When news broke last week that ESPN was canceling its morning show, Keyshawn, JWill and Max, featuring Keyshawn Johnson, Jay Williams and Max Kellerman, it was hardly a surprise to Dan Le Batard. Even so, the realization of the platform’s ostensible nadir – at least for the time being – is somewhat of a disappointment to him especially when comparing the audio vertical to other areas of the company.
“To see what ESPN Radio has become in the last 15 years – as a dinosaur has died in front of us unable to keep up with changing times, changing platforms [and] changing audiences, I was made sad in a way that made me want to reminisce about what sports radio used to be, and no one wanted to do it with me,” Le Batard said. “No one was nostalgic or interested in the roots that berthed a cruddy morning show that didn’t have chemistry.”
Le Batard and his colleagues on the show seemingly agreed on the assertion that ESPN has been unable to develop quality audio talent, instead relying on the affluence and reputation of The Walt Disney Company to buy its way to the top.
The company’s audio division was a point of emphasis during early rounds of layoffs, with the company cutting various longtime staffers tasked with leading the future strategy. Last week, ESPN promoted Amanda Gifford as responsible for managing audio and radio properties for the company, in addition to expanded oversight in television. While Gifford has a vast amount of experience and expertise in the audio space, Le Batard believes the network has a lackluster track record of hiring qualified people to fulfill these executive roles.
ESPN Radio is perceived by a preponderance of the industry to be in an ignominious state as it revamps its radio lineup and continues to pour money into studio programming and live sports rights. Le Batard wishes the company had placed more priority on radio, but has moved on to work with Meadowlark Media and have creative control of his property.
“To have this entity punt on both forms of that future – both ESPN Radio, which they could have kept alive just by pouring resources into it by virtue of the name; or everything that they’re doing in podcasts, they could be growing because Disney is a monster,” Le Batard expressed. “If they invest in those places, they will obviously birth a bunch of things that are great content and that have a lot of following.”
92.9 The Game Enjoys Ratings Growth in Atlanta Summer Book
In weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p), the station finished 2nd overall with a 6.8 share.
The summer ratings book is out in Atlanta, and 92.9 The Game once again turned in a strong quarterly performance with Men 25-54.
In weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p), the station finished 2nd overall with a 6.8 share for the book. For the full week (M-SU 6a-Mid), the station remained 2nd with a 5.6 share.
Looking at the weekday shows, in mornings, the summer book represented the second ratings period for the station’s show helmed by Tiffany Blackmon, Mike Johnson, and Beau Morgan. The Morning Shift saw a slight drop from its first book, finishing with a 7.1 share for the quarter. That figure was an 8.4 share in the spring book. Nonetheless, the program remained in a strong position, 2nd overall in the market.
In middays, the station had a pair of shows finish 2nd, with The Steakhouse — featuring Steak Shapiro and Sandra Golden –enjoying an uptick from a 6.9 in the spring to an 8.1 in the summer. Shapiro and Golden are heard weekdays on the station from 9a-11a.
Additionally, middays with Andy Bunker and Randy McMichael generated a 7.1 share, which was one tenth of a point off from its spring book. Similar to The Morning Shift and The Steakhouse, Bunker and McMichael secured 2nd place in their time slow.
The venerable 92.9 The Game afternoon duo of Carl Dukes and Mike Bell, which airs from 2p-7p, saw a slight dip this quarter to finish with a 6.6 share, good for 3rd in the market. In the spring book, Dukes & Bell were 2nd with a 6.9 share.
Ratings information for 680 The Fan was not made available for the summer book.
Jon Ritchie: Joe DeCamara Deserves Credit from ESPN For Idea That Turned Phillies Season Around
Earlier this year, 94 WIP producer Jack Fritz received acclaim for sharing an idea that Philadelphia fans should give struggling shortstop Trea Turner a standing ovation. Morning host Jon Ritchie believes his partner, Joe DeCamara isn’t getting the credit he deserves.
During DeCamara and Ritchie Wednesday morning, the former NFL star argued that ESPN’s Karl Ravech got the story wrong in its retelling during the Phillies National League Wild Card Game Tuesday.
