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The Zone Prevails In The Omaha Winter Ratings

Jason Barrett



The city of Omaha may not have a professional sports team to call its own, but that doesn’t mean its passion for sports doesn’t run deep. It’s because of that desire that the market’s two top local sports radio brands are producing healthy ratings.

In the latest winter book, 1620 The Zone reaped the benefits by leading in all Men 25-54 categories. AM 590 ESPN turned in a respectable finish, but was the clear runner up. However, with 590 adding the rights to the Nebraska Cornhuskers last February, that momentum can change quickly.

What’s undeniable at this point in time is that local listeners have two great options to listen to and each provide a different style of programming. To get a better idea of how each brand stacks up, here’s a look at the individual show performances, and a couple of the traditional timeslots.


M-SU 6A-MID = 6.6 (3rd)

M-F 6A-7P = 8.1 (3rd)

M-F 7A-11A (Sharp & Benning) = 8.8 (2nd)

M-F 11A-2P (Game Time with Nick Bahe) = 8.8 (2nd)

M-F 2P-6P (Unsportsmanlike Conduct with John Bishop and Josh Peterson) = 8.9 (1st)

*** A big month for The Zone headlined by the afternoon show hitting #1. Overall the radio station won the head to head matchups in every timeslot which is huge, but even more importantly was the fact that they finished in the Top 3 in every category. That speaks to the station’s consistency and content/personality appeal.


M-SU 6A-MID = 3.8 (8th)

M-F 6A-7P = 4.4 (8th)

M-F 5A-9A (Mike and Mike) = 7.1 (3rd)

M-F 9A-12P (Dan Le Batard) = 2.4 (12th)

M-F 12P-2P (Russillo and Kanell) = 4.0 (8th)

M-F 2P-6P (The Drive with Joe Quinn and Nick Handley) = 4.3 (8th)

*** 590 is getting a GREAT performance from Mike and Mike. Russillo and Kanell and the afternoon show each turn in Top 10 finishes which is respectable. Le Batard right now is the one program which isn’t popping. We’ll have to see if that’s seasonal or a regular trend. Overall the station is in the Top 10 and during the Fall it’ll likely perform much higher with Huskers football on the station’s airwaves. The key is holding that audience over during the week.


M-F 6A-10A:

  • 1620 The Zone = 7.5 (2nd)
  • AM 590 ESPN = 5.4 (5th)

M-F 10A-3P:

  • 1620 The Zone = 9.6 (2nd)
  • AM 590 ESPN = 3.4 (10th)

M-F 3P-7P:

  • 1620 The Zone = 7.8 (2nd)
  • AM 590 ESPN = 4.3 (7th)

One other item I was able to examine was the Men 18-49 category. Although this isn’t the focus for determining success, it is an area to keep an eye on because as older listeners age and exit the desired demo, younger listeners enter it for the first time, and judging by what I’ve seen, both brands are in good shape.

Similar to the Men 25-54 story, The Zone is in a stronger position with younger listeners. They gain an extra point on many of their key shows. For example, Sharp and Benning delivered a 9.8, Nick Bahe had a 9.9, and Unsportsmanlike Conduct turned in a 9.5. For AM 590 they lost a point on Mike and Mike, and two tenths with Le Batard. However, they gain three tenths with Russillo and Kanell, and one tenth with The Drive.

The interesting book to look at will be the Fall when 590 can leverage the power of Cornhuskers football, and use the increased attention to help drive additional tune ins to its weekday programs. At this point in time though, the market belongs to The Zone. The talent are consistent and providing exceptional programming, and based on the latest numbers, the audience agrees.




Sports Radio News

Fescoe in the Morning: ESPN Has a History of Ignoring Non-Partner Leagues

“They are risking being ignored by ESPN now,” replied Klingler.



Fescoe in the Morning

ESPN is out of the running for the Big Ten football and basketball media rights. Those will be awarded to a combination of other networks and likely a streaming service. ESPN appears to be focusing on NCAA Championships next.

