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WFAN, 98.7 ESPN NY Suffer Spring Book Ratings Hit Due to Pandemic

“Meanwhile, the recently released from prison Craig Carton looms with the ability to spark WFAN’s lineup. But the quickest change that will hopefully give both stations a ratings boost will be the return of sports.”

Brandon Contes

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The effects of a global pandemic on sports radio were on display after Nielsen numbers were provided for New York’s spring ratings book. As expected, WFAN and 98.7 ESPN New York experienced significant audience declines. The spring ratings period from March 26 through June 17 felt like the longest quarter in recent memory, with professional leagues on hiatus and stay-at-home orders enforced, curtailing industries everywhere. Without games to discuss and with less people traveling to and from work each day, sports radio suffered. 

For their target demo of men 25-54, the strongest performers were WFAN’s morning duo of Boomer and Gio and ESPN’s afternoon show with Michael Kay, Don La Greca and Peter Rosenberg. As first reported by Newsday’s Neil Best, ESPN finished fourth overall from 2 – 6pm earning a 5 share, while WFAN’s afternoon drive pairing of Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts were tenth with a 3.6. 

During the hours of 3 – 6pm, when The Michael Kay Show competes directly with Benigno and Roberts, TMKS finished fourth with a 5.2 and WFAN did a 3.2, good for 13th in the demo. It was a historically low ranking for WFAN’s afternoon show in what is widely considered to be some of the most prime real estate in sports radio. To compare, TMKS was first overall with a strong 7.3 in the winter book, while Benigno and Roberts were still significantly behind with a 5.7. Benigno and Roberts traditionally dominated in middays before making the move to replace Mike Francesa earlier this year. 

WFAN’s midday show with Marc Malusis and Maggie Gray finished eighth with a 3.4 share, a dip of almost two points compared to their winter rating of 5.1. Competing with Moose and Maggie from 10am – 2pm, ESPN was tenth with a 3.1. ESPN New York features Humpty, Canty and Rothenberg from 10am – 1pm, followed by Bart Scott and Alan Hahn from 1 – 3pm.

WFAN’s usually strong performing morning show with Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti finished fourth overall, with a 5.5 from 6 – 10am. ESPN New York struggled to compete in morning drive as their nationally syndicated broadcast of Golic and Wingo was 20th with a 1.4.  

ESPN Radio’s national lineup recently announced a revamped schedule, including a morning show featuring Keyshawn Johnson, Jay Williams and Zubin Mehenti. While ESPN New York will inherently receive a new morning show beginning Aug. 17, they also could look to fill the void with local programming. 

The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand previously mentioned evening host Chris Carlin as a candidate to move into morning drive for ESPN New York. Meanwhile, the recently released from prison Craig Carton looms with the ability to spark WFAN’s lineup. But the quickest change that will hopefully give both stations a ratings boost will be the return of sports.

Sports Radio News

Jonathan Zaslow No Longer With WQAM

An attempt to reach out to Zaslow for comment went unanswered.

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WQAM midday host Jonathan Zaslow is no longer with WQAM in Miami.

The radio station has removed his show from the website and references to him and his normal 10a-2p ET midday timeslot program have been scrubbed from the station website.

Zaslow tweeted at 5:19p ET confirming the news.

Whether or not this has any effect on his involvement with the Miami Heat broadcasts is unknown as of now.

Barry Jackson, a veteran journalist with the Miami Herald, reports that 790 The Ticket morning hosts Brendan Tobin and Leroy Hoard will move to that 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. WQAM slot during the week of Oct. 3.

In more station movement, Joe Rose’s WQAM morning show with Zach Krantz now will be simulcast on The Ticket, replacing the Tobin/Hoard program. Audacy, which owns both WQAM and The Ticket, also simulcast Marc Hochman’s and Channing Crowder’s afternoon show.

Zaslow had been with 790 the Ticket since 2004. He was transitioned from Audacy-owned 790 to sister station AM 560 Sports WQAM last October. During his tenure he has worked with a number of established local voices including Joy Taylor, Amber Wilson, Brett Romberg, and Brendan Tobin amongst others.

WQAM has gone thru a number of changes, including a rebranding effort to call the station “560 The Joe”. That ended last year with the station returning to the AM 560 Sports WQAM brand listeners were more familiar with. What they have planned next in Zaslow’s timeslot is unclear but local listeners will likely get some answers next week.

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Sports Radio News

Vanessa Richardson Named Houston Rockets Sideline Reporter, Paul Gallant to Host Solo on ESPN 97.5

Vanessa Richardson will be on the sidelines for the Houston Rockets and Paul Gallant will host solo show on ESPN 97.5.

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Vanessa and Gallant

Changes are taking place in Houston sports media. First, the Houston Rockets will have a new television sideline reporter this season, and she’s a familiar name to Houston sports fans.

Vanessa Richardson, the now former co-host of ESPN 97.5’s Vanessa and Gallant, revealed that she will be on the sidelines for the NBA franchise covering the team for AT&T SportsNet Southwest.

She tweeted the news saying, “Elated to be the new Houston Rockets sideline reporter! I can’t wait to travel the country & share the stories of this dynamic team during 80+ games on AT&T SportsNet Southwest. I’ll continue to fill-in as a host/reporter for Astros broadcasts as well.”

Richardson’s co-host, Paul Gallant, tweeted that with Richardson leaving the show for the Rockets sideline gig, Vanessa and Gallant will become the Paul Gallant Show. The solo show led by Gallant begins Monday September 26th.

“We’re excited to have Paul host his own show”, said Todd Farquharson, General Manager of ESPN 97.5 & 92.5.  “He’s super creative, energetic, and likeable.  He’ll get the audience involved and have fun.”

Paul commented, “You know what I’ve always loved about sports talk radio?  That it’s interactive.  Whether through a phone call, text message, tweet or on Twitch, it’s the best place for sports fans to come together and celebrate…or vent.  And that’s what The Paul Gallant Show is going to be…Houston’s platform to talk about its teams. THE most interactive sports talk show in Houston.”

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Sports Radio News

Ken Carman: Al Michaels ‘Feels Untethered’ On Amazon Prime Video

“The thing that stuck out was Kirk Herbstreit ripping the elf,” said Carman. “Don’t be ripping Brownie the Elf, man.”

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The Cleveland Browns defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers during Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime Video. 92.3 The Fan morning host Ken Carman applauded Al Michaels for his performance during the presentation.

“Al Michaels feels untethered for the first time. He’s not network television anymore and he can say whatever he wants. We interviewed him on the pregame show and I was nervous,” Carman said.

“He’s a legend,” co-host Anthony Lima added.

During the final play of the game, the Steelers fumbled a lateral into the endzone which the Browns recovered to make the final score 29-17. Michaels said “that may be meaningful to some of you. And you know who I mean”, alluding to people who had placed wagers on the game.

Carman, who hosts two-hours of pre-game coverage on the Browns Radio Network, continued to discuss how nervous he was interviewing Michaels. He also discussed how impressive Amazon’s behind-the-scenes production was, pointing out the only football broadcast with more cameras is the Super Bowl. More than 400 people work behind the scenes for Amazon Prime Video.

“The thing that stuck out was Kirk Herbstreit ripping the elf,” said Carman. “Don’t be ripping Brownie the Elf, man.”

Carman later said people angry that Michaels misspoke by saying the Pro Football Hall of Fame is “down I-71” instead of I-77 were unreasonable, and joked “Al Michaels hasn’t been on a highway in 20 years”.

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