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Cubs Ratings Are Surging

Jason Barrett

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This year’s good timing award goes to ABC-7 and WBBM-AM 780.

In December, ABC-7 signed on for a five-year package of Cubs games despite the team’s TV ratings sinking to historic lows in 2014. John Idler, the station’s president and general manager, figured the ratings would rise dramatically at some point. He didn’t, however, expect to hit the jackpot this year.

“The timeline has been accelerated,” Idler said. “The (2015) ratings definitely have exceeded our expectations.”

Meanwhile, WBBM says the station is drawing ratings 30-50 percent higher than at the start of the season for its game broadcasts during the first year of its radio deal with the Cubs.

The Cubs turnaround has confirmed what everyone thought: They were a sleeping giant on the ratings front.

Through Wednesday, Comcast SportsNet was averaging a 3.2 rating for Cubs games, up dramatically from 1.50 in 2014; 1 local ratings point is worth an estimated 35,000 homes. WGN-9 is averaging a 4.7 for its Cubs telecasts, more than double from last year. ABC-7 is doing a 4.5 rating for the 22 Cubs games it has aired.

Those numbers don’t even tell the whole story. The ratings have exploded with the Cubs’ surge since the All-Star break.

ABC-7 averaged a 7.9 rating between 7-8:15 p.m. for the Cubs-Tigers game on Aug. 18 before a long rain delay halted play. WGN-9 peaked with a 7.3 rating for the Cubs-Brewers game on Aug. 12. CSN posted its highest-rated Cubs game in six years with a 5.1 rating for the game against the Brewers on Aug. 11.

Naturally, CSN vice president and general manager Phil Bedella is ecstatic to see the interest of Cubs fans after several lean years.

“This feels different,” Bedella said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen people who follow the Cubs closely this excited about the team and where it is going with these young players. Fans are thinking, ‘My God, these guys have the framework to be good for a long time.’ The demand for the Cubs is at a level we never thought we’d get to this quickly in the process.”

CSN, WGN-9, and ABC-7 are gearing up for even bigger ratings with the Cubs actually playing meaningful games in September. Knowing the team’s history, Bedella felt a bit sheepish in talking about a recent staff meeting about coverage plans if the Cubs clinch a playoff berth.

“We don’t want to jinx anything, but it’s something we have to do,” Bedella said. “We said, ‘When was the last time we had any discussions about the Cubs and the playoffs?’ It’s been a long time. It feels great to have that kind of conversation.”

Sox ratings: With the team failing to meet high expectations, the White Sox ratings on CSN have been mostly flat, hovering around a 1.0 average. Bedella, though, says the Sox have seen nice ratings bumps on the days and nights Chris Sale pitches.

Bedella also believes the Sox have benefited from the Cubs’ strong ratings.

“What we’ve seen before is that when one of the teams does well, it lifts all ships,” Bedella said.

Remote patrol: Brian Urlacher has signed on with ESPN 1000. The station will air “The Brian Urlacher Show” with Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman at 5 p.m. on 12 select Tuesday afternoons during the season starting Sept. 15. Bears guard Kyle Long also is back as a regular contributor to WMVP.

WBBM will encounter its first conflict with the Cubs and Bears both playing on Saturday night. The Bears-Bengals game will start on WBBM-AM 780 and WCFS-FM 105.9 at 5:30 p.m. The Cubs-Dodgers game then takes over 105.9 at 7:45 p.m. with the Bears continuing on 780. After the Bears game, the Cubs will be heard on both signals. WBBM will air the first John Fox show of the season at 6:30 p.m. Monday.

Credit to the Chicago Tribune who originally published this article

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.

Barry Jackson, a veteran journalist with the Miami Herald, reports that 790 The Ticket morning hosts Brendan Tobin and Leroy Hoard will move to that 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. WQAM slot during the week of Oct. 3.

In more station movement, Joe Rose’s WQAM morning show with Zach Krantz now will be simulcast on The Ticket, replacing the Tobin/Hoard program. Audacy, which owns both WQAM and The Ticket, also simulcast Marc Hochman’s and Channing Crowder’s afternoon show.

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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