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WFNZ Surges in Charlotte’s Spring Ratings Book

“WFNZ overcame a number of major challenges to close out the spring book in strong fashion.”

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It’s been well documented on this website the past two weeks that the spring ratings across the sports radio format weren’t as strong as they usually are. Aside from 98.5 The Sports Hub, 97.1 The Ticket and Sports Radio WIP, most brands experienced a little bit of a setback due to the pandemic, a lack of sports, and listening behavior being different than usual.

But in Charlotte, they must’ve put something in the water because WFNZ overcame some amazing obstacles to deliver one of their best quarters yet.

Before I dive into the breakdowns, consider what this radio station went thru over the past few months. Dealing with a pandemic and lack of sports is challenging enough, but the radio station saw former PD Tony DiGiacomo exit in early March, just before the spring book. A month later, operations manager Darrin Ariens passed away due to COVID-19. If ever a station deserved a break, this one did, and they got it this quarter.

Starting with the Men 25-54 numbers in weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p), WFNZ finished 6th with a 5.6. The station was actually as high as 4th during 2 of the 3 spring months. For the full week (M-SU 6a-Mid) the radio station was 9th in the market with a 4.3.

The story was even better among Men 18-34. WFNZ was 1st overall in weekday prime with an 11.2, and 2nd for the full week with a 7.8. One exceptional stat to share, their TSL for the month of June among 18-34 Men was just under 16 hours. Keep in mind, they’re doing this on an AM stick with a 5,000 watt signal and a low powered FM translator.

Looking at the station’s key shows, The Mac Attack with Chris McClain and Travis ‘TBone’ Hancock came in 7th with a 5.4 thanks to the 2nd best TSL in the market among Men 25-54. Even more impressive, the show was 1st overall with Men 18-34 with a 13.3. The month of May in particular jumped out as the morning team delivered a massive 17.2 in the 18-34 demo. Mac and TBone had no issue keeping younger listeners tuned in either, they were tops in TSL including a huge 6+ hours of listening in the month of June.

In middays, the talented team of Nick Wilson and Josh Parcell were also 7th for the spring, but with three more tenths of a point than the morning show. Wilson and Parcell produced a 5.7 with Men 25-54, and were also 1st overall with Men 18-34 with a 11.5. Similar to the morning crew, middays was best in TSL with Men 18-34 led by June’s dominant 7+ hours of listening.

From 2p-6p, The Clubhouse with Kyle Bailey turned in a 7th place finish as well, also recording a 5.7 with Men 25-54. Bailey’s program was a hit too with Men 18-34, finishing 2nd with a 10.6, thanks to strong TSL. Similar to the station’s other two shows, TSL in June during afternoons was just under 5 hours of listening per week.

Rounding things out, The Final Drive with Josh Parcell produced the best ranking position for the entire weekday lineup. Parcell’s solo hour was tied for 5th with a 4.7 among Men 25-54. With Men 18-34 the story was great too. Parcell came in 2nd with a 7.2, led by strong TSL. In June alone, he was 1st in the market with 4:45 of listening per week.

What’s especially impressive is that just one year ago with Men 25-54, the morning show produced a mid 3 share, and middays and afternoons were both just under a mid 4 share. That means Wilson & Parcell and Kyle Bailey each gained a point, and Mac and TBone picked up two points.

Congrats is in order for Matt Hanlon and the entire WFNZ programming staff. With new PD Terry Foxx now in the building, the pressure will be on to lift the brand to even greater heights in the summer book.

Sports Radio News

Keyshawn Johnson: ‘I Don’t Like Sunday Night Baseball Putting Mics on Players’

“I’ve got an IFB in my ear and I’m trying to pay attention to the game and I’ve got air traffic control talking to me. There’s no way you can tell me that doesn’t affect you.”

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Most people seem to really like Sunday Night Baseball adding mics to players in the field this season. Fans and critics alike have commended ESPN for giving fans access that they have never had before. But don’t expect Keyshawn Johnson to join that praise chorus anytime soon.

“I don’t like the interaction with broadcast teams talking to players during the game, in the field,” he said on Monday morning’s edition of Keyshawn, JWill and Max.

