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Mixed Results In New York Summer Book For WFAN, 98.7 ESPN NY

“Analyzing NYC’s sports radio ratings can be very complicated. 98.7 ESPN New York produces one total number. WFAN, which is owned by Audacy, conducts their business differently.”

Jason Barrett

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Photo Credit: Atomic Archive

The New York summer book results are finally in. Though they were released a month ago, a combination of other projects requiring my focus and information taking longer to track down made it tougher to tackle this sooner. Usually the NY newspapers report the results quickly but a ratings story wasn’t written up for the quarter for some reason, so we’ll dive into it now.

First, presenting NYC’s sports radio ratings can be very complicated. If you need a drink after reading this, I understand. 98.7 ESPN New York reports their numbers in one lump sum, Over The Air listening and Streaming combined. The preferred way to showcase measured listening. WFAN on the other hand, which is owned by Audacy, operates differently. They produce an Over The Air and Streaming number, which then needs to be combined to show a fair head to head comparison against their local competition.

Some will say only the OTA numbers should be counted. That’s been Nielsen’s message time and again. Others will say Streaming should be added since people are indeed listening on platforms other than radio and companies have different approaches to generating sales. We’ve consistently tried to present these stories showing a complete picture of what’s taking place in a market so that’s how we’re going to present information for the summer book. We’ll make it clear where OTA performance benefits one station over the other, but given that two quality brands are delivering listenership thru a combination of radio, phone, smart speaker and computer listening, we’re going to include the streaming numbers since it does represent actual listening. The day that each station and company presents one collective number to show how they stack up against local competition can’t come soon enough.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, the summer book for New York City produced mixed results. For the full week (M-SU 6a-Mid) with Men 25-54, WFAN came in 6th with a combined 4.1 (3.5 OTA, 0.6 streaming) while 98.7 ESPN New York finished 12th with a 2.6. If you take away The Fan’s streaming number and go solely by OTA listening, WFAN holds a 3.5 to 2.6 advantage on ESPN NY.

During weekday prime, WFAN delivered a 4.5 (3.7 OTA and 0.8 Streaming) to finish 4th. 98.7 ESPN NY was 14th with a 3.3. share. The race gets tighter without streaming, with The Fan winning 3.7 to 3.3.

Due to both stations showcasing local shows during different hours, we’re going to concentrate on one brand at a time. Starting with WFAN, the station received a 4th place finish from ‘Boomer and Gio’ in morning drive. Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti produced a 5.3 share which represents 4.6 OTA and 0.7 streaming. The show’s ranking obviously declines without streaming included. Boomer and Gio were down from the spring when they ranked 2nd.

In middays on WFAN, Marc Malusis and Maggie Gray recorded a 4th place finish for the quarter courtesy of a 4.5 share (3.2 OTA, 1.3 streaming). Moose and Maggie were 3rd in the spring therefore they lost one position this book. Once again, this takes into account the addition of streaming. Without it, the show ranks lower.

Moving to afternoons, Craig Carton and Evan Roberts finished 6th between the hours of 2p-6p if you go by the combined performance of a 3.6 OTA and 0.7 stream, which lifts them to a 4.3 share. The show drops further back if you only count their OTA performance. One issue with the 2p-6p numbers, they don’t take into account the afternoon show’s final hour. Yankees baseball programming does cut into that hour often but the station does promote the program airing weekdays from 2p-7p. Full data for 2p-7p wasn’t available, but I was able to gather data for 2p-6:30p when Carton and Roberts go head to head with ESPN NY’s Michael Kay Show. Craig and Evan recorded a 3.5 OTA and 0.7 stream for a 4.2, which put them in the mix for 6th if using combined numbers. If streaming is eliminated, the show slides way back to 13th.

Most in the industry who read this are going to focus on the Carton/Roberts-Michael Kay matchup since the afternoon drive battle is one that consistently produces a lot of interest. From The Fan’s perspective, not counting the 6p-7p hour as a Carton and Roberts hour when they’re barely on makes logical sense. The flip side is that the show also benefits a number of times during the summer months from Yankee games airing during the afternoon, something the Kay Show doesn’t receive, so discounting an hour that the station bills as part of its schedule isn’t perfect either.

Regardless of all of that, the bottom line, Carton and Roberts were down this book from the spring. The show was 3rd with a 5.7 (combined performance) in the spring book after scoring their first head to head afternoon win against Kay’s show in the winter book. Given the station and show’s expectations, whether using the combined performance (6th) or OTA ratings (13th), the program didn’t hit as expected. Rebounding in the fall book is going to be a top priority for Craig and Evan.

For 98.7 ESPN New York, the top story was two shows finishing in the Top 10 and one of them, The Michael Kay Show, beating the competition head to head. For the station as a whole in weekday prime, 98.7 ESPN NY finished the summer book in 14th place with a 3.3 share. That was down from the spring when the brand registered a 9th place finish with a 3.7 share.

Among the station’s weekday shows, The Michael Kay Show with Michael Kay, Don LaGreca and Peter Rosenberg turned in a 4.3 share to finish 6th between the hours of 2p-6:30p. That was one tenth of a point above Carton and Roberts (4.2) if you use the combined numbers, and eight tenths of a point (3.5) better if going by the OTA performance. The shows also run neck and neck for 6th if using combined performance, and 6th vs. 13th if going by the OTA numbers.

In the station’s other slots, Rick DiPietro, Chris Canty and Dave Rothenberg delivered a 9th place finish during the hours of 5a-8a. The morning trio popped a 4.0 share during the book, continuing to perform in the Top 10 as they did in the spring. The station’s second half of morning drive, ESPN Radio’s ‘Keyshawn, JWill and Max’ which airs locally from 8a-10a finished 18th with a 2.0 share.

