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Sports Radio Is Making An Impact In Baltimore

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Bob from Parkville was on the air, his voice filled with remorse.

A day earlier, he had agitated on WJZ-FM (105.7 The Fan) for the Ravens to place former linebacker O.J. Brigance, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, in their Ring of Honor.

“We get it. … You’re passionate,” said Scott Garceau, one of the sports radio station’s hosts, after listening to several earnest apologies.

Well known to listeners, “Bob” is far from the only regular caller on 105.7, the most popular of Baltimore’s three stations devoted solely to sports, a format growing nationally and holding its own in the city. With its abundance of familiar callers and guests, local sports talk radio can feel like a close-knit neighborhood, albeit a homogeneous one in which the residents are nearly all wisecracking men.

But it’s working. Almost entirely devoid of female voices, sports call-in shows are scoring — locally and nationally — in the coveted Nielsen ratings demographic of men between the ages of 25 and 54.

“That’s the sweet spot,” said Rick Scott, an Arizona-based sports radio consultant. “The successful stations are usually in the top five in that demographic.”

Aided by being the Orioles’ flagship station, CBS-owned 105.7 often found itself in the top five among men 25 to 54 this past summer — and was sometimes No. 1 — although it placed lower in overall ratings.

While sports talk shows can be unabashedly lowbrow and occasionally repetitive, analysts say their audiences tend to linger, sometimes as an extension of their allegiance to local teams.

In a market that is increasingly fragmented — satellite radio, live streaming and podcasts have all become important outlets — sports radio “commands large, loyal audiences and those people listen frequently and regularly, which makes them great targets for advertisers,” said B. Eric Rhoads, publisher and CEO of Radio Ink, a trade publication. “It’s still a very viable format.”

Baltimore’s other two all-sports stations are both AM stations — WNST 1570 and WJZ 1300 — and barely registered in the overall ratings during the summer, if at all.

WNST downsized in 2014 and stopped taking listener calls in favor of “an ongoing conversation with [sports] experts,” said owner Nestor Aparicio, whose station emphasizes text updates and online streaming. “I don’t take phone calls on the radio because I don’t think it’s any good. We’re having an intelligent, cogent conversation.”

A partner of 105.7, WJZ 1300 is also owned by CBS Radio, a unit of CBS Corp. While sticking mostly to CBS national sports coverage and programs, it is the broadcast home of Towson University athletics.

In overall Nielsen ratings, CBS-owned WLIF-FM (adult contemporary), WERQ-FM (urban contemporary) and WPOC-FM (country) rank at the top for Baltimore listeners 6 and older, according to data released Sept. 30.

But in sports, 105.7 is “the Big Kahuna in Baltimore,” said Dave Hughes, founder of DCRTV.com, a website devoted to Washington and Baltimore media. “It’s a very Baltimore-sounding station and they get great ratings.”

The station ranks near the top of the Baltimore market in advertising revenue, Robert Philips, senior vice president and director of sales for CBS Radio nationally and its market manager for Baltimore, said in an email. The ranking could not be independently confirmed because the figures are private.

While it doesn’t have a lot of local competition, radio signals from Washington stations bleed into the Baltimore market.

“ESPN 980 in Washington sometimes gets some good ratings in Baltimore because it has a strong signal and has a lot of people in Howard and Anne Arundel Counties listening,” Hughes said.

Formerly WHFS-FM, 105.7 switched to sports talk in 2008.

It’s not a station for listeners who relish hearing hosts criticize or cut off callers. It’s pretty tame, courteous even.

“I don’t have callers that annoy me,” host Rob Long said. “If it’s annoying, we find a way to spin it and make it funny.”

After “Bob from Parkville” apologized for his rant, Garceau made it clear the caller remained on good terms. “Bob’s Bob,” Garceau said on the air. “Say your piece.”

On a recent afternoon, host Jeremy Conn — joined by Garceau — sat behind a microphone wearing an Orioles T-shirt. Eight Orioles bobbleheads were lined up on a table, and three television monitors with sports programming loomed overhead as Garceau fielded calls.

Another host, Bob Haynie, wore an AC/DC T-shirt and shorts as he prepared for an Orioles pregame show. “I wear a suit and tie to funerals,” he said of his attire.

Like cast members with small parts, the station’s regular callers have become part of the show. There is “Q in Pikesville,” an antagonist because he roots for out-of-town teams. There is “Ed in Arbutus,” a longtime high school assistant football coach and factory worker whom the hosts consider sage. There is “John in Elkton” whom the station has nicknamed “Elkton John.”

“I talk to them more than I talk to my own family,” Conn said off the air.

Ed Foster — “Ed in Arbutus” — said in an interview that he enjoys the connection derived from sharing moments from sporting events.

“From the time 105.7 started, I was making a call,” said Foster, 58.

He has developed such a close relationship with the station that he said Conn showed up at a wake service in March for Foster’s 35-year-old daughter, Amanda Winneke, who had died after a long illness.

“I was overwhelmed that he would consider that,” Foster said. “It was absolutely a surprise. I hugged him.”

Baltimore sports radio has a heavy local flavor. Nationally, ESPN Radio has 375 full-time affiliates — but none in the city.

“Baltimore is certainly on my radar,” said Traug Keller, an ESPN senior vice president overseeing the radio network, among other divisions.

News-talk station WBAL, the Ravens’ flagship station and the city’s AM ratings leader, carries some ESPN national game broadcasts but not the network’s signature shows such as “Mike & Mike.” Hearst-owned WBAL broadcasts its own sports talk show at night, often competing over the summer with Orioles games.

