Thursday, January 12, 2017

Just The Facts Please

Mistakes happen in sports media just as they do throughout the news and entertainment media and in all walks of life.

The one made by Mike Francesa on his Monday (1/9) WFAN 66 afternoon show might have even been the result of incorrect information he was given, but we will probably never know. We understand that Francesa has his detractors among fans and others in sports media.

First, here is what happened. Francesa's live guest was "coach" George Karl, discussing his recently released book about his lengthy NBA coaching career. When discussing Karl coaching in the NBA Finals in the 90's against Michael Jordan and the Bulls, Francesa referred to Jordan's game winning shot in clinching Game 6 of the 1998 Finals.

However, that game, which wound up being Jordan's final game with the Bulls, was against Utah, coached at the time by the legendary Jerry Sloan. Karl's Seattle Supersonics had played against Chicago during the previous year's Finals and lost to the Bulls. That meant Francesa referred to the wrong game on the air, and was gently corrected by Karl, who wanted to continue the interview and receive his "free" publicity for the book.

This is not to defend Francesa or to dismiss his mistake. What irks me is seeing comments about it in stories and on social media from other sports media members. In this day and age it seems that some "reporters" spend more time looking into who reported a story "first" than getting the facts right for an actual breaking story. Just give us correct facts.

Even though the NFL Wild Card week TV ratings combined to be down as a result of games which were not very competitive, CBS did well with its Pittsburgh vs. Miami telecast on Sunday (1/8). The game's ratings actually were comparable with last season's prime time grudge match between the Steelers and Cincinnati. With all actual division winners and no wild card teams in the mix, having better matchups should lead to strong ratings for this coming weekend's playoff matchups.

CHICAGO: WSCR 670 The Score begins 2017 with a major change to its daily lineup. This past week (1/5) marked the on-air retirement party for 25 year host Terry Boers, who was part of the station's first ever broadcast day on Jan. 2, 1992. The five hour show featured guests including former on-air personalities and station management, along with local team officials and media members from other stations in town.

The station has completed its rebuild, moving midday co-host Jason Goff into the 1 to 6 PM show to replace Boers and work with Dan Bernstein, who remains in that spot. Goff had been co-hosting middays since Feb. 2015.

Matt Spiegel will be joined on the 9 AM to 1 PM spot by Danny Parkins, who leaves his successful afternoon show on KCSP Kansas City this Friday (1/13) to begin on The Score on Tuesday (1/17). Parkins is a Chicago native who quietly auditioned a few months back when he filled in for a week on the station's overnight show.

On the TV side, the Cubs announcing team of Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies will stay in place for at least the next three seasons on CSN Chicago. Kasper is about to begin his 13th season as the TV play-by-play voice.

SAN DIEGO: This is a coincidence to the city losing the Chargers to Los Angeles, and, frankly, doesn't hurt anywhere near as much. XEPE ESPN 1700 is giving up a full seven hours of its weekday schedule to business related programming instead of sports. Three business shows will air between 9 AM and 4 PM on weekdays, while the station, for now, plans to continue ESPN Radio programming at all other times.

FLINT MI: Don't expect much change at WTRX Sports Xtra 1330. The station has named Tim Shickles as its new Program Director. To show the level of priority, Shickles continues both his on-air and Program Director duties at sister country music station WFBE 95.1.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

It's Not The Polls, It's The Bowls

Not many college football fans liked the idea of having the championship semi-finals before the traditional New Year's Day (or Jan. 2 as the case may be) bowl games, but it seems that the viewers responded better than expected.

The meaningless but high scoring Rose Bowl game (all four plus hours) drew an audience big enough to make it the largest audience to view a "non semifinal" New Year's bowl game. Viewership was roughly 17% higher than last year's game (played on Jan. 1, 2016), including setting an audience record in the Philadelphia market, and being the second highest rated bowl game ever shown on ESPN in Pittsburgh and Los Angeles.

