The winter book isn’t always kind to the sports radio format. Although stations may remain atop the ratings ladder with Men 25-54, shares tend to decrease during this period due to the sports calendar offering less compelling content and a reduction in important games.
For many programmers, the fall is seen as sports radio nirvana. It produces the NFL and CFB regular seasons, the conclusion of the MLB regular season, the MLB Playoffs and the World Series, the return of the NBA/NHL/CBB seasons, not to mention other content hits such as MLB Free Agency, the Heisman Trophy winner announcement, and other unexpected twists and turns.
Although January offers its share of excitement between CFB Bowl games and the NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl, once the NFL season expires, February and March become a bigger challenge. Stations try to drum up interest in the remainder of the NBA/NHL seasons, spring training, the NFL Draft combine, NFL free agency and the NCAA tournament, and some may experience success but as a whole, the format dips because those events don’t produce the same must-listen enthusiasm from local audiences.
Regardless of those difficulties, staying competitive and maximizing listening opportunities is critical for sports radio brands. In looking at the winter numbers from a number of markets across the nation, a healthy number of stations turned in impressive results. A few weren’t as fortunate. Nonetheless here’s the information we’re able to pass along.
The big story was The Michael Kay Show on 98.7 FM ESPN NY defeating WFAN in PM drive for the first time in 13 years. Kay’s program finished 8th, two tenths of a point in front of The Fan’s CMB which came in 10th. WFAN did earn head to head victories in mornings and middays. Boomer & Gio were 7th with a 5.1, a little more than two full points ahead of ESPN Radio’s Golic & Wingo which airs on ESPN New York and finished 14th. Joe & Evan turned in a 6th place finish by generating a 4.8, doubling ESPN NY’s Humpty & Canty.
The meters were kind once again to ESPN LA 710. The station remained the top rated sports station in the city of Angels. In the M-F 6a-7p demographic, 710 won the quarter against top competitor AM 570 LA Sports. The station also earned wins in mornings between 6a-9a with Keyshawn Johnson, Jorge Sedano and LZ Granderson defeating 570’s airing of The Dan Patrick Show. From noon to 3p Mason and Ireland remained in front of 570’s Roggin and Rodney. In fact, two full ratings points separated the two shows. The afternoon battle saw a similar story with the combination of Mason and Ireland and Marcellus Wiley and Travis Rodgers besting Petros and Money. The overall numbers for the quarter were not high but LA doesn’t produce the big sports radio shares that we see in other major markets.
670 The Score shook up its lineup in late March, so the new shows are yet to be measured for a full quarter, but for those who are no longer part of the station’s weekday plans, they can at least take solace in the fact that they finished up strong. The winter book found The Score ahead of their market competitor ESPN 1000 in a number of categories. Among Men 25-54 in the M-F 6a-7p demographic, The Score finished nine tenths of a point ahead of ESPN 1000. One year earlier they trailed their competitor by two tenths of a point. In the M-F 6a-7p demographic a similar story occurred. 670 finished a little more than a point ahead of 1000. Last year at this time 1000 was six tenths of a point ahead. In the head to head battles, The Score gained wins from Mully and Hanley (7.5, 1st) over Golic and Wingo (3.2, 13th) in mornings and Spiegel and Parkins (5.1, 4th) over Kap and Company and 1-hour of Carmen and Jurko. ESPN 1000 remained ahead though between 1p-6p led by an hour of Carmen and Jurko and a strong four hour effort from Waddle and Silvy. The station’s two shows combined to deliver a 5.2, 3rd place finish, seven tenths of a point ahead of Bernstein and Goff which turned in a 4.5, good enough for 5th place. As is the case during most quarters, sports radio in the windy city remains alive and well.
