The Nielsen gods were kind to sports radio stations this fall. Many of the format’s best programmers and personalities can now enjoy the holidays without feeling like they were punched in the gut right before taking a well deserved break.
Here’s what we learned about a number of the top stations and markets this fall. Enjoy!
- In the big apple, WFAN and ESPN NY 98.7FM continue to perform in strong fashion. The Fan won bragging rights among Men 25-54 by finishing 1st M-F 6a-7p and M-SU 6a-Mid. Boomer and Carton and Mike Francesa each finished 1st, Joe and Evan were ranked 4th. Meanwhile at ESPN NY 98.7FM, a little bit of history was made. Each weekday show was rated in the Top 10. Michael Kay finished 7th. Mike and Mike were 9th, and Hahn and Humpty and Dan LeBatard both placed 10th. Congrats to Mark Chernoff and Justin Craig and each of their teams on the excellent news.
- Moving to the windy city, Christmas came early for the staff at 670 The Score. The radio station capped off a strong year by finishing 1st with Men 25-54 M-SU 6a-Mid. Mully and Hanley were ranked 3rd in mornings, and Spiegel and Goff, and Boers and Bernstein finished 2nd in their respective timeslots. For local competitor ESPN 1000, they too had an impressive story to share. The station was 5th in both morning drive and M-SU 6a-Mid. Their big win came in afternoons, where Waddle and Silvy finished 1st, defeating The Score. 2017 figures to be even more interesting and competitive with the Cubs playing championship baseball, and longtime afternoon host Terry Boers exiting 670. Both Mitch Rosen and Adam Delevitt and their staffs should feel great about the way they closed out 2016.
- A little further north, a round of drinks are in order for the crew at KFAN Minneapolis. The radio station finished 1st in the top three categories for the fall book, Men 25-54, Adults 25-54 and 6+. No station in the market, regardless of format, was stronger than KFAN during the past three months. As it pertains to sports radio brands, the Minneapolis sports radio station consistently delivers double digit ratings, making it one of the best rated sports stations in the entire country. An incredible job done by Chad Abbott and his team.
- Heading west to the Bay Area, both KNBR and 95.7 The Game received positive news heading into the holidays. KNBR closed out the fall book finishing 1st overall with Men 25-54 M-F 6a-7p. The station delivered just under a 10 share in October and November, but experienced a two and a half point dip in the month of December, which still wasn’t enough to keep it out of the top spot in the market. KNBR held a half point lead over the 2nd highest rated station (KSOL) in December, and were two to four points higher than the next best rated brand in October and November. For The Game, the addition of the Golden State Warriors, combined with a strong Oakland Raiders season continued to fuel their progress. The station was tied for 9th M-F 6a-7p, but finished 2nd at night, which speaks to the power of airing Warriors games. The morning show with Joe, Lo and Dibs produced the best overall finish of the station’s key weekday programs, coming in 8th. Congrats to Lee Hammer and Don Kollins on the positive signs for their brands.
- Next, we ship up to Boston, where both WEEI and 98.5 The Sports Hub are engaged in a fierce competition to be number one. Without question, this was the hottest sports radio market in America in 2016. The fall book concluded with The Hub finishing 1st with Men 25-54 M-F 6a-7p and M-SU 6a-Mid. WEEI was 2nd. However, Kirk and Callahan have closed the gap on Toucher and Rich and were in a dead heat in the December book. To illustrate how powerful the interest is during mornings in Boston, 1 out of 6 male listeners, ages 25-54, listens to sports talk. The Hub prevailed in middays and afternoons, with Felger and Massarotti earning bragging rights as the station’s top rated show. With WEEI recently adding Rich Keefe alongside Dale & Holley it’ll be interesting to see how that impacts the afternoon battle in future months. Both Mike Thomas, and new WEEI PD Joe Zarbano have to be very pleased with the current state of their brands, yet they can’t relax and enjoy the moment because one quarter hour could be the difference between finishing 1st or 2nd in the next book. None the less, they deserve a ton of credit for the way their brands performed in 2016.