The Sugar Bowl telecast which followed (and started on ESPN2 due to the incredible length of the Rose Bowl) drew roughly 7% more viewers than last year's game. The six weekend major bowl telecasts on ESPN combined to be up roughly 16% over last year's games.

For NBC, showing outdoor NHL games on both Jan. 1 and 2 did not go as well as the network had hoped. This is easier to understand for the Sunday telecast of Detroit vs. Toronto, since it was up against Week 17 NFL early regional games on both Fox and CBS (in almost every market), and with only one U.S. market having its team featured.

The Monday Jan. 2 telecast between Chicago and St. Louis was slightly better than last year's New Year's Day telecast, but again below the viewer levels from the Winter Classic game in 2015 and 2014. That is even with strong local team market ratings, as the St. Louis market rating is its highest rating ever for an NBC regular season telecast.

NBC plans to air the NHL All-Star Game next month instead of NBCSN, the first time it will do so since acquiring the NHL package in 2005. It will be interesting to see if the senseless format of choosing up sides to form teams unfamiliar to all concerned will keep the viewers' attention.

Like him or not these days, you have to admit that Chris Berman reducing his role at ESPN is the end of an era in sports media. Starting in the days of Jimmy Myers and two minute SportsCenter updates during Austrailian Rules Football and nick names for many MLB players, he has been a part of every major event.

Most notable is his 31 seasons of hosting NFL related studio programming, especially NFL Primetime. With his new contract (signing announced on Jan. 5th), he will still be involved in NFL studio programming (including Monday Night Football moving forward), and call a MLB Division Series on radio. Even though it won't seem like an NFL Draft without him, Berman will no longer host that coverage, or the MLB Home Run Derby.

The network has just announced a one-hour tribute to Berman for Feb. 2nd at 10:30 PM ET.

Those that enjoy the (seemingly) constant yelling of Stephen A. Smith will be happy to know that he returns to ESPN Radio starting on Jan. 17th with a daily two hour show. Among the major stations airing it will be (owned and operated) WEPN ESPN 98.7 New York and KSPN 710 Los Angeles.
The 1:00 to 3:00 PM ET show will move WEPN New York's Hahn & Humpty Show to 10 AM to 1 PM and bumps the Dan LeBatard Show. Late word is that LeBatard will move to WEPN-AM from Noon to 2 PM, even though the AM station is otherwise ESPN Deportes. Nothing like a "We'll be back in this language in just two hours" break in the midday to hold an audience.

On the year-end trends, sports fans will enjoy knowing that Nielsen research data shows that the top ten most watched TV shows nationally for 2016, with the exception of the Academy Awards, were all sports events. As you would expect, the Super Bowl led the way, followed by Game 7 of the World Series.

BOSTON: WBZ-FM Sports Hub is adding host Nick Cattles to its lineup, although no time slot has been announced as of press time. Cattles joins the Hub from WVSP 94.1 in Newport - Virginia Beach, for which he is scheduled to do his final show on January 9th.

CHICAGO: With Todd Hollandsworth leaving Comcast SportsNet Chicago's as Cubs pre and post-game analyst, no replacement has been named as of press time. Hollandsworth, who held the Cubs analyst position since 2008, will join the Miami Marlins TV booth starting with the upcoming season.
Look for just retired catcher David Ross and former Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster, now with MLB Network, as strong possibilities to replace Hollandsworth on CSN Chicago.

HOUSTON: Like father, like son, as Todd Kalas gets the job as the Astros' new TV play-by-play voice starting immediately. For all that his Hall of Fame broadcaster father, Harry, did during his many years calling the Phillies games, many forget that Harry called Astros games from 1965 through 1970. That's back in the days when Gene Elston and Loel Passe were in the booth after Al Helfer stepped aside.

Kalas replaces long time play-by-play voice Bill Brown. He comes over after 19 seasons on the Tampa Bay Rays broadcast team in a variety of capacities. And after years of a crowd of analysts, Todd will work with Geoff Blum as the full-time analyst. Blum had done many of the road games over the past four seasons.

