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The Salt Lake City Sports Radio Ratings

Jason Barrett

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Salt Lake City may be well known for its amazing scenery, and passion for college sports and Utah Jazz basketball, but it also serves as the home to three local sports radio stations. It’s a city where many successful format programmers and personalities have served before moving on to other locations. Case in point, Scott Masteller, Kevin Graham, Ryan Hatch, John Lund, Ian Fitzsimmons, and Jeff Austin have all spent time in the crossroads of the west, and there are many others that could be added to that list.

I was fortunate to receive an update on the February ratings and am excited to share it with you because it’s not everyday that we get a deeper look at the way this market performs. I’ve listened to all three stations at various points during the past few months/years, and I can tell you that there is a lot of strong underrated talent here.

As you review this information, I remind you that we’re looking at a one month snapshot with Men 25-54. Depending on the time of year, and what catches fire locally, things can change quickly. None the less, here is how all three brands finished for the month of February. Due to shows airing at different times on each station, I’ve listed their performances in accordance with each of their timeslots.

97.5/1280 The Zone (Simulcast combined number): 

  • David James and Patrick Kinahan (DJ and PK): 6a-10a = 4.6 (8th)
  • Jake Scott and Tony Parks: 10a-12p = 6.3 (3rd)
  • Hans Olsen and Scott Garrard: 12p-3p = 6.4 (3rd)
  • Spence Checketts and Gordon Monson: 3p-7p = 6.0 (4th)

*** From 10a-7p the radio station is very healthy. Each show delivers a 6 share and is inside the Top 4. That’s outstanding. The morning show is lower but still inside the Top 10. The challenge for the brand is to utilize those 10a-7p hours to direct the audience back to morning drive to help DJ and PK. Regardless, they’re in great shape and having the Jazz games on the air helps the station add cume outside of 6a-7p. They’re well established as the market leader and have a number of personalities with great history in the marketplace. One thing I’ve observed in previous listening, is that there’s a feeling that each show pulls for one another. That chemistry and energy is infectious. 

ESPN 700 (Flagship station for the University of Utah): 

  • Mike and Mike: 5a-8a = 3.4 (10th)
  • Dan Patrick: 8a-11a = 4.1 (10th)
  • Bill Riley 11a-2p = 2.9 (14th) ( moved into this slot one week into the book)
  • Sean O’Connell 2p-7p = 2.6 (18th) (was with Riley for week #1, added Keith Stubbs to the show but he left 2 weeks later)

*** 700’s national shows outperform their local ones which tells you that the audience likes that they offer national perspectives. Mike and Mike and Dan Patrick are well known personalities and their styles are a hit in this market. Riley moved into middays during this month and only had 3 weeks in the book so it’s way too early to tell how his show will impact the station. Most changes take a long period of time to make inroads. The immediate challenge is stabilizing afternoons where Riley and O’Connell were a solid pair and Keith Stubbs was added but vacated the program after a few weeks. OC is an excellent talent and if they find the right host to team with him or position him strongly as a solo act, they might be able to make a bigger dent. They’re popping a Top 10 performance between 5a-11a so there’s definitely an opportunity to re-direct listeners to their local offerings between 11a-7p.

1320 KFAN:

  • Tim Lewis: 6a-10a = 0.9 (27th) (Lewis was only on for 2 weeks during this month)
  • Jim Rome: 10a-1p = 1.5 (25th)
  • Doug Gottlieb: 1p-3p = 0.9 (31st)
  • Kyle Gunther and Ben Anderson: 3p-7p = 2.4 (20th)

*** Program Director Chris Hoffman recently added Tim Lewis to stabilize mornings so this month’s number is not an accurate reflection of how he’s performing since he wasn’t on for the entire month. Much like 700’s changes, it’ll take time to see how the audience responds to the new morning show and March will offer the first full month report. That said, it’s clear that the station’s afternoon show is their best asset. If the station can get an even bigger lift out of afternoons, and a stronger result in mornings, they’ll have a story to share, and can then focus on ways to increase the productivity in middays.

Overall, The Zone performed on a different level than 700 and 1320 for the month of February. If you add the Jazz into the mix, the station certainly has some advantages beyond the 6a-7p window.

One thing that stood out was the way the market consumed sports talk programming in afternoon drive. To see The Zone deliver a 6.0, 700 produce a 2.6, and 1320 turn in a 2.4, shows that the local market is willing to listen to three different sports radio options. That’s encouraging and should keep each show on their toes because a lackluster effort can lead to the competition gaining some momentum.

Additionally, it’s clear that for this month (and it’s been this way previously too), Dan Patrick and Mike and Mike perform on a much higher level locally than Jim Rome and Doug Gottlieb. That’s a positive for 700, and a challenge for 1320. If a station can perform in the Top 10 with a national show and not take on adding expenses, it’s a huge positive for the company’s bottom line.

