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The Tide Is Turning In The Houston Ratings Race

Jason Barrett

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The January ratings are now available for Houston, and this month there were some new developments which are certain to have one brand celebrating, another frustrated, and a third feeling encouraged but far from satisfied.

The ratings report covers December 31st to January 27th, and during that period SportsTalk 790 (KBME-AM) made some noticeable adjustments to their programming. The radio station moved Matt Thomas to mornings opposite Lance Zierlein, and shifted Adam Clanton from mornings to middays where he debuted a new program alongside former NFL player Sean Jones.

Additionally, Sports Radio 610 KILT made a change to their evening programming, giving Paul Gallant an opportunity to host a solo show.

In analyzing the numbers, here is the comparison for M-Su 6a-Mid among Men 25-54.

  • Sports Radio 610 KILT = 3.4 (tied for 11th)
  • ESPN 97.5 = 2.6 (tied for 18th)
  • Sports Talk 790 = 1.5 (25th)
  • KGOW 1560 = 0.1 (tied for 39th)

*** 610 added a half of a point from month to month, and 97.5 and 790 also added three tenths of a point. KGOW remained flat. Overall the format saw a spike from the Holiday book to January, but if you go back to the same period last year, KILT is down nearly a full point. They delivered a 4.3 last January. During that same time, 97.5 has gained a point, climbing from 1.6 to 2.6, and 790 is down seven tenths going from a 2.2 to 1.5. KGOW also has seen a major decline dropping from 0.6 to 0.1.

Next up is morning drive M-F 6a-10a. Here’s the Men 25-54 breakdown.

  • ESPN 97.5 = 3.5 (10th)
  • Sports Radio 610 KILT = 3.2 (12th)
  • Sports Talk 790 = 2.7 (tied for 16th)
  • KGOW 1560 = 0.1 (37th)

*** This was the third book in a row where ESPN 97.5 won mornings and they continue to gain share which is very impressive. When you consider that KILT and 790 go with local programming and 97.5 features “Mike and Mike” and 1-hour of the local program “Reality Check” hosted by Dylan Gwynn and Barry Warner, this is a major win for the brand. Making it even more impressive is that one year ago, the station was producing a 1.3 in mornings. This means they’ve gained more than 2 points in morning drive year to year. For KILT the news isn’t bad. They were up month to month and only three tenths away from tying 97.5. They’re also consistent year to year. For 790, they too saw an increase, which is great news given that they recently made a change in mornings. They improved by three tenths of a point from the Holiday book to January. The one concern would be the decline year to year which has seen the brand slip from a 4.1 to 2.7. However, with a new show in place, I’m sure they’re expecting bigger things to come in the future.

When you examine M-F 10a-3p this is what the midday story looks like with Men 25-54:

  • Sports Radio 610 KILT = 3.0 (13th)
  • ESPN 97.5 = 2.4 (tied for 18th)
  • Sports Talk 790 = 1.6 (25th)
  • KGOW 1560 = 0.1 (tied for 35th)

*** Middays are where KILT regains the lead and holds a comfortable six tenths of a point advantage. However, 790 rew from a 0.9 in December to 1.6 in January which is really strong and indicates that Clanton and Jones may have attracted an extra meter or two. KILT was up a tenth month to month, and 97.5 saw growth as well, picking up four tenths from the Holiday monthly to January. Looking back to the same time last year, KILT has lost 2 points slipping from a 5.0 to 3.0, 790 has dropped eight tenths falling from a 2.4 to 1.6, and 97.5 which has added John Granato to the local mix and also includes Sean Salisbury, has added nine tenths growing from a 1.5 to 2.4. Also, KGOW has fallen hard dropping from 0.9 to 0.1 during the past 12 months. 

Rounding out the key prime time matchups is the afternoon drive slot. Here’s how M-F 3p-7p with Men 25-54 stacked up.

  • ESPN 97.5 = 3.6 (11th)
  • Sports Radio 610 KILT = 3.2 (15th)
  • Sports Talk 790 = 1.4 (25th)
  • KGOW 1560 = 0.0 (tied for 41st)

*** This was a huge win for 97.5 as KILT has consistently led the afternoon battle. Month to month the radio station grew eight tenths of a point, improving from a 2.8 to 3.6, and during the past twelve months that number has risen from 2.3 to 3.6. Congrats are in order for AJ Hoffman, Fred Faour, and Russillo and Kanell who all contributed to the station’s afternoon growth. For KILT, I’m sure they’re not satisfied finishing behind 97.5 but they are only four tenths away, and one ranking position behind. They did experience slight growth month to month going from a 3.0 to a 3.2 but year to year they’ve suffered some bad luck, falling from a 4.9 to 3.2. For 790, they saw slight improvement climbing from a 1.2 to 1.4, but year to year they too are down, dropping from 1.9 in 2015 to 1.4 in 2016. KGOW had no impact for the month and are down 0.6 to 0.0 year to year.

Taking a look at the evenings, where KILT debuted a new program, here’s what the picture looked like M-F 7p-12a among Men 25-54.

  • Sports Radio 610 KILT = 2.5 (18th)
  • ESPN 97.5 = 1.3 (24th)
  • Sports Talk 790 = 1.2 (25th)
  • KGOW 1560 = 0.0 (tied for 39th)

*** It was a good start for KILT’s new evening program, as the show added two tenths month to month. The concern however would be a drop year to year from 3.9 to 2.5. Given though that this is the first month of a new program, we’ll need a longer sample size to see how the changes are received, but so far so good. For 97.5 and 790, this is the area where they’re not as strong. Given that these are the off-peak hours, I’m sure they’re not too concerned about it. 