There was cause for celebration on both sides this quarter in the Bay Area. The overall battle was won by KNBR who led most head to head categories, but 95.7 The Game had plenty of reason to feel optimistic too. Starting with M-SU 6a-Mid, KNBR’s 6.3 was strong enough to secure 2nd place. The Game was also formidable, producing a 5.1 to come in 3rd. In the M-F prime 6a-7p slot, KNBR was 2nd again with a low 7 share. The Game also held the same ranking, finishing 3rd with a high 5 share. Mornings were competitive too with Murph and Mac besting Joe, Lo and Dibs. However, the race has definitely tightened. KNBR was 2nd, and The Game 3rd, with only one point separating the two brands in AM drive. Looking at weekdays 10a-1p, Garry and Larry remained KNBR’s strongest rated show, generating an impressive 8.4. The duo were two and a half points better than The Game’s rotational midday show and 1-hour of Greg Papa. That said, The Game had nothing to apologize for, they ranked 2nd at just under a 6 share. Between the hours of 1p-3p, Fitz and Brooks occupied 1st place with just under a 7 share. The Game’s Greg Papa was 2nd with a respectable 5.6. In afternoons, it was another close call as Tolbert and Lund defeated Damon Bruce. The KNBR drive time duo produced a 6.8, which helped them lock up 2nd place. Bruce wasn’t far behind, claiming 3rd with a 5.5. The Game did earn a victory in evenings, thanks to another strong showing by the Golden State Warriors. The Game was 7th with a high 4 share. KNBR was 10th in the mid 3’s. Anyway you slice it, this is a great showing for two superior sports radio brands in a market which continues to become more invested in local sports talk radio.
An Eagles Super Bowl appearance, victory and parade was exactly what Philadelphia sports radio needed to ride the wave to the finish line. For Sports Radio 94 WIP the news was especially sweet as the station not only delivered massive shares among Men 25-54 but with the overall 6+ audience too. For the full week WIP was 2nd with 6+ just three tenths of a point away from first place. With Men 25-54 they placed 3rd with a 9.4. Local competitor 97.5 The Fanatic was also strong with a high 5 share. Turning to the weekday shows, Angelo Cataldi continues to be the cream of the crop in the market, finishing 1st with 6+ at a 9.5 share. In the target demo of Men 25-54, Cataldi was 2nd with a 12 share. The Fanatic’s Anthony Gargano was much further behind delivering a 5.8. In Middays, WIP saw Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie finish 3rd with a low 9 share. The Fanatic’s Harry Mayes and Jason Myrtetus produced a similar number to Gargano. The most competitive battle occurred in afternoons where Jon Marks and Ike Reese’s first book included a ratings win over The Fanatic’s Mike Missanelli. Marks and Reese were 3rd with a mid 8 share. Missanelli was six tenths of a point behind.
One thing to take into account as told to Philly.com by The Fanatic’s program director Eric Johnson, if you remove the streaming numbers from the conversation, WIP wins the afternoon ratings matchup. If those numbers are added though, the story changes.
“They surely do win when you take the stream out of it, but in 2018, you can’t take the stream out of it,” said Johnson. “You write what you want to write, but I’m still saying Mike Missanelli beat WIP.”
WIP’s PD Spike Eskin says Johnson’s take though is misleading because the way the data is collected by Nielsen is designed to measure radio ratings, not streaming numbers.
“That’s not me dismissing the importance of the stream. What I’m dismissing is the notion that you would measure it using a radio rating. I’m very confident if you were to compare our actual streaming numbers to our competition in the afternoon, it would show that we have a clear advantage.”
The winter book produced results that 92.9 The Game can feel good about. The radio station finished in the Top 5 with Men 25-54 in both drive time spots. John Fricke and Hugh Douglas were 5th in mornings with a 5.6. Carl Dukes and Mike Bell finished was 3rd with just under a 7 share in afternoons. Overall the station finished 4th with Men 25-54. For market competitor 680 The Fan the news was positive too. Although they don’t subscribe to Nielsen, the station’s decision to move Steak Shapiro, Brian Finneran and Sandra Golden into morning led to an increase in the ratings.
It’s always a game of inches in the hottest sports radio market in the country. Both WEEI and 98.5 The Sports Hub had reason to celebrate as double digit shares were once again produced by the two exceptional sports brands. As was well laid out by Chad Finn of the Boston Globe, the ratings picture is murky because WEEI programming generates additional ratings in the market on Providence-based WVEI. The station includes those numbers in its total performance. The Sports Hub does not have an additional radio outlet in the market generating additional shares to expand its overall pie.
