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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.”



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

Shan & RJ: ‘Inside The NBA Was Trying To Prevent A Riot Last Night’

“You know that moment? Everyone’s joking around. Everyone’s having fun, then someone doesn’t take the joke as a joke anymore and all the fun is sucked out of the room and things are awkward and serious?”



Things were very far from normal on Thursday night on the set of Inside the NBA. During the postgame show, Warriors fans threw objects at Charles Barkley as TNT was broadcasting live outside of the Chase Center in San Francisco.

Friday morning on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, Shan and RJ discussed the scene and said things felt out of the ordinary long before anything was even thrown.

“You know that moment? Everyone’s joking around. Everyone’s having fun, then someone doesn’t take the joke as a joke anymore and all the fun is sucked out of the room and things are awkward and serious?” Shan Shariff said. “That’s what happened yesterday on Inside the NBA both in the pregame and the postgame.”

Barkley had been picking on Warriors fans calling them annoying and describing San Francisco as having “dirty ass streets full of homeless people” throughout the series.

Shariff said even in the pregame show, it seemed that the Inside the NBA crew was wary of the crowd gathered behind them.

“It felt like yesterday instead of having fun and cutting loose, it felt like they were trying to prevent a riot.”

After a rolled-up t-shirt struck Barkley, he got up and acted as if he was going to throw a ceramic coffee mug into the crowd. Shariff said it was clear that Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith thought Barkley was about to be involved in an altercation of some sort.

RJ Choppy disagreed though. His immediate thought in seeing the video was that Barkley was just taking his ribbing of the crowd to the next level like a WWE superstar might.

“I think he knew the wrestling role, but I don’t think the other guys did,” Choppy said.

Sean and RJ expounded on the wrestling comparison, saying that he had a specific event in mind. He compared the way the crowd treated Barkley on Thursday night to how the crowd at ECW’s One Night Stand in 2006 treated John Cena. Cena and security may have thought they knew what was coming, but it was clear when fans started throwing chairs at the WWE champ that their ire was more serious than anticipated.

There can be peace for the time being. TNT’s NBA season ends at the conclusion of the Western Conference Finals. It will be interesting to see if this animosity returns in the 2022-23 season.

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Sports Radio News

Don La Greca: ‘Howie Rose Was The Only Sports Talk Host As Passionate About Hockey As Me’

“When you look at the history of sports radio, the only person that I can think of that called games and was [as] passionate about hockey as I am that had a regular radio show was Howie Rose.”



Don LaGreca has been working on Rangers radio broadcasts since 2005, and has served as the backup play-by-play announcer for the last few seasons, filling in for Kenny Albert when he is unable to be on the call. Because of Albert’s responsibilities in calling national playoff games on television amid the new media rights agreement between the league and its partners (ESPN and Turner Sports), La Greca has called more Rangers games of late, and received positive reviews.

Yesterday on The Michael Kay Show on 98.7 ESPN New York, Kay mentioned the compliments callers have been giving La Greca for his ability to call hockey games, some of whom credit him for introducing them to the sport.

“The one thing hockey is is underexposed,” said La Greca. “Because you hear a lot of people say, ‘Boy, I didn’t realize how much fun this sport is; how great it is to go to a game,’ because a lot of us don’t grow up around it.”

La Greca realizes that he is in a unique position being the co-host of a sports radio show and an NHL play-by-play announcer, giving him a responsibility to communicate and opine on the game of hockey to his listening audience at large. He considers himself the second person to have such a distinction – the pioneer of which, while he may no longer be calling hockey games, still frequently discusses the sport on Twitter.

“When you look at the history of sports radio, the only person that I can think of that called games and was [as] passionate about hockey as I am that had a regular radio show was Howie Rose,” said La Greca. “And Howie Rose has been out of the sports radio game for 25 years.”

Rose was with WFAN from its launch on July 1, 1987 as its weekday nighttime host. Additionally, he served in the same role as La Greca, backing up Kenny Albert’s father Marv on Rangers radio broadcasts – where, in 1994, he delivered the illustrious call of Stephane Matteau’s game-winning, double-overtime goal in game 7 that sent the team to the Stanley Cup Finals. One year later, Rose left WFAN to begin calling games for the NHL’s New York Islanders on Sportschannel, and did not host a sports radio show during his time as a lead hockey play-by-play announcer.

While there are other sports radio hosts in the New York marketplace that exhibit a passion for hockey such as Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti, La Greca is the only one who actively calls the games – akin to how Michael Kay is the only active New York sports radio host who regularly calls professional baseball.

“You don’t have somebody who is as close to the sport as I am to have this kind of forum, so maybe there are a few people like, ‘Hey, I’m a fan of Don. I really don’t like hockey, but he calls a few games so let me listen,’ and it kind of opened a door that otherwise wouldn’t have been opened” said La Greca. “….I don’t think it’s anything that I’m doing. It’s just an opportunity that I have, and it is humbling and it’s pretty cool to hear and I hope those people stick with the sport.”

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Sports Radio News

WFAN, WCBS Become New Flagship For Rutgers Football, Men’s Basketball

“The multi-year deal begins with the 2022-23 season.”



Rutgers University and Audacy have announced an agreement that will make WFAN and WCBS the flagship stations for the school’s football and men’s basketball teams.

The multi-year deal begins with the 2022-23 season.

“Rutgers athletics is on the rise under Greg Schiano and Steve Pikiell in the Big Ten, bringing excitement and anticipation to Tri-State area fans,” said Chris Oliviero, Market President, Audacy New York. “WFAN and WCBS 880 will provide listeners with unmatched coverage of the Scarlet Knights and we are honored to add Rutgers to Audacy’s market-leading play-by-play portfolio.”

A 30-minute pregame and postgame show will air on WFAN for all Rutgers football games, while basketball games on WCBS will get a 15-minute pregame and postgame show.

Games will be able to be streamed locally on the Audacy app, and the company said both stations will promote the partnership on-air and digitally, in addition to on-campus events throughout the school year.

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