The race for afternoon ratings supremacy in New York City tightened in 2017 between Mike Francesa and The Michael Kay Show. But despite a few close calls, Francesa stayed in front until signing off for the final time this past December.
Fast forward to 2018, and the picture has certainly changed. The Fan now finds itself in unfamiliar territory, looking up at its competitor in the afternoon drive ratings.
For the first time ever since moving into afternoons 13 years ago, The Michael Kay Show on 98.7 FM ESPN NY defeated The Fan head to head in afternoons. Michael Kay, Don LaGreca and Peter Rosenberg delivered a 4.4, which was two tenths higher than The Fan’s “CMB” which features Chris Carlin, Maggie Gray and Bart Scott. The news was first reported by Neil Best of Newsday.
The feat is a major accomplishment for Kay and his partners. The show has improved on the air and gained strong momentum since adding Rosenberg to the mix, and although critics will point out that the show didn’t defeat Francesa and narrowly slipped past CMB, a win is a win anyway you slice it.
Victory aside, both stations were down compared to the fall book. Kay’s show finished tied for 8th, six tenths of a point behind its fall performance. The Fan was 10th and a stunning 2.2 points lower than its fall showing.
The one saving grace for The Fan’s afternoon trio was that they won the head to head battle for their full show. “CMB” was 9th with a 4.3 between the hours of 2p-6:30p. 98.7 FM ESPN NY was 11th with a 3.9 during that four and a half hour period.
ESPN New York Senior VP and General Manager Tim McCarthy told Newsday, “I’m really happy for Michael, Don and Peter. They’ve been doing this for a long time, and the good news is the ratings over the last year have continued to grow in the right direction.”
Mark Chernoff, WFAN’s Vice President of Programming told Best he was pleased with how the ratings were trending in March and is very optimistic about more growth in the spring.
A few items worth pointing out regarding the New York race.
- Michael Kay’s show doesn’t receive the local boost from morning drive that The Fan does.
- 98.7 FM ESPN NY operates on one signal. The Fan broadcasts on both FM and a powerful AM signal.
- The Michael Kay Show receives additional exposure due to a TV simulcast on the YES Network.
- WFAN is the flagship station for the New York Yankees. With the Bronx Bombers back in action, their presence on the radio station should provide an added cume boost for The Fan in the spring/summer/fall books. That should help lift the station’s numbers, but won’t necessarily tell us whether New York sports radio fans have flocked to the station’s new afternoon show. ESPN NY meanwhile doesn’t have the benefit of carrying local baseball play by play.
- “CMB” are only 4 months into their program. Shows usually need time to hit their stride and develop a loyal following.
The Fan remained ahead in mornings with Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti placing 7th with a 5.1 compared to ESPN New York’s airing of the national show “Wingo and Golic” which was 14th with a 3.0. “Boomer and Gio” though were down significantly from the fall when the station came in 1st with a 7.7.
Not to be forgotten, The Fan’s midday show led by Joe Beningo and Evan Roberts produced a 6th place finish. The show delivered a 4.8, down from the fall when they turned in a 5.5. During the 10a-2p hours they were comfortably ahead of 98.7 ESPN NY which was far back in 16th with a 2.4.
The #1 rated station with Men 25-54 in New York for the fall book according to Nielsen Audio was 106.7 Lite FM which reeled in an impressive 8.2 share.
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Steak Shapiro Apologizes, Says He Didn’t Think Stetson Bennett Criticism Was ‘That Inflamatory’
“You were just trying to play music and not ignore the fans. Still don’t think it was a great speech, but again, you’re the biggest football hero in Georgia football history.”
Wednesday’s edition of The Steakhouse was one Atlanta sports fans were waiting for. Late Tuesday night, Steak Shapiro took to Twitter to promise that he would address Stetson Bennett IV’s reaction to his criticism of the way the quarterback behaved at Georgia’s National Championship parade on Saturday.
“The notion is that Steak was basically roasted,” he said of the coverage the social media spat received. “He was put on the grill and taken to task.”
Shapiro had tweeted that he did not think it was a good look for Bennett to be on his phone during the championship parade and that his speech seemed more about settling old grudges than it was about celebrating the team or the fans. In a message on Twitter, which began by addressing Shapiro as “Mr. Med Rare”, Bennett explained that he was using his phone to play music in the car he was riding in. He was not ignoring the moment or the fans.
After giving Bennett credit for coming up with a funny nickname, Steak Shapiro said that he was surprised that the quarterback took the criticism so personally.
“My job is to give an opinion. I didn’t think it was that inflammatory. I didn’t think it was that dramatic.”
He added that has no problem with Stetson’s disdain for the media. He just thought the parade should have been about the fans and the accomplishment rather than Stetson Bennett IV trying to settle old grudges. Still, Shapiro wanted to make it clear that he does not hate the Georgia quarterback. He remains one of Bennett’s most vocal fans.
