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The Sports Hub Takes August But WEEI Keeps Surging

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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

Ken Selvaggi Named New General Manager of ESPN Louisville

The longtime television veteran will bring his forty years of experience to ESPN Louisville and enhance their presence with Louisville athletics.

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ESPN Louisville has announced the hiring of a new General Manager. Ken Selvaggi will take over the brand and stay in Louisville after leaving WAVE-TV late last year.

Selvaggi will be joining the group’s management team alongside Vice President Drew Deener and Program Director Andy Sweeney. ESPN Louisville owns ESPN 680/105.7, and 93.9 The Ville.

Chad Boeger, President of ESPN Louisville said of the company’s new addition, “Ken brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to ESPN Louisville. He is a strong leader in the media industry. We are thrilled to have him join our staff as we launch our broadcast partnership with the University of Louisville.”

Union Broadcasting’s new GM joins the cluster after previously working with WAVE-TV (Louisville) where he served as Vice-President/General Manager for more than a decade. During his tenure at WAVE, the station was awarded the Kentucky Broadcasters Association Station of the Year in 2019 and 2020, an Emmy for Overall Excellence in 2017 and Edward R. Murrow awards for Overall Excellence in 2014 and 2019.

Leadership Louisville

Selvaggi’s career spans more than 40 years in broadcasting with stints as General Manager at WSFA-TV in Montgomery, Alabama and KSNT-TV in Topeka, Kansas. He also brings experience as a former News Director at three West Virginia television stations with his longest tenure being ten years at WSAZ-TV in Huntington/Charleston.

Additionally, he worked as a special projects producer at WHAS-TV in Louisville, a news and sports producer at KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and as the news director for an NPR station in Pittsburgh.

The television veteran is happy to embrace the position. “I am excited to join the ESPN Louisville team of great professionals who do compelling work to serve the community. We have outstanding content for listeners on multiple platforms and will be expanding our local offerings even more in the coming months that will serve our audience and business partners well.”

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Sports Radio News

Indiana Radio Voice Joe Smith To Retire After 2022 Football Season

Smith has spent the last 40 seasons as the pre-game, halftime and post-game host and the upcoming Indiana football season will be his last.

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Indiana University

This season will mark the 40th for Joe Smith, the longtime radio host for Indiana University. After this season’s football campaign, it will be his last.

The pre-game, halftime and post-game voice of Indiana Hoosiers football and basketball has announced he will be stepping away from his post following the final football game of this upcoming season.

“Joe Smith has been an integral and versatile member of the IU Radio Network broadcast team for the better part of 40 years,” Don Fischer, Indiana’s play-by-play man said. “At one time or another, Joe has served as the broadcast engineer, football spotter, statistician, and our pre-game, halftime, and post-game host through those four decades.”

The Daily Hoosier

Smith quipped that it’d be difficult to keep him from being alongside Fischer for his own milestone. “I would not miss Don’s 50th season for anything in the world. Don is a true friend and to share the booth with him one final year, well, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Smith plans to remain on as host of the football post-game show, while mentoring his eventual replacement. He also serves as Sports Director at Sarkes Tarzian talk WGCL Bloomington (1370).

Retirement has been a popular topic recently with collegiate vocal institutions. Mick Hubert, the voice of the Florida Gators announced last week he is retiring following the baseball team’s season. Gene Deckerhoff also announced he will wrap his career soon. The voice of the Florida State Seminoles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will finish with the Bucs 2022 season.

In 1998, Smith was named Indiana Sportscaster of the Year. He was honored 2003 with an induction into the Indiana Sportswriters/Sportscasters Hall of Fame. Last August he was the latest inductee into the Monroe County (Bloomington) Sports Hall of Fame.

Smith continued, “IU has meant so much to me and my family, and I can’t wait to watch [football] Coach Allen build the Hoosiers back into a Top-25 program. I also want to thank [VP/Director of Intercollegiate Athletics] Scott Dolson for his support and for allowing me to close out my IU career on this incredible high note.”

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Sports Radio News

Danny Parkins To Texas Governor: ‘Kiss My Ass’

“You don’t care about Chicago, you are using Chicago as a red herring, as a slur.”

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The mass shooting that took place on Tuesday in Uvalde, Texas captured the attention of the nation.

Remarks from Texas Gov. Greg Abbot in the aftermath of the tragedy got the attention of Danny Parkins and Matt Spiegel on 670 The Score in Chicago.

Gov. Abbot brought up the fact that Chicago has a gun violence problem even though gun laws in the city are among the strictest in the country.

Parkins took issue with the Texas governor trying to score political points by dunking on Chicago in a moment of tragedy.

“You don’t care about Chicago, you are using Chicago as a red herring, as a slur,” Parkins said. “And if we want to talk about Chicago, we can talk about Chicago with facts…What about Chicago? Kiss my ass, Greg Abbot. I can’t stand it, man. It’s so insulting.”

What about Chicago is often a talking point from one side of the gun control issue that suggests despite having such tough laws on firearm ownership, thousands of people each year in the city end up shooting victims. Therefore gun control laws don’t work to prevent mass shootings.

Parkins used that phrase for good last year, putting on the What About Chicago Radiothon. The station fundraiser in 2021 raised more that $660,000 for Athletes for Justice and Austin Harvest.

Parkins explained Wednesday that the problems in the Windy City are multi-faceted. Yes, gun violence issues exist, but Parkins said “it is a problem that many, many, many, many people care deeply about and are trying to solve, but it’s a separate problem.”

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