The Sports Hub won the full week among Men 25-54, finishing 1st with a 12.2. WEEI was second with an 8.2. That number increases to .8 if you include WVEI. In mornings, the matchup between Toucher and Rich and Kirk and Callahan was once again tight. T&R win the battle 12.4 to 11.7 if you don’t include WVEI’s numbers. If you do, K&C prevails 12.6 to 12.4. In middays, Zolak and Bertrand on The Hub were 2nd with an 11.3. WEEI’s OMF were 3rd with a 9.5 or 10.2 if you included the WVEI number. During afternoons, Felger and Massarotti dominated with a 16.6, one of the best numbers in the entire format. WEEI’s Dale and Keefe (which included Michael Holley for most of the book) came in 2nd with an 8.1 or 8.9 if you included the WVEI number. Rounding things out at night, The Hub was 1st with a 12.3 and WEEI was 4th with a 6.8. With WVEI included that position changes to a tie for 3rd and a 7 share.
According to Nielsen, the WVEI number should not be included in the overall ratings for WEEI since the advertising content on both stations is different. However, one can make the case that the audience in the metro area is tuning in to hear WEEI’s shows on the second station and that listening should count.
Regardless, it was another top of the format quarter for both stations.
No Redskins? No Nationals? No problem. 106.7 The Fan continued to flourish in the winter book, making it clear that the personalities and content have become the main attraction for the local sports audience. The station finished 2nd for the full week with Men 25-54, producing just under a six and a half share. The number was two full ratings points higher than last year’s number. In weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p) The Fan was also 2nd with an 8 share. They again grew massively year over year, increasing their share by three full points.
The same story existed for the weekday shows. The Sports Junkies were 2nd in mornings just under a 9 share. The show was three and three tenths of a point higher than it was in 2017. Making it even more impressive, the Junkies finished 2nd among Persons 25-54 with just above a 5 share. Grant and Danny received the highest ranking on the station, finishing 1st with Men 25-54 with a high 9 share. Chad Dukes closed things out by placing 3rd in afternoons with just under a six and a half share.
It’s the same successful story in the Twin Cities for market leader KFAN. The iHeart sports radio staton remained dominant, delivering its 6th consecutive #1 finish M-SU 6a-Mid with Men 25-54. Leading the way were The Power Trip, who produced a massive 16 share to come in 1st in mornings. Not far behind though was afternoon host Dan Barreiro who also delivered a 1st place result courtesy of an impressive mid 15 share performance. KFAN continues to showcase itself as one of the highest rated brands in the format.
104.5 The Zone remained the leading sports brand in the market for the winter but 102.5 The Game has started to experience some positive gains too. The Game won weeknights for the first time in station history against The Zone. The rise of the Nashville Predators certainly has factored into that growth. One especially interesting development has been the competitive battle in afternoon drive. 3HL remained ahead delivering a 7.7 for the quarter, but Jared & The GM posted a 5.2, their best number to date. When you consider that just one year ago 3HL produced a 10.2 and The Game was at a 2.5 it’s safe to say the race has tightened.
The consistency of 101 ESPN remained the story as the radio station finished the winter book in 3rd place with a high 8 share. In mornings, The Bernie Miklasz Show generated a 7.4 which was good enough for 3rd place. Middays saw Kevin Wheeler come in 2nd with an impressive 8.6, and The Turn with Anthony Stalter and Chris Duncan produce a 3rd place finish courtesy of an 8 share. The station’s highest rated program continues to be The Fast Lane, featuring Randy Karraker, Brad Thompson and Chris Rongey. The trio were 1st in afternoon drive with a remarkable 11.1.
The first book under new PD Chuck Sapienza was strong for market leader 105.7 The Fan. That’s the good news. The bad news, the company will now expect Sapienza and his team to repeat those results book after book. Overall The Fan was 1st with Men 25-54 M-F 6a-7p at slightly above a 9 share. That was nearly a full 3 point increase year to year. The Fan was also in the Top 5 with Persons 25-54 at just under a 5 and a half share.