To summarize, it was a big month for ESPN 97.5. Make no mistake about it, when you win mornings and afternoons and unseat the leading brand in the market, it’s going to be a little sweeter entering the workplace. We weren’t privy to the M-F 6a-7p numbers with Men 25-54 but I’m sure the story is a strong one for 97.5, and as this train continues to pick up steam, I’m sure local and national advertisers are taking notice.

For KILT, they’re used to winning so this isn’t familiar territory. That said, they are only a few tenths of a point away from reversing the latest setback. The real test will come next month when the February monthly offers little play-by-play benefit and the market’s best personalities and content stand out. Their decision to run a trade deadline promotion around their personalities was smart, but only time will tell if it made a difference in the numbers.

Last but not least is 790. Where they have to feel really good is when they look month to month and they see their latest changes paying immediate dividends. To grow four tenths in mornings, and seven tenths in middays is excellent. Now the station needs to continue that momentum in order to make up ground from where they were last year and ultimately unseat one of the top two leading brands.

As for KGOW, they’re in a different category and not a factor in the ratings.

Credit to the Houston Chronicle who were first to report this story

Sports Radio News

Chris ‘Mad Dog’ Russo: I Don’t Do As Much Prep As You Think

“Sometimes the radio show is a lot better when it’s a little more spontaneous and you can craft it in your imagination as the day moves along, instead of having it programmed in front of you.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Chris “Mad Dog” Russo would much rather go with the flow for his radio show than try and put everything together ahead of time and hope it comes out well.

Russo was the featured guest on the Golf Digest podcast The Loop, and hosts Christopher Powers, Alex Myers and Steve Hennessey first congratulated Mad Dog on his induction into the Radio Hall of Fame last year. Russo mentioned how he had written a short speech but decided against that after seeing the other inductees run long with their speeches.

Mad Dog was asked about preparing for his SiriusXM sports talk show every day, and he said he really doesn’t put a ton of work into putting a show together.

“On certain days a little more, because on Mondays I do that NFL recap so that takes a little while to put that together at 5 o’clock – probably a couple of hours,” Russo said. “Outside of that not as much as you’d think. I mean obviously I’m gonna follow what’s going on.”

“Sometimes the radio show is a lot better when it’s a little more spontaneous and you can craft it in your imagination as the day moves along, instead of having it programmed in front of you,” he added. “This segment do this, this segment do that. Sometimes when you sort of ad lib it, and you figure it out as you’re moving the program into the second hour and the third hour, it’s a better show.”

Mad Dog talked about how he likes that his radio show is the reverse of when he does First Take on ESPN or High Heat on MLB Network. He likes not having a rundown packed to the gills for his radio show.

“The radio is more of a host’s medium,” he said. “So it’s up to me what we’re going to do.”

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Sports Radio News

Stetson Bennett IV Fires Back at Steak Shapiro Over Parade Criticism

“P.s.: I don’t like you very much mr Steak “and shake” Shapiro.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Georgia walloped TCU last week to win their second straight national championship, and the Bulldog community came together toward the end of the week to celebrate with a parade.

Quarterback Stetson Bennett IV took part in the parade, but 92.9 The Game host Steak Shapiro wasn’t thrilled with how Bennett acted during the celebration.

Shapiro on Tuesday took a shot at Bennett, who appeared to spend some time fiddling with a cell phone during the parade.

Tuesday night, Bennett responded first with a quote tweet.

Bennett followed that up with a longer statement he posted under his quote tweet explaining the situation.

“I appreciate your concern with my image/intentions/loyalties/obligations (as well as your willingness to reach out to me to confirm them),” Bennett wrote. “You obviously thought quite deeply about some motives I might’ve had.”

Bennett said ultimately he was trying to soak up the moment with his teammates, and he was just trying to make sure the celebratory mood was set with the right music on his phone.

“So to finish it off nice and neat: I was controlling the aux and playing bangers so sed and Chris and I could have a blast on our last ride into Sanford,” he said. “That’s pretty much the gist of it.”

Bennett finished with a little dig of his own at Shapiro.

“P.s.: I don’t like you very much mr Steak “and shake” Shapiro,” he said. “But to be fair, I’m not a fan of your work either.”

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Sports Radio News

Ryan Edwards Moves to The Sports Zoo on KOA

“Edwards has been on the radio in Denver since 2009. He spent eight years with 104.3 The Fan. He also did a short stint at Mile High Sports Radio.”

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Ryan Edwards is staying with KOA, but his hours are about to change. The Denver sports radio staple is moving off of Broncos Country Tonight to join Alfred Williams and Dave Logan on The Sports Zoo in afternoon drive.

“I am thrilled to join radio and football legends Dave Logan and Alfred Williams on The KOA Sports Zoo,” Edwards said in a press release. “I look forward to bringing a fans’ perspective to the Denver Broncos and all things Denver sports.”

Edwards has been on the radio in Denver since 2009. He spent eight years with 104.3 The Fan. He also did a short stint at Mile High Sports Radio.

He joined iHeart Denver in 2017. He was on Orange & Blue 760 before the company replaced the station with a conservative talk format. He moved to KOA in 2019, where he has worked on Broncos Country Tonight with Benjamin Albright.

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