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Fall Book Sports Radio Ratings Across The Nation

Jason Barrett

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In the sports radio industry, the fall book carries great significance. It’s that time of year when the NFL and College Football are in full swing, the MLB Playoffs and World Series take place, the NBA, NHL and College Basketball seasons begin, and the interest in sports radio listening peaks for most major markets. To assure the year ends on a high note, many brand managers install a no vacation policy for their top personalities between September-early December in order to try and capitalize on listening opportunities.

It’s during this period that advertisers determine which brands they’ll buy and how much they’ll spend in the following year. Each station makes their case for why they should receive a larger chunk of the advertising pie, gathering and sharing as much positive evidence as they can with clients to increase their confidence in purchasing time on their radio station’s airwaves.

Although some markets and stations perform higher than others, if you look across the nation, most brands are outperforming their prior results. That’s a great sign of growth for the sports format. There are also a few cities where multiple sports stations are thriving and building a case for ad dollars to be increased – Boston, Chicago and Dallas immediately come to mind.

It’s common for observers to compare the production of a market’s local sports talkers and determine a winner and loser but there are tons of stations not airing sports programming who are also reeling in listeners from the M25-54 demo. That leaves the total shares and ad dollars for sports brands lower which is a much bigger challenge for the format. Fortunately sports radio has been growing and making an impact which further confirms why advertisers should be investing in it.

On that note, here’s what we learned from 15 markets in the 2017 Fall book!

Boston:

  • It’s beginning to sound like a broken record because it happens quarter after quarter, but there is no hotter sports radio market right now than Boston. WEEI and 98.5 The Sports Hub are engaged in a battle where the next quarter hour of listening could determine who wins the week. The talent levels on both stations are strong, the market’s teams are winning and creating nonstop storylines for audiences to sink their teeth into and the local competition remains a fascinating follow to those on the outside looking in. For the fall, WEEI earned huge wins in mornings and middays, while The Hub retained its advantage in afternoons, evenings and full week. Singling out some of those matchups, Kirk & Callahan turned in a 13 share to beat Toucher & Rich by eight tenths of a point. The duo have won the ratings in 10 of the past 12 months and have won three straight quarters against The Hub. Also earning a victory in the fall was the trio of Glenn Ordway, Lou Merloni and Christian Fauria who finished ahead of The Hub’s Scott Zolak and Marc Bertrand with a low 10 share to high 9 share. The Hub reversed the trend in afternoons with Felger & Massarotti delivering a 1st place finish thanks to a mid 14 share. WEEI’s Dale & Holley with Keefe was 2nd with a low 10 share. The Hub won the full week M-SU 6a-Mid with a low 11 share. WEEI was 2nd with a low 9 share. There’s some confusion in the market due to The Hub using a different streaming strategy which helps elevate some of their show numbers. WEEI also stands to benefit from additional listening courtesy of a Providence affiliate which delivers a number in the market, but regardless of the way you slice it up, both of these stations are kicking ass and a must buy for any local advertiser looking to reach a 25-54 male in the Boston area.

Chicago:

  • The 4th quarter in the windy city belonged to 670 The Score who were 2nd for the full week (M-SU 6a-Mid) with a low 5 share, missing 1st place by a tenth of a point. The station was also 2nd in weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p) with a mid 5 share, once again losing out on 1st place by one tenth of a point. ESPN 1000 finished 5th in prime with a 5 share and 6th for the full week with a low 4 share. In the weekday dayparts, Mully & Hanley were 2nd in mornings with a mid 7 share, just missing 1st by one tenth of a point. ESPN 1000 , which features ESPN Radio‘s morning show (Mike & Mike/Wingo & Golic) was 7th in mornings with a low 4 share. In middays, Spiegel & Parkins earned a ratings win over Kap & Company and Carmen & Jurko. The Score’s midday team, which airs 9a-1p CT, was tied for 5th with a high 4 share. ESPN 1000 during those hours was 7th with a 4 share. One thing to be aware of, 1000 runs their shows during different hours so when you highlight them in their own timeslots of 9a-12p (Kaplan) and 12p-2p (C&J) they were 7th and 5th compared to The Score which was 5th and 3rd. Turning to afternoons, ESPN 1000 continued to receive a strong showing from Waddle & Silvy who finished 1st in the market with just under a 7 share between the hours of 2p-6p. The Score during those hours was tied for 3rd with a 5 share. Since though The Score’s afternoon show of Bernstein & Goff airs from 1p-6p I examined that window too. B&G remained in 3rd with a 5, where as 1000 lost a few tenth of their share but remained in 1st. Those hours for 1000 consist of 1-hour of C&J and 3 hours of W&S. Overall, a few more wins for The Score but a great story to share on both sides especially in a market as big and competitive as Chicago.