“This is good stuff. Last night during the during the broadcast, I started getting texts and tweets about this, but didn’t hear it live because I was at the game,” DeCamara said. “But during the broadcast, Karl Ravech and David Cone talked about what Fritz did and the Trea Turner thing.”
The show then played the clip of Ravech and Cone talking about Fritz’s idea of giving the standing ovation and how it helped turn Turner’s season around. Ritchie jokingly took issue with the fact that it was actually DeCamara’s idea.
“I guess (Fritz) did do the organizing, that is true, but the idea was hatched by Joe DeCamara on our show,” said Ritchie. “This was Joe’s idea. He hatched it. Let’s give him some credit here, and if Jack Fritz is gonna get a ring, why doesn’t Joe DeCamara?”
DeCarama joked Jon Ritchie just “wants to cause trouble”, before his co-host pushed him to say it was his idea.
“If I say yes, I seem like a bad guy. If I say no, I’m lying. So I will say no,” DeCamara said slyly.
Last week, during an appearance on the station, Turner thanked afternoon hosts Jon Marks and Ike Reese for helping turn around his year.
“Obviously, the whole thing happened and the rest is kind of history. Started playing a lot better and it was thanks to you guys and the crowd,” the Phillies star said.
98.5 The Sports Hub Delivers Strong Summer Ratings But WEEI’s ‘Greg Hill Show’ Closes The Gap in Mornings
“98.5 The Sports Hub remained the top overall station in the summer book but WEEI’s Greg Hill Show made up significant ground in morning drive.”
Boston has long been one of the hottest sports radio markets in America. With the latest summer ratings period now closed, we know it is also one of the most competitive between 98.5 The Sports Hub and WEEI.
In morning drive, Toucher & Rich still topped the market with an impressive 15.1 share. That rating is one that most shows would gladly take but after producing a massive 24.3 share last Summer, maintaining that performance was going to be a tall order. Though the show was 1st with a strong number, a decline of more than 9 shares year over year has to get the attention of the morning show and the management team. If anyone can rebound though and regain that past performance, T&R have shown they can.
Scott Zolak and Marc “Beetle” Bertrand continued to earn the number one spot in middays, garnering a 14.6 share for The Hub. That number was also down year-over-year but not as much as mornings. Zo and Bertrand turned in an 18.1 share in the 2022 Summer book.
Felger & Mazz — hosted by Mike Felger and Tony Massarotti — remains the best-performing show in Boston. The afternoon show held a 17.2 share to finish 1st in their time slot. The show did drop from a 19.7 share last summer but remains comfortably ahead of any market competition.
In weekday prime ratings, 98.5 The Sports Hub remained the top overall station with a 15.3 share. That number was down 25% year-over-year when it held a 20.4 share.
Meanwhile, WEEI rose more than 34% in weekday prime to a 7.4 share, up from a 5.5 in the same book a year ago. That placed them 3rd for the book.
WEEI’s The Greg Hill Show was the station’s biggest winner, more than doubling its share year over year. Hill’s program ranked 2nd with an 11.6 share this summer compared to a 5.2, 7th place finish last year. Only 3.5 shares now separate Hill from Toucher & Rich.
The midday pairing of Andy Gresh and Christian Fauria saw a slight increase for WEEI this quarter, moving to a 7.0 share. That figure was up from 6.3 last year. They were ranked 4th overall this quarter.
The afternoon pairing of Adam Jones, Meghan Ottolini, and Christian Arcand saw a noticeable drop, garnering a 3.9 share during the summer book. That put them in an 8th place tie during the summer book. Last year, WEEI’s afternoon show of Lou Merloni, Fauria, and Ottolini saw a 6.0 share in afternoon drive.
All numbers reported above are for sports radio’s target demographic of Men 25-54. The Hub did also have strong stories with Men 18-34 (1st for the full week, 2nd in prime), Persons 25-54 (1st for the full week, 3rd in prime), and Men 18-49 (1st for the full week, 1st in prime).