Speaking of Philadelphia tie-ins, the decision of KBME 790 to dismiss Charlie Pallido in October, when his ratings were the highest he had in months, is not looming large as of now. Josh Innes, the former controversial Philadelphia sports host, now has an audience which is less than 40% of what Pallido had, according to the most recent monthly ratings through November.

DENVER: KDSP Denver Sports 760 has bounced "Logan & Wargin" from middays, replacing them with (former Bronco) Ed McCaffrey and Andy Lindahl from 10 AM to 1 PM. Mike Rice will now air from 1 to 3 PM. However, the station will now air (syndicated) Colin Cowherd on delay from 3 to 6 PM. Yes, it's delayed syndicated programming during afternoon drive.

During that time period, Dave Logan, also the Broncos play-by-play voice, will co-host afternoons on market powerhouse KOA 850.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Full Holiday Weekend of Viewing

So much for the years when there would be no games on Christmas Eve and maybe a couple of games to watch on Christmas Day. The NFL is taking over this year with games on both nights after a full slate of Saturday afternoon games. Although this is due to the holiday falling on a Sunday this year, it lessens the impact of the ABC/ESPN slate of five consecutive live NBA games which usually are dominant on Christmas day and night.

The latest Nielsen radio ratings have come out, these for the period from early November (after the World Series ended) into the first week of December. As is often the case, this ratings period proved terrible for the majority of sports radio stations.

In Boston, the two sports stations both finished in the top seven overall, which is still a strong showing. However, WBZ-FM Sports Hub dropped .7 of a ratings point from the month before but came in #4 overall. WEEI-FM dipped .9 during the same time, dropping to the #7 spot overall.

Minneapolis listeners continued to grow KFXN-FM The Fan, although this ratings book is a "good news - bad news" result. The good is that the station remains #1 in the market on weekends (surrounding the Vikings broadcasts), but it fell from 4th place to 8th place for weeknights in just one month. The Fan dropped by more than one full ratings point from the previous month, yet came in #2 overall, down from #1 the previous month. With the Vikings in contention all month, it will be interesting to see what the next ratings bring.

Chicago listeners clearly came down from the high of the Cubs championship in November, as flagship station WSCR The Score 670 lost more than half of its overall audience in just one month, dipping from an all-time high of 6.2 to a more typical 2.6. The Score went from #2 in the market to #13, while WMVP ESPN 1000 came in at 2.0 (having dropped .9 as well from the MLB post-season month.

Strong sports stations in San Francisco and Detroit also saw dips during November. KNBR 680 (San Fran.) dropped from #3 overall to #7, losing 1.5 rating points. Yet, KGMZ-FM The Game actually gained .2 during the same time, although still well under half of KNBR's total audience. Both of Philadelphia's sports stations dropped, with WIP-FM losing .6 and WPEN-FM losing .2.

While the Cowboys ride to the post-season, even the three Dallas sports stations all failed to gain any (overall) audience during November. KTCK-AM dropped .4 but leads the sports race at 3.2. KRLD-FM dropped .3 to a 2.9, while KESN-FM ESPN held steady but trails with a 1.5. In Houston KILT-AM dropped .4 from the previous month, while both KFNC-FM and KMBE-AM held steady with their ratings of less than 1.

In Los Angeles, KSPN 710 gained slightly while KLAC-AM 570 dropped .8 with no more Dodgers broadcasts to carry it, dropping it back behind KSPN for the sports radio "lead".

Meanwhile, the media era of not having editors double check the facts hit still another low point for a group of newspapers in Michigan owned by Advance Publications on Monday. The Grand Rapids Press, Muskegon Chronicle, Kalamazoo Gazette, and other smaller papers in the same group were among those newspapers with a wrong front page headline published.

