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Kay & Francesa In Ratings Dispute

“Nielsen reporting a higher number for Kay led to an ESPN celebration, sending out a press release stating The Michael Kay Show beat WFAN in the winter ratings book.”

Brandon Contes

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Drama circles the New York sports radio airwaves again as WFAN’s Mike Francesa and ESPN NY’s The Michael Kay Show are both claiming to have won the winter ratings battle.  

The outcome and reactions were anticipated for weeks and while both shows have the ability to claim victory, an inarguable fact is that the ratings gap between them is next to “nil.”

Nielsen reported a 5.9 winter book rating for Kay and a 5.5 for Francesa in the male 25-54 demo, but what used to be straight forward now includes variables as ESPN adds their streaming audience to the number, while Entercom does not.  When including the digital audience for both WFAN and ESPN, Francesa out-rates Kay 6.2 – 5.9.  

Nielsen reporting a higher number for Kay led to an ESPN celebration, sending out a press release stating The Michael Kay Show beat WFAN in the winter ratings book.  Shortly after, Francesa tweeted, “Everybody in the industry knows the “official” number. To count their stream and eliminate our stream would be ridiculous. The sports competition got beat..like it always has.”

“I have nothing but sadness and pity for you that you would actually claim a victory that wasn’t real,” Francesa said during his Monday show.  Kay responded with “pity” for Francesa, adding “move aside because we kicked your ass.”

What once was an easy quarterly victory for Francesa has now become a down to the wire battle, sending the WFAN afternoon host scrambling to make decisions about his future.  In recent weeks, the New York radio icon admitted his daily WFAN show and the Mike’s On app might not be compatible, also acknowledging he could bring on a second voice.  

While The Kay Show celebrated with cake and champagne, the New York sports radio drama continued as Francesa was prompted to detail a behind-the-scenes outburst which was first discussed by WFAN’s morning show, Boomer and Gio.  

Last Wednesday, after Gregg Giannotti finished an impression of the afternoon host, Esiason said “Al, did you hear about the screaming and yelling going on around here…I heard somebody wanted you fired.”  Esiason eluded to Francesa being upset with a post from their morning show Twitter account regarding Craig Carton.

“The morning show tweeted on their website they didn’t feel Carton had stabbed them in the back, which I said how absurd is that,” Francesa commented on Monday, referring to the below tweet.

Andrew Marchand of The New York Post added the incident in his ratings report, leading Francesa to claim inaccuracies, while also confirming the story.  According to Francesa, Entercom approached him about allowing Carton on his show for a tell-all, which the afternoon host declined. 

Francesa said management told him he was their first choice for the Carton interview, a claim he later found out was a lie.  Carton instead did what Francesa considered to be a backstabbing move to FAN and joined Michael Kay’s afternoon program, a show the former morning host regularly mocked.

Francesa confirmed that he yelled at Entercom regional president Susan Larkin and VP Mark Chernoff in a crowded FAN newsroom over the Carton situation.

“I don’t raise my voice around here very often,” WFAN’s afternoon host said. “I did at the bosses here over the fact, first of all, that I felt they were silly to go to court and support Craig and then have Craig go to a competitor when he had just been given support by them. And that’s what I said to them, I said you got played.”

With no shortage of sports topics, the hottest discussion on WFAN and ESPN NY was about each other and odds are this won’t be the last time they sling arrows while debating who out-rates who.  However you view the numbers, a ratings battle that for well over a decade wasn’t close, is now separated by tenths of a point, regardless of who’s in the lead.  

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

Sports Radio News

Jonathan Zaslow No Longer With WQAM

An attempt to reach out to Zaslow for comment went unanswered.

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WQAM midday host Jonathan Zaslow is no longer with WQAM in Miami, according to sources.

The radio station has removed his show from the website and references to him and his normal 10a-2p ET midday timeslot program have been scrubbed from the station website. An attempt to reach out to Zaslow for comment went unanswered.