WFNZ continues to lead the market and improve upon its past performance. For the winter book the station placed in the Top 10 with Men 25-54 with a 3.2. The station has increased its share by nearly a point and a half year to year. Earning special consideration this quarter was The Mac Attack with Chris McClain and Travis ‘T-Bone” Hancock. The entertaining duo were 6th for the winter book with a 3.6. In the month of March alone, the show tied for 5th with a 5.1, an increase of three times their March 2017 performance. Continuing with their growth story, Mac and T-Bone’s overall share for the winter book has doubled year to year.
NFL free agency, a Lightning playoff push and the return of Rays baseball conversation led to some nice gains for WDAE with M25-54. JP Peterson spent the March book away from his 12p-3p show with Ron Diaz, filling in for Steve Duemig, and his presence in afternoons helped the station see solid gains month to month. The station’s morning show, Ronnie & TKras, also saw nice month to month growth with half share increases in both M25-54 and M35-54.
It was another big quarter for 92.9 ESPN. The radio station was #1 with Men 25-54 M-F 6a-7p with a low 9 share. Looking at the local dayparts, Geoff Calkins was strong as usual, finishing 1st with a little above a 10 share. Jason and John were also #1 with a low 12 share. The overall performance stumbled a little during Eric Hasseltine’s show. However, the program still produced a respectable high 6 share which placed it 6th. Closing things out in afternoons, Gary Parrish was just under a 10 share which was strong enough to place the show 2nd.
The big story to pass along from the winter book, The Bull and Fox on 92.3 The Fan proved that their prior performance atop the ratings charts was not a one-hit wonder. The talented duo remained dominant, finishing 1st with Men 25-54 with a 12 share.
Two noteworthy items to pass along from the market’s top rated sports radio brand 104.3 The Fan. The station placed third overall with a 5.7. In afternoons, The Drive with Big Al and DMac finished 1st with a low 8 share.
John Skipper To Speak At The 2022 BSM Summit
“In January 2021, Skipper’s plate became even more full when he reunited with Dan Le Batard to create Meadowlark Media. Since joining forces, the group has raised millions of dollars in funding, lured key talent to join the brand, and in April, Meadowlark closed a deal with DraftKings for a reported fifty million dollars over three years. Not too shabby for year #1.
Putting on a two-day industry conference comes with a fair share of challenges. Months are spent building sessions, selling sponsorships, and talking to so many people that by the time the event rolls around, all I can think about is reaching the finish line and avoiding major issues.
But then the event happens, and there are moments where I’m able to block out the noise for 30-40 minutes and just be present in conversation. It’s what I enjoy most. Being able to sit across from an industry leader who’s been successful in business, and pick their brain on the past, present and future of our industry is both personally and professionally fulfilling. Not only does it provide me with an education, but it helps everyone in attendance too. That’s my motivation for running this conference.
When we return to New York City on March 2-3, 2022, I’m thrilled to share that I’ll have a chance to do that once again with someone I’ve professionally respected and admired for a long time. It is an honor to announce that Meadowlark Media CEO John Skipper will join us for a special on stage conversation at the 2022 BSM Summit.
If you’ve worked in this industry or aspire to, then you’re likely aware of what John has accomplished. He’s seen the business from many different points of view and remains very much involved in helping shape its future. But before we discuss his present involvement, let’s revisit the past.
During his tenure with ESPN, John spent five years serving as company president where he secured a series of long-term, multiplatform agreements with key rightsholders such as the NBA, NFL, MLB, Major College Conferences, US Open Tennis, FIFA, the Masters Tournament and British Open, the College Football Playoff, and the Rose, Sugar and Orange Bowls. He also oversaw the evolution of several brands including The Undefeated, Grantland, five thirty eight, and espnW among others.
Prior to becoming company president, John held the position as EVP of Content, which he earned after helping create and introduce one of the most successful magazine launches of the 1990’s with ESPN The Magazine. His understanding and belief in digital helped ESPN move ESPN. com forward in 2000, adding a paid section, ESPN Insider, and delivering a revamped site approach to generate more advertising. His foresight also spurred the launch of ESPN3, a television network producing more than 4,000 live events on the web and through mobile devices. If that wasn’t enough, John also supported the creation of the Watch ESPN app, played a key role in elevating the careers of many of the industry’s top sports media stars today, and oversaw the growth of ESPN Films, ESPN Radio, and many of ESPN’s key television programs.
