The Nielsen gods were kind to sports radio stations this fall. Many of the format’s best programmers and personalities can now enjoy the holidays without feeling like they were punched in the gut right before taking a well deserved break.
Here’s what we learned about a number of the top stations and markets this fall. Enjoy!
- In the big apple, WFAN and ESPN NY 98.7FM continue to perform in strong fashion. The Fan won bragging rights among Men 25-54 by finishing 1st M-F 6a-7p and M-SU 6a-Mid. Boomer and Carton and Mike Francesa each finished 1st, Joe and Evan were ranked 4th. Meanwhile at ESPN NY 98.7FM, a little bit of history was made. Each weekday show was rated in the Top 10. Michael Kay finished 7th. Mike and Mike were 9th, and Hahn and Humpty and Dan LeBatard both placed 10th. Congrats to Mark Chernoff and Justin Craig and each of their teams on the excellent news.
- Moving to the windy city, Christmas came early for the staff at 670 The Score. The radio station capped off a strong year by finishing 1st with Men 25-54 M-SU 6a-Mid. Mully and Hanley were ranked 3rd in mornings, and Spiegel and Goff, and Boers and Bernstein finished 2nd in their respective timeslots. For local competitor ESPN 1000, they too had an impressive story to share. The station was 5th in both morning drive and M-SU 6a-Mid. Their big win came in afternoons, where Waddle and Silvy finished 1st, defeating The Score. 2017 figures to be even more interesting and competitive with the Cubs playing championship baseball, and longtime afternoon host Terry Boers exiting 670. Both Mitch Rosen and Adam Delevitt and their staffs should feel great about the way they closed out 2016.
- A little further north, a round of drinks are in order for the crew at KFAN Minneapolis. The radio station finished 1st in the top three categories for the fall book, Men 25-54, Adults 25-54 and 6+. No station in the market, regardless of format, was stronger than KFAN during the past three months. As it pertains to sports radio brands, the Minneapolis sports radio station consistently delivers double digit ratings, making it one of the best rated sports stations in the entire country. An incredible job done by Chad Abbott and his team.
- Heading west to the Bay Area, both KNBR and 95.7 The Game received positive news heading into the holidays. KNBR closed out the fall book finishing 1st overall with Men 25-54 M-F 6a-7p. The station delivered just under a 10 share in October and November, but experienced a two and a half point dip in the month of December, which still wasn’t enough to keep it out of the top spot in the market. KNBR held a half point lead over the 2nd highest rated station (KSOL) in December, and were two to four points higher than the next best rated brand in October and November. For The Game, the addition of the Golden State Warriors, combined with a strong Oakland Raiders season continued to fuel their progress. The station was tied for 9th M-F 6a-7p, but finished 2nd at night, which speaks to the power of airing Warriors games. The morning show with Joe, Lo and Dibs produced the best overall finish of the station’s key weekday programs, coming in 8th. Congrats to Lee Hammer and Don Kollins on the positive signs for their brands.
- Next, we ship up to Boston, where both WEEI and 98.5 The Sports Hub are engaged in a fierce competition to be number one. Without question, this was the hottest sports radio market in America in 2016. The fall book concluded with The Hub finishing 1st with Men 25-54 M-F 6a-7p and M-SU 6a-Mid. WEEI was 2nd. However, Kirk and Callahan have closed the gap on Toucher and Rich and were in a dead heat in the December book. To illustrate how powerful the interest is during mornings in Boston, 1 out of 6 male listeners, ages 25-54, listens to sports talk. The Hub prevailed in middays and afternoons, with Felger and Massarotti earning bragging rights as the station’s top rated show. With WEEI recently adding Rich Keefe alongside Dale & Holley it’ll be interesting to see how that impacts the afternoon battle in future months. Both Mike Thomas, and new WEEI PD Joe Zarbano have to be very pleased with the current state of their brands, yet they can’t relax and enjoy the moment because one quarter hour could be the difference between finishing 1st or 2nd in the next book. None the less, they deserve a ton of credit for the way their brands performed in 2016.
- Sliding down to the city of brotherly love, the strong battle between 97.5 The Fanatic and SportsRadio 94WIP continues. The Fanatic cruised to victory in afternoon drive, led by Mike Missanelli’s 3rd place finish. WIP came in 6th, although two of their three months in PM drive did not include the station’s new afternoon team of Chris Carlin and Ike Reese. In mornings, Angelo Cataldi led the way, recording a 2nd place finish for WIP. The Fanatic’s Anthony Gargano was also strong, registering a 5th place finish. Overall M-F 6a-7p WIP was 3rd, The Fanatic 5th. Both Spike Eskin and Matt Nahigian have reason to feel good about their brands heading into the holidays.
