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Michael Kay Beat Mike Francesa In The Month of June

Jason Barrett

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Down goes Francesa. Down goes Francesa. Down goes Francesa.

Ok, maybe a win in the New York ratings book doesn’t capture the world’s attention the way Muhammad Ali did when he knocked out Smokin’ Joe Frazier. However, when a sports radio icon dominates the ratings the way Mike Francesa has on WFAN, and points out frequently how strong the show’s performance has been, and then suffers a head to head defeat against a local sports radio competitor for the first time ever, it’s a big deal.

For the June book (May 25-June 21), the Michael Kay Show on 98.7FM ESPN New York beat Francesa between the hours of 3p-6:30p ET. Kay finished with a 5.2 to 5.1 advantage among Men 25-54. Francesa was not on vacation during this time and WFAN did have the benefit of airing New York Yankees baseball.

Another impressive note worth pointing out, over the past 12 months, Kay’s show has gained ground in the ratings. The program has added seven tenths of a ratings point and three ratings positions. Francesa’s program during that time has declined by eight tenths while slipping from second to fourth. The separation in daily cume between the two stations was also very minimal for June (6,600). It’s usually 20-30 thousand higher in favor of WFAN.

The June ratings win marks the first head to head victory for the Kay Show since it began airing on 98.7FM ESPN New York in 2002. The show has consistently rated in the top 10 but hadn’t been able to unseat WFAN’s afternoon ratings king.

Making the accomplishment even more interesting is the timing. Earlier this week Kay talked to Bob Klapisch of The Record. When asked about his program and how it measured up to Francesa’s he said, ““Our show is quantifiably better than Mike’s. It’s funny, not one guy bloviating. It’s three guys (along with Don La Greca and Peter Rosenberg) and laughing, having a good time. We don’t dread it and that comes across to our listeners. We’ve made unbelievable inroads. People are noticing.”

Kay continued, “I used to listen to Mike and Mad Dog all the time. It was innovative and fun; you had to listen. But I defy anyone who listens to our show to say it’s not better. There’s no way that if Mike started today, he would be No. 1 in the market.”

Although Kay has reason to celebrate June, the news wasn’t all bad for Francesa, In fact, his show did finish ahead for the spring book (April-May-June). During that three month stretch, WFAN generated a 5.7 between the hours of 3p-6:30p which was good enough for 4th place. Kay registered a 4.9, placing 6th.

The latest ratings news have to be concerning for WFAN officials because it’s a position they’re unfamiliar being in. They may point to Mike’s show remaining strong from 1p-6:30p, which is when it airs in its entirety, but never before have they finished behind Kay during the heart of afternoon drive.

With Francesa exiting in the next few months it’s natural to wonder how long the audience will stay faithful when they sense the end of the show is near. The timing is also problematic because Francesa is off for the majority of the summer for vacation. That provides Kay with an opportunity to steal a few meters and build on his recent momentum.

Given the latest developments, the pressure CBS Radio New York executives are under will only intensify. They’re tasked with finding a dynamic afternoon show that has the potential to replace Francesa, and excite New York sports radio listeners in 2018 and beyond. Adding to the challenge is undergoing a massive lineup change while the competition rides the highest wave of their broadcasting existence.

For now, Michael Kay, Don LaGreca and Peter Rosenberg have earned their moment in the sun. June was a memorable book for the talented trio. Now it’s their job to stay there a while and prove it wasn’t a one month fluke. In the words of Jim Ross, business is about to pick up!

Sports Radio News

Jonathan Zaslow No Longer With WQAM

An attempt to reach out to Zaslow for comment went unanswered.

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WQAM midday host Jonathan Zaslow is no longer with WQAM in Miami.

The radio station has removed his show from the website and references to him and his normal 10a-2p ET midday timeslot program have been scrubbed from the station website.

Zaslow tweeted at 5:19p ET confirming the news.

Whether or not this has any effect on his involvement with the Miami Heat broadcasts is unknown as of now.

Zaslow had been with 790 the Ticket since 2004. He was transitioned from Audacy-owned 790 to sister station AM 560 Sports WQAM last October. During his tenure he has worked with a number of established local voices including Joy Taylor, Amber Wilson, Brett Romberg, and Brendan Tobin amongst others.

WQAM has gone thru a number of changes, including a rebranding effort to call the station “560 The Joe”. That ended last year with the station returning to the AM 560 Sports WQAM brand listeners were more familiar with. What they have planned next in Zaslow’s timeslot is unclear but local listeners will likely get some answers next week.

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Sports Radio News

Vanessa Richardson Named Houston Rockets Sideline Reporter, Paul Gallant to Host Solo on ESPN 97.5

Vanessa Richardson will be on the sidelines for the Houston Rockets and Paul Gallant will host solo show on ESPN 97.5.

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Vanessa and Gallant

Changes are taking place in Houston sports media. First, the Houston Rockets will have a new television sideline reporter this season, and she’s a familiar name to Houston sports fans.

Vanessa Richardson, the now former co-host of ESPN 97.5’s Vanessa and Gallant, revealed that she will be on the sidelines for the NBA franchise covering the team for AT&T SportsNet Southwest.

She tweeted the news saying, “Elated to be the new Houston Rockets sideline reporter! I can’t wait to travel the country & share the stories of this dynamic team during 80+ games on AT&T SportsNet Southwest. I’ll continue to fill-in as a host/reporter for Astros broadcasts as well.”

Richardson’s co-host, Paul Gallant, tweeted that with Richardson leaving the show for the Rockets sideline gig, Vanessa and Gallant will become the Paul Gallant Show. The solo show led by Gallant begins Monday September 26th.

“We’re excited to have Paul host his own show”, said Todd Farquharson, General Manager of ESPN 97.5 & 92.5.  “He’s super creative, energetic, and likeable.  He’ll get the audience involved and have fun.”

Paul commented, “You know what I’ve always loved about sports talk radio?  That it’s interactive.  Whether through a phone call, text message, tweet or on Twitch, it’s the best place for sports fans to come together and celebrate…or vent.  And that’s what The Paul Gallant Show is going to be…Houston’s platform to talk about its teams. THE most interactive sports talk show in Houston.”

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Sports Radio News

Ken Carman: Al Michaels ‘Feels Untethered’ On Amazon Prime Video

“The thing that stuck out was Kirk Herbstreit ripping the elf,” said Carman. “Don’t be ripping Brownie the Elf, man.”

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The Cleveland Browns defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers during Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime Video. 92.3 The Fan morning host Ken Carman applauded Al Michaels for his performance during the presentation.

“Al Michaels feels untethered for the first time. He’s not network television anymore and he can say whatever he wants. We interviewed him on the pregame show and I was nervous,” Carman said.

“He’s a legend,” co-host Anthony Lima added.

During the final play of the game, the Steelers fumbled a lateral into the endzone which the Browns recovered to make the final score 29-17. Michaels said “that may be meaningful to some of you. And you know who I mean”, alluding to people who had placed wagers on the game.

Carman, who hosts two-hours of pre-game coverage on the Browns Radio Network, continued to discuss how nervous he was interviewing Michaels. He also discussed how impressive Amazon’s behind-the-scenes production was, pointing out the only football broadcast with more cameras is the Super Bowl. More than 400 people work behind the scenes for Amazon Prime Video.

“The thing that stuck out was Kirk Herbstreit ripping the elf,” said Carman. “Don’t be ripping Brownie the Elf, man.”

Carman later said people angry that Michaels misspoke by saying the Pro Football Hall of Fame is “down I-71” instead of I-77 were unreasonable, and joked “Al Michaels hasn’t been on a highway in 20 years”.

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