It’s voice, it’s diction, it’s vocabulary, it’s pacing, it’s delivery, it’s reporting skill, it’s like every touch point that somebody in our business needs. Whereas in TV it’s a whole other set of skills.”

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