- From the home of the Eagles, we shift to Dallas, Texas where the success of the Cowboys fueled the success of both local sports stations in the December book. Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket remained atop the ratings, finishing 1st M-F 6a-7p and M-SU 6a-Mid with Men 25-54. All three of the station’s weekday shows recorded 1st place finishes, led by The Musers who were once again in double digits. George Dunham, Craig Miller and Gordon Keith wrapped up 2016 by delivering double digit shares in 10 of 12 books. For 105.3 The Fan, they too had reason to be optimistic. Over the past two years the station has grown from 12th to 6th with Men 25-54 M-F 6a-7p. They’ve also become the brand of preference for Men 18-34. In December, The Fan received 7th place finishes from G-Bag Nation, and Shan and RJ, and Ben and Skin were slightly behind in 8th. A tip of the cap to Jeff Catlin, Gavin Spittle and both staffs for the great work they’ve done this year.
- While a winning football team may be helpful in Dallas, the lack of one in St. Louis couldn’t slow down 101 ESPN. The station continued to dominate in the ratings, finishing 3rd in December with Men 25-54, and wrapping up the entire year as the 3rd highest rated station in the market. Each of the station’s four key weekday shows closed out the year ranked third in their respective dayparts. The cherry on top of the sundae for 101, was earning bragging rights as the top rated spoken word station in the market among Men and Persons 25-54 for 2016. Congrats to Hoss Neupert and his entire staff on their success.
- We close things out in Columbus, where 97.1 The Fan continues to place a stranglehold on the rest of the market. The station finished the month of December in 1st with Men 25-54, with an astounding 13 share. They were also 3rd in the 12+ and Adults 25-54 categories. The Fan’s next closest competitor with Men 25-54 was WCOL who were three points behind. A great job by Jay Taylor and his crew.
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Joe DeCamara & Jon Ritchie Reveal Contributors To New WIP Morning Show
“Angelo for many, many years has had a wonderful team. And obviously we’re indebted to what he did for all the years putting everything together.”
The Philadelphia Eagles postseason run will determine how much longer Angelo Cataldi hosts his morning show on 94 WIP. While hosts Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie wait in the wings to take the reins from Angelo, they took time on Wednesday to reveal the rest of the cast of contributors and fill-in hosts for the new WIP morning show.
“Angelo for many, many years has had a wonderful team. And obviously we’re indebted to what he did for all the years putting everything together,” DeCamara said. “We want to just sort of duplicate it at a similar level of success and longevity. And to do that you want to put together a group that you really believe in and want to have a great shot with and entertain people for years.”
DeCamara and Ritchie revealed that longtime morning contributors Rhea Hughes and Joe Weachter will continue to serve in their capacities. DeCamara said he’s excited to work with such a tenured producer and have him and producer James Seltzer collaborate.
“Everybody cares about Joe, because he’s been such a huge part of Angelo’s show for so many years behind the scenes as the producer,” DeCamara said. “He’s gonna be producing this show in addition to helping James out. And we got ambitious plans for social media and ways we can get Joe involved in all sorts of ways to help present our show to the public. So that’ll be a big part of it.”
WIP newcomer Devan Kaney will also be a regular on the morning show. DeCamara also announced Philly sports media legend Ray Didinger will also be heard at certain points.
As for insiders and contributors to discussions on the Philly sports teams, it was announced former Phillies TV analyst Ruben Amaro, former Phils announcer Ben Davis, former Eagles linebacker Seth Joyner and Ron Jaworski will be in the lineup.
Ritchie said having someone like Amaro on to talk baseball is going to be a great chance to soak up as much knowledge as possible.
“You know so much, and I feel like I’m gonna learn so much from you,” he said. “And I think we’re all so fortunate.”
Additionally, comedian Joe Conklin will be added to keep things lively and fun.
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He works full-time as a multimedia specialist at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, while also putting in part-time work for News Radio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond. Additionally, you can find Jordan contributing coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and ABC 8News. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
Steak Shapiro Apologizes, Says He Didn’t Think Stetson Bennett Criticism Was ‘That Inflamatory’
“You were just trying to play music and not ignore the fans. Still don’t think it was a great speech, but again, you’re the biggest football hero in Georgia football history.”
