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The Latest Sports Radio Ratings In Boston

Jason Barrett

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There is no market for sports radio hotter right now than Boston. The work being done by WEEI and 98.5 The Sports Hub is incredible and it truly is a case of two brands being well positioned for on-air success. That’s helping both CBS and Entercom generate a whole lot of revenue.

In the recent spring book which covers March 24-June 15, the Sports Hub finished 1st M-SU 6a-Mid with an 11.0. WEEI placed 2nd with an 8.1. Making the performance even more impressive is that the Hub was up 2 full points over a 12-month stretch, and WEEI picked up 1.3 shares during that same period.

Toucher and Rich fueled the Hub’s success in morning drive by earning top honors with Men 25-54 with a 14.6. Dennis and Callahan with Kirk Minihane came in 2nd, also in double digits, turning in a 10.5.

Shifting to middays, the Hub’s Scott Zolak and Marc Bertrand popped an 11.8 to finish 1st. WEEI’s Glenn Ordway, Lou Merloni, and Christian Fauria were 4th with a 7.0.

In afternoons, the Hub once again led the pack with Felger and Massarotti delivering a 12.8. WEEI’s Dale and Holley with Jerry Thornton was 2nd at an 8.3.

The one area where WEEI defeated the Hub was in evenings where Red Sox baseball propelled the radio station to a 1st place finish and 9.4 share. The Hub was 2nd with Adam Jones’ show recording an 8.1.

On the surface it’s easy to focus on the Hub’s stranglehold on the top position. They absolutely deserve credit for the success they’ve achieved, and have produced one of the best sports radio brands in America. Mike Thomas and his team deserve the accolades they’ve received for a job well done. In the past year alone, Toucher and Rich have improved from a 10.8 to a 14.6, and Zolak and Bertrand went from an 8.8 to an 11.8. Felger and Massarotti were flat with a 12.8, which is still an insane number.

But while applauding the Hub for their growth, don’t overlook what WEEI has done. The radio station was struggling a few years ago and made some great adjustments which have now made it a much closer two station race. Each of these stations are kicking the crap out of the rest of the market in the battle for Men 25-54, and most sports talkers across the country would kill for WEEI’s performance. They just happen to be pulling in big numbers while squaring off against one of the biggest ratings juggernauts in the country, in a market that can’t get enough sports radio conversation.

Did you know that last spring, these two sports stations combined to deliver a 16 share? This spring they eclipsed that mark with a combined 19 share! It’s hard to believe that they could grow that number even higher next spring but given the way Boston sports radio fans have responded to each of their presentations, I wouldn’t bet against it.

WEEI can take solace in the fact that they produced their highest Spring book performance since PPM measurement went into effect in 2010. The station’s previous best was a 7.1 earned in the Spring of 2012. What I was most impressed by were the increases of the station’s top shows year to year. Dennis and Callahan grew from a 7.5 to an 11.1. Ordway/Merloni/Fauria spiked from a 3.6 to a 6.8. And Dale and Holley climbed from a 6.4 to 8.2. That’s outstanding progress, which Kevin Graham, Phil Zachary and the programming team deserve credit for.

Too often in this industry we highlight the top brand and discredit the competitor, but success isn’t measured simply by who turns in a higher share. Each of these brands are unique, compelling, staffed with incredible talent, and they possess the ability to continue generating higher ratings and revenues. The on-air hosts for each brand will undoubtedly look to best their counterparts book after book, and quarter after quarter, but they also recognize that if they deliver their best effort and choose the right content, it’s likely to be supported by local listeners. That in of itself equals success.

 

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Jay Williams Calls Listener, Forces Him To Pay Their $1000 Lakers Bet

“Don’t get me on national TV and radio and then not pick up the phone when I call.”

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If you owe Jay Williams money, he is going to find you. Just ask Rob, a listener in Orlando who bet the ESPN Radio morning man that the Lakers would advance to the NBA Finals.

Last week, Rob called Keyshawn, JWill and Max and bet Williams $1000 the Lakers would eliminate the Denver Nuggets. Williams said if that happened, he would pay Rob $1500.

Obviously, that is not the way things played out. On Tuesday morning, Jay Williams called Rob demanding payment.

“He owes me my money,” he said. “So you know what we do? We got Detective Pat on the call today. Pat, let’s give this man a call. See if this guy picks up, trying to run away from giving me my money.”

The show’s associate producer Patrick Costello called the number Rob left last week. On the first attempt, the listener did not pick up. Williams vowed to keep up the pressure on social media and national radio and television until he got paid.

“Don’t get me on national TV and radio and then not pick up the phone when I call.”

“You know, getting that money is a wrap, Jay,” Keyshawn Johnson said through laughter. “I told you that.”

The show made one more attempt to connect with Rob before having to turn things over to Greeny. This time, the Lakers fan picked up and acknowledged that he had to pay. He offered to make a donation in Williams’s name.

“I’ll send you my bank account here privately, and then I will send it to the charity of my choice,” Williams agreed.

