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The Sports Hub Takes August But WEEI Keeps Surging

Jason Barrett

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For the past few years, 98.5 The Sports Hub has established itself as a dominant brand. The CBS Boston sports talker has enjoyed tremendous success in the Men 25-54 demographic, cementing its position as one of the top rated sports radio stations in the nation.

While The Hub was building momentum, their main competitor WEEI, was undergoing a few changes. After making adjustments and bringing back a few friendly and familiar voices, progress soon followed. Boston sports radio fans began eating up the programming delivered by both brands, helping make the city the highest rated sports radio market in the country. There aren’t many cities in America where two sports radio stations finish 1-2 in the ratings, and their shows combine to reach 20-25% of the Male 25-54 demographic, but that’s exactly what’s transpired over the past few months.

In August, we saw a repeat in terms of the rankings with the Sports Hub finishing 1st and WEEI coming in 2nd. But one noteworthy item that jumped out was the improvement from WEEI and a slight decline from The Hub when you analyze their performances over the past twelve months. To be fair, The Hub has been cranking out record setting numbers, so eventually even the best have to slow down.

If you look at the situation from The Hub’s point of view, their three weekday shows are all number one, and delivering double digit ratings with Men 25-54. That’s phenomenal. They can also feel good about their evening number because although it’s slightly behind WEEI’s, they’re competing against Boston Red Sox baseball which costs a lot more. They also have a sizable lead over WEEI in most dayparts so they have plenty of ammunition to use in selling their story.

Flipping the script to WEEI, they’ve got to feel ecstatic about their year to year growth. During that span they’ve gained two to three ratings points on their weekday shows while the Hub has either declined or stayed flat. Dennis and Callahan led the charge by adding three full points in morning drive while competing against the Hub’s top rated show (Toucher and Rich). It’s even more remarkable when you take into account that they were battling without regular contributions from John Dennis. That’s encouraging news for Kirk Minihane, Gerry Callahan, and station management as they move forward without Dennis who left his full time position in August.

Not to be lost in the shuffle are the midday and afternoon shows which have also made significant strides, adding more than two share points to their performance. WEEI can also point out that they’ve stayed on track while going through a Program Director change, which is a testament to the work being done by Assistant Program Director Joe Zarbano and his team behind the scenes. The station can also lay claim to their ratings dwarfing most of America’s top sports radio stations, even if they don’t defeat The Hub. When you add all of that up and combine it with their Men 35-64 story where they beat the Hub in mornings, middays, and M-F 6a-7p, that’s a whole lot to work with.

Looking at it strictly from a Men 25-54 numbers point of view as most industry folks do, you’re going to recognize The Hub for being in the driver’s seat. They are and they deserve credit for a strong month. To perform the way they have over the past few years is extremely difficult and their work is worth recognizing.

But as I’ve learned over the years that it’s not always about a monthly ratings performance, which is why I highlighted the year to year progress too. Most brands analyze their growth over one year’s time and this is the space where WEEI can feel encouraged and the Hub can find areas to improve upon, despite being on top.

To climb back into the 2nd position and stay there consistently is a big accomplishment for WEEI because they were not in this spot last year. There’s now a serious battle where one or two quarter hours can make the difference in who wins and loses the next book. The combined performance of Toucher and Rich and Dennis and Callahan (now Kirk and Callahan) is as good as it gets in mornings in the sports format, and now it’s up to both brands and their talent to maximize their creativity, abilities, and strategy and hope that the Nielsen gods are on their side next time around.

It’s a pleasure to watch this competition from afar. Judging by the recent trends, I’d be surprised if we didn’t have another great story to share next month. In the meantime, best of luck to both stations and their teams going forward. May the best brand win!

STATION/SHOW Aug-16 Aug-15
M-SU 6A-Mid
98.5 THE SPORTS HUB 9.5 10.7
WEEI 7.6 5.8
M-F 6A-7P
98.5 THE SPORTS HUB 12.0 12.8
WEEI 8.2 5.6
M-F 6A-10A
TOUCHER & RICH (98.5) 12.9 14.5
DENNIS & CALLAHAN (WEEI) 10.4 7.2
M-F 10A-12P
ZO & BERTRAND (98.5) 10.7 10.8
ORDWAY, MERLONI & FAURIA 6.7 4.0
M-F 2P-6P
FELGER & MASSAROTTI (98.5) 12.5 13.0
DALE & HOLLEY (WEEI) 7.7 5.6
M-F 6P-Mid
RED SOX/MIKE MUTNANSKY 7.5 7.4
ADAM JONES (98.5) 7.3 8.9

*** All numbers are for Men 25-54

Sports Radio News

Nick Wilson: Deshaun Watson Press Conference ‘Insulting’ To Local Media

“You — neither Deshaun, his lawyers, or anybody involved in this — get to dictate what those reporters get to say, ask, or think.”

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Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson met with the media for the first time yesterday since being reinstated by the NFL after the league ruled he was guilty of violating the Personal Conduct Policy due to improper sexual advances towards more than two dozen massage therapists. 92.3 The Fan afternoon host Nick Wilson called Watson’s press conference “trash” and “insulting” to local media.

Watson told reporters he would only answer football related questions from the assembled media members, which Wilson took issue with.

