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WFAN Wins August But ESPN NY Is Closing The Gap

Jason Barrett

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The August book in New York produced some signs that should make the fall book in the big apple very interesting. For the first time in a while we’re seeing some signs of a much closer race between WFAN and ESPN NY 98.7FM.

As both brands enter the fall, they should each benefit from the addition of play by play. WFAN will add New York Giants football, Brooklyn Nets basketball, and New Jersey Devils hockey. ESPN NY 98.7FM will air New York Jets, New York Knicks, and New York Rangers broadcasts. There’s an outside chance of the Yankees making the playoffs and helping WFAN’s October push, but right now the Bronx Bombers are on the outside looking in so expecting playoff audiences to show up and fuel additional October growth seems far fetched.

In analyzing the August book, WFAN is in familiar territory – leading the race. They win each daypart with Men 25-54, and that news should give CBS New York executives plenty to feel good about. However, although WFAN remains in front, they’re not as far out in front as they have been in the past.

To illustrate the point, I’ve included the current month and last year’s numbers during the same period. This is what many sports stations use to measure their growth. When you look at the comparisons, you’ll see ESPN NY has grown in nearly every category. WFAN during the same period has slightly declined, with morning drive and 10a-12p being the exceptions. Bear in mind, The Fan has had the benefit of airing New York Yankees games during the summer. ESPN NY doesn’t have local baseball games to provide additional cume. That has to make ESPN executives feel encouraged.

What really stands out from ESPN NY’s side in this book is the continued progress in afternoons by The Michael Kay show. The program won the Men 18-34 demo for the fifth consecutive month against WFAN, and gained a full point with Men 25-54 from July to August. It also grew by nearly a point and a half year to year. In August the show trailed WFAN by just six tenths of a point and two ranking positions. Last year they were down two and a half points and eight positions. That’s tremendous progress.

Looking further at ESPN NY, the station has to feel great about the way some of their changes have paid off. The radio station dropped Mike Lupica in favor of Hahn and Humpty, and replaced Colin Cowherd with Dan Le Batard when Colin left for FOX Sports, and in both cases they’re up in the ratings. Mike and Mike have also remained consistent in share while growing in rank. Those are very healthy signs. They’re not as strong M-SU 6a-Mid due to a lack of play by play during the summer months, but once the fall arrives that performance should change.

But let’s not ignore where WFAN is either. They are still the market leader and inside the top 5 in almost every category. I was surprised to see Mike Francesa’s show finish in 4th given his past performances but Fan supporters will point out that Mike was on vacation most of the month. That’s a valid point. However, the ratings system doesn’t measure attendance, and during the same time last year when Mike also took a vacation, the share was six tenths of a point higher.

The Fan does have the better signal, heavier local focus, and personalities who have been the authority on New York sports for decades. Those should serve them well going forward. But if they take their eye off the ball, things can change in a hurry. All they need to do is look at what’s developing in the heart of afternoon drive.

The real questions going forward are, how will these numbers look next August? Or in January 2018 once Mike Francesa leaves? Can ESPN NY make further inroads this fall when both brands carry a ton of play by play and sports radio interest increases? Will WFAN strengthen its performance with younger listeners or does ESPN NY continue to widen the gap with listeners who don’t have built in loyalty to Francesa, Joe and Evan, and Boomer and Carton? Has ESPN NY milked all it can from its national shows or can further strides be made?

There are a lot of questions left to be answered. But for now, let’s be satisfied that there are two great options to listen to in the big apple. Judging from the results, listeners are enjoying the programming provided by both brands.

STATION/SHOW Aug-16 Aug-15
M-SU 6A-Mid
WFAN 4.9 (4th) 5.1 (8th)
ESPN NY 98.7FM 2.7 (15th) 2.5 (14th)
M-F 6A-7P
WFAN 5.3 (4th) 5.6 (5th)
ESPN NY 98.7FM 3.6 (8th) 3.0 (14th)
M-F 6A-10A
Boomer & Carton 5.8 (4th) 5.5 (3rd)
Mike & Mike 3.4 (9th) 3.5 (12th)
M-F 10A-12P
Joe & Evan 4.4 (5th) 4.3 (7th)
Dan Le Batard 2.5 (12th) 2.0 (16th)
M-F 12P-3P
Joe/Evan + Francesa 5.1 (6th) 5.5 (6th)
Hahn & Humpty 2.7 (11th) 2.6 (14th)
M-F 3P-7P
Francesa + Somers/NY Yankees 5.5 (4th) 6.0 (4th)
The Michael Kay Show 4.9 (6th) 3.5 (12th)
M-F 10A-1P
Joe & Evan 4.3 (5th)  4.8 (6th)
Le Batard/Hahn & Humpty 2.6 (10th)  2.2 (14th)
M-F 1P-6:30P
Francesa 5.6 (4th)  6.2 (4th)
Hahn & Humpty/Michael Kay 4.2 (8th)  3.2 (13th)

