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D.C. Sports Radio Overcomes The Political Chaos

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A polarizing election featuring two of the most high profile and controversial personalities of our lifetime wasn’t enough to slow down sports radio in the nation’s capital during the November book. Although News/Talk still occupied the top of the ratings ladder, Chris Kinard and his team at 106.7 The Fan, and Chris Johnson and his staff at ESPN 980, the market’s two leading sports stations, have plenty to feel good about.

Starting with 106.7 The Fan, they retained bragging rights as the market’s top rated sports station, finishing in the top three with Men 25-54 6a-7p (5.9), and in the top 5 (5.0) with Men 25-54 M-SU 6a-Mid. The station’s morning and midday shows also placed in the top 3, and the afternoon show was just four tenths of a point off of placing inside the top 5.

Another encouraging sign for The Fan is their year to year growth. Twelve months ago, the Sports Junkies produced a 4.8 and Chad Dukes’ afternoon show delivered a 4.5. Both shows have since increased their overall share. Grant and Danny, The Fan’s midday show, was slightly down in share year to year, but they’ve maintained strong consistency while fluctuating between 2nd and 3rd place.

Meanwhile at ESPN 980, there were also some very positive signs.

Year to year the station saw a huge gain in afternoons, soaring from a 2.7 to 4.4, which was good enough for 9th place. Inside The Locker Room which airs weekdays from 1p-4p, climbed from a 2.9 to 4.2 to finish 10th. And despite losing local icon Tony Kornheiser to the podcasting world in June, 980 lost little momentum in his timeslot, as Bram Weinstein produced a 3.9 and cemented a spot inside the top 10. Three of 980’s core four weekday programs were ranked in the top 10.

Another item that should have the 980 staff feeling hopeful is the progress being made in mornings. Chris Cooley and Kevin Sheehan took over the timeslot in April, and although they have more work to do in terms of growing the time slot’s overall share, the station is now local and stable in that position. Their ratings are also up year to year.

Given the turmoil that surrounded 980 last year (the station hired Jason Reid and Chris Paul, then pulled the show before it started, reversed course and let it debut, only to cancel the show for low ratings 7 months later) that progress is something the station can build upon.

At a time where Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton captivated the country and fueled increased media attention and conversation, it would’ve been understandable if both stations experienced a decline, especially in a market where politics takes center stage. Fortunately though for both sports stations that wasn’t the case. They provided a much needed distraction for their local audiences, and that approach led them to a strong November, and healthy year to year gains.

One thing to take into account as you process the information below, the weekday lineups for these two stations are structured differently. To make it easier to consume, I’ve listed both brands individually so you can see how each show and daypart performed. From strictly a ratings perspective, The Fan is comfortably in front in the head to head battle. 980 though has done a nice job of making inroads.

106.7 The Fan:

  • M-F 6a-7p – 5.9 (3rd)
  • M-SU 6a-Mid – 5.0 (5th)
  • The Sports Junkies (5a-10a) – 6.7 (3rd)
  • Grant & Danny (10a-2p) – 6.3 (3rd)
  • Chad Dukes (2p-7p) – 5.1 (7th)
  • Evenings (7p-12a) – 3.6 (11th)

ESPN 980:

  • M-F 6a-7p – 3.7 (12th)
  • M-SU 6a-Mid – 3.4 (tied for 13th)
  • Al Galdi (5a-7a) – 2.3 (14th)
  • Cooley and Kevin (7a-11a) – 2.9 (13th)
  • Bram Weinstein (11a-1p) – 3.9 (tied for 10th)
  • Inside The Locker Room (1p-4p) – 4.2 (10th)
  • The Sports Reporters w/ Czaban/Pollin (4p-7p) – 4.4 (9th)
  • Evenings (7p-12a) – 1.4 (22nd)

Sports Radio News

Kay Adams Gives Pat McAfee Backhanded Compliment On Interviewing Aaron Rodgers

“There is nothing — literally nothing — that he hasn’t gone over with you.”

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@PatMcAfeeShow on Twitter

Besides ESPN’s “ManningCast” for Monday Night Football, a top candidate for best sports media story of the 2021 NFL season is The Pat McAfee Show.

The former NFL punter’s show on YouTube, SiriusXM, and podcasts has become a cultural sensation for its interviews with Aaron Rodgers that revealed the Green Bay Packers quarterback’s controversial stance on taking the COVID-19 vaccine.

McAfee has been criticized in media circles for letting Rodgers say whatever he wants in extended monologues without ever challenging his assertions or asking follow-up questions in response to a particular opinion. But the wide range of topics and in-depth answers have made McAfee’s Tuesday conversations with Rodgers must-watch video.

However, those interviews haven’t left much for other reporters and on-air personalities to cover when talking to Rodgers. Good Morning Football co-host Kay Adams raised this issue with McAfee during a Monday appearance on the show.

