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104.5 The Zone Dominates Nashville’s January Ratings

Jason Barrett

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Earlier this month we released our “2015 Best In Sports Radio” series which highlighted the Top 20 in a number of different categories. If you read my follow up piece, you likely recall how I pointed out that a number of smaller market stations and shows didn’t receive their due when many had a legitimate gripe.

In the case of great brands like 610 Sports in Kansas City, 101 ESPN in St. Louis, and 99.9 The Fan in Raleigh, they did everything they were supposed to do from a performance standpoint. Their only crime in receiving credit was not tripling the size of their population and becoming a top 10 market, and that’s unfair.

Well, one brand that didn’t bellyache over any of the results but had as strong of a reason to as anyone, was 104.5 The Zone in Nashville.

To many on the outside, the Nashville market may be best known for the Titans and Country music but to plenty of industry insiders, The Zone has become a well respected brand in the sports talk format. It has been and continues to be one of the highest rated brands in the nation, but even many who work in the sports radio field aren’t aware of just how dominant their performance is.

I was able to do some digging and gather the ratings data for the January book in the Nashville market, and I’m excited to share it with you because I believe this is a story that deserves to be told. In my opinion, it’s flown under the radar for far too long.

Let’s start by focusing on M-SU 6a-Mid with Men 25-54.

  • 104.5 The Zone = 11.2 (1st)

*** The Zone’s closest competitor, 102.5 and 94.9 The Game, finished tied for 16th with a 1.8.

Next up, M-F 6a-7p with Men 25-54.

  • 104.5 The Zone = 12.7 (1st)

When you turn the attention towards the radio station’s weekday programs, it’s the same story. Let’s begin by looking at M-F 6a-10a with Men 25-54.

  • 104.5 The Zone (The Wakeup Zone) = 14.2 (1st)

Shifting gears, we move on to middays M-F 10a-3p with Men 25-54.

  • 104.5 The Zone (Dan Patrick Show and Midday 180) = 11.7 (1st)

To wrap things up we shine the spotlight on M-F 3p-7p with Men 25-54.

  • 104.5 The Zone (3HL and Primetime) = 12.3 (1st)

Even the radio station’s weekends deliver a 9.7 which is also good enough for 1st.

At this point, the real internal story is which show is going to gain bragging rights for being the best on the radio station. The threat of competition is not on the radio station’s radar. For this month, the honor of being recognized as the station’s best belongs to ‘The Wake Up Zone” which features Kevin Ingram, Frank Wycheck and Mark Howard.

What’s scary is that when you look at the money demo (Persons 25-54), the same story exists.

For example, The Zone was tied for 5th M-SU 6a-Mid with a 6.8. They were 4th M-F 6a-7p with a 7.5. In mornings they finished 2nd with an 8.6. Middays came in 5th with a 7.1. And in afternoon drive, they’re 4th with a 6.9.

What this data tells us is that The Zone owns the market with Men 25-54, and the real competitive focus is on beating brands in the Persons 25-54 category. When a sports station is able to do that, it puts a company in position to have huge financial success.

Let me be clear about one thing as it pertains to this story. I don’t work for 104.5 The Zone or Cumulus who owns the radio station. The only thing I gain by sharing this story is some additional web traffic, a few thank you’s from listeners and industry folks who are appreciative of learning the information, and if I play my cards right, maybe a retweet from Mickey Ryan, Brent Dougherty and Blaine Bishop of 3HL.

If The Zone was losing badly, I wouldn’t hesitate to share that story because I believe in being fair, objective, and honest. In this case though there isn’t much to say other than “congrats on a job well done!”

The purpose of this piece is to educate you on what this brand has created in its local market, and acknowledge why they deserve to be in the conversation among elite brands in the sports radio format. Stations such as 98.5 The Sports Hub and WEEI in Boston, WFAN in New York, 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, and KFAN in Minneapolis all deserve to be at the top of the list, but 104.5 The Zone can make an argument for why they belong in the same discussion.

When you’re delivering double digit ratings and 1st place finishes month after month, that’s impossible to ignore. It’s these types of stories that demonstrate the power sports radio has in local markets, and the more we become familiar with them, the more the mainstream media will have to take notice of the way this format and its personalities connect with local audiences, and deliver results for advertisers.

I know this much, if you’re an advertiser looking to reach Men in the Nashville market, and you’re not investing the majority of your budget on The Zone, your strategy is severely flawed. There’s an old saying in sports radio “you fish where the fish are” and in this case, they’re all swimming in The Zone’s waters.