After exiting the worldwide leader, John signed on as the Executive Chairman of DAZN. In January 2021, Skipper’s plate became even more full when he reunited with Dan Le Batard to create Meadowlark Media. Since joining forces, the group has raised millions of dollars in funding, lured a number of key talent to become part of the brand, and established a strong presence in podcasting and on YouTube. In April, Meadowlark closed a deal with DraftKings for a reported fifty million dollars over three years. Not too shabby for year #1.
What I’ve appreciated about John is that he’s never been afraid to roll the dice and take risks. Some of his moves have worked out, others haven’t. The wins have been recognized across the industry, but so too have the losses. He’s had to lead a company thru high profile talent controversies, cord cutting challenges, understand the world of video, audio, print, digital, advertising, subscriptions, talent, and rights deals both domestic and internationally, all while keeping his finger on the pulse of the present state of the media business while turning an eye towards the future and knowing which areas the company should make significant investments in.
John has been thru all of it as a media executive, and he’s still doing it while building the Meadowlark brand. A recent story in Bloomberg captured some of his views on growing the Le Batard empire and navigating various parts of the industry. I highly recommend taking time to read it. You can do that by clicking here.
We have five and a half months until we’re inside the Anne Bernstein Theater in New York City, so who knows where the industry will shift during that time. One thing is for certain, John Skipper will be ready for whatever lands on his doorstep. I’m eager to spend time with him in New York treating industry professionals to his insights, opinions and leadership lessons. I’m confident those in attendance will gain value from hearing his perspectives on the industry.
I invite you to join us either in person or virtually for the 2022 BSM Summit. Tickets to the event can be purchased by clicking here. For information on sponsorship opportunities, email JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
2022 BSM Summit Adds Pablo Torre, Joe Fortenbaugh, Kazeem Famuyide & John Jastremski
“By the time March’s conference rolls around, we’ll have somewhere between 50-60 people announced to participate at the two day Summit.”
The announcements continue for the 2022 BSM Summit. After recently sharing the news that former ESPN Radio executive Traug Keller would join us in the big apple to accept the Jeff Smulyan Award, and previously revealing the first fourteen participants scheduled to appear, it’s time to inform you of a few key talent who will participate in sessions at March’s show.
I’m thrilled to welcome ESPN’s Pablo Torre to the 2022 BSM Summit. Pablo’s been with the worldwide leader since 2012. During that time he’s served as a senior writer for ESPN.com, the host of the ESPN Daily podcast, and has appeared on shows such as Around The Horn, Highly Questionable, and The Dan Le Batard Show. He also previously co-hosted High Noon with Bomani Jones. Prior to joining ESPN he spent five years writing for Sports Illustrated. Having worked with a mixture of talent from various backgrounds, I’m looking forward to having him share his insight and opinions on the value of it at the show.
Pablo isn’t the only ESPN personality joining us in New York for the conference. I’m excited to welcome back a great friend and one of the smartest sports betting analysts on television, Joe Fortenbaugh. Joe is regularly featured on ESPN’s sports betting program Daily Wager. He also appears on other ESPN programs and segments on television, radio and digital platforms. Prior to joining the network he hosted 95.7 The Game’s morning show in San Francisco, and hosted “The Sharp 600″ sports betting podcast. He’ll moderate a conversation with sports betting executives at the show.
Given that this two-day sports media conference is taking place in the heart of New York City, it’d be silly to not include someone who’s passion, energy, sound, and content embody what New York is all about. The Ringer’s John Jastremski will make his BSM Summit debut in 2022. The ‘New York, New York’ host is known to many for his years of contributions on WFAN. It’ll be fun picking JJ’s brain on the differences between performing on a traditional platform and the digital stage.