The ESPN Radio morning man is convinced that eventually, the in-game conversations are going to cause a costly error.

Freddie Coleman, who was filling in for both Jay Williams and Max Kellerman, played a clip from Sunday night’s game for Johnson. In the clip, listeners could hear the Padres’ newly acquired slugger Juan Soto pleading with a ball hit by Cody Bellinger to stay in the park during the team’s 0-4 shutout loss to the Dodgers.

“I don’t like that as a player,” Johnson said. “I know the fans love it.”

He said that when he sees players mic’d up and answering a question during the game, he is constantly worried about how it will affect what happens on the field. He said he felt some empathy for the fielder on the mic once the ball is put into play, because if it comes that fielder’s way and he is distracted, the instant reaction from the crowd will be to question the player’s effort or ability rather than ask if the distraction is worth it.

Coleman pointed out that there is some very famous video of Keyshawn Johnson during his playing career mic’d up on the sidelines. Johnson defended NFL Films, saying that getting live sound of a game is very different than what Major League Baseball is making players do.

“That’s different than interacting with Karl Ravech and company in the booth. I’ve got an IFB in my ear and I’m trying to pay attention to the game and I’ve got air traffic control talking to me. There’s no way you can tell me that doesn’t affect you.”

The closing months of the regular season as playoff races start to take shape are not the ideal times for networks to be having conversations with guys in the middle of the field. That doesn’t mean it is never good content. Keyshawn Johnson said that as a viewer, he would welcome in-game interviews during Spring Training and the All-Star Game. He just has trouble believing players are happy to participate.

“It’s cool. I’m not mad that it’s being done. I just wouldn’t like it as a player,” he said.

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Sports Radio News

Rob Hipp Named New Voice of North Dakota State

In addition to his role as the play-by-play announcer for Bison football and basketball, Hipp will also serve as the Director of Operations for Bison 1660.

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Rob Hipp is the new “Voice of the Bison”.

The former Sam Houston State play-by-play announcer will serve in the same capacity for North Dakota State. He replaces Jeff Culhane, who left the position for a similar role at Florida State earlier this summer.

In addition to his role as the play-by-play announcer for Bison football and basketball, Hipp will also serve as the Director of Operations for Bison 1660.

“It’s an incredible opportunity and blessing to be here. The word that comes to mind with everything associated with NDSU is excellence,” Hipp said. “Matt Larsen, Coach (Matt) Entz, Coach (David) Richman, the support staff and everyone with Bison Sports Properties led by Josh Hartman made this a transparent and smooth process. I also want to thank Tom Boman with Learfield as well as Nancy Odney and the great people at Radio FM Media. My family and I are proud to be in Fargo!”

“We are thrilled to have Rob join the team at Radio FM Media as the new voice of the Bison, Director of Operations for Bison 1660-92.7, and Sports Director for our group,” said Radio FM COO Nancy Odney. “Rob is a very talented play-by-play announcer and a top sports radio host. His creative energy, new content, and passion for sports and broadcasting is going to be an exciting addition to the team.”

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Sports Radio News

Dan Graca Joining ESPN New York For Nighttime Show

“I couldn’t be more excited to come back to the place where it all began for me, once upon a time, as a wide-eyed intern,” he said in a tweet announcing the move.

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SiriusXM Mad Dog Sports Radio host Dan Graca is joining ESPN New York as their new night time host.

Graca, who will host a show from 7:00 PM-10:00 PM had been with SiriusXM for the past 12 years. It’s a coming home moment for Graca, who interned at the station.

“I couldn’t be more excited to come back to the place where it all began for me, once upon a time, as a wide-eyed intern,” he said in a tweet announcing the move.

The 7:00 PM-10:00 PM position had previously been held by Chris Carlin, who moved to the national afternoon slot to pair with Chris Canty in April.

In addition to his new nighttime show, Graca will continue as the pre and post-game host for ESPN New York’s coverage of the New York Jets, a position he’s held the past four seasons.

His show is slated to begin on Monday, August 15th.

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