Sports Radio News

Bobby Belt: ‘Pat McAfee Butchered The Name Shan and RJ’

“I mean, it clearly says on the graphics ‘Shan and RJ’.”

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Shan and RJ is a show that routinely finds itself in the media spotlight. They may be a Dallas show, but when Jerry and Stephen Jones routinely appear on your airwaves, you are going to draw attention from outside of the market.

On Tuesday, Pat McAfee played a clip of the hosts talking to Jerry Jones. McAfee threw to the clip introducing the show as “Shan, RJ, and Chop.” On Wednesday morning, the 105.3 The Fan’s morning show had some fun with the former Colts punter’s struggles.

“There’s a lot to unpack here,” newly added co-host Bobby Belt said after listening to McAfee and his crew take three unsuccessful cracks at naming the show.

“Reggie made a good point yesterday when I was talking to him about this,” Belt said. “Reggie was like ‘I think McAfee was going to the clip, saw three faces and didn’t know a third name, and so he’s like ‘well, that must be RJ and Chop.’”

Belt delighted in the idea that in McAfee’s mind, RJ Choppy goes by “Chop” on air and even pointed out that one of the producers said that RJ “looks like a Chop.”

Pat McAfee called the show “Shan, RJ, and Chop,” “Shana, RJ and Chop,” and “Shannon and RJ” on different occasions according to Belt. He didn’t think it was disrespectful. He just didn’t understand how McAfee got it so wrong so often.

“They butchered this three ways to the weekend. I have no idea. I mean, it clearly says on the graphics ‘Shan and RJ’.”

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Sports Radio News

Cubs Radio Voice Pat Hughes Named 2023 Frick Award Winner

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Chicago Cubs radio voice Pat Hughes has been honored as the 2023 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award.

The award is given annually for “excellence in broadcasting” by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

“Known throughout the Midwest for his easy delivery and unparalleled knowledge, Pat Hughes has called some of the biggest moments in Cubs history and has provided the narrative for one of the most successful eras in the history of the franchise,” said National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum President Josh Rawitch. “Since arriving at Wrigley Field in 1996, Pat has served as the radio voice for nine postseason teams – matching an ardent fan base with his own passion in every broadcast. His reverence for baseball history and gift for storytelling have made him one of the game’s broadcast treasures.”

Hughes has spent more than 25 years as the voice of the Cubs, and is a nine-time winner of the Illinois Sportscaster of the Year Award. Earlier this year, Hughes found out on-air that he would be inducted into the Cubs Hall of Fame.

Hughes was previously a finalist for the award in 2016 and 2020.

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Sports Radio News

Craig Carton: Jon Heyman ‘No Longer An Insider’ After Aaron Judge Gaffe

“That’s a bad job. And all that is is a guy trying to get ahead of everybody else. He screwed the pooch. That’s embarrassing.”

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MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman erroneously reported that New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge was signing with the San Francisco Giants in free agency yesterday. That news was not well received by WFAN afternoon hosts Craig Carton and Evan Roberts.

After Heyman rescinded his original tweet saying “Arson Judge” appeared headed to the Giants, he resent a new one with the correct spelling. During the confusion, Roberts told producers to get Heyman — who is an Audacy contributor — on the phone, which Carton immediately shot down.

“No, we’re not putting him on the air,” Carton said. “I’m not putting him on the air. He doesn’t get a platform on this show. Listen, he made a deal with the devil when he took a job with The (New York) Post. That’s his business.”

While Carton and Roberts processed the news, producer Chris McMonigle said he was certain that Judge would be signing with the Giants, but that was not Heyman’s report, and would hold off until it was official.

Roberts mocked McMonigle by saying he was in denial. “He still hasn’t accepted that Jon Heyman knows what he’s talking about,” Roberts said. Moments later, McMonigle read Heyman’s follow up tweet apologizing for “jumping the gun”.

“That is a horrendous job by Jon Heyman,” Carton replied.

“Heyman’s done,” Roberts shouted. “Jon, what are we doing?”

“Heyman is no longer an insider,” Carton added. “That’s a bad job. And all that is is a guy trying to get ahead of everybody else. He screwed the pooch. That’s embarrassing.”

Carton later took umbrage with Heyman deleting his tweets.

“To play fans like that is absolutely unacceptable. It’s not right. Sorry. That’s because everyone’s gotta be first. God forbid someone else has it first. You’re a clown. Your entire career’s work has just been flushed down the toilet.”

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