- Sliding down to the city of brotherly love, the strong battle between 97.5 The Fanatic and SportsRadio 94WIP continues. The Fanatic cruised to victory in afternoon drive, led by Mike Missanelli’s 3rd place finish. WIP came in 6th, although two of their three months in PM drive did not include the station’s new afternoon team of Chris Carlin and Ike Reese. In mornings, Angelo Cataldi led the way, recording a 2nd place finish for WIP. The Fanatic’s Anthony Gargano was also strong, registering a 5th place finish. Overall M-F 6a-7p WIP was 3rd, The Fanatic 5th. Both Spike Eskin and Matt Nahigian have reason to feel good about their brands heading into the holidays.
- From the home of the Eagles, we shift to Dallas, Texas where the success of the Cowboys fueled the success of both local sports stations in the December book. Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket remained atop the ratings, finishing 1st M-F 6a-7p and M-SU 6a-Mid with Men 25-54. All three of the station’s weekday shows recorded 1st place finishes, led by The Musers who were once again in double digits. George Dunham, Craig Miller and Gordon Keith wrapped up 2016 by delivering double digit shares in 10 of 12 books. For 105.3 The Fan, they too had reason to be optimistic. Over the past two years the station has grown from 12th to 6th with Men 25-54 M-F 6a-7p. They’ve also become the brand of preference for Men 18-34. In December, The Fan received 7th place finishes from G-Bag Nation, and Shan and RJ, and Ben and Skin were slightly behind in 8th. A tip of the cap to Jeff Catlin, Gavin Spittle and both staffs for the great work they’ve done this year.
- While a winning football team may be helpful in Dallas, the lack of one in St. Louis couldn’t slow down 101 ESPN. The station continued to dominate in the ratings, finishing 3rd in December with Men 25-54, and wrapping up the entire year as the 3rd highest rated station in the market. Each of the station’s four key weekday shows closed out the year ranked third in their respective dayparts. The cherry on top of the sundae for 101, was earning bragging rights as the top rated spoken word station in the market among Men and Persons 25-54 for 2016. Congrats to Hoss Neupert and his entire staff on their success.
- We close things out in Columbus, where 97.1 The Fan continues to place a stranglehold on the rest of the market. The station finished the month of December in 1st with Men 25-54, with an astounding 13 share. They were also 3rd in the 12+ and Adults 25-54 categories. The Fan’s next closest competitor with Men 25-54 was WCOL who were three points behind. A great job by Jay Taylor and his crew.
NBC Sports Names Al Michaels To Emeritus Role
The partnership will keep Michaels on for the Olympics and NBC’s NFL playoff coverage.
NBC Sports, which had been the home of Al Michaels since 2006, will still feature the veteran broadcaster despite Michaels’ moving to Amazon for Thursday Night Football.
The network announced that Michaels will still be a part of NBC Sports’ high-profile broadcasting properties including the Olympics and NFL Playoffs. Michaels’ last broadcast with the network had been Super Bowl LVI in February, his eleventh Super Bowl.
NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua said in a statement, “Revered by viewers and colleagues, Al has been the soundtrack for many of the greatest moments in sports television history. We are thrilled that he’s staying in the family and raising the stature of our events for years to come.”
“I’m looking forward to continuing my longtime NBC relationship while also launching the Thursday Night Football package on Amazon this fall. A special thanks to NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua and the folks at NBCUniversal for their help in making this happen,” Michaels said.
Michaels moved to Amazon Prime Video this season for their Thursday Night Football package. He will be paired with ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit. This season will mark his 37th NFL play-by-play campaign in primetime.
Following another historic broadcasting moment in which Michaels deftly demonstrated his expertise and versatility, he became just the second sportscaster in history to receive a News Emmy nomination for his coverage of the San Francisco earthquake during the 1989 World Series.
In addition to the 11 Super Bowls, Michaels has worked nine Olympics and called eight World Series.
In December 2020, Michaels was honored with the 2021 Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Michaels is one of only five distinguished broadcasters to be recognized with the baseball honor and the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Award (Dick Enberg, Lindsey Nelson, Jack Buck, and Curt Gowdy).