Going forward, The Zone’s top priority is to sustain where they are 10a-7p, and aim to perform even stronger. If the morning show can sneak into the Top 5, that’s going to really the station’s narrative in the local marketplace. It’s clear, their consistency is excellent, and their talent and branding are high profile, which makes for a winning combination. Until proven otherwise, they’re the brand to beat.

For 700, having Mike and Mike and Dan Patrick deliver in the Top 10 is great for business. If the new local shows get a chance to bake and gain some consistency with the audience, that could help create some nice traction heading into the fall, when they add Utah Football to the mix. The focus at this time is to figure out if OC is best suited to host solo, and if not, who to pair with him. If set up and positioned properly, and heavily cross promoted during the national programs, the station could make further inroads and solidify its position as the number two rated brand in the market.

Last but not least, 1320 added a talented morning guy in Tim Lewis, and he needs time to become familiar to the audience. The morning rating right now is not good, but once Lewis settles in, and makes a deeper connection with local people, I’d expect those numbers to improve. If it can produce in similar fashion to the afternoon show, they’ll be making good progress. Then the focus shifts to middays, and whether or not their national shows have a higher ceiling. If they don’t, the station will have to examine whether or not it makes business sense to add a local show in middays. The immediate goal is to build consistency and show improvement during both drive times. If they can do that, then they’ll have a chance to close the gap on second place.

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The Blitz 1170 in Tulsa to Cease Operations

“The company decided the sports format wasn’t working and they’re going to take the signal in another direction.”

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the blitz logo

After just under three years in the format, Griffin Media is pulling the plug on The Blitz 1170 in Tulsa.

Social media posts from the station’s local hosts reveal that The Blitz will be moving away from its sports format on Wednesday, June 26th.

“There’s some news from our part of the world. Griffin Media has made the decision to eliminate The Blitz 1170 and those of us working there after June 26,” wrote morning host Rick Couri. “The company decided the sports format wasn’t working and they’re going to take the signal in another direction.

“This will likely bring my 42 year career of being on the air in Tulsa to an end, I don’t see a lot of other options for several reasons. I will still be broadcasting Tulsa University and Union football and who knows what else might come along. Until then I want to say thank you to everyone who has listened along the way and those incredible people I’ve worked with. It’s been quite an adventure with many amazing opportunities and experiences to be forever grateful for.”

The station featured Couri in mornings, followed by The Dan Patrick Show and The Rich Eisen Show. Afternoon drive was helmed by Colby Daniels and Program Director Jeremie “Pop” Polin from 3-6 PM. Daniels shared a similar post on social media as Couri.

The Blitz 1170 will be changing formats in a couple weeks. While I’m very sad about this news, I’m more thankful for having this opportunity and establishing friendships that will continue beyond the airwaves. I’m proud of this entire team and can’t say enough positive things about everyone I had the privilege to work with. I appreciate all the listeners supporting the Blitz every day,” Daniels wrote. “Some followed me to this signal and others welcomed me to Tulsa radio with open arms. You all have a special place in my heart.

“I feel like I’m at a major crossroads in my broadcasting career and I don’t know what my next step will be. I know I have so much more to offer but will have to carefully weigh whatever options emerge. It’s rare in this business to be given the opportunity to finish out the last 2 weeks. Our final show will be June 26th so let’s have fun doing what we love until then.”

According to a report from RadioInsight, the station recently changed its call letters to KOTV-AM, to replicate the same branding used by the company’s TV outlet in the market.

Griffin Media has yet to announce plans for the station after flipping away from the sports format on June 26th.

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ESPN LA 710 to Broadcast USC Athletics

“We’re excited to collaborate with ESPN LA 710 AM to advance the USC Athletics brand and connect with fans across the Greater Los Angeles media market.”

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ESPN LA 710

The University of Southern California and ESPN LA 710 have agreed to a deal that will expand their broadcast partnership starting in the 2024 season. ESPN LA 710 will be the flagship station for USC Trojans football and men’s basketball games throughout the season in addition to adding women’s basketball games on the airwaves as well. Beginning in the fall, listeners will be able to hear all of the games on 710 AM, the ESPN LA Trojans Radio Network, in addition to within the USC Trojans Game Day app, the USC Trojans website and the ESPN LA app.

As USC prepares to move to the Big Ten Conference for the season, games will continue to air on the USC Trojans Media Network, which includes affiliates KSZL Barstow 1230 AM, KJJZ-HD3 102.7 Thousand Palms, KSHP Las Vegas 1400 AM and 107.1 FM and the Hawaiian Sports Radio Network on KGU 95.1 FM and 760 AM. Spanish language broadcasts of USC Football will be available on the ESPN LA app and USC Trojans app as well. The USC Trojans Media Network will also air basketball games as new men’s head coach Eric Musselman starts his tenure at the university and the women’s team welcomes transfer forward Kiki Iriafen from Stanford.