They each had "Lions Roped By Cowboys" as a headline. However, the Lions lost that game to the N.Y. Giants in real life. This was the front page of the entire newspaper - not just the sports section.

That falls under News Editor in addition to Sports Editor. Now we know that no one checks a headline for facts on the front page. While the executives wonder why the circulation drops. Yikes.

CBS will get away with a sneak attack this Saturday (12/24) to run up against Fox which actually has the NFL doubleheader telecast. While Fox gives more of the country the Tampa Bay vs. New Orleans game (called by Kenny Albert, since Joe Buck and Troy Aikman get the Green Bay vs. Minnesota early telecast) among its late games, CBS has a regional late telecast of its own.

The Indianapolis at Oakland late game regional telecast will air (against a Fox game) in markets including Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, and Denver, among others. To that point, CBS has assigned its top team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms to the game. They figure that more fans might want to check out the Raiders than the Tampa game in those markets, and they may have a point. It could be like CBS having an "extra" double header telecast. But that's a great move for them under the current TV rules.

MINNEAPOLIS: KFAN 100.3 has announced a three year extension of its contract as flagship station for the Wild, which goes through the 2019-20 season. The station is now in its sixth season as the team's flagship.

Have a great holiday weekend!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Former Coach Caught In The Wake

Normally it doesn't matter to me about the person or source which breaks a sports (news) story. Getting the facts right is far more important. In the case of the Tommy Elrod firing, I'll make an exception and congratulate for being first to report this unfortunate event.

As a web site which covers that Conference, its staff did some digging and was the first to report that Wake Forest University had found that its football radio analyst (Elrod) had been fired by IMG Management due to being discovered leaking some of the team's confidential game strategies to an undetermined number of opponents since the start of the 2014 season.

Technically, Elrod did not work for Wake Forest, since IMG owns the broadcast rights and hires the personnel. However, Elrod got the job from his experience as a player, graduate assistant, and 11 seasons as an assistant coach with the school's football team. Elrod lost his assistant coach position prior to the 2014 season when Dave Clawson became Head Coach.

Reports are that Elrod provided confidential game information he received as a team broadcaster to "multiple opponents" over the past three seasons, according to the report.

The web site should be commended for researching and reporting on this story. This is difficult on the reporting media. As much as this needed to be reported in detail, there is now concern among game broadcasters about what the future holds. Pro and college team broadcasters, as well as national network play-by-play announcers and analysts usually attend practices and have ample opportunities to talk with coaches and players leading into the games about strategies so they can be better prepared to communicate what is happening to the fans.

With coaching and team management positions being highly competitive, it would not be surprising to see media access become more strict or limited from now on.

There are many incidents of media members who either broadcast for or regularly cover a team (or school sports) who are aware of internal things taking place which are not to be reported to the public. This incident, which hopefully is isolated, is going to put a lot of doubt into a lot of coaches, players, and management about confidentiality.

It is also another story (since this is a sports media blog only) to think that it appears that certain opposing coaches and perhaps players may have actually used the information that Elrod wrongly revealed to their advantage. Even if they did not, which we'd all like to think is the vast majority, the question must be raised as to why no one reported Elrod's actions earlier than after his third full season of doing this horrible thing.

Congratulations to those about to be inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame, which just announced its inductees for its 10th year. Verne Lundquist clearly leads the pack, fitting as he retires from his (seemingly) hundreds of seasons of calling college football, as well as hundreds NFL and NBA games from local radio (Dallas Cowboys) to network TV.

Other inductees include long time baseball analyst Tim McCarver and CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus.

Fox Sports' FS1 may have a long way to go in the ratings game, but it is catching up to ESPN in terms of the number of on air people it shares with them. Now Fox has added NFL analyst Chris Carter to the fold. For now, Carter will appear on various studio shows until or unless he is assigned to one. The rest of the list of "common" personalities includes Skip Bayless, Colin Cowherd, and Jason Whitlock.