The Orioles jumped from WBAL to 105.7 last year, signing a multiyear deal.

 

To read the rest of the article visit the Baltimore Sun where it was originally published

Sports Radio News

Tony Bruno Relives Favorite Moments With Angelo Cataldi on 94 WIP

“I loved every day. We did stuff that put Sports Radio in Philly on the map and I’m proud of that.”

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Tony Bruno has been a staple of the sports radio business for decades. Bruno is from Philadelphia and was teamed up in the early nineties with a duo still dominating the local airwaves there today, Angelo Cataldi and Al Morganti. The three reunited Thursday morning on 94 WIP to remember the glory days of their partnership and friendship.

One of the first moments Cataldi asked Bruno if he remembered was the update he did from a tree outside of their studio and the answer was an emphatic yes.

“Absolutely, it’s one of the highlights of my life – other than interviewing four Presidents and every sports athlete in history – there’s no bigger moment than me climbing up in the tree, which was obstructing our view of William Penn and the city skyline. That’s what I do, I was a man of action. I’m not one of these guys that talks the talk, I climb the tree to do whatever is necessary.”

More frivolity followed when Cataldi harkened back to a segment of ‘Damsels in Distress’ and a time in which Bruno was sent on the street during a snowstorm to help shovel people out of their driveways. Bruno quickly recalled, “Man of the people. I should run for – I should of run for Governor of Pennsylvania or Senate or something.”

Bruno added that his favorite rant (and one that Cataldi loved too) wasn’t about the Cowboys or sports at all. “My favorite was my Infinity Broadcasting rant where I went on one day and even ripped our bosses, all the way up to the top of Infinity Broadcasting.” Cataldi cackled and praised Bruno’s rants more before being interrupted by Bruno saying, “yeah, my only regret is I never really ripped Al (Morganti) the way I should have ripped him. I let him of the hook so many times.”

An insightful moment came at the end of the call when Cataldi asked rhetorically if Bruno ever thought they (Cataldi & Morganti) would still be doing this thirty years later and then asked if Tony ever regretted leaving.

“It was a tough decision, Ang,” Bruno answered. “I was given an ultimatum. When I came to work with you guys, I loved every day. Every day we had fun. We did stuff that put Sports Radio in Philly on the map and I’m proud of that. It wasn’t one of those, ‘oh I got to go; I’m too big for these guys’. I even turned the ESPN job down a couple of times.

“My kids were still younger then, I didn’t want to move. I didn’t have to move. They said just come up here on weekends and that’s how ESPN Radio started. So I was doing weekends and Tom Bigby (Program Director) didn’t like that either, told me it wasn’t going to work. It was a philosophical thing. When he told me, ‘you should go because we are not going to pay you what they’re paying you,’ I said ok.

Cataldi began to sign off with Bruno with genuine thanks: “I got to tell you something Tone, we are indebted to you for the rest of our lives because we both learned so much from you and you are one of the great talents that radio has ever had.”

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Sports Radio News

Dodgers Temporarily Pull Broadcasters Off Road

“If the broadcasters’ are not dealing with severe cases of Covid and they have cleared health and safety protocols, it appears the team is open to sending them back out on the road.”

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When the Los Angeles Dodgers visit the East Coast later this week, the men that call the action on TV and radio will not be with them. The games will instead be broadcast on AM570 LA Sports and SportsNet LA from their respective studios.

“Due to a few members of the Dodgers’ broadcast team having recently tested positive for COVID-19, and out of an abundance of caution, the Dodgers have decided to not travel their broadcasters to upcoming games in Philadelphia and Washington,” the Dodgers announced in a statement. Similar to the 2020 and 2021 MLB seasons, the games will be broadcast from Los Angeles,” reads a statement on the team’s Twitter account.

No further details are available, so the severity and the number of cases remain unknown.

Last September, both members of the Dodgers’ television play-by-play crew were forced into quarantine. Joe Davis was the first to test positive, followed later that month by Orel Hershiser.

On Wednesday, manager Dave Roberts told the media that the Dodgers’ roster and coaching staff are not effected.

“There’s there’s no symptoms in the clubhouse. I think that as far as the upstairs, as an organization, we’re all just trying to be very cautious. But as far as in the clubhouse, coaches, training staff, nothing like that.”

If the broadcasters’ are not dealing with severe cases of Covid and they have cleared health and safety protocols, it appears the team is open to sending them back out on the road. 2022 was supposed to be a return to normal for the Dodgers and many other teams after not letting broadcasters travel in 2020 and 2021.

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Sports Radio News

Pat McAfee: ‘No One Will Disrespect Jim Rome On My Show’

“That’s because you need to respect the f–king jungle.”

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Jim Rome is a sports radio icon and Pat McAfee recognizes that.

On The Pat McAfee Show on Wednesday, McAfee was talking to co-host A.J. Hawk about how Rome trended recently on Twitter.

This happened after news of Tom Brady’s FOX Sports deal surfaced, and a list of the top paid sports media personalities was compiled. Rome came in behind Brady at number two making a reported $30 million a year, and many were surprised by that number. McAfee wasn’t.

“That’s because you need to respect the f–king jungle,” he said. “I have nothing but respect for Jim Rome.”

McAfee gave props to Rome, 57, saying he’s been doing sports talk probably longer than anyone. He’s one of the most widely distributed hosts in the country. Pat said he won’t tolerate anyone talking smack about the Smack-Off King.

“No disrespect will be said on this show of Jim Rome, ever,” he said. “Love that man.”

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