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.
Tony Bruno Relives Favorite Moments With Angelo Cataldi on 94 WIP
“I loved every day. We did stuff that put Sports Radio in Philly on the map and I’m proud of that.”
Tony Bruno has been a staple of the sports radio business for decades. Bruno is from Philadelphia and was teamed up in the early nineties with a duo still dominating the local airwaves there today, Angelo Cataldi and Al Morganti. The three reunited Thursday morning on 94 WIP to remember the glory days of their partnership and friendship.
One of the first moments Cataldi asked Bruno if he remembered was the update he did from a tree outside of their studio and the answer was an emphatic yes.
“Absolutely, it’s one of the highlights of my life – other than interviewing four Presidents and every sports athlete in history – there’s no bigger moment than me climbing up in the tree, which was obstructing our view of William Penn and the city skyline. That’s what I do, I was a man of action. I’m not one of these guys that talks the talk, I climb the tree to do whatever is necessary.”
More frivolity followed when Cataldi harkened back to a segment of ‘Damsels in Distress’ and a time in which Bruno was sent on the street during a snowstorm to help shovel people out of their driveways. Bruno quickly recalled, “Man of the people. I should run for – I should of run for Governor of Pennsylvania or Senate or something.”
Bruno added that his favorite rant (and one that Cataldi loved too) wasn’t about the Cowboys or sports at all. “My favorite was my Infinity Broadcasting rant where I went on one day and even ripped our bosses, all the way up to the top of Infinity Broadcasting.” Cataldi cackled and praised Bruno’s rants more before being interrupted by Bruno saying, “yeah, my only regret is I never really ripped Al (Morganti) the way I should have ripped him. I let him of the hook so many times.”
An insightful moment came at the end of the call when Cataldi asked rhetorically if Bruno ever thought they (Cataldi & Morganti) would still be doing this thirty years later and then asked if Tony ever regretted leaving.
“It was a tough decision, Ang,” Bruno answered. “I was given an ultimatum. When I came to work with you guys, I loved every day. Every day we had fun. We did stuff that put Sports Radio in Philly on the map and I’m proud of that. It wasn’t one of those, ‘oh I got to go; I’m too big for these guys’. I even turned the ESPN job down a couple of times.
“My kids were still younger then, I didn’t want to move. I didn’t have to move. They said just come up here on weekends and that’s how ESPN Radio started. So I was doing weekends and Tom Bigby (Program Director) didn’t like that either, told me it wasn’t going to work. It was a philosophical thing. When he told me, ‘you should go because we are not going to pay you what they’re paying you,’ I said ok.
Cataldi began to sign off with Bruno with genuine thanks: “I got to tell you something Tone, we are indebted to you for the rest of our lives because we both learned so much from you and you are one of the great talents that radio has ever had.”
Dodgers Temporarily Pull Broadcasters Off Road
“If the broadcasters’ are not dealing with severe cases of Covid and they have cleared health and safety protocols, it appears the team is open to sending them back out on the road.”
When the Los Angeles Dodgers visit the East Coast later this week, the men that call the action on TV and radio will not be with them. The games will instead be broadcast on AM570 LA Sports and SportsNet LA from their respective studios.
“Due to a few members of the Dodgers’ broadcast team having recently tested positive for COVID-19, and out of an abundance of caution, the Dodgers have decided to not travel their broadcasters to upcoming games in Philadelphia and Washington,” the Dodgers announced in a statement. Similar to the 2020 and 2021 MLB seasons, the games will be broadcast from Los Angeles,” reads a statement on the team’s Twitter account.
No further details are available, so the severity and the number of cases remain unknown.
Last September, both members of the Dodgers’ television play-by-play crew were forced into quarantine. Joe Davis was the first to test positive, followed later that month by Orel Hershiser.
On Wednesday, manager Dave Roberts told the media that the Dodgers’ roster and coaching staff are not effected.
“There’s there’s no symptoms in the clubhouse. I think that as far as the upstairs, as an organization, we’re all just trying to be very cautious. But as far as in the clubhouse, coaches, training staff, nothing like that.”
If the broadcasters’ are not dealing with severe cases of Covid and they have cleared health and safety protocols, it appears the team is open to sending them back out on the road. 2022 was supposed to be a return to normal for the Dodgers and many other teams after not letting broadcasters travel in 2020 and 2021.
Pat McAfee: ‘No One Will Disrespect Jim Rome On My Show’
“That’s because you need to respect the f–king jungle.”
Jim Rome is a sports radio icon and Pat McAfee recognizes that.
On The Pat McAfee Show on Wednesday, McAfee was talking to co-host A.J. Hawk about how Rome trended recently on Twitter.
This happened after news of Tom Brady’s FOX Sports deal surfaced, and a list of the top paid sports media personalities was compiled. Rome came in behind Brady at number two making a reported $30 million a year, and many were surprised by that number. McAfee wasn’t.
“That’s because you need to respect the f–king jungle,” he said. “I have nothing but respect for Jim Rome.”
McAfee gave props to Rome, 57, saying he’s been doing sports talk probably longer than anyone. He’s one of the most widely distributed hosts in the country. Pat said he won’t tolerate anyone talking smack about the Smack-Off King.
“No disrespect will be said on this show of Jim Rome, ever,” he said. “Love that man.”