“You can’t bury this story simply by saying ‘I won’t talk about it’,” Wilson said. “It is insulting to the media who covers this team. This is not about Nick Wilson, I promise. This is about the beat reporters who cover this team. It is insulting — intentionally or not — to say ‘You know what, guys? I love y’all, but I’m going to dictate what you ask me’.

“You don’t do that. You dictate when you speak, your opening statement, or how you respond. You — neither Deshaun, his lawyers, or anybody involved in this — get to dictate what those reporters — who work very hard day in, day out covering this organization, covering Deshaun Watson, covering this town — get to say, ask, or think. That was trash.”

Co-host Dustin Fox added the whole job of the media is to bring information to fans, and Watson wouldn’t allow reporters to do that Thursday, and may never do that.

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Sports Radio News

Gregg Giannotti: Biggest Issue With Craig Carton, Jon Jastremski Feud Is “Mole” At WFAN

“The thing that bothers me the most about this is the leak from within the building. Someone here is sending this audio out to a former listener…to cause problems.”

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Gregg Giannotti

A feud has sprung up between WFAN afternoon host Craig Carton and former WFAN host John Jastremski. Boomer & Gio discussed the spat on Friday morning’s show, with Gregg Giannotti being troubled by a revelation.

During his New York New York podcast, a voicemail left for Jastremski asked about Carton’s comments, but the caller said a WFAN employee sent him the clip of Carton’s criticism.

“So that means we have a mole,” Boomer Esiason said.

“That right there is a problem,” Gregg Giannotti added. “‘We both have a mutual friend that still works over there’ and that person shared a link of Craig talking about JJ (Jastremski). So, clearly, that person is on JJ’s side and they’re still working here. That’s a mole! That’s someone going against the team! And I think know who that is!”

Esiason then asked if he knew the person, to which Giannotti said he did. He then asked if he would be upset by who it was, which Giannotti affirmed as well.

The show then played the final portion of Jastremski’s rant, which included him saying to Carton “I’m not listening to a crook. So you know what? Go take a f—ing hike.”

“Jesus!” Esiason exclaimed. “Good for JJ, though. Standing up for himself.”

“I like both of these guys. I do. I got respect for both of them,” said Giannotti. “Everybody doesn’t have to go to the jail, crook thing with Craig every single time. Do they? It’s low-hanging fruit. Everybody goes there. There’s no way he can defend himself in that way because everybody saying ‘You went to jail’ didn’t go to jail, and it’s not apples and oranges. But the business stuff is apples-to-apples.

“So when I hear that, I’m just like ‘Ok, you went there. Be a little more creative than that’. As far as I listen to legend things, please, nobody has given me worse advice in my life than Mike Francesa did. Nobody. I would still be out in the newsroom cutting Islander highlights if I listened to that guy. And the only reason why Mike liked JJ was because he didn’t feel he was a threat. The only people Mike likes is the people he feels non-threatened by. And that’s where that comes from.”

After concluding Jastremski’s rant was a “little over the top”, Giannotti then turned his attention to the “mole” inside the station.

“The thing that bothers me the most about this is the leak from within the building. Someone here is sending this audio out to a former listener…to cause problems. That — to me — is an issue. The guy on the voicemail said ‘We may or may not have a mutual friend that still works at the radio station’ and this guy just slammed the radio station. And he’s friends with the guy who slammed the radio station and then slammed Craig and this guy’s on their side?! And this guy that works here is on their side?! That to me is a major, major problem.”

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Sports Radio News

Dan Dakich: Craig Carton is ‘The Way Talk Radio Should Be’

“If you’re being critical because you want to be the guy that’s always critical I don’t think you can do that either. I think you gotta be honest. And criticism comes with it.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Craig Carton has prided himself on being one of those hosts who tells it like it is, especially when talking about New York’s pro sports teams.

That willingness to call a spade a spade and levy criticism on teams like the Jets and Giants, especially when things are not going well on the field, is something Dan Dakich has always seen as a recipe for success in the industry.

Interviewing Carton on Thursday on his Outkick show Don’t @ Me, Dakich praised the WFAN afternoon host for essentially creating a blueprint for how sports talk should be done.

“In Indianapolis I’m the bad guy right, because I say look the Colts stink, this regime is 46-49-1 – why are you telling me the GM is the best in the country – why are you telling me Frank Reich can really coach?” Dakich said. “New York’s different, though, right? I mean, New York they expect you to say look if you ain’t any good then you ain’t any good. Yu don’t sugarcoat nothing, and I think that’s the way talk radio should be.”

Carton noted that what’s key in how you critique a team or a front office, executive or owner is finding a balance. He said you can’t as a host be the ultimate homer and blow smoke up everyone’s behind.

“You have to be able to be critical when it’s warranted,” Carton said. “If you’re being critical because you want to be the guy that’s always critical I don’t think you can do that either. I think you gotta be honest. And criticism comes with it.”

Carton pointed out that the fan bases in both New York and in Indianapolis are ultimately the same, because at the end of the day it’s all about making sure you have competent people calling the right shots. He added that the organizations are the same too because of how sensitive they can be to criticism, which he said if they don’t like it, “too bad.”

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