Cleveland:

  • One news item learned Friday evening, 92.3 The Fan finished the fall book in 1st place in afternoon drive with Men 25-54. The station’s afternoon team of Adam The Bull and Dustin Fox became the first sports show in the market to hit #1 since Mike Trivisonno of WTAM did it back when he hosted a sports program.

Columbus:

  • It was another big quarter for 97.1 The Fan, the market’s leading sports station. The Fan finished 1st with Men 25-54 and 3rd with Adults 25-54. This is a market where Mike and Mike were extremely successful. The ESPN Radio morning show which has seen been replaced by Wingo and Golic closed out the year with a 1st place finishing in morning drive, 3rd with Adults. Also performing strongly for the quarter were Tim and Beanie who turned in a 3rd place finish in middays. The Fan did experience a slight decline in NFL play by play listening but given the rest of the station’s performance I’m sure program director Jay Taylor and his weekday crew will live with the results. What will be interesting to monitor in 2018 is if Trey and Golic can sustain Mike and Mike’s numbers and if 107.5 The Zone can make any type of dent on The Fan’s dominant run.

Dallas:

  • As has been the case for the past couple of years, both Sports Radio 1310/96.7 The Ticket and 105.3 The Fan continued to excel. The Ticket wrapped up an impressive 2017 by winning the head to head matchup and remaining 1st with Men 25-54. Leading the way for The Ticket in their respective dayparts were The Musers, The Hardline, Norm & Donovan and Bad Radio. However, The Fan had much to celebrate too as Shan & RJ recorded their best showing to date, finishing 4th in morning drive. Ben & Skin produced the same finish for the station in afternoons. GBag Nation which airs 10a-3p was 7th in middays. Overall the station placed inside the Top 5 and has seen strong growth with Men 18-34, beating The Ticket for the past 5 months. Entering 2018 it’ll be interesting to see if The Fan can make up ground on The Ticket, one of the nation’s best rated sports radio brands.

Denver:

  • It was a big 4th quarter for the market’s leading sports brand 104.3 The Fan. The station closed out the year by finishing 1st overall in weekday prime (6a-7p) with Men 25-54 with just above an 8 and a half share. Paving the way for The Fan were the morning team of Mike Evans & Mark Schlereth who produced high 9 shares which was good enough for 1st. The afternoon team of Alfred Williams & Darren “DMac” McKee also came in 1st in PM drive with a high 8 share. Both drive time shows had a full point to two point advantage over 2nd place. The market’s other local sports stations Altitude Sports 950, Orange and Blue 760 and Mile High Sports were far behind in the ratings picture.

Memphis:

  • A job well done by the crew at 92.9 FM ESPN. The radio station closed out December by finishing 1st in weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p) with Men 25-54 delivering slightly above a 10 share. Details for the full quarter were not available. Nonetheless, congrats to Dan Barron, Brad Carson and the Entercom Memphis team.

Minneapolis:

  • KFAN continued it’s dominant run, finishing #1 with Men 25-54, #1 with Adults 25-54 and 2nd with the P6 demo. The station’s M-F 6a-7p with M25-54 was just under a 14 and a half and M-SU 6a-Mid was also above a 14 share which is insane. As a result, KFAN‘s local weekday shows led the way. Congrats to program director Chad Aboott and his weekday shows The Power Trip, Paul Allen, The Common Man and Dan Barreiro on a remarkable quarter.

New York:

  • The headline most will latch onto is ‘Numbah One’ finishing ‘Numbah Two’ but the bigger story was WFAN overcoming a number of challenges to remain atop the local ratings. Despite cutting ties with Craig Carton after a high profile arrest, going thru transition in morning drive to find a new partner for Boomer Esiason, and preparing for longtime afternoon ratings winner Mike Francesa to exit the radio station, The Fan saw the quarter end with a 1st place finish in mornings, a 5th place showing in middays, and a 2nd place result in afternoons. Francesa’s show didn’t operate under normal M-F 3p-7p afternoon hours so when you look at that particular 3-7 window and his 1p-6:30p program, both times saw 2nd place finishes with the share fluctuating between a mid 6 and low 7 share for the two windows. Meanwhile, 98.7 ESPN New York received great news too. The Michael Kay Show delivered its best performance to date, tying for 3rd in afternoons with a 5 share. To only trail The Fan by a point and a half in the heart of drive time during a time when all were caught up in Francesa-Fever is impressive and should give the show momentum entering 2018. The one challenge 98.7 ESPN NY has is to find a way to elevate the performance of mornings and middays which were both in 12th with low 3 shares. One person that specifically deserves recognition during this quarter is Jerry Recco. The WFAN morning update anchor was pressed into emergency duty working alongside Esiason during a time when many expected The Fan to stumble as they searched for a permanent replacement for Carton. When the final report card shows a 1st place finish in the nation’s largest market despite all of the uncertainty around the radio station and morning show, that’s a testament to Recco doing an exceptional job and for that he deserves a tip of the cap.