As the NFL season hits playoff crunch and the prime-time matchups start to get better, the audience is returning. On Sunday (12/11), the Dallas vs. N.Y. Giants finished as the highest prime time rating for a Week 14 telecast since 1997. Then on Monday (12/12), the New England win over Baltimore tied for the highest Monday Night Football audience of this season.

On the college side, it could be because the game was moved back at least a week later than its usual time and came up on a much weaker Saturday lineup, but last Saturday's Army vs. Navy football game actually drew a decent audience. CBS reportedly had nearly eight million viewers during the game, making it the most watched of these matchups since the 1992 game.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

King Finally Treated As Royalty

How nice to finally have the colorful Bill King be the broadcaster to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame next July 29th in Cooperstown.

Although King was officially selected for his 24 years of excellence on the Oakland A's radio broadcasts, his Bay Area career made him a total broadcasting Hall of Famer as well. He is probably better known and remembered for his 26 seasons of calling the Oakland (and Los Angeles) Raiders broadcasts including much of the John Madden coaching era. He also called Warriors basketball games on radio for 21 seasons, and earlier served as Sports Director for KFRC Radio.

If only this overdue honor had happened sooner, since King passed away on Oct. 18, 2005. I'm sure his acceptance speech would have been as colorful and entertaining as all of his play-by-play broadcasts. His baseball broadcasting brought much needed enthusiasm to the A's radio broadcasts, as he shared much of his time with the always calm and boring Lon Simmons.

King was the clear choice over other nominees such as Dewayne Staats and Mike Krukow. Other nominees such as the Cubs' Pat Hughes and the Mets' Gary Cohen will likely have their day in coming years.

If it wasn't for Jerry Jones, the TV networks with NFL rights would be the happiest about the amazing season the Dallas Cowboys are having, both in the standings and in the audience ratings.

Their game against Minnesota last week wound up as the most watched Thursday Night Football game in its less than three season history on major networks. To the surprise of no one at all, NBC has flexed their Dec. 18th game against Tampa Bay to Sunday Night Football from its original early game schedule on Fox. This bumps the Pittsburgh vs. Cincinnati match, which CBS put into an early game spot that day.

One flex change for this Sunday (12/11) has CBS taking over the Chicago at Detroit telecast in the 1 PM ET spot from Fox.

On the college football side, the Big Ten Conference has become a hot commodity these past two weekends. Coming off the understandably high rated Ohio State vs. Michigan game on ABC on Nov. 26th, Fox scored well with its Penn State vs. Wisconsin prime time telecast on Dec. 3rd.

Even though its telecast was technically down in audience from the 2015 Big Ten Championship Game telecast, Fox outdrew ABC and the ACC Championship Game (Clemson vs. Virginia) by more than 70%.

ABC's Saturday night college football prime-time telecasts finished roughly 10% higher in total viewership over the 2015 season, making it the first time since 2011 that the prime-time games finished with better ratings than CBS had for its late afternoon SEC game of the week telecasts.

As expected, the ESPN/ABC lead crew of Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit will call the biggest assignments. These include the Jan. 9th national championship game, the Jan. 2nd Rose Bowl game, and the semi-final game with Clemson vs. Ohio State. The other semi-final between Alabama and Washington will be called by Joe Tessitore and Todd Blackledge. Tessitore took over, in effect, from Brad Nessler when Brad signed with CBS.

NASHVILLE: Clay Travis, host of the syndicated "Outkick The Coverage" weekday morning show from 6 to 9 AM ET, has gained two hours locally but lost in the ratings and the broadcast signal locally. Travis airs his show from Nashville (where it is 5 to 8 AM CT).

Only his first hour (5 to 6 AM) had been carried in Nashville, but on WGFX 104.5 The Zone, the sports station with decent ratings. Now, his entire three hours airs live locally, but on little known WLAC 1510, which is not a sports station (as evident by Glen Beck following at 8 AM).

