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104.5 The Zone Dominates Nashville’s January Ratings

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Earlier this month we released our “2015 Best In Sports Radio” series which highlighted the Top 20 in a number of different categories. If you read my follow up piece, you likely recall how I pointed out that a number of smaller market stations and shows didn’t receive their due when many had a legitimate gripe.

In the case of great brands like 610 Sports in Kansas City, 101 ESPN in St. Louis, and 99.9 The Fan in Raleigh, they did everything they were supposed to do from a performance standpoint. Their only crime in receiving credit was not tripling the size of their population and becoming a top 10 market, and that’s unfair.

Well, one brand that didn’t bellyache over any of the results but had as strong of a reason to as anyone, was 104.5 The Zone in Nashville.

To many on the outside, the Nashville market may be best known for the Titans and Country music but to plenty of industry insiders, The Zone has become a well respected brand in the sports talk format. It has been and continues to be one of the highest rated brands in the nation, but even many who work in the sports radio field aren’t aware of just how dominant their performance is.

I was able to do some digging and gather the ratings data for the January book in the Nashville market, and I’m excited to share it with you because I believe this is a story that deserves to be told. In my opinion, it’s flown under the radar for far too long.

Let’s start by focusing on M-SU 6a-Mid with Men 25-54.

  • 104.5 The Zone = 11.2 (1st)

*** The Zone’s closest competitor, 102.5 and 94.9 The Game, finished tied for 16th with a 1.8.

Next up, M-F 6a-7p with Men 25-54.

  • 104.5 The Zone = 12.7 (1st)

When you turn the attention towards the radio station’s weekday programs, it’s the same story. Let’s begin by looking at M-F 6a-10a with Men 25-54.

  • 104.5 The Zone (The Wakeup Zone) = 14.2 (1st)

Shifting gears, we move on to middays M-F 10a-3p with Men 25-54.

  • 104.5 The Zone (Dan Patrick Show and Midday 180) = 11.7 (1st)

To wrap things up we shine the spotlight on M-F 3p-7p with Men 25-54.

  • 104.5 The Zone (3HL and Primetime) = 12.3 (1st)

Even the radio station’s weekends deliver a 9.7 which is also good enough for 1st.

At this point, the real internal story is which show is going to gain bragging rights for being the best on the radio station. The threat of competition is not on the radio station’s radar. For this month, the honor of being recognized as the station’s best belongs to ‘The Wake Up Zone” which features Kevin Ingram, Frank Wycheck and Mark Howard.

What’s scary is that when you look at the money demo (Persons 25-54), the same story exists.

For example, The Zone was tied for 5th M-SU 6a-Mid with a 6.8. They were 4th M-F 6a-7p with a 7.5. In mornings they finished 2nd with an 8.6. Middays came in 5th with a 7.1. And in afternoon drive, they’re 4th with a 6.9.

What this data tells us is that The Zone owns the market with Men 25-54, and the real competitive focus is on beating brands in the Persons 25-54 category. When a sports station is able to do that, it puts a company in position to have huge financial success.

Let me be clear about one thing as it pertains to this story. I don’t work for 104.5 The Zone or Cumulus who owns the radio station. The only thing I gain by sharing this story is some additional web traffic, a few thank you’s from listeners and industry folks who are appreciative of learning the information, and if I play my cards right, maybe a retweet from Mickey Ryan, Brent Dougherty and Blaine Bishop of 3HL.

If The Zone was losing badly, I wouldn’t hesitate to share that story because I believe in being fair, objective, and honest. In this case though there isn’t much to say other than “congrats on a job well done!”

The purpose of this piece is to educate you on what this brand has created in its local market, and acknowledge why they deserve to be in the conversation among elite brands in the sports radio format. Stations such as 98.5 The Sports Hub and WEEI in Boston, WFAN in New York, 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, and KFAN in Minneapolis all deserve to be at the top of the list, but 104.5 The Zone can make an argument for why they belong in the same discussion.

When you’re delivering double digit ratings and 1st place finishes month after month, that’s impossible to ignore. It’s these types of stories that demonstrate the power sports radio has in local markets, and the more we become familiar with them, the more the mainstream media will have to take notice of the way this format and its personalities connect with local audiences, and deliver results for advertisers.

I know this much, if you’re an advertiser looking to reach Men in the Nashville market, and you’re not investing the majority of your budget on The Zone, your strategy is severely flawed. There’s an old saying in sports radio “you fish where the fish are” and in this case, they’re all swimming in The Zone’s waters.

Sports Radio News

UConn Basketball’s Mike Crispino Less Critical of Referees As Official Himself

“I’ve changed completely since I started doing this. Because I realize how hard it is.”

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@mikecrispinonyk on Twitter

While basketball broadcasters may not have as contentious a relationship with referees as coaches, players, and fans, part of calling the action can involve criticizing a call. And with broadcasters typically positioned at courtside, there is certainly more opportunity for exchanges with officials than in football or hockey, for example.