Philadelphia:

  • The fall book ended with Sports Radio 94 WIP cruising to a 2nd place finish with Men 25-54 with just above a 8 and a half share. Local competitor 97.5 The Fanatic finished 7th. Leading the way for WIP was Angelo Cataldi who produced a 10 share to come in 2nd. The Fanatic’s Anthony Gargano came in 7th. Another positive sign for WIP came in middays where Joe DeCamara & Jon Ritchie remained strong in 3rd place with just under a 7 and a half share. The Fanatic’s Harry Mayes & Jason Myrtetus turned in a 6th place performance in their first book together. The one area where 97.5 The Fanatic remains in front of WIP is in afternoons where Mike Missanelli was 2nd to WIP‘s combination of Jon MarksChris CarlinIke Reese who were 3rd. The big question entering 2018 in afternoons will be whether Marks & Reese can build on what Carlin & Reese started and surge past Missanelli. One other item worth sharing, WIP finished the fall book in 2nd place with the 6+ demo with just above a 7 share. Angelo Cataldi was #1 with 6+ in morning drive for the quarter.

Portland:

  • The fall produced some positive news for 1080 The Fan as the station remained the local sports ratings leader. The station was led by Isaac & Suke who delivered better than a 7 share. Dusty & Cam were above a 6 share in mornings. But there was also positive news for 102.9/750 The Game who saw the Dan Patrick Show produce a little better than a 5 share in mornings, which was less than a point behind The Fan. John Canzano‘s midday show also gained a half point year to year and more than doubled local competitor Rip City Radio although it lost the head to head battle against The Fan’s Dirt and Sprague. One positive for Rip City Radio 620 were evenings where the Portland Trail Blazers helped the station finish ahead of all other local sports stations.

San Francisco:

  • KNBR wrapped up a successful 2017 with another strong quarter. The Bay Area’s sports leader finished 2nd with Men 25-54 in both the M-F 6a-7p and M-SU 6a-Mid categories. The station’s highest finishes were recorded in middays where Gary & Larry and Fitz & Brooks both came in 1st. Tom Tolbert & John Lund ended the fall in 2nd in afternoon drive and Murph & Mac turned in a 3rd place finish in mornings. 2018 should be even more interesting with the Golden State Warriors expected to make a run towards another NBA championship and flagship station 95.7 The Game adding a new PD in Matt Nahigian. How that will shape the local rivalry going forward remains to be seen, but for now, KNBR remains comfortably in front.

Seattle:

  • December was a down month compared to October and November but that didn’t stop 710 ESPN from leading the market once again. The station received Top 10 performances with Men 25-54 from all four of its weekday shows. The afternoon show, Danny, Dave and Moore, was ranked between 7th and 9th October-December. Overall the station was in the Top 10 M-F 6a-7p and M-Su 6a-Mid ahead of local competitor Sports Radio KJR.

St. Louis:

  • 101 ESPN closed out the year the same way they started it, crushing the competition. Leading the way was The Fast Lane which was just under a 12 share and finished 1st overall with Men 25-54. The show was also 2nd with Adults 25-54 and wrapped up 2017 finishing 1st overall in 9 out of 12 books, the other 3 months they were either 2nd or 3rd. Middays and mornings were also huge wins for the station as The Turn with Anthony Stalter & Chris Duncan and Kevin Wheeler came in 2nd and Bernie Miklasz placed 4th. The market’s second sports station KFNS hovered around a 1 share with Men 25-54.

Tampa:

  • After dropping Mike and Mike in August to go local in morning drive with Ronnie & TKras, sports leader WDAE gained ground in the timeslot with Men 25-54. The new morning show moved into 9th which was up from 15th in the summer when the station featured national programming. They also experienced growth with the 18-34 demo. In middays, the Dan Patrick Show remained steady too. DP delivered a Top 10 finish with Men 25-54 which was a pleasant surprise given that national shows don’t usually rate high. The challenge for WDAE entering 2018 is to maintain the early day consistency and improve the ratings production in the remaining timeslots.