Rob agreed to the arrangement. Williams asked him if he wanted to apologize for doubting the basketball analyst’s prediction of the Lakers’ demise.

“Apologize? I need the Lakers to apologize to me after that performance,” Rob said. “Because Jesus Christ, that was horrible. That was bad.”

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Stoney & Jansen on LeBron James Retirement Talk: ‘NBA Needs Offseason Stories’

“I think we pick and choose with him. I think I’ve been too hard on him and I’m kind of realizing that.”

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As the Los Angeles Lakers exited the court after being swept by the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals on Monday night, a grim reality set in across the basketball world regarding the future of forward LeBron James. Widely regarded as one of the best players to ever suit up, James is the NBA’s all-time scoring leader, a 19-time All Star selection, four-time MVP, and four-time NBA champion.

During his postgame media availability on Monday, he stated that he had to seriously think about his future, undoubtedly referencing retirement. James just completed his 20th season in the Association and continues to play at a high level, but is going to think about walking away from the game after falling short of the NBA Finals this year.

“He’s been a pretty good soldier for the game,” said Tom Milikan, morning show producer and assistant program director at 97.1 The Ticket. “There’s been some things I haven’t agreed with him [on] that he’s liked or tweeted or whatever. I think he’s had some ignorance, but I think that applies to every single athlete out there that’s great.”

Throughout his NBA career, James has been the subject of criticism. The ESPN special he participated in titled The Decision saw him reveal he would be leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat. He is also a frequent subject across the network’s programming, including on Get Up, First Take and NBA Today.

“I think we pick and choose with him,” Millikan said. “I think I’ve been too hard on him and I’m kind of realizing that.”

Show co-host Mike Stone read messages from the 97.1 The Ticket text line during the show, many of which criticized James for being a “flopping” player desperate for any semblance of attention since he will not be in the NBA Finals. One text suggested his revelation of weighing retirement was done intentionally, surmising that he has a film documentary crew around him and coming back stronger than ever would make for a great story.

“The league needs some offseason stories,” Millikan said. “From what I know, the free agency class is not all that great this year – and one of the big names is Kyrie Irving, and that’s toxic. It’s sort of like, ‘Hey, maybe they’re generating buzz or trying to do the whole Brady thing.’ So be it – I’ve seen it 15 times in my life.”

Stone recognized that athletes like James are genuinely once-in-a-generation type talents, and that his time in the NBA has been defined by more than what he has done on the court. James has also been an immense advocate for greater causes, including social issues, youth education and community affairs. Whenever he decides to call it a career though, fans should rest assured that James has truly given the game everything he has.

“I want to see the best that they have for as long as possible,” show co-host Jon Jansen said of star athletes. “If they end up playing too long, so be it. I don’t care. Then I know I’ve [seen] it all.”

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Danny Parkins: NFL Teams ‘Don’t Really Care About Your In-Stadium Experience’

“In one year of Al Michaels complaining about the games, they’ve changed two huge rules around it.”

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On Monday at the NFL Owners’ Meetings, flex scheduling for Amazon Prime Video’s presentation of Thursday Night Football was approved 24-8. Games can only be flexed between Weeks 13 and 17 with 28 days notice required. Additionally, a maximum of two games can be flexed per season, with the entire operation being on “a trial basis.”

“In one year of Al Michaels complaining about the games, they’ve changed two huge rules around it,” said Danny Parkins on 670 The Score as the news broke Monday. “[The] first rule already happened, and the Bears are one of the teams that either benefit or are victimized by the rule depending on your interpretation. You can play on multiple Thursdays this year. You can’t play multiple road Thursdays, but the Bears have two Thursday night games – in Washington and home against Carolina.”

In an effort to broadcast compelling action on a national stage, the National Football League did not give all of its 32 teams at least one game on national television this season. Conversely, the New York Jets, complete with star quarterback Aaron Rodgers, will be featured on national television for the maximum of six times, including two matchups on Thursday Night Football. The Jets, along with the Chicago Bears, dissented from voting in favor of flexible scheduling, but Parkins assumes it has nothing to do with the fans.

“My guess is [it is] because they already have two Thursday night games,” Parkins said. “Maybe they’re just altruistic and they care about fans and travel and all that, but I bet you that they said, ‘Well, we’re playing in Week 5 in Washington and Week 10 at home against Carolina. We don’t want to risk Bears-Browns or Bears-Falcons being flexed into Thursday Night Football later in the season and end up with three Thursday night games.’”

Many football fans and media professionals have pushed back on granting the property any type of flex scheduling because of the negative impact it has on injury prevention, something that is not as pronounced with other properties solely because of the day of the week. Sunday Night Football on NBC was previously the only property with flex scheduling ability, and Monday Night Football on ESPN is being granted that ability between Weeks 12 and 17 with at least 12 days notice.

“They don’t really care about your in-stadium experience – they don’t,” Parkins said of the league. “As long as you watch on TV, they’re thrilled because that’s where they make a huge, ungodly percentage of their money – more so than any of the other sports.”

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