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The Ticket Leads The Present; The Fan Looks To The Future

Jason Barrett

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If you only look at what appears on the surface, sometimes you can miss developing trends. In Dallas, there are some signs to keep an eye on that could impact the landscape of the ratings race in the future.

At this time though, The Ticket is on a roll with Men 25-54. That’s especially evident in mornings where The Musers continue to deliver double digit ratings and one of the best performances in the format across the country. What Jeff Catlin and his team have done to perform at an elite level over a consistent period is very impressive.

However, as we’ve seen over the past few months, the ratings can turn quickly in the Metroplex. It was only this past fall and last summer when The Fan was in front.

If you’re inside the offices of The Ticket, you’d attribute The Fan’s success to play by play. Being the radio partner of the Dallas Cowboys, and Texas Rangers certainly has its ratings benefits. You’d also remind advertisers of how the two stations measure up during prime time programs when play by play isn’t a central part of the conversation. The winter ratings would seem to support The Ticket’s case.

But with baseball back in full swing, that’s a positive for The Fan. As I’ve said before, there’s no reason for them to apologize for providing games that local fans want to hear. With the Rangers expected to be in contention, that local enthusiasm and interest should carry over to the radio station’s weekday programs.

Despite the play by play details, I was curious to see how Men 18-34 were responding to The Fan, and what the radio station’s performance looked like over the past three years. The reason that’s important is that the competition between the two top sports radio brands has become stronger over the past few years, and The Fan skews younger with its weekday shows.

To become a premier brand in a market takes a lot of time, and persistence. By endearing the brand and its personalities to younger listeners, Gavin Spittle is counting on a long-term play for his brand.

If there’s a positive for the radio station to hang their hat on, it’s that they’ve been the preferred sports radio option among Males 18-34 for the past 14 months. That should give the brand great confidence about its future.

Additionally, when you look at the past three years among Men 25-54, The Fan has grown from a 2.6 (16th) in March of 2014, to a 2.8 (14th) in March of 2015, to a 3.6 (9th) in March 2016. That shows that they’re making strides.

It’s customary to want to win each ratings book, but if you’re inside the halls at The Fan, you have to acknowledge that The Ticket is a dominant force and they’re going to enjoy some wins. To knock them down to #2 status on a regular basis is going to be a very difficult task. They’ve established a strong brand and lineup, and have more than two decades of success in the format.

That’s why The Fan’s connection to the younger demo is important. If they can grow with the younger demographic and remain healthy in the current environment, that bodes well for their future. A Rangers world series and Cowboys Super Bowl probably wouldn’t hurt either!

Although the signs for The Fan are strong with their younger audience, and the consistent growth during the past three years has to make them feel like they’re headed in the right direction, the one area that can’t be overlooked is the powerful performance of The Ticket among Men 25-54. What The Musers, Hardline, Norm Hitzges and Donovan Lewis have produced this month, and during the first quarter of 2016 is worthy of a tip of the cap.

Sometimes when you compete head to head, it’s difficult to acknowledge a competitor’s success. But, just as The Ticket had to accept the fact that they were knocked from the top spot last summer and fall, The Fan has to do the same this month.

The beauty of it is that this is last month’s performance. It’s already forgotten. All eyes now will turn towards the April book.

If you’re at The Ticket, you’re looking to keep the momentum building during the weekday shows, and hoping that the lead you’ve built over the past three months is strong enough to sustain the return of Rangers baseball. The Ticket has won in the spring and summer in the past despite the challenge, and I’m sure they expect to do the same this time around.

For The Fan, you’re counting on a great lift from the Rangers, continued quality and consistency from your talk shows, and the return of the Cowboys this summer/fall. When all of those things are clicking, the radio station gets a big ratings boost, and that makes the competition a close one. It’s even helped them ascend to the top of the mountain.

Now let’s take a closer look at the head to head comparisons for March:

M-F 6a-10a:

  • The Ticket = 10.6 (1st)
  • ESPN 103.3 = 4.0 (6th)
  • The Fan = 3.5 (7th)

*** The Musers remain the highest rated sports program in the market and perform higher than the two other morning shows combined. Even scarier is that the show picked up a half a ratings point between February and March. For Shan and RJ, they’ve closed the gap on Mike and Mike. Their show also added a half of a point and climbed from 8th to 7th. Mike and Mike meanwhile gained one tenth but dropped from 5th to 6th. Overall, three sports morning shows in the Top 7 is really impressive, and speaks to the Dallas market’s appetite for sports radio content during the morning commute.

M-F 10a-3p:

  • The Ticket = 6.9 (2nd)
  • The Fan = 3.3 (10th)
  • ESPN 103.3 = 1.3 (26th)

*** Norm Hitzges and Donovan Lewis are on a roll and gained three tenths of a point and rose from 3rd to 2nd. G-Bag Nation did return back to the Top 10 thanks to adding eight tenths of a point. ESPN 103.3 continues to lag far behind. They were down two tenths and lost two ranking positions.

M-F 3p-7p:

  • The Ticket = 8.1 (1st)
  • The Fan = 4.6 (5th)
  • ESPN 103.3 = 2.0 (22nd)

*** The Ticket took the top spot again, but were flat. Given that they’re turning in an 8 share, I’m sure they don’t mind. For Ben and Skin, this was a great month. The show returned to the Top 5, and grew from a 3.2 to 4.6. That was the best improvement month to month out of any of the key weekday 6a-7p shows. For ESPN 103.3 they’re down one tenth and two ranking positions.