“On three or four occasions, I was lambasted because I said I thought he was the greatest player in Georgia history, and I said that before he won the national title,” Shapiro said. “I said that when they had the undefeated regular season, and then people started saying ‘stop saying that about Stetson’ or ‘Stetson’s overrated’. I just kinda had his back the entire year and probably had his back the last two years. I just didn’t think Saturday was a great day. That is what I have been saying, and I stand by it. I just didn’t think it was a great-looking day.”
Steak Shapiro did offer an apology to Bennett. He said that if the quarterback was just trying to play music on his phone, that isn’t that big of a deal, and if he had known that is what was happening, his reaction may have been different.
“My bad,” he concluded. “You were just trying to play music and not ignore the fans. Still don’t think it was a great speech, but again, you’re the biggest football hero in Georgia football history. You’re one of the iconic sports figures — maybe number one — in a town of Hank Aaron, and Chipper Jones, and Domonique Wilkins, and Matt Ryan, and Deion Sanders. You’re probably number one all time.”
Brian Gebhardt to Serve as Program Director of Sactown Sports 1140
“Learning under skilled leaders such as Terry Foxx, Sean Thompson, Reggie Rouse, and Mike Conti helped prepare Gebhardt for the next step.”
Sactown Sports 1140 has found their next program director. After an extensive search, GM Steve Cottingim and Bonneville Sacramento’s Group Director of Programming Chad Rufer have found their next leader in Atlanta, GA, tabbing Brian Gebhardt to guide the brand’s programming department.
Gebhardt heads west to join Bonneville Sacramento after enjoying over seven years of success at 92.9 The Game. He has served recently as the Executive Producer of the ‘Andy & Randy’ show featuring Randy McMichael and Andy Bunker. During his time with the Atlanta sports station, Gebhardt has learned under skilled leaders such as Terry Foxx, Sean Thompson, Reggie Rouse, and Mike Conti. Those experiences prepared Gebhardt for the next step, as did working with numerous on-air talents who have helped The Game become a model of consistency in Georgia.
“Brian’s experience working with both premiere talent and professional sports franchises will help us help the Sactown Sports brand grow both on-air and on-line ,” said Cottingim.
“Brian demonstrated to us a real passion for leading extraordinary talent,” shared Rufer. “We are very confident that he will help us grow Sactown Sports into Sacramento’s premiere sports brand.”
“I can’t wait to get started and I am beyond excited to be working with Bonneville,” added Gebhardt.
The hiring of the Georgia native as new PD allows Nick Cattles to focus exclusively on hosting the station’s afternoon show, a role he’s wanted to invest more time. Cattles joined Sactown Sports in November 2021 and has pulled double duty since arriving in Northern California. He hired Ramie Makhlouf as his afternoon drive co-host and the duo have built a solid foundation in afternoons. Having the ability now to focus solely on the show should allow Cattles and Ramie to elevate their program even more.
The first day on the job for Gebhardt will be Monday February 3rd. Depending on what develops with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC playoffs, there’s a possibility he could be walking into two straight weeks of Super Bowl planning. Regardless, Gebhardt has a new market to learn, a new team to meet, a new company to deliver results for, and an opportunity to take a big step in his radio career.
DNVR Sports Files Injunction Against Bonneville Over Denver Sports Brand
“We can’t allow someone that represents the exact opposite of us to damage the goodwill of our brand or create confusion in the community.”
After Bonneville International unveiled new branding for its Denver Sports properties, digital outlet DNVR Sports has filed an injunction to stop the radio company from utilizing the brand and logos.
In a Twitter thread, ALLCITY Network CEO Brandon Spano claimed DNVR Sports has already seen listeners, viewers, and readers confuse the two brands. “We can’t allow someone that represents the exact opposite of us to damage the goodwill of our brand or create confusion in the community,” Spano tweeted.
“Our branding was created purposefully, to be different from the way sports networks traditionally looked,” he said in another tweet. “To represent the city of Denver in a simple way while removing us from the gloss and pretentiousness of sports media. To create something that brings people together.”
Spano added that ALLCITY sent Bonneville a cease-and-desist letter last week, but claims the company failed to respond, so an injunction has been filed.
The Denver Sports branding utilized by Bonneville — which encompasses 104.3 The Fan and ESPN Denver — features a black and white city skyline as well as the Rocky Mountains inside a hexagon with block lettering. The DNVR Sports logo is a rectangle, similar to the city of Denver flag, with the sun centered between the mountain peaks and a block “DNVR” below the rectangle.
The complaint filed by StudioIP LLC — the law firm representing ALLCITY — claims the branding used by Bonneville constitutes “trademark infringement, unfair competition, trade dress infringement, dilution by tarnishment, and tortious interference arising out of Bonneville’s trademark infringement of Plaintiff’s trademarks,” according to Westword.
Bonneville has denied any wrongdoing, saying the accusations “have absolutely no merit, and our legal counsel is preparing a formal response. Denver Sports remains committed to delivering the most in-depth and inclusive local sports content for all Denver sports fans.”