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The Salt Lake City Sports Radio Ratings

Jason Barrett

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Salt Lake City may be well known for its amazing scenery, and passion for college sports and Utah Jazz basketball, but it also serves as the home to three local sports radio stations. It’s a city where many successful format programmers and personalities have served before moving on to other locations. Case in point, Scott Masteller, Kevin Graham, Ryan Hatch, John Lund, Ian Fitzsimmons, and Jeff Austin have all spent time in the crossroads of the west, and there are many others that could be added to that list.

I was fortunate to receive an update on the February ratings and am excited to share it with you because it’s not everyday that we get a deeper look at the way this market performs. I’ve listened to all three stations at various points during the past few months/years, and I can tell you that there is a lot of strong underrated talent here.

As you review this information, I remind you that we’re looking at a one month snapshot with Men 25-54. Depending on the time of year, and what catches fire locally, things can change quickly. None the less, here is how all three brands finished for the month of February. Due to shows airing at different times on each station, I’ve listed their performances in accordance with each of their timeslots.

97.5/1280 The Zone (Simulcast combined number): 

  • David James and Patrick Kinahan (DJ and PK): 6a-10a = 4.6 (8th)
  • Jake Scott and Tony Parks: 10a-12p = 6.3 (3rd)
  • Hans Olsen and Scott Garrard: 12p-3p = 6.4 (3rd)
  • Spence Checketts and Gordon Monson: 3p-7p = 6.0 (4th)

*** From 10a-7p the radio station is very healthy. Each show delivers a 6 share and is inside the Top 4. That’s outstanding. The morning show is lower but still inside the Top 10. The challenge for the brand is to utilize those 10a-7p hours to direct the audience back to morning drive to help DJ and PK. Regardless, they’re in great shape and having the Jazz games on the air helps the station add cume outside of 6a-7p. They’re well established as the market leader and have a number of personalities with great history in the marketplace. One thing I’ve observed in previous listening, is that there’s a feeling that each show pulls for one another. That chemistry and energy is infectious. 

ESPN 700 (Flagship station for the University of Utah): 

  • Mike and Mike: 5a-8a = 3.4 (10th)
  • Dan Patrick: 8a-11a = 4.1 (10th)
  • Bill Riley 11a-2p = 2.9 (14th) ( moved into this slot one week into the book)
  • Sean O’Connell 2p-7p = 2.6 (18th) (was with Riley for week #1, added Keith Stubbs to the show but he left 2 weeks later)

*** 700’s national shows outperform their local ones which tells you that the audience likes that they offer national perspectives. Mike and Mike and Dan Patrick are well known personalities and their styles are a hit in this market. Riley moved into middays during this month and only had 3 weeks in the book so it’s way too early to tell how his show will impact the station. Most changes take a long period of time to make inroads. The immediate challenge is stabilizing afternoons where Riley and O’Connell were a solid pair and Keith Stubbs was added but vacated the program after a few weeks. OC is an excellent talent and if they find the right host to team with him or position him strongly as a solo act, they might be able to make a bigger dent. They’re popping a Top 10 performance between 5a-11a so there’s definitely an opportunity to re-direct listeners to their local offerings between 11a-7p.

1320 KFAN:

  • Tim Lewis: 6a-10a = 0.9 (27th) (Lewis was only on for 2 weeks during this month)
  • Jim Rome: 10a-1p = 1.5 (25th)
  • Doug Gottlieb: 1p-3p = 0.9 (31st)
  • Kyle Gunther and Ben Anderson: 3p-7p = 2.4 (20th)

*** Program Director Chris Hoffman recently added Tim Lewis to stabilize mornings so this month’s number is not an accurate reflection of how he’s performing since he wasn’t on for the entire month. Much like 700’s changes, it’ll take time to see how the audience responds to the new morning show and March will offer the first full month report. That said, it’s clear that the station’s afternoon show is their best asset. If the station can get an even bigger lift out of afternoons, and a stronger result in mornings, they’ll have a story to share, and can then focus on ways to increase the productivity in middays.

Overall, The Zone performed on a different level than 700 and 1320 for the month of February. If you add the Jazz into the mix, the station certainly has some advantages beyond the 6a-7p window.

One thing that stood out was the way the market consumed sports talk programming in afternoon drive. To see The Zone deliver a 6.0, 700 produce a 2.6, and 1320 turn in a 2.4, shows that the local market is willing to listen to three different sports radio options. That’s encouraging and should keep each show on their toes because a lackluster effort can lead to the competition gaining some momentum.

Additionally, it’s clear that for this month (and it’s been this way previously too), Dan Patrick and Mike and Mike perform on a much higher level locally than Jim Rome and Doug Gottlieb. That’s a positive for 700, and a challenge for 1320. If a station can perform in the Top 10 with a national show and not take on adding expenses, it’s a huge positive for the company’s bottom line.

Going forward, The Zone’s top priority is to sustain where they are 10a-7p, and aim to perform even stronger. If the morning show can sneak into the Top 5, that’s going to really the station’s narrative in the local marketplace. It’s clear, their consistency is excellent, and their talent and branding are high profile, which makes for a winning combination. Until proven otherwise, they’re the brand to beat.

