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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

Chick Hearn Headlines Radio Hall of Fame Legends Inductees

Amongst other accolades, he is credited with broadcast 3,338 consecutive Lakers game from November 21, 1965 to December 16, 2001.

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Chick Hearn

The Museum of Broadcast Communications announced today the selection of 10 new Legends inductees into the Radio Hall of Fame for 2022. This distinction honors those in the industry who have contributed greatly to it and have since passed away.

Chick Hearn, the longtime voice of the Los Angeles Lakers, will be amongst those inducted in Chicago next month. Hearn was the voice of the Lakers for 41 years (1961-2002). Amongst other accolades, he is credited with broadcast 3,338 consecutive Lakers game from November 21, 1965 to December 16, 2001.  

The full list of those to be inducted as part of the Legends class are:

  • MrDoug Banks– Nationally syndicated on-air personality;
  • MrJames Brown– Legendary singer, to be inducted as a radio station owner of WJBE Knoxville, TN;
  • MrBob Coburn– Host of the syndicated Rockline show;
  • Mr. Chick Hearn– Play-by-play announcer/voice of the Los Angeles Lakers;
  • MsBernice Judis– Owner and General Manager, WNEW-AM, 1930’s–1950’s;
  • MrSid Mark– Host of syndicated program, Sounds of Sinatra show for 60+ years;
  • Mr. Bobby O’Jay– On-air personality, WDIA-AM/Memphis;
  • MrPervis Spann– On-air personality, WVON-AM/Chicago;
  • Mr. James Thompson– Group W Broadcasting President and President of the Broadcasters Foundation;
  • Ms. Rosalie Trombley– Music Director of CKLW-AM/Detroit in the 1960’s–1970’s.

“The Radio Hall of Fame is dedicated to recognizing the individuals who have made the greatest impact on our 100+ year old industry,” Kraig T. Kitchin, Co-Chairman, Radio Hall of Fame said. “I’m thrilled to see the Nominating Committee confirm the induction of these 10 individuals who each made such an impact on our industry in their time.”    

The Radio Hall of Fame will recognize its 2022 class of inductees, including the class announced in July, during a ceremony on Tuesday, November 1st.

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Sports Radio News

Tobin and Leroy Debut on WQAM Middays

“This is a big change for us,” Tobin said. “I’ve been doing morning drive, producing or hosting now, for the last decade. Now it’s to middays we go.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Tobin and Leroy

After a brief hiatus and the closure of 790 The Ticket, Brendan Tobin and Leroy Hoard officially returned to the Miami airwaves on Monday on 560 WQAM.

Tobin and Leroy debuted in its new midday timeslot of 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on the station.

“This is a big change for us,” Tobin said. “I’ve been doing morning drive, producing or hosting now, for the last decade. Now it’s to middays we go.”

Tobin added that the timing between when they made their exit from The Ticket and returned on WQAM was a bit off.

“It was a very weird week for us to take off last week. Because they were like, ‘Hey, you’re change times, you’re gonna change stations, and also it’s gonna be the busiest sports week of the year,'” he said. “So now we’re back, and nothing will happen this week.”

“There has been less action on days we thought we had to be here than what happened last week,” Hoard added.

Hoard actually arrived to the show late, citing traffic issues getting to the station. That was something even Tobin noted is an adjustment they have to make from when they were doing morning drive.

“We’ve all discovered here today is traffic is not the same at 8 a.m. as it is at 4 a.m.,” he said. “Very different.”

Tobin made sure WQAM listeners knew that even though they switched stations, the show isn’t changing. They continued with all the usual segments that fans know and love on Monday.

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Sports Radio News

Mike Rhyner Introduces Dallas to 97.1 The Freak

“So, where were we?” began Rhyner.

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Ben Torres / Special Contributor Dallas Morning News

There’s a new radio station in Dallas which features a number of personalities familiar to local sports radio listeners. 97.1 The Freak made its much anticipated debut and the first voice to be heard belonged to the ”Old Grey Wolf” Mike Rhyner.

97.1 The Eagle stopped regular programming late Monday morning and began stunting, a technique radio stations use to separate listeners from old programming and prepare them for new content. The station began by playing songs with the word “freak” in them before transitioning into a continuous loop of “The Waiting is the Hardest Part” by Tom Petty until 3p CT. Then, a voiceover detailing the Eagle’s history switched into the voice that Dallas-Forth Worth residents have gotten to know so well, Mike Rhyner.

“So, where were we?” began Rhyner.

Rhyner went on to relive his final moments at The Ticket in Dallas. He said he was getting his “head around being a Paw Paw” before getting a call from Ben Rogers of the Ben and Skin Show and thus an idea for The Freak began to take shape.

After that, the show’s intro music played and Rhyner welcomed in Mike Sirois and before you knew it, the guys were wondering about a quarterback controversy in Dallas.

97.1 The Freak is off and running with a lineup that includes “The Speakeasy,” with Jeff Cavanaugh, Kevin “KT’ Turner, Julie Dobbs, and Matt Cather in mornings (7-11am), “Ben & Skin Show” in middays (11am-3pm) and “The Downbeat” in afternoons (3p-7p) featuring Mike Rhyner alongside Mike Sirois and Michael “Grubes” Gruber.

The station is positioning itself as a lifestyle brand but given its talent connection to local sports radio and the strong interest in Dallas sports, it’s likely the talent will weave sports talk into their on-air discussions. Sports Radio 1310/96.7 The Ticket and 105.3 The Fan have enjoyed good ratings with the male 25-54 demographic and The Freak is expected to challenge them and every other brand that produces spoken word content.

“We’re beyond excited to introduce 97-1 the Freak – the level of talent is insurmountable, and we’re thrilled for the opportunity to further connect with Dallas Fort Worth,” Patrick Davis, Regional Senior Vice President of Programming Dallas, shared in an announcement.

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