Josh Klingler, co-host of Fescoe in the Morning on 610 Sports Radio in Kansas City, took time on their show on Tuesday to break down what that might mean for the Big Ten in terms of coverage.

“You’re (Big Ten) going to network television, which is better; more eyeballs and what have you,” noted Klingler. “But also, let’s not forget ESPN has a history of ignoring you when you’re not on their air. That’s the risk they are going to run.”

Klingler would add, “They are going to take the money. They are going to get network viewers, which is good. I guess the highlight and the hype and all those things that we are accustomed to doing that ESPN provides. We’ve already seen they ignore you if you’re not on their network.”

Bob Fescoe chimed in a reminder about another prominent league that chose not to partner with ESPN.

“Ask the National Hockey League what happened when they took the money from NBC and ran,” said Fescoe.

“They are risking being ignored by ESPN now,” replied Klingler.

“Right, but I think they are willing to do that for a billion dollars per year,” Fescoe responded.

Fescoe then said that the Big Ten might make up for the perceived shortcomings of not being on ESPN by being on network television.

“If you’re going to be on network TV in all three windows, Josh, quite honestly all your marquee games are going to be free,” said Fescoe.

“That’s exposure,” said Klingler.

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Sports Radio News

NESN’s Dave O’Brien Says National Networks “Blew It” By Not Hiring Dennis Eckersley

“I don’t know how they blew it as badly as they did but Dennis Eckersley should have been a national icon… they made a mistake on that. I hope somebody regrets it.”



Dennis Eckersley

On Monday, Dennis Eckersley decided to make it known that this season would be his last with NESN in the booth. He mentioned that after 50 years in baseball, it was time to go be with the grandchildren in San Diego.

His broadcast partner for a lot of those years in the NESN booth was Dave O’Brien. On the latest Sports Media Mayhem podcast, O’Brien joined show host Alex Reimer to talk about the retirement of Eckersley. Reimer pointed out that it took awhile before Eckersley became the main color analyst for the team. O’Brien remembered the time well.

“When he started, he was pre- and post- and he did that most of his career at NESN,” said O’Brien. “It was really, only the last six or seven years that he really started to get on as a game analyst.”

O’Brien was named the lead play-by-play announcer for NESN’s Red Sox coverage in 2016 which is about the same time Eckersley slid into the role of game analyst. In the time since, O’Brien has seen the work of Eckersley up close and is floored that he was working for a regional sports network and not somewhere more nationally prominent.

“I think the national people totally blew it on Dennis Eckersley,” blurted O’Brien. “And that includes Turner. They had an opportunity, I can say that because a lot of those people there now didn’t make the decision. He should have been the lead analyst doing national games. He should have been on ESPN on Sunday Night Baseball or FOX. I don’t know how they blew it as badly as they did but Dennis Eckersley should have been a national icon… they made a mistake on that. I hope somebody regrets it.”

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Sports Radio News

Sal Paolantonio Not Interested In Trying Ayahuasca To Better Understand Aaron Rodgers

“Halucinagenics have been at the center of a lot of conversations about Aaron Rodgers lately.”



Dan Patrick is a very good interviewer. He asks the questions he knows his audience wants answered. He also makes a habit out of throwing out questions to his guests that they never see coming. That was the case on Tuesday for ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio.

Paolantonio joined the Dan Patrick Show to discuss Pro Football Hall of Fame voting and the new NFL season. That is not what the host hit him with out of the gate.

The first question from Patrick to Paolantonio was “Just to relate to Aaron Rodgers, would you be willing to try ayahuasca?”.

Paolantonio was left speechless. All he could do was laugh and say “you got me on that one, Dan.”

Halucinagenics have been at the center of a lot of conversations about Aaron Rodgers lately. The Green Bay quarterback recently said on a podcast that experimenting with ayahuasca opened him up to be ready to succeed both on the field and as a leader. He credits the experience with laying the foundation for his 2021 MVP season.

Patrick pushed the issue challenging Paolantonio to beat Andrea Kremer to the experience.

“My money is on the fearless Andrea Kremer,” Paolantonio shot back.

For the record, Kremer responded to the challenge on Twitter.

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