One of television’s most respected journalists, Michaels has covered more major sports events than any sportscaster, including 20 years as the play-by-play voice of Monday Night Football. He is the only commentator to call the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals and host the Stanley Cup Final for network television. In addition, Michaels called the classic 1985 championship boxing match between Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns and “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler.
Among his many accolades, Michaels has captured eight Emmy Awards – seven for Outstanding Sports Personality – Play-by-Play and one in 2011 for the Lifetime Achievement Award, and has three times (1980, 1983 and 1986) received the NSSA Award from the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association; he was inducted into the NSSA Hall of Fame in 1998. Michaels was named Sportscaster of the Year in 1996 by the American Sportscasters Association, and, in 1991, he was named Sportscaster of the Year by the Washington Journalism Review.
Thom Brennaman Continues to Search for a Second Chance
Brennaman has been searching for a broadcasting gig since he spoke a homophobic slur in August 2020 on a Cincinnati Reds broadcast.
The last time Thom Brennaman sported the microphone for a major broadcast was August 19, 2020. It was game that featured a doubleheader between the Cincinnati Reds and the Kanasas City Royals and in between the two, Brennaman blurted a homophobic slur that has thus far kept him off radio and television.
Brennaman has struggled to find his footing since that error. Recently, Brennaman recorded an episode of Tell Me A Story I Don’t Know, a podcast hosted George Ofman. That episode was available Tuesday and in it, Ofman asks where Brennaman thinks he’ll be in six months.
Brennaman said, “I have no idea. I really don’t. There were a couple of times I thought that maybe somebody out there was going to give me a chance to broadcast again and then this same thing comes up again.”
Brennaman sounded baffled that he’s still searching for work, citing other influential local leaders and what they opined in the days after the incident. “You know what you find out George, the guy who’s considered to be the leading voice of the LGBT community here in Cincinnati, he’s a big executive with Johnson and Johnson, a guy named Ryan Messer. He had written, and I had never met Ryan Messer at this point in time, like two days after what I said, he wrote a letter to the editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer, local paper, that Thom Brennaman should not be fired. There is room for growth here in so many areas and a great opportunity for him, for the gay community, for the Reds, for our society.”
Brennaman added that the two met as well as did Brennaman with other leaders in the LGBT community at the time. “I reached out to the guy and made contact with him and he’s the guy who’s house we went to that I made reference to earlier in listening to a bunch of the stories with some gay leaders. But anyway, I said ‘if you have people there – and I know you do – that are gay that work there, I would put up the amount of hours that I have spent in the gay community in some form or fashion over the last year against anybody you have that works in that office that’s gay’.”
Despite his efforts, the broadcasting veteran is dismayed that it’s failed to sway opinion, “it’s almost like in some cases it just falls on deaf ears.”
Regardless of where he is at now, he’s confident that eventually he’ll be afforded another opportunity. “But I ‘d like to think there’s somebody out there – and there will be and all it takes is one – is just to say ‘you know what, this was a mistake. Here’s the documentation of what the guy’s tried to do since then. We’re going to take a chance – answer some tough questions – and take a chance and get him back in the booth.”
And if another opportunity doesn’t present itself? “If it doesn’t happen, it’s not going to be the end of my life.”
The Rundown With Jeff Michael Coming To SportsMap Radio
“The Rundown with Jeff Michael will debut on June 6.”
Jeff Michael is getting a promotion at SportsMap Radio. He is moving from the part-time staff into a new midday show.
The Rundown with Jeff Michael will debut on June 6. The network describes the new two-hour show as energetic and fast-paced.
“Sports talk radio always meant the world to me,” Jeff Michael said in a press release. “Having an opportunity to reach such a large national audience is something I do not take lightly. While I’m so grateful for the opportunity, my focus will always be on creating captivating and informative content.”
Michael has been with SportsMap Radio since 2020. He has also been a prolific host in the podcasting space.
“I feel this is a perfect format for Jeff to excel,” CEO David Gow added. “From listening to fill-in appearances, you can tell he has tremendous command of his audience. You cannot easily teach what Jeff Michael already possesses.”