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104.5 The Zone Enjoys Big Gains in Nashville Winter Book

“Though change has been a part of the narrative surrounding 104.5 The Zone’s programming changes, one thing hasn’t changed, local listeners still love the radio station.”

Jason Barrett

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If you’ve been following the Nashville sports radio scene for the past year, change has been a large part of local conversation. Market leader 104.5 The Zone, navigated thru a sea of programming changes in August, which included installing a new morning show, midday show, and adjusting the personnel on its afternoon show. That was followed by their popular midday show, Midday 180 exiting for Outkick, Buck Reising stepping in to their spot, a partnership formed with A to Z Sports, and late last week, the station adding former Tennessee basketball star Ron Slay.

Though change has been a part of the narrative surrounding The Zone’s programming changes, one thing hasn’t changed, local listeners still love the radio station. In fact, listening was up in a few key areas this year compared to 2020.

In the 2021 Winter Book, The Zone shined across the board. Starting with weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p), The Zone ranked 4th with an 8.0 share among Men 25-54. That was a 2.7 increase from the station’s 2020 Winter Book.

Turning to mornings, Jason Martin and Ramon Foster delivered a 7.5 share to lock up 3rd place. The morning show was up a half point year over year and two ratings positions.

The news was even better in middays (10a-3p) where the combination of Buck Reising, and Mickey Ryan and Blaine Bishop, secured a 3rd place finish with a 9.1. share. That was a 3.6 point improvement year over year and four slots.

Finishing in afternoons, 3HL produced an impressive 6.9 share to rank 4th. Their performance was nearly double their previous year’s result. The show gained 3.4 points and enjoyed a station best eight spot jump.

Data this quarter for 102.5 The Game wasn’t available. However, a local source confirmed the station’s quarter wasn’t strong.

The Zone right now is very healthy. They’re on a different level ratings-wise, a testament to their bond with local listeners. Equally deserving of credit is program director Paul Mason and the station’s new hires. To make significant progress year over year, while undergoing lineup changes and dealing with increased noise is impressive.

102.5 The Game on the other hand has work to do to catch up. They’re hoping the recent addition of Caroline Fenton will help. A good playoff run by the Nashville Predators could provide a boost as well.

Outkick 360 (formerly Midday 180) meanwhile is likely to be heard from again in the market. The show has already gained clearance in Knoxville, and remains interested in finding a Nashville home too. Can Clay Travis and Sam Savage pull it off? I wouldn’t bet against them.

Last but not least, Josh Innes is now in town hosting mornings on 105.9 The Rock. He has proven he can create interest and produce ratings during prior stops. Will he be able to lure local sports radio listeners his way despite hosting a rock morning show? Time will tell.

The choices for Men 25-54 in Nashville are aplenty. How they’ll continue to consume sports talk content in 2021 remains to be seen, but for now, The Zone is comfortably in the driver’s seat.

Sports Radio News

Dan Dakich: Craig Carton is ‘The Way Talk Radio Should Be’

“If you’re being critical because you want to be the guy that’s always critical I don’t think you can do that either. I think you gotta be honest. And criticism comes with it.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Craig Carton has prided himself on being one of those hosts who tells it like it is, especially when talking about New York’s pro sports teams.

That willingness to call a spade a spade and levy criticism on teams like the Jets and Giants, especially when things are not going well on the field, is something Dan Dakich has always seen as a recipe for success in the industry.

Interviewing Carton on Thursday on his Outkick show Don’t @ Me, Dakich praised the WFAN afternoon host for essentially creating a blueprint for how sports talk should be done.

“In Indianapolis I’m the bad guy right, because I say look the Colts stink, this regime is 46-49-1 – why are you telling me the GM is the best in the country – why are you telling me Frank Reich can really coach?” Dakich said. “New York’s different, though, right? I mean, New York they expect you to say look if you ain’t any good then you ain’t any good. Yu don’t sugarcoat nothing, and I think that’s the way talk radio should be.”

Carton noted that what’s key in how you critique a team or a front office, executive or owner is finding a balance. He said you can’t as a host be the ultimate homer and blow smoke up everyone’s behind.

“You have to be able to be critical when it’s warranted,” Carton said. “If you’re being critical because you want to be the guy that’s always critical I don’t think you can do that either. I think you gotta be honest. And criticism comes with it.”

Carton pointed out that the fan bases in both New York and in Indianapolis are ultimately the same, because at the end of the day it’s all about making sure you have competent people calling the right shots. He added that the organizations are the same too because of how sensitive they can be to criticism, which he said if they don’t like it, “too bad.”

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Sports Radio News

Nick Ashooh Joins BetMGM Tonight

Jordan Bondurant

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The talent lineup for the BetQL show BetMGM Tonight is expanding, and Nick Ashooh is joining the team.

The news became official on Thursday when BetQL announced the addition of Ashooh on Twitter.

Ashooh has worked mainly in the D.C. market up to this point in his career, hosting for Audacy and NBC Sports Washington. He had been contributing sports betting content for the BetQL network for the latter part of the last year.

Ashooh joins co-hosts Trysta Krick and Ryan Horvat on BetMGM Tonight. The show can be heard weeknights from 7-11 p.m.

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Sports Radio News

1010XL Jay Fund Radiothon Raises Nearly $250,000 For Pediatric Cancer Research

“In the 15 year history of the radiothon, the station has raised just under $1.5 billion for the Jay Fund.”

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Jacksonville’s 1010XL used its airwaves to raise money for the Jay Fund for the fifteenth year earlier this week. The radiothon was a smashing success, raising $249,784 to fight pediatric cancer.

This year’s total is a new record for the event. In the 15 year history of the radiothon, the station has raised just under $1.6 million for the Jay Fund.

“I’m truly amazed at the generosity of the 1010 XL listeners in times when a carton of eggs cost six dollars,” said General Manager Steven Griffin, “and equally amazed how the hosts, producers, radio staff and volunteers come together with a singular focus to year-after-year produce these results in one broadcast day.”

Former Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin started the Jay Fund in memory of  Jay McGillis, who developed leukemia while playing for Coughlin at Boston College. The organization has helped over 5,000 families and given away over $16 million in grants in Northeast Florida and the New York/New Jersey Metropolitan Area.

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Barrett Media Writers

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