“We’re excited to collaborate with ESPN LA 710 AM to advance the USC Athletics brand and connect with fans across the Greater Los Angeles media market,” Jen Cohen, director of athletics at the University of Southern California, said in a statement. “As we move into a new era of Trojan Athletics, identifying partners who can help us provide our student-athletes with the platform to make their mark on collegiate athletics and reach new generations of supporters is critical. From the addition of play-by-play coverage for our women’s basketball program and Spanish-language coverage for football, to the reach and brand equity established by ESPN Radio in Los Angeles, we’re confident this partnership will help us achieve our goals.”

Outside of live game broadcasts for USC football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball, ESPN LA 710 will also air a new weekly program titled Trojans Live. The show will be broadcast on ESPN LA 710 AM from 6 to 7 p.m. EST starting on Monday, Aug. 26 and running through Monday, Dec. 9. ESPN LA 710 previously broadcast USC Trojans Athletics from 2006 to 2019 and is also the flagship home of the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles FC.

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Bob Fescoe: Charles Barkley is Irreplaceable

“How many people want to do that as well, just kind of walk away and say, ‘You know what? I put in my time and I am done here, and now I have the ability to walk away…'”

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Bob Fescoe
Courtesy: 610 Sports Radio

Charles Barkley announced that he would be retiring from television following the 2024-25 season on Saturday night. The TNT Sports analyst revealed the news during a postgame show on NBA TV after Game 4 of the NBA Finals, in which the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Boston Celtics to remain standing in the best-of-seven series. Within his discourse, Barkley emphasized that he made the decision himself and that next year would be his last no matter what happens.

Moreover, he stated that he has talked with other networks who have approached him as reports indicate that Warner Bros. Discovery could be losing broadcasting rights for the NBA following next season. Bob Fescoe and Josh Klingler played the audio of Barkley’s retirement announcement on 610 Sports Radio during the Fescoe in the Morning program on Monday.

Barkley emphasized that he would pass the baton to either Jamal Crawford, Vince Carter or Steve Smith when he retires from television next year. For the last 24 years, Barkley has been a member of Inside the NBA, the award-winning studio program hosted by Ernie Johnson with analysts Kenny “The Jet” Smith and Shaquille O’Neal. There were rumors about Barkley leaving Warner Bros. Discovery to take a role with the LIV Golf Tour; however, he decided to cut off those talks and stated that he would finish his television career with the Turner Sports division.

The NBA is now reportedly in the process of formalizing new media rights contracts with The Walt Disney Company (ESPN/ABC), NBCUniversal and Amazon’s Prime Video said to be worth a collective $7.6 billion. Throughout the process, Barkley has been interviewed several times across different media platforms and expressed his feelings on the matter, including questioning the rationale of Warner Bros. Discovery chief executive officer and president David Zaslav.

“I feel like he’s just tired of being asked about it,’” Klingler said. “He’s like, ‘You know what? I don’t care where it goes – I’m done.’”

Fescoe questioned if anyone could blame Barkley for what he has decided to do, especially receiving firsthand knowledge on how everything is playing out. Over the last several months, Inside the NBA has been a topic of discussion, part of which has presumably been about its future on television. If Barkley follows through with his decision, it would mark the end of the studio program as currently constructed, and Fescoe believes that Barkley has ultimately had enough of dealing with the speculation and ambiguity.

“How many people want to do that as well, just kind of walk away and say, ‘You know what? I put in my time and I am done here, and now I have the ability to walk away,’” Fescoe questioned, “and not many people work for the love of the job anymore, right, and it seems like what they’ve gone through and what they’ve been drug through with all of this rights fee stuff is management getting in the way of them doing what they love doing.”

Part of Fescoe’s logic pertaining to why Barkley has decided to move on from television after next year is that he could be reading the writing on the wall. In mentioning that he has spoken with other networks, Fescoe presumed that ESPN would have Barkley work more hours and that he would not be interested in doing that. Barkley is a sports media professional Fescoe considers to be irreplaceable, much like his co-host Josh Klingler, who is leaving the show on 610 Sports Radio next month.

“Greg Olsen, I guess, is considered replaceable at FOX by Tom Brady, and they just move analysts out and bring guys in all the time, but there are some people that are not replaceable,” Fescoe said, “and if you’re going to keep that Inside the NBA show, you can keep it in name, but if you don’t have Charles Barkley, no offense to anybody else up there, it’s just not the same type of show and it’s just not going to be as good as if Charles Barkley is there.”

Klingler is not sure that Barkley will end up retiring and believes that he will be back in some capacity. Additionally, he mentioned that it could be a means of putting TNT on the hot seat by putting pressure on the company to retain broadcast rights to the league. Fescoe replied by articulating that it could be Barkley putting ESPN on the hot seat to make him a lucrative contract offer and consider signing with the network.

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