For 700, having Mike and Mike and Dan Patrick deliver in the Top 10 is great for business. If the new local shows get a chance to bake and gain some consistency with the audience, that could help create some nice traction heading into the fall, when they add Utah Football to the mix. The focus at this time is to figure out if OC is best suited to host solo, and if not, who to pair with him. If set up and positioned properly, and heavily cross promoted during the national programs, the station could make further inroads and solidify its position as the number two rated brand in the market.

Last but not least, 1320 added a talented morning guy in Tim Lewis, and he needs time to become familiar to the audience. The morning rating right now is not good, but once Lewis settles in, and makes a deeper connection with local people, I’d expect those numbers to improve. If it can produce in similar fashion to the afternoon show, they’ll be making good progress. Then the focus shifts to middays, and whether or not their national shows have a higher ceiling. If they don’t, the station will have to examine whether or not it makes business sense to add a local show in middays. The immediate goal is to build consistency and show improvement during both drive times. If they can do that, then they’ll have a chance to close the gap on second place.

Sports Radio News

SURVEY: 16.9% of All Sports Radio Listeners Are Streaming

The survey found that in May 2022, 16.9% of sports talk radio’s audience tunes in via the station’s online stream. That news comes as Nielsen reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.

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Streaming Radio

According to Nielsen, All Sports radio stations are the third-most streamed spoken word format, just behind Talk/Personality and News/Talk/Info. The trend is continuing to show that streaming is on the uptick.

The survey found that in May 2022, 16.9% of sports talk radio’s audience tunes in via the station’s online stream. That news comes as Nielson reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.

Nielsen notes that in the 45 PPM markets they are grabbing data from and the 4,800+ stations that stream in those markets, just 30% of them are encoded. That encoding allows for Nielsen to accurately measure the streams. They used the listener data from 1,500 stations across the U.S., in its latest report, AM/FM Radio Streaming Growth in PPM Markets

The survey also showed that streaming levels differ widely by radio format. Spoken word formats display strong streaming listenership (Talk/Personality: 31.2%, News/Talk/Info: 19.1%, All Sports: 16.9%). In fact, Nielsen found that 1/3 of all AM/FM streaming in PPM markets is to spoken word formats.

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Sports Radio News

New Study Finds Listeners to MLB on Radio Are Willing to Spend

More than one third (34%) of the respondents recently purchased clothing/apparel that features their favorite team… 27% have visited a ballpark in the past year. That compares to only 19% of the average MLB fan base has made an apparel purchase to support their team while just 11% have gone to a game in person in that same time span.

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MLB Radio

When it comes to advertiser’s attempting to reach an affluent and engaged audience, sports talk radio might have a whale on their hands. Major League Baseball play-by-play features an audience that has money and has no problems spending it.

In a recent MRI-Simmons study, data shows that consumers who listen to MLB broadcasts on the radio are the perfect audience for sports marketers. According to the analysis, done by Katz Radio Group, nearly two thirds (62%) of those surveyed consider themselves “super fans” of baseball. That number is 58% higher than the average.

Radio Listeners to MLB

Those “super fans” are willing to spend to support their team, as well. More than one third (34%) of the respondents recently purchased clothing/apparel that features their favorite team. Those fans are also far more willing to make the trip to see their team. The study found that 27% have visited a ballpark in the past year. That compares to only 19% of the average MLB fan base has made an apparel purchase to support their team while just 11% have gone to a game in person in that same time span.

The news continues getting better for advertisers. Continued analysis reveals that 66% of listeners are currently employed and have a median household income greater than $106,000.

Listeners to MLB games on the radio are also 34% more likely to place a sports bet and 106% more likely to be a participant in fantasy baseball.

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Sports Radio News

Jeff Dean Signs Off At ESPN Tucson for The Final Time

Dean said on Facebook: “…the years of burning the candle at both ends has taken a dire toll on my health and for the first time in my life, I’m going to put myself and my livelihood first”

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Jeff Dean Show

Fans will no longer be able to tune into ESPN Tucson and hear Jeff Dean hosting his show. Friday morning was his last show, according to his Facebook and Twitter pages.

The Jeff Dean Show had been airing from 7-9a MT weekday mornings. Dean took to social media to relay the news and the reason behind him stepping away from the microphone. Dean said on Facebook:

“This morning I signed off from my radio show on ESPN Tucson for the final time. I have been devoting too much of my life and my time to working multiple jobs…the years of burning the candle at both ends has taken a dire toll on my health and for the first time in my life, I’m going to put myself and my livelihood first”

Jeff Dean Facebook

Dean went on to emphasize that he isn’t stepping away from ESPN Tucson, he’s just taking himself off the air. He also added that “gladly, I will be continuing my position as PA announcer of University of Arizona Football and Men’s basketball.”

Dean would also go onto Twitter to add even further context for his self-removal from the ESPN Tucson airwaves. He added, “It’s not a decision I arrived at hastily, as it’s been a 6 month mental grind to make the ultimate decision that had to be made, and I’m not particularly happy about it, but I have to put my health first, we all do, and make sure we’re around long enough to enjoy life”.

Dean had been ESPN Tucson’s morning host since November 2019.

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