Washington DC:

  • Politics remained a dominant player in the nation’s capital but sports wasn’t far behind. 106.7 The Fan produced an impressive book, closing out 2017 with a 3rd place finish with Men 25-54 in both M-F 6a-7p and M-SU 6a-Mid. The station was led by the Sports Junkies who were 3rd with just under an 8 share. Grant and Danny were also ranked 3rd in middays, delivering just above a 7 share, and Chad Dukes came in 4th in afternoons with just under a 6 and a half share. Local competitor ESPN 980 also received good news, finishing 6th M-F 6a-7p and 9th M-SU 6a-Mid. The station was 6th in mornings (6a-10a) with just over a 4 and a half share, 5h in middays (10a-2p) with just over a 5 share, and 6th in afternoons with a mid 4 share. One thing to point out, 980’s weekday schedule is different than The Fan’s so some of those hours include a spilling over of shows. 980’s lineup includes Al Galdi 5a-7a, Cooley & Kevin 7a-11a, Bram Weinstein 11a-1p, Inside The Locker Room 1p-4p and Steve Czaban 4p-7p.

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The Blitz 1170 in Tulsa to Cease Operations

“The company decided the sports format wasn’t working and they’re going to take the signal in another direction.”

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After just under three years in the format, Griffin Media is pulling the plug on The Blitz 1170 in Tulsa.

Social media posts from the station’s local hosts reveal that The Blitz will be moving away from its sports format on Wednesday, June 26th.

“There’s some news from our part of the world. Griffin Media has made the decision to eliminate The Blitz 1170 and those of us working there after June 26,” wrote morning host Rick Couri. “The company decided the sports format wasn’t working and they’re going to take the signal in another direction.

“This will likely bring my 42 year career of being on the air in Tulsa to an end, I don’t see a lot of other options for several reasons. I will still be broadcasting Tulsa University and Union football and who knows what else might come along. Until then I want to say thank you to everyone who has listened along the way and those incredible people I’ve worked with. It’s been quite an adventure with many amazing opportunities and experiences to be forever grateful for.”

The station featured Couri in mornings, followed by The Dan Patrick Show and The Rich Eisen Show. Afternoon drive was helmed by Colby Daniels and Program Director Jeremie “Pop” Polin from 3-6 PM. Daniels shared a similar post on social media as Couri.

The Blitz 1170 will be changing formats in a couple weeks. While I’m very sad about this news, I’m more thankful for having this opportunity and establishing friendships that will continue beyond the airwaves. I’m proud of this entire team and can’t say enough positive things about everyone I had the privilege to work with. I appreciate all the listeners supporting the Blitz every day,” Daniels wrote. “Some followed me to this signal and others welcomed me to Tulsa radio with open arms. You all have a special place in my heart.

“I feel like I’m at a major crossroads in my broadcasting career and I don’t know what my next step will be. I know I have so much more to offer but will have to carefully weigh whatever options emerge. It’s rare in this business to be given the opportunity to finish out the last 2 weeks. Our final show will be June 26th so let’s have fun doing what we love until then.”

According to a report from RadioInsight, the station recently changed its call letters to KOTV-AM, to replicate the same branding used by the company’s TV outlet in the market.

Griffin Media has yet to announce plans for the station after flipping away from the sports format on June 26th.

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ESPN LA 710 to Broadcast USC Athletics

“We’re excited to collaborate with ESPN LA 710 AM to advance the USC Athletics brand and connect with fans across the Greater Los Angeles media market.”

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ESPN LA 710

The University of Southern California and ESPN LA 710 have agreed to a deal that will expand their broadcast partnership starting in the 2024 season. ESPN LA 710 will be the flagship station for USC Trojans football and men’s basketball games throughout the season in addition to adding women’s basketball games on the airwaves as well. Beginning in the fall, listeners will be able to hear all of the games on 710 AM, the ESPN LA Trojans Radio Network, in addition to within the USC Trojans Game Day app, the USC Trojans website and the ESPN LA app.

As USC prepares to move to the Big Ten Conference for the season, games will continue to air on the USC Trojans Media Network, which includes affiliates KSZL Barstow 1230 AM, KJJZ-HD3 102.7 Thousand Palms, KSHP Las Vegas 1400 AM and 107.1 FM and the Hawaiian Sports Radio Network on KGU 95.1 FM and 760 AM. Spanish language broadcasts of USC Football will be available on the ESPN LA app and USC Trojans app as well. The USC Trojans Media Network will also air basketball games as new men’s head coach Eric Musselman starts his tenure at the university and the women’s team welcomes transfer forward Kiki Iriafen from Stanford.