Wednesday’s edition of The Steakhouse was one Atlanta sports fans were waiting for. Late Tuesday night, Steak Shapiro took to Twitter to promise that he would address Stetson Bennett IV’s reaction to his criticism of the way the quarterback behaved at Georgia’s National Championship parade on Saturday.
“The notion is that Steak was basically roasted,” he said of the coverage the social media spat received. “He was put on the grill and taken to task.”
Shapiro had tweeted that he did not think it was a good look for Bennett to be on his phone during the championship parade and that his speech seemed more about settling old grudges than it was about celebrating the team or the fans. In a message on Twitter, which began by addressing Shapiro as “Mr. Med Rare”, Bennett explained that he was using his phone to play music in the car he was riding in. He was not ignoring the moment or the fans.
After giving Bennett credit for coming up with a funny nickname, Steak Shapiro said that he was surprised that the quarterback took the criticism so personally.
“My job is to give an opinion. I didn’t think it was that inflammatory. I didn’t think it was that dramatic.”
He added that has no problem with Stetson’s disdain for the media. He just thought the parade should have been about the fans and the accomplishment rather than Stetson Bennett IV trying to settle old grudges. Still, Shapiro wanted to make it clear that he does not hate the Georgia quarterback. He remains one of Bennett’s most vocal fans.
“On three or four occasions, I was lambasted because I said I thought he was the greatest player in Georgia history, and I said that before he won the national title,” Shapiro said. “I said that when they had the undefeated regular season, and then people started saying ‘stop saying that about Stetson’ or ‘Stetson’s overrated’. I just kinda had his back the entire year and probably had his back the last two years. I just didn’t think Saturday was a great day. That is what I have been saying, and I stand by it. I just didn’t think it was a great-looking day.”
Steak Shapiro did offer an apology to Bennett. He said that if the quarterback was just trying to play music on his phone, that isn’t that big of a deal, and if he had known that is what was happening, his reaction may have been different.
“My bad,” he concluded. “You were just trying to play music and not ignore the fans. Still don’t think it was a great speech, but again, you’re the biggest football hero in Georgia football history. You’re one of the iconic sports figures — maybe number one — in a town of Hank Aaron, and Chipper Jones, and Domonique Wilkins, and Matt Ryan, and Deion Sanders. You’re probably number one all time.”
Brian Gebhardt to Serve as Program Director of Sactown Sports 1140
“Learning under skilled leaders such as Terry Foxx, Sean Thompson, Reggie Rouse, and Mike Conti helped prepare Gebhardt for the next step.”
Sactown Sports 1140 has found their next program director. After an extensive search, GM Steve Cottingim and Bonneville Sacramento’s Group Director of Programming Chad Rufer have found their next leader in Atlanta, GA, tabbing Brian Gebhardt to guide the brand’s programming department.
Gebhardt heads west to join Bonneville Sacramento after enjoying over seven years of success at 92.9 The Game. He has served recently as the Executive Producer of the ‘Andy & Randy’ show featuring Randy McMichael and Andy Bunker. During his time with the Atlanta sports station, Gebhardt has learned under skilled leaders such as Terry Foxx, Sean Thompson, Reggie Rouse, and Mike Conti. Those experiences prepared Gebhardt for the next step, as did working with numerous on-air talents who have helped The Game become a model of consistency in Georgia.
“Brian’s experience working with both premiere talent and professional sports franchises will help us help the Sactown Sports brand grow both on-air and on-line ,” said Cottingim.
“Brian demonstrated to us a real passion for leading extraordinary talent,” shared Rufer. “We are very confident that he will help us grow Sactown Sports into Sacramento’s premiere sports brand.”
“I can’t wait to get started and I am beyond excited to be working with Bonneville,” added Gebhardt.
The hiring of the Georgia native as new PD allows Nick Cattles to focus exclusively on hosting the station’s afternoon show, a role he’s wanted to invest more time. Cattles joined Sactown Sports in November 2021 and has pulled double duty since arriving in Northern California. He hired Ramie Makhlouf as his afternoon drive co-host and the duo have built a solid foundation in afternoons. Having the ability now to focus solely on the show should allow Cattles and Ramie to elevate their program even more.
The first day on the job for Gebhardt will be Monday February 3rd. Depending on what develops with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC playoffs, there’s a possibility he could be walking into two straight weeks of Super Bowl planning. Regardless, Gebhardt has a new market to learn, a new team to meet, a new company to deliver results for, and an opportunity to take a big step in his radio career.