Jastremski isn’t the only one with a connection to The Ringer who will participate at our 2022 event. My next guest is someone who I’ve followed on YouTube and Twitter for years, has infectious energy and likeability, and has taken his life experiences and sports passions and turned them into opportunities with MSG Network, SNY, The Ringer, Bleacher Report, WWE, The Source and various other outlets. Kazeem Famuyide will join us to shed light on his journey and offer his perspective on the value of traditional vs. non-traditional paths.
By the time March’s conference rolls around, we’ll have somewhere between 50-60 people announced to participate at the two day event. I’ll be announcing the addition of a very special executive in mid-October, as well as a few high profile speakers and awards recipients in the weeks and months ahead. I’m appreciative of so many expressing interest in speaking at the conference, and as much as I’d like to include everyone on stage, I can’t. Keeping the Summit informative, fresh and focused on the right issues is important, and to do that, I’ve got to introduce different people, perspectives and subjects so our attendees gain value to further improve the industry.
A reminder, the 2022 BSM Summit is strictly for members of the sports media industry and college students aspiring to work in the business. It brings together people from more than thirty different media companies and focuses on issues of relevance and importance to media industry professionals. The show takes place March 2-3, 2022 in New York at the Anne Bernstein Theater on West 50th Street. Tickets and hotel rooms can be secured by visiting BSMSummit.com. For those unable to attend in person, the Summit will also be available to view online. Virtual tickets can be purchased by clicking here. Hope you’ll join us!
Traug Keller Named 2022 Recipient of the Jeff Smulyan Award
“Former SVP of ESPN Audio and President of ABC Networks Traug Keller has been chosen as our 2022 recipient of the Jeff Smulyan Award.”
Sometimes decisions are difficult. Other times they’re not. This was one of the easiest ones I’ve made since launching the BSM Summit in 2018.
If you haven’t attended the Summit before, one of the cool parts of the conference each year is that we take time to honor people who have left a permanent mark on the industry we love. Awards ceremonies are held both days to recognize difference makers who have made positive contributions to the sports radio business. At our 2022 BSM Summit, I am pleased to share that a great man will be celebrated for his life’s work.
It is my honor to announce that former SVP of ESPN Audio and President of ABC Networks Traug Keller has been chosen as our 2022 recipient of the Jeff Smulyan Award. Keller becomes the third industry executive to earn the honor. Kraig Kitchin and Dan Mason were the first two to be recognized at the 2019 and 2020 BSM Summit’s.
Upon learning that Traug had been selected as the next Jeff Smulyan Award winner, Emmis Communications CEO Jeff Smulyan said, “Traug Keller has left an indelible imprint on not only sports radio, but on all of broadcasting through his remarkable career. I’m proud to call him my friend, but I’m just one of the legions of people who have loved every minute of their time with him. He’s a broadcaster’s broadcaster, but more than that he’s one of the best people I’ve ever known.”
“I am humbled for sure but thrilled to be receiving an award with the name of my good friend on it, Jeff Smulyan,” added Traug Keller, now the EVP and COO of American Media. “Jeff did what all too few leaders in business do, he took risk and action against all kinds of headwinds and the rest of us in the great business of Sports Audio were the beneficiaries of it. Thanks to BSM for this great honor and I look forward to seeing a bunch of old friends in March!”
Anyone who has crossed paths with Traug over the past three decades knows how important he was to the success of ESPN Radio. He’s been a friend to many, a great partner to hundreds of radio affiliates, and a champion for talent. His support for BSM has also meant a lot.
Perhaps even more impressive was Traug’s ability to connect with his affiliates, clients and colleagues, offering steady leadership and on-air stability for ESPN Radio. No executive leaves with a perfect record, but Keller had a knack for landing on the right side of many decisions. None as impressive though as retiring from sports radio in February 2020, one month before the sports world came to a screeching halt and a global pandemic rocked the entire advertising industry. Talk about timing Traug, haha.
In all seriousness, having Traug and Jeff together on the same stage in front of the industry to give folks an opportunity to show their appreciation for their accomplishments is a real treat. So many enjoy professional success today due to bold and smart decisions made by each of these men, and I couldn’t be happier to spend time with both in New York City this March.
For tickets, hotel and additional details regarding the 2022 BSM Summit visit BSMSummit.com.
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