Switching to middays, Mike Greenberg’s national show, which airs from 10a-12p registered a 14th place tie with a 2.4 share. The news was better during the Noon to 3p hours as Bart Scott and Alan Hahn scored a 3.0 share to finish the book tied for 10th. Bart and Hahn have now produced back to back Top 10 finishes after starting off the year with a 12th place finish in the winter book.

Looking ahead to the fall, WFAN and 98.7 ESPN NY should both improve. During the 2020 fall book, Boomer & Gio were 1st in mornings, Moose & Maggie were 3rd in middays, and afternoons, which featured two months of Benigno & Roberts and the first month of Carton & Roberts combined to finish 5th. For 98.7 ESPN NY, Michael Kay was 2nd last fall, mornings were 14th, and middays came in 9th.

Sports Radio News

The Musers Mock Jim Nantz’s Farewell To Nick Faldo

“I’m telling you, Jim, he made it worse with his funeral director voice,” said co-host George Dunham.

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Nick Faldo

On Sunday, CBS Golf analyst Nick Faldo called his final tournament with CBS after sixteen years with the network. He was poised in the tower above the 18th green with Jim Nantz as he said his final goodbyes. It was an emotional moment that The Musers on The Ticket in Dallas had to comment on.

In the message, Faldo clearly has an issue getting thru the moment while Nantz tries to comfort his friend and buy him some time to regain his composure. However, The Musers thought it wasn’t helpful at all.

“I’m telling you, Jim, he made it worse with his funeral director voice,” said co-host George Dunham. “It sounded like he was going to say, ‘now, it’s time to send you to your happy place’. When he said that and when Nick said, in tears, ‘I’m ready,’ that made it sound like Jim was putting him to sleep.”

“(Australian accent) Go ahead and smother me, Jim,” Gordon Keith quipped, “go ahead and take that pillow over there and choke me out right now.”

“Nick are you ready for us to unplug the life support machine?” asked Dunham.

“Yeah, kick that thing right out the wall, mate.”

Dunham would later say, “I don’t think that any famous broadcaster has ever signed off in tears, proclaiming ‘I’m ready, I’m ready'”.

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Sports Radio News

Keyshawn Johnson: ‘I Don’t Like Sunday Night Baseball Putting Mics on Players’

“I’ve got an IFB in my ear and I’m trying to pay attention to the game and I’ve got air traffic control talking to me. There’s no way you can tell me that doesn’t affect you.”

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Most people seem to really like Sunday Night Baseball adding mics to players in the field this season. Fans and critics alike have commended ESPN for giving fans access that they have never had before. But don’t expect Keyshawn Johnson to join that praise chorus anytime soon.

“I don’t like the interaction with broadcast teams talking to players during the game, in the field,” he said on Monday morning’s edition of Keyshawn, JWill and Max.

The ESPN Radio morning man is convinced that eventually, the in-game conversations are going to cause a costly error.

Freddie Coleman, who was filling in for both Jay Williams and Max Kellerman, played a clip from Sunday night’s game for Johnson. In the clip, listeners could hear the Padres’ newly acquired slugger Juan Soto pleading with a ball hit by Cody Bellinger to stay in the park during the team’s 0-4 shutout loss to the Dodgers.

“I don’t like that as a player,” Johnson said. “I know the fans love it.”

He said that when he sees players mic’d up and answering a question during the game, he is constantly worried about how it will affect what happens on the field. He said he felt some empathy for the fielder on the mic once the ball is put into play, because if it comes that fielder’s way and he is distracted, the instant reaction from the crowd will be to question the player’s effort or ability rather than ask if the distraction is worth it.

Coleman pointed out that there is some very famous video of Keyshawn Johnson during his playing career mic’d up on the sidelines. Johnson defended NFL Films, saying that getting live sound of a game is very different than what Major League Baseball is making players do.

“That’s different than interacting with Karl Ravech and company in the booth. I’ve got an IFB in my ear and I’m trying to pay attention to the game and I’ve got air traffic control talking to me. There’s no way you can tell me that doesn’t affect you.”

The closing months of the regular season as playoff races start to take shape are not the ideal times for networks to be having conversations with guys in the middle of the field. That doesn’t mean it is never good content. Keyshawn Johnson said that as a viewer, he would welcome in-game interviews during Spring Training and the All-Star Game. He just has trouble believing players are happy to participate.

“It’s cool. I’m not mad that it’s being done. I just wouldn’t like it as a player,” he said.

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Sports Radio News

Rob Hipp Named New Voice of North Dakota State

In addition to his role as the play-by-play announcer for Bison football and basketball, Hipp will also serve as the Director of Operations for Bison 1660.

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Rob Hipp is the new “Voice of the Bison”.

The former Sam Houston State play-by-play announcer will serve in the same capacity for North Dakota State. He replaces Jeff Culhane, who left the position for a similar role at Florida State earlier this summer.

In addition to his role as the play-by-play announcer for Bison football and basketball, Hipp will also serve as the Director of Operations for Bison 1660.

“It’s an incredible opportunity and blessing to be here. The word that comes to mind with everything associated with NDSU is excellence,” Hipp said. “Matt Larsen, Coach (Matt) Entz, Coach (David) Richman, the support staff and everyone with Bison Sports Properties led by Josh Hartman made this a transparent and smooth process. I also want to thank Tom Boman with Learfield as well as Nancy Odney and the great people at Radio FM Media. My family and I are proud to be in Fargo!”

“We are thrilled to have Rob join the team at Radio FM Media as the new voice of the Bison, Director of Operations for Bison 1660-92.7, and Sports Director for our group,” said Radio FM COO Nancy Odney. “Rob is a very talented play-by-play announcer and a top sports radio host. His creative energy, new content, and passion for sports and broadcasting is going to be an exciting addition to the team.”

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