Whether or not this has any effect on his involvement with the Miami Heat broadcasts is unknown as of now. He was tweeting during his show’s scheduled time, with this being his most recent one which also referenced the show which appeared to still be on the air at the time.

Zaslow had been with 790 the Ticket since 2004. He was transitioned from Audacy-owned 790 to sister station AM 560 Sports WQAM last October. During his tenure he has worked with a number of established local voices including Joy Taylor, Amber Wilson, Brett Romberg, and Brendan Tobin amongst others.

WQAM has gone thru a number of changes, including a rebranding effort to call the station “560 The Joe”. That ended last year with the station returning to the AM 560 Sports WQAM brand listeners were more familiar with. What they have planned next in Zaslow’s timeslot is unclear but local listeners will likely get some answers next week.

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Sports Radio News

Vanessa Richardson Named Houston Rockets Sideline Reporter, Paul Gallant to Host Solo on ESPN 97.5

Vanessa Richardson will be on the sidelines for the Houston Rockets and Paul Gallant will host solo show on ESPN 97.5.

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Vanessa and Gallant

Changes are taking place in Houston sports media. First, the Houston Rockets will have a new television sideline reporter this season, and she’s a familiar name to Houston sports fans.

Vanessa Richardson, the now former co-host of ESPN 97.5’s Vanessa and Gallant, revealed that she will be on the sidelines for the NBA franchise covering the team for AT&T SportsNet Southwest.

She tweeted the news saying, “Elated to be the new Houston Rockets sideline reporter! I can’t wait to travel the country & share the stories of this dynamic team during 80+ games on AT&T SportsNet Southwest. I’ll continue to fill-in as a host/reporter for Astros broadcasts as well.”

Richardson’s co-host, Paul Gallant, tweeted that with Richardson leaving the show for the Rockets sideline gig, Vanessa and Gallant will become the Paul Gallant Show. The solo show led by Gallant begins Monday September 26th.

“We’re excited to have Paul host his own show”, said Todd Farquharson, General Manager of ESPN 97.5 & 92.5.  “He’s super creative, energetic, and likeable.  He’ll get the audience involved and have fun.”

Paul commented, “You know what I’ve always loved about sports talk radio?  That it’s interactive.  Whether through a phone call, text message, tweet or on Twitch, it’s the best place for sports fans to come together and celebrate…or vent.  And that’s what The Paul Gallant Show is going to be…Houston’s platform to talk about its teams. THE most interactive sports talk show in Houston.”

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Sports Radio News

Ken Carman: Al Michaels ‘Feels Untethered’ On Amazon Prime Video

“The thing that stuck out was Kirk Herbstreit ripping the elf,” said Carman. “Don’t be ripping Brownie the Elf, man.”

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The Cleveland Browns defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers during Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime Video. 92.3 The Fan morning host Ken Carman applauded Al Michaels for his performance during the presentation.

“Al Michaels feels untethered for the first time. He’s not network television anymore and he can say whatever he wants. We interviewed him on the pregame show and I was nervous,” Carman said.

“He’s a legend,” co-host Anthony Lima added.

During the final play of the game, the Steelers fumbled a lateral into the endzone which the Browns recovered to make the final score 29-17. Michaels said “that may be meaningful to some of you. And you know who I mean”, alluding to people who had placed wagers on the game.

Carman, who hosts two-hours of pre-game coverage on the Browns Radio Network, continued to discuss how nervous he was interviewing Michaels. He also discussed how impressive Amazon’s behind-the-scenes production was, pointing out the only football broadcast with more cameras is the Super Bowl. More than 400 people work behind the scenes for Amazon Prime Video.

“The thing that stuck out was Kirk Herbstreit ripping the elf,” said Carman. “Don’t be ripping Brownie the Elf, man.”

Carman later said people angry that Michaels misspoke by saying the Pro Football Hall of Fame is “down I-71” instead of I-77 were unreasonable, and joked “Al Michaels hasn’t been on a highway in 20 years”.

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