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Sports Radio Is Making An Impact In Baltimore

Jason Barrett



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, 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

Stephen Strom Leaves Barrett Sports Media For Miami Marlins Radio Role

“Earlier this month, the team announced that Kyle Sielaf was moving from the studio host role into the broadcast booth.”





It is always a good day when Barrett Sports Media gets to congratulate one of our own. Stephen Strom made his debut Thursday as the studio host of Miami Marlins baseball coverage on 940 WINZ in Miami.

Strom came to BSM in 2022 to host the Sports Talkers Podcast. The show delivered 33 episodes and was consistently one of the best performers on the BSM Podcast Network.

Prior to announcing his new role in Major League Baseball, Stephen Strom served as a broadcast assistant for the Miami Heat, working with the team’s television voice Eric Reid. He also called games for Nova Southeastern and Florida International universities.

The new gig means Strom is leaving Barrett Sports Media. That means, unfortunately, that the Sports Talkers Podcast is coming to an end.

“Stephen is a bulldog. I am not surprised he landed this opportunity,” BSM Content Director Demetri Ravanos said. “I could not be more proud of him. This is just another significant step in what I am betting will be a long, successful broadcasting career for him.”

Earlier this month, the team announced that Kyle Sielaf was moving from the studio host role into the broadcast booth. He replaces Glenn Geffner, who had been on Marlins’ radio broadcasts for the previous 15 years.

“One of the great rewards of running Barrett Media is being able to give a platform to talented people and seeing them take advantage of the opportunity,” said Barrett Media President Jason Barrett. “Stephen Strom has done an outstanding job for us with the Sports Talkers Podcast and though we hate to lose him because he’s become someone we hold in high regard, I couldn’t be happier to see him advance his career, and take the next step with the Miami Marlins.”

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Sports Radio News

Travis Rodgers: Angels Radio Broadcast ‘Is a Giant Middle Finger to Fans’

“You’re telling your fans ‘I’m 100% okay with giving you a product that is less than 28 other teams out there.”





The Los Angeles Angels are not going to get much slack on ESPN Los Angeles. The station may be a radio partner of the team, but that doesn’t mean the hosts are required to agree with the team’s decision regarding its radio broadcast.

In 2023, only the Angels and Toronto Blue Jays will keep their broadcast teams from traveling to away games. Team owner Artie Moreno said at a press conference that the broadcast experience does not justify the cost.

Thursday on ESPN Los Angeles, Travis & Sliwa blasted the team saying they were sending a very clear message to the fans.

“It is a giant middle finger to your fans,” Travis Rodgers said. “You’re telling your fans that listen to the games on the radio, particularly here in California where we have such a strong car culture, where people are in their cars a lot. We all commute. We’re all stuck in traffic, and if you’re a baseball fan, there is something very pleasant about listening to a baseball game on the radio.”

An article in The Athletic estimates that it would cost $200,000 for the team’s radio crew to travel to away games. Instead, Terry Smith and Mark Langston will stay back in Anaheim and call the action from the television feed.

Allen Sliwa is pleasantly surprised that the Angels are in the minority. He said that he expected between fifteen and twenty percent of Major League Baseball teams would quit sending broadcasters to away games after the Covid-19 pandemic changed the 2020 season.

Rodgers, on the other hand, was incensed by the amount of money Moreno is apparently trying to save.

“$200,000. Anthony Rendon makes $38 million per year,” he said.

Sliwa said the Angels’ radio broadcasts will feel like the MLB Playoffs that happened in a bubble in Texas in 2020 when so few people were in the stands. It was hard to feel any real energy at home. Rodgers said that on top of that, the broadcast will simply have a lower standard than those of other teams because there is so much that a broadcaster gains simply by being with the team on the road.

“You’re around the team. You’re with the players. You’re with the coaches. You’re with the executives.,” Rodgers said. “You learn things. You can add color to your broadcasts that you’re not gonna get if you’re around them half as much as your contemporaries and your colleagues. You’re telling your fans ‘I’m 100% okay with giving you a product that is less than 28 other teams out there. You don’t matter to me to give you the best experience possible when you’re listening to your favorite team on the radio because I want to save $200,000.’ That’s a rounding error in the economics of baseball.”

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Sports Radio News

Ken Carman: NCAA Women’s Tournament Seeing Higher Ratings Isn’t An Indictment on NBA or ESPN

“Women’s basketball is a much bigger deal than it used to be, and is a much more popular sport than it used to be.”





A television ratings report earlier this week revealed that ESPN’s coverage of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament game between Iowa and Louisville garnered 2.5 million viewers. That number is higher than any NBA game broadcast on the channel this season, but 92.3 The Fan morning host Ken Carman believes that doesn’t necessarily mean the NBA is seeing a downturn on the Worldwide Leader.

“People know those NBA players, even though a lot of them are sitting on the bench, but it’s women’s basketball and we know women’s basketball gets a fraction of the love in this country,” co-host Anthony Lima said. “She’s not in the same stratosphere as those NBA guys.”

“It’s playoffs versus regular season, and I’m just not surprised,” Ken Carman countered, arguing that NBA games on a random Friday night have a different feel and energy to them compared to an Elite Eight contest.

“ESPN does a good job of promoting (the women),” Carman continued.

“Is this more about the statement of the women’s game or more of a statement about the NBA, where it has gotten stale and become an afterthought?” Lima questioned.

“Both these things can be true,” argued Carman. “The regular season in the NBA — they’re not sitting there talking about a mid-season tournament for nothing. People don’t care about the regular season, and they want people to care about the regular season. And women’s basketball is a much bigger deal than it used to be, and is a much more popular sport than it used to be.”

Carman concluded by saying that the NBA playoff games will have high television ratings, like always, and that comparisons of the two audiences simply boils down to regular season viewing against playoff viewing.

The 2023 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament on ESPN has garnered record highs this year, with first round viewership growing 27% compared to last year.

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