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104.5 The Zone Dominates Nashville’s January Ratings

Jason Barrett

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Earlier this month we released our “2015 Best In Sports Radio” series which highlighted the Top 20 in a number of different categories. If you read my follow up piece, you likely recall how I pointed out that a number of smaller market stations and shows didn’t receive their due when many had a legitimate gripe.

In the case of great brands like 610 Sports in Kansas City, 101 ESPN in St. Louis, and 99.9 The Fan in Raleigh, they did everything they were supposed to do from a performance standpoint. Their only crime in receiving credit was not tripling the size of their population and becoming a top 10 market, and that’s unfair.

Well, one brand that didn’t bellyache over any of the results but had as strong of a reason to as anyone, was 104.5 The Zone in Nashville.

To many on the outside, the Nashville market may be best known for the Titans and Country music but to plenty of industry insiders, The Zone has become a well respected brand in the sports talk format. It has been and continues to be one of the highest rated brands in the nation, but even many who work in the sports radio field aren’t aware of just how dominant their performance is.

I was able to do some digging and gather the ratings data for the January book in the Nashville market, and I’m excited to share it with you because I believe this is a story that deserves to be told. In my opinion, it’s flown under the radar for far too long.

Let’s start by focusing on M-SU 6a-Mid with Men 25-54.

  • 104.5 The Zone = 11.2 (1st)

*** The Zone’s closest competitor, 102.5 and 94.9 The Game, finished tied for 16th with a 1.8.

Next up, M-F 6a-7p with Men 25-54.

  • 104.5 The Zone = 12.7 (1st)

When you turn the attention towards the radio station’s weekday programs, it’s the same story. Let’s begin by looking at M-F 6a-10a with Men 25-54.

  • 104.5 The Zone (The Wakeup Zone) = 14.2 (1st)

Shifting gears, we move on to middays M-F 10a-3p with Men 25-54.

  • 104.5 The Zone (Dan Patrick Show and Midday 180) = 11.7 (1st)

To wrap things up we shine the spotlight on M-F 3p-7p with Men 25-54.

  • 104.5 The Zone (3HL and Primetime) = 12.3 (1st)

Even the radio station’s weekends deliver a 9.7 which is also good enough for 1st.

At this point, the real internal story is which show is going to gain bragging rights for being the best on the radio station. The threat of competition is not on the radio station’s radar. For this month, the honor of being recognized as the station’s best belongs to ‘The Wake Up Zone” which features Kevin Ingram, Frank Wycheck and Mark Howard.

What’s scary is that when you look at the money demo (Persons 25-54), the same story exists.

For example, The Zone was tied for 5th M-SU 6a-Mid with a 6.8. They were 4th M-F 6a-7p with a 7.5. In mornings they finished 2nd with an 8.6. Middays came in 5th with a 7.1. And in afternoon drive, they’re 4th with a 6.9.

What this data tells us is that The Zone owns the market with Men 25-54, and the real competitive focus is on beating brands in the Persons 25-54 category. When a sports station is able to do that, it puts a company in position to have huge financial success.

Let me be clear about one thing as it pertains to this story. I don’t work for 104.5 The Zone or Cumulus who owns the radio station. The only thing I gain by sharing this story is some additional web traffic, a few thank you’s from listeners and industry folks who are appreciative of learning the information, and if I play my cards right, maybe a retweet from Mickey Ryan, Brent Dougherty and Blaine Bishop of 3HL.

If The Zone was losing badly, I wouldn’t hesitate to share that story because I believe in being fair, objective, and honest. In this case though there isn’t much to say other than “congrats on a job well done!”

The purpose of this piece is to educate you on what this brand has created in its local market, and acknowledge why they deserve to be in the conversation among elite brands in the sports radio format. Stations such as 98.5 The Sports Hub and WEEI in Boston, WFAN in New York, 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, and KFAN in Minneapolis all deserve to be at the top of the list, but 104.5 The Zone can make an argument for why they belong in the same discussion.

When you’re delivering double digit ratings and 1st place finishes month after month, that’s impossible to ignore. It’s these types of stories that demonstrate the power sports radio has in local markets, and the more we become familiar with them, the more the mainstream media will have to take notice of the way this format and its personalities connect with local audiences, and deliver results for advertisers.

I know this much, if you’re an advertiser looking to reach Men in the Nashville market, and you’re not investing the majority of your budget on The Zone, your strategy is severely flawed. There’s an old saying in sports radio “you fish where the fish are” and in this case, they’re all swimming in The Zone’s waters.