But as David Borges writes in a feature for CT Insider, UConn men’s basketball play-by-play announcer Mike Crispino might go a bit easier on referees than his colleagues. And that’s because Crispino works as a referee himself when he’s not at the mic, officiating high school basketball and baseball games in Connecticut

Crispino has been a referee for 12 years and says it completely changed how he viewed officiating while calling play-by-play for the New York Knicks and UConn Huskies. Prior to donning the stripes, he would often question calls during a broadcast.

“I’ve changed completely since I started doing this,” Crispino told Borges. “Because I realize how hard it is. It’s not easy. You’re on-call all the time. You’ve got to have two hours of being sharp. You can’t get lazy, you can’t get distracted, you can’t listen to too many people barking about stuff. You have to be on it. Otherwise, you’re not doing the service that you’re getting paid to do.”

Despite having the perspective of a working referee, Crispino — who’s been broadcasting UConn men’s basketball for the past four years — still gets caught up in the moment and questions certain calls, sometimes with the officials standing right in front of him.

Unlike broadcasting, where young announcers are always trying to break into the industry, Crispino is concerned about the future of officiating. He says fewer people work as referees because of stories about angry parents and coaches.

Of course, Crispino has also experienced such exchanges from the other side with high school coaches disputing his calls as a referee. But he’s only issued one ejection during his officiating career, along with just a few technical fouls. Seeing referees work at the college and NBA levels as a broadcaster has helped him understand how to deal with such situations. That perspective has clearly been beneficial in both jobs.

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Sports Radio News

Pat McAfee Irritated At Fans’ ‘Throw Rogan’ Nickname For Aaron Rodgers

“His haters got very loud.”

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The Pat McAfee Show

Many NFL fans, both casual and diehard, were ready with jeers and nicknames for Aaron Rodgers following the Green Bay Packers’ 13-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Saturday’s NFL divisional playoff game.

As Pat McAfee pointed out on his show Monday, fans were eager to throw insults at Rodgers, waiting for the opportunity like a batter waiting for the ideal pitch to hit.

“People were sitting on ‘Throw Rogan,'” said McAfee, who naturally supported the person who appears on The Pat McAfee Show every week and made those conversations must-see viewing.

That particular nickname is a play on Joe Rogan, the popular podcast host whose advice Rodgers followed for batting COVID-19. As Rogan recommended, Rodgers took the drug Ivermectin, which is typically used to treat roundworms and other parasites.

McAfee cited last week’s ESPN.com feature on Rodgers by Kevin Van Valkenburg in which the reporter detailed the turn perception has taken toward the Packers QB this season and Rodgers’ strident belief in himself as a free thinker and intellectual.

Co-host A.J. Hawk agreed, adding another popular nickname posted to social media Saturday. “QAaron Rodgers” mocks the quarterback’s stated belief in conspiracy theories regarding the vaccine.

On the field, the Packers were the No. 1 seed in the NFC and considered in prime position to advance to the Super Bowl. Rodgers will likely win the NFL Most Valuable Player award (despite some voters feeling otherwise) for the second consecutive season after passing for 4,115 yards and 37 touchdowns (to just seven interceptions), while completing 68.9 percent of his throws and leading Green Bay to a 13-4 regular-season record.

But off the field, Rodgers gained national notoriety and became a controversial figure for his stance on the COVID-19 vaccine. Rodgers refused to get vaccinated, which put him at odds with many throughout the country. But what became the subject of national outrage and discussion was the quarterback giving the impression that he’d been vaccinated by saying he was “immunized” against the virus.

That turned many people against Rodgers for the past three months and those fans took delight from him losing in the playoffs. (The quarterback also lost some fans for trying to force a trade during the offseason and it’s possible Rodgers played his final game in Green Bay on Saturday.) And they flooded social media with nicknames.

“His haters got very loud,” said McAfee. “But I will say, I don’t think he has a lot of haters in general managers around the NFL on whether or not they can get him in the building.”

The trade rumors will begin gaining heat soon. Will fans tossing out derisive nicknames right now — especially those supporting the Broncos, Raiders, Giants, Saints, and Steelers — eventually embrace him as their quarterback? You know the answer to that.

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Sports Radio News

Jeff Rickard Out At WEEI (Update)

“In the memo, new Audacy Boston market manager Mike Thomas says that the station will be naming a new brand manager in the future.”

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Jeff Rickard’s tenure in Boston did not last long. Chad Finn of the Boston Globe tweeted yesterday that the WEEI brand manager has left Audacy and intends to return to Indianapolis.

Rickard was announced as the new brand manager of the legendary Boston sports talker in August. He left his role as morning show host and PD at The Fan in Indianapolis at that time.

In the memo, new Audacy Boston market manager Mike Thomas says that the station will be naming a new brand manager in the future.

In the meantime, Ken Laird has been promoted to operations manager for the station. Laird announced yesterday that this means he is leaving the Greg Hill Show, which will be on the lookout for a new producer.

On Monday, Jeff Rickard took to Twitter to update fans and followers on his situation. He did not have anything negative to say about WEEI, Audacy, or anyone involved with him coming to Boston. He even noted that this move is likely what is best for him and his family.

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