M-F 7p-11p:

  • The Fan = 7.1 (1st)
  • The Ticket = 2.1 (20th)
  • ESPN 103.3 = 2.1 (20th)

*** The Fan has to feel great about this. K&C Masterpiece finished 1st and were ahead of The Ticket and ESPN 103.3 by five full points. The Ticket doesn’t put a lot of stock in their evening programming, but there does remain interest in evening listening in the market, and K&C have tapped into that and deserve credit for seizing the opportunity.

M-F 6a-7p:

  • The Ticket = 8.4 (1st)
  • The Fan = 3.8 (7th)
  • ESPN 103.3 = 2.4 (16th)

*** A big month again for The Ticket. That’s now back to back months in 1st place. They’ve started the year with nothing less than a 2nd place finish which has to give the talent and sales team a lot of confidence heading into the spring, summer and fall. On the other hand, The Fan has to feel good about gaining nine tenths of a point month to month. That’s a positive sign heading into the April book. ESPN 103.3 was flat month to month but lost one ranking position. 

M-SU 6a-Mid:

  • The Ticket = 6.4 (2nd)
  • The Fan = 3.6 (9th)
  • ESPN 103.3 = 2.2 (19th)

*** The Ticket has finished 3rd, 2nd and 2nd over the past three months, and are comfortably ahead in this matchup. The real question will be, how does The Fan cut into that lead with the return of baseball? If the Rangers perform well, their play by play should help The Fan close the gap. That said, the radio station still grew by eight tenths during the past month so that’s great news entering the spring book. Last but not least, ESPN 103.3 had their worst performance of the quarter, losing six tenths month to month.

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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Sports Radio News

Jason Fitz: Keyshawn Johnson Cannot Be Serious With Trevor Lawrence Take

“There is no way Trevor Lawrence is the eighth-best quarterback out of eight left in the playoffs after doing what he did after the first quarter of that last game.”

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Jason Fitz

When he was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2021, Trevor Lawrence was heralded as a once-in-a-lifetime type of prospect. While his career had a bit of a rocky start, he has shown a lot in year two, including leading one of the largest come-from-behind victories in playoff history Saturday night against the Chargers. Jason Fitz cannot believe that isn’t enough to impress Keyshawn Johnson.

The ESPN Radio morning man ranked the eight remaining starting quarterbacks in the NFL playoffs and put Lawrence dead last.

“Trevor Lawrence at eight? I know Keyshawn Johnson is out there in California, but I want to party with Key because obviously, he was doing a little partying before this show, Harry,” Jason Fitz told his partner on Tuesday’s edition of Fitz & Harry. “There is no way Trevor Lawrence is the eighth-best quarterback out of eight left in the playoffs after doing what he did after the first quarter of that last game.”

Fitz noted that during the season people started calling Lawrence “Trevor Tangerines” for the daringness he continued to show even after things looked bad for him and the Jaguars. He said that on Saturday night, he should have been called “Trevor Watermelons”.

Jason Fitz acknowledged that it would be hard to rank anyone ahead of Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, and Jalen Hurts, which made up Keyshawn Johnson’s top four. But Fitz doesn’t think this is a matter of Lawrence being disrespected for being number eight, behind Brock Purdy, who began the season as the 49ers’ third-string quarterback, instead of number seven.

“Considering the whole body of work and the way that Trevor Lawrence has played since week nine, you wouldn’t have to press hard to put Daniel Jones below Trevor Lawrence.”

He added that Keyshawn Johnson is also being influenced by the uniform Trevor Lawrence wears.

“I think there’s a little element that speaks to the fact that we have a perception on certain organizations. I’m just saying — four interceptions or not — this is the analogy I keep making this week: If Trevor Lawrence had the bounceback game with the star in his helmet as the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, today the conversation would be like ‘Well, you can’t hold him down the whole game’.”

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Sports Radio News

Boomer Esiason: ManningCast Proves Peyton Manning Can Never Be a Coach

“He’s got no patience whatsoever.” 

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Don’t expect to see Peyton Manning on an NFL sideline. He may be one of the best quarterbacks the league has ever seen, but Manning isn’t cut out to be a coach according to Boomer Esiason.

On Tuesday morning, Esiason and the rest of the Boomer & Gio cast listened to highlights of the previous night’s ManningCast. They enjoyed the audio of Peyton Manning losing his temper after Cowboys kicker Brent Maher missed his third extra-point attempt of the night.

The clip, which has since gone viral, includes Manning asking if a kicker can be cut at halftime of a playoff game.

“This is why Peyton can’t coach,” Esiason said in response to the audio. “He’s got no patience whatsoever.” 

The chemistry and authenticity of Peyton and Eli is often cited as the appeal of the ManningCast. Esiason noted that was what is on display in moments the brothers cannot control.

Boomer Esiason was a guest on the week eight ManningCast, which featured his former team, — the Cincinnati Bengals — playing Cleveland Browns. Esiason said at the time that while it was a distracting way to try and follow a game, being a part of the show is a lot of fun. He echoed that praise Tuesday morning.

“Those things are really unbelievably done. I mean, they are funny.”

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