“You’ve ruined interviewing Aaron Rodgers,” said Adams. “Do you know that?”

McAfee understandably disagreed, saying he feels “it’s been good” because they have a conversation rather than question-and-answer, question-and-answer. Adams then explained that she had a seven-to-10-minute interview with Rodgers last week, but had nothing new to ask him because he already covered everything with McAfee.

“There is nothing — literally nothing — that he hasn’t gone over with you,” Adams complained, saying McAfee and his hour-long conversations has made it impossible for networks to interview Rodgers now.

Though Adams appeared to be annoyed, she did praise McAfee for getting Rodgers to reveal a side of himself that he previously kept private, something the public never saw before.

“He’s never been an open book, but you’ve really let us get to know his character,” said Adams, “and who he is as a human, his kindness, his vulnerabiity. It’s transcendental; seriously, it’s awesome.”

Thanks for doing such a good job that it’s difficult for everybody else, Pat McAfee? That seemed to be what Adams meant.

Yet despite that apparent frustration, she surely knows that the people who saw her interview with Rodgers may not watch McAfee’s show. And it’s entirely possible that someone may answer a question differently, depending on who’s asking and the outlet being represented. Of course, it always feels good as an interviewer to ask a question that hasn’t been posed before and get the subject to think about something he or she may not have previously considered.

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Sports Radio News

Colin Dunlap: ‘No One More Underqualified’ Than Jac Collinsworth

“How did they allow that level of nepotism to happen?”

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NBC Sports Pressbox

NBC had two NFL Wild Card playoff telecasts this past weekend, but the network’s pre- and post-game show did not impress 93.7 The Fan’s Colin Dunlap and Chris Mack. The hosts singled out Football Night in America co-host Jac Collinsworth as a big problem with NBC’s studio coverage.

“There is no one more underqualified or worse at their job than the young Collinsworth, who is stunningly bad on television,” said Dunlap.

What particularly irritates Dunlap is that Collinsworth holds such a high-profile job on Football Night in America, one that so many in the sports broadcasting industry covet.

“It is a premier job, NBC Sunday Night Football in America, he is one of the hosts there, he’s throwing it to Drew Brees, he’s doing all this stuff,” Dunlap added. “And I know he’s part of the jokey element, the non-serious sports guy on there.”

As Dunlap wondered how Jac Collinsworth got his job, Mack asked the question more directly.

“How did they allow that level of nepotism to happen?”

The two then went on to criticize the entire NBC studio crew, saying everyone is miscast in their current roles.

“Tony Dungy should be interviewing people about introspective life things,” said Dunlap. “He should be doing sit-downs. People will open up to Tony Dungy because they trust him, especially football coaches.”

In Dunlap’s view, NBC made a mistake by not hiring reporter Tom Rinaldi to do the features for which he’s known. (Rinaldi left ESPN for Fox Sports at the end of 2020.) Mack added that the network has an opportunity to remake its NFL coverage with sideline reporter Michele Tafoya moving on after this season and play-by-play announcer Al Michaels believed to be headed to Amazon’s Thursday Night Football.

Prospective names that the duo suggested adding to Football Night in America to freshen up up the mix include ESPN’s Robert Griffin III (who Dunlap says “could be the next big star”), NFL Network’s Joe Thomas, and Good Morning Football’s Kyle Brandt.

You can listen to the full segment at the 93.7 The Fan website or the Audacy app.

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Sports Radio News

Chicago Legend, 670 The Score Overnighter Les Grobstein Dies

“Grobstein’s presence in the Chicago sports media far predates his time on The Score.”

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The Athletic

Les Grobstein was a staple in the lives of Chicago sports fans. He had held down overnights at 670 The Score since 2009. He was found dead in his home on Sunday. He was 69 years old.

“Our staff is devastated. Our audience lost a great friend overnight,” Mitch Rosen, The Score’s operations director, said in a statement. “Les was a legend that will never be forgotten. He was a best friend to so many that knew him that he never knew. That’s the power of radio.”

Grobstein’s presence in the Chicago sports media far predates his time on The Score. He began his broadcasting career in 1970 as part of Northwestern basketball broadcasts. He also served as the sports director of WLS and a reporter for ESPN 1000 before joining The Score.

The longtime Chicago sports radio personality had not been on the air recently. The only explanation given was an illness.

The Score memorialized The Grobber on Monday. The station played a loop of some of his most memorable moments multiple times during the day. Mark Grote called Grobstein “a friend, a colleague, and a classic” and noted that it was hard to figure out exactly the right way to memorialize him because he was such a unique individual.

Grote clearly did something right. Grobber’s son Scott texted the station to say that he was laughing at all of the clips and memories of his dad that the station was sharing.

In addition to Scott, Les Grobstein is survived by his long time partner Kathy.

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