“We’re excited to collaborate with ESPN LA 710 AM to advance the USC Athletics brand and connect with fans across the Greater Los Angeles media market,” Jen Cohen, director of athletics at the University of Southern California, said in a statement. “As we move into a new era of Trojan Athletics, identifying partners who can help us provide our student-athletes with the platform to make their mark on collegiate athletics and reach new generations of supporters is critical. From the addition of play-by-play coverage for our women’s basketball program and Spanish-language coverage for football, to the reach and brand equity established by ESPN Radio in Los Angeles, we’re confident this partnership will help us achieve our goals.”

Outside of live game broadcasts for USC football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball, ESPN LA 710 will also air a new weekly program titled Trojans Live. The show will be broadcast on ESPN LA 710 AM from 6 to 7 p.m. EST starting on Monday, Aug. 26 and running through Monday, Dec. 9. ESPN LA 710 previously broadcast USC Trojans Athletics from 2006 to 2019 and is also the flagship home of the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles FC.

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Bob Fescoe: Charles Barkley is Irreplaceable

“How many people want to do that as well, just kind of walk away and say, ‘You know what? I put in my time and I am done here, and now I have the ability to walk away…'”

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Bob Fescoe
Courtesy: 610 Sports Radio

Charles Barkley announced that he would be retiring from television following the 2024-25 season on Saturday night. The TNT Sports analyst revealed the news during a postgame show on NBA TV after Game 4 of the NBA Finals, in which the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Boston Celtics to remain standing in the best-of-seven series. Within his discourse, Barkley emphasized that he made the decision himself and that next year would be his last no matter what happens.

Moreover, he stated that he has talked with other networks who have approached him as reports indicate that Warner Bros. Discovery could be losing broadcasting rights for the NBA following next season. Bob Fescoe and Josh Klingler played the audio of Barkley’s retirement announcement on 610 Sports Radio during the Fescoe in the Morning program on Monday.

Barkley emphasized that he would pass the baton to either Jamal Crawford, Vince Carter or Steve Smith when he retires from television next year. For the last 24 years, Barkley has been a member of Inside the NBA, the award-winning studio program hosted by Ernie Johnson with analysts Kenny “The Jet” Smith and Shaquille O’Neal. There were rumors about Barkley leaving Warner Bros. Discovery to take a role with the LIV Golf Tour; however, he decided to cut off those talks and stated that he would finish his television career with the Turner Sports division.

The NBA is now reportedly in the process of formalizing new media rights contracts with The Walt Disney Company (ESPN/ABC), NBCUniversal and Amazon’s Prime Video said to be worth a collective $7.6 billion. Throughout the process, Barkley has been interviewed several times across different media platforms and expressed his feelings on the matter, including questioning the rationale of Warner Bros. Discovery chief executive officer and president David Zaslav.

“I feel like he’s just tired of being asked about it,’” Klingler said. “He’s like, ‘You know what? I don’t care where it goes – I’m done.’”

Fescoe questioned if anyone could blame Barkley for what he has decided to do, especially receiving firsthand knowledge on how everything is playing out. Over the last several months, Inside the NBA has been a topic of discussion, part of which has presumably been about its future on television. If Barkley follows through with his decision, it would mark the end of the studio program as currently constructed, and Fescoe believes that Barkley has ultimately had enough of dealing with the speculation and ambiguity.

“How many people want to do that as well, just kind of walk away and say, ‘You know what? I put in my time and I am done here, and now I have the ability to walk away,’” Fescoe questioned, “and not many people work for the love of the job anymore, right, and it seems like what they’ve gone through and what they’ve been drug through with all of this rights fee stuff is management getting in the way of them doing what they love doing.”

Part of Fescoe’s logic pertaining to why Barkley has decided to move on from television after next year is that he could be reading the writing on the wall. In mentioning that he has spoken with other networks, Fescoe presumed that ESPN would have Barkley work more hours and that he would not be interested in doing that. Barkley is a sports media professional Fescoe considers to be irreplaceable, much like his co-host Josh Klingler, who is leaving the show on 610 Sports Radio next month.

“Greg Olsen, I guess, is considered replaceable at FOX by Tom Brady, and they just move analysts out and bring guys in all the time, but there are some people that are not replaceable,” Fescoe said, “and if you’re going to keep that Inside the NBA show, you can keep it in name, but if you don’t have Charles Barkley, no offense to anybody else up there, it’s just not the same type of show and it’s just not going to be as good as if Charles Barkley is there.”

Klingler is not sure that Barkley will end up retiring and believes that he will be back in some capacity. Additionally, he mentioned that it could be a means of putting TNT on the hot seat by putting pressure on the company to retain broadcast rights to the league. Fescoe replied by articulating that it could be Barkley putting ESPN on the hot seat to make him a lucrative contract offer and consider signing with the network.

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