*** All numbers are for Men 25-54

Sports Radio News

Matt Chernoff: WFAN’s Sal Licata ‘Doesn’t Have The Guts’ to Appear On 680 The Fan Again

“He doesn’t have the guts to come on again. After what happened last time? You think he wants that again? Why the hell would he want that?”

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Would WFAN’s Sal Licata join Chuck and Chernoff on 680 The Fan in Atlanta again? According to Matt Chernoff, no.

During a May appearance on SNY, Licata declared the National League East race over, saying the New York Mets had wrapped up the division. The Atlanta Braves then proceeded to win 14 consecutive games. The Mets currently hold a seven game lead over the Braves in the division.

After the 14 game winning streak, Chuck and Chernoff had Licata on their show to confront him about the opinion, and things got slightly heated, with Chernoff and Licata eventually yelling at each other, before cooler heads prevailed.

The two hosts rekindled their disdain for one another after the Mets won four of five games against the Braves over the weekend, with the two trading barbs on Twitter. Licata joked Chernoff should hope the New York host doesn’t move to Atlanta to win a ratings battle, and called Chernoff a clown before deleting the tweet. He later tweeted “Funny. No invites from Atlanta sports talk radio today,” accompanied by a should shrug emoji. That caught the attention of Chernoff, who addressed it to open his show Monday.

“He (Licata) won’t come on,” Chernoff said. “He doesn’t have the guts to come on again. After what happened last time? You think he wants that again? Why the hell would he want that? He made a fool of himself and then lied about it to his own fans. There’s a reason he didn’t play the audio on his dumb little show. And next time when he’s an hour late, they have that to play instead. I mean, honestly, if he wants to come on, come on. He has no interest. He does not want this smoke.”

@680thefan

Chernoff has had enough of loud mouth Sal Licata of #wfan #braves #mets

♬ original sound – 680 The Fan

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Sports Radio News

790 The Score Debuts In Providence

In addition to shows like Bet MGM’s The Daily Tip and others like Bet QL Daily, listeners can catch Jim Rome and Amy Lawrence.

Jordan Bondurant

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After reporting last week that Kevin McNamara would be the station’s only local host in the programming lineup, 790 The Score in Providence, Rhode Island is officially on the air.

The station, which was last on the air in the market in 2008, has been revived and will serve as the market’s first sports and sports betting station.

“The station features a lineup of expert personalities that deliver unique sports talk and sports betting insights that entertain, inform, and engage,” said Holly Paras, VP and market manager of Cumulus Providence. “We think Providence sports and sports betting fans will love 790 THE SCORE!”

In addition to shows like Bet MGM’s The Daily Tip and others like Bet QL Daily, listeners can catch some of the top national talent on the airwaves throughout the day and night. This includes hosts like Jim Rome and Amy Lawrence.

McNamara will host his show Kevin Mac Sports Hour daily from 5-7 p.m.

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Sports Radio News

Paul Finebaum Reportedly Scores $700K Advance For Nick Saban Book

Finebaum will make $700,000 plus royalties for the deep dive into the rivalry between the two SEC head coaches.

Jordan Bondurant

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Paul Finebaum

Though there’s still some time before a finished products reaches bookshelves, but ESPN’s Paul Finebaum is reportedly set to get a nice six-figure advance by Penguin Press.

According to John Ourand of Sports Business Journal, Finebaum will make $700,000 plus royalties for the deep dive into the rivalry between the two SEC head coaches.

Back in the spring things came to a head between Alabama’s Nick Saban and Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher, as the two engaged in a verbal spat in separate press conferences over name, image and likeness.

Saban said Fisher and his staff utilized NIL and “bought every player” in the Aggies’ spring 2022 recruiting class.

Things got so heated and drew so many headlines that SEC commissioner Greg Sankey had to step in and try to get the former colleagues to cool it.

Finebaum is teaming up with Alabama beat reporter John Talty to write the book.

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