Sports Radio News

Fescoe in the Morning: ESPN Has a History of Ignoring Non-Partner Leagues

“They are risking being ignored by ESPN now,” replied Klingler.

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Fescoe in the Morning

ESPN is out of the running for the Big Ten football and basketball media rights. Those will be awarded to a combination of other networks and likely a streaming service. ESPN appears to be focusing on NCAA Championships next.

Josh Klingler, co-host of Fescoe in the Morning on 610 Sports Radio in Kansas City, took time on their show on Tuesday to break down what that might mean for the Big Ten in terms of coverage.

“You’re (Big Ten) going to network television, which is better; more eyeballs and what have you,” noted Klingler. “But also, let’s not forget ESPN has a history of ignoring you when you’re not on their air. That’s the risk they are going to run.”

Klingler would add, “They are going to take the money. They are going to get network viewers, which is good. I guess the highlight and the hype and all those things that we are accustomed to doing that ESPN provides. We’ve already seen they ignore you if you’re not on their network.”

Bob Fescoe chimed in a reminder about another prominent league that chose not to partner with ESPN.

“Ask the National Hockey League what happened when they took the money from NBC and ran,” said Fescoe.

“They are risking being ignored by ESPN now,” replied Klingler.

“Right, but I think they are willing to do that for a billion dollars per year,” Fescoe responded.

Fescoe then said that the Big Ten might make up for the perceived shortcomings of not being on ESPN by being on network television.

“If you’re going to be on network TV in all three windows, Josh, quite honestly all your marquee games are going to be free,” said Fescoe.

“That’s exposure,” said Klingler.

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Sports Radio News

NESN’s Dave O’Brien Says National Networks “Blew It” By Not Hiring Dennis Eckersley

“I don’t know how they blew it as badly as they did but Dennis Eckersley should have been a national icon… they made a mistake on that. I hope somebody regrets it.”

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Dennis Eckersley

On Monday, Dennis Eckersley decided to make it known that this season would be his last with NESN in the booth. He mentioned that after 50 years in baseball, it was time to go be with the grandchildren in San Diego.

His broadcast partner for a lot of those years in the NESN booth was Dave O’Brien. On the latest Sports Media Mayhem podcast, O’Brien joined show host Alex Reimer to talk about the retirement of Eckersley. Reimer pointed out that it took awhile before Eckersley became the main color analyst for the team. O’Brien remembered the time well.

“When he started, he was pre- and post- and he did that most of his career at NESN,” said O’Brien. “It was really, only the last six or seven years that he really started to get on as a game analyst.”

O’Brien was named the lead play-by-play announcer for NESN’s Red Sox coverage in 2016 which is about the same time Eckersley slid into the role of game analyst. In the time since, O’Brien has seen the work of Eckersley up close and is floored that he was working for a regional sports network and not somewhere more nationally prominent.

“I think the national people totally blew it on Dennis Eckersley,” blurted O’Brien. “And that includes Turner. They had an opportunity, I can say that because a lot of those people there now didn’t make the decision. He should have been the lead analyst doing national games. He should have been on ESPN on Sunday Night Baseball or FOX. I don’t know how they blew it as badly as they did but Dennis Eckersley should have been a national icon… they made a mistake on that. I hope somebody regrets it.”

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Sports Radio News

Sal Paolantonio Not Interested In Trying Ayahuasca To Better Understand Aaron Rodgers

“Halucinagenics have been at the center of a lot of conversations about Aaron Rodgers lately.”

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Dan Patrick is a very good interviewer. He asks the questions he knows his audience wants answered. He also makes a habit out of throwing out questions to his guests that they never see coming. That was the case on Tuesday for ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio.

Paolantonio joined the Dan Patrick Show to discuss Pro Football Hall of Fame voting and the new NFL season. That is not what the host hit him with out of the gate.

The first question from Patrick to Paolantonio was “Just to relate to Aaron Rodgers, would you be willing to try ayahuasca?”.

Paolantonio was left speechless. All he could do was laugh and say “you got me on that one, Dan.”

Halucinagenics have been at the center of a lot of conversations about Aaron Rodgers lately. The Green Bay quarterback recently said on a podcast that experimenting with ayahuasca opened him up to be ready to succeed both on the field and as a leader. He credits the experience with laying the foundation for his 2021 MVP season.

Patrick pushed the issue challenging Paolantonio to beat Andrea Kremer to the experience.

“My money is on the fearless Andrea Kremer,” Paolantonio shot back.

For the record, Kremer responded to the challenge on Twitter.

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