EVANSVILLE: After two and one-half years, WJLT 105.3 has dumped ESPN Radio as of this past Monday (12/5) to go to a music format. The station is airing holiday music all month before going to an 80's to today format late this month.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Programming From Within For Boston

Looks like even the most successful stations don't like paying relocation costs. When it comes to sports radio, what happens in Boston, where the two stations continue to each consistently rank in the top seven in overall audience, is important.

WEEI-FM, the flagship station for the Red Sox, has been without an official Program Director for almost six months, despite its ratings battle with rival WBZ-FM Sports Hub. After all this time, what happens?

They hire from within. Congratulations are in order for Joe Zarbano, who moves up from Assistant Program Director to the coveted P.D. position, which also puts him in charge of the Red Sox Radio Network. Zarbano has already been with the station since 2007, working his way up the ladder during that time, and is an ideal candidate for the position.

It has to be asked what took so long. If they couldn't find a more ideal candidate from outside of the organization in, say, 60 days, who was going to come along in the next four months? As it goes in radio and TV these days, it is probably about money. Again, there are zero costs for relocation. Let's figure that the pay for "interim" Program Director for six months is less than the pay for the official
Program Director is going to be, resulting in the saving of thousands of dollars.

Again, Zarbano is a good candidate for this important position. It took too long to get to this point. The hiring from within didn't stop there. Ben Kichen moves up from "Senior Producer" to "Assistant Program Director" to take over most of Zarbano's previous duties.

Fans with a paid subscription to CBS All Access service get an added bonus starting immediately. After some behind the scenes negotiating with the NFL, CBS is now able to stream its NFL game coverage to subscribers. This plan begins with this Sunday's telecasts and will include regular season and post-season games televised by CBS. Users will also be able to stream content from NFL Game Pass, which is the League's digital video subscription service. This is part of a multi-year deal, although terms were not disclosed.

Thanksgiving Day gave CBS and Fox a lot to be thankful for, as the holiday NFL games were huge. The Dallas vs. Washington game wound up as the most-watched regular season telecast of all-time on Fox with more than 35 million viewers. This was also the most watched NFL regular season game on ANY network since 1995, which happened to be for the Thanksgiving matchup between Dallas and Kansas City.

Earlier that day, even the Minnesota at Detroit game, with two teams struggling to stay in the NFC North race, wound up as CBS' most watched NFL game for the entire season, with more than 27,000,000 viewers. The Thanksgiving Thursday Night Football game (Pittsburgh vs. Indy) on NBC, however, had nearly 21 million viewers, which was down roughly 7,000,000 viewers from last year's turkey night game between Green Bay and Chicago.

The prime-time decline stayed for Sunday's (11/27) Kansas City vs. Denver game, even though it went into overtime. While it did still win prime time for NBC, its overnight national ratings were down more than 35% from the similar night 2015 game, also with Denver, but against New England.

We'll never know how much of a difference it might have made, but NBC had flexed to have the K.C. vs. Denver telecast instead of New England vs. N.Y. Jets.

One thing for sure is that this years Cowboys team spells huge ratings. Of the NFL's five highest rated regular season telecasts as of Nov. 30th, FOUR of them have been Cowboys games. The only one which is not is the Thanksgiving Detroit vs. Minnesota game, which scored high ratings leading into the Cowboys vs. Redskins game.

Fox and CBS will be flexing for Sunday Dec. 11th. Fox has moved the New Orleans at Tampa Bay game from 1:00 to 4:25 ET to have three late games to show, while this moves Chicago at Detroit over to CBS during the 1 PM ET window. Of course, NBC won't even think of changing its scheduled game that night, which is Dallas vs. N.Y. Giants.

CHICAGO: The emotional run for WSCR The Score 670 afternoon host Terry Boers continued this week. Boers, who has missed months of 2016 due to major medical issues, returned on Monday after missing nearly a full month. On Tuesday (11/29), he then announced that, as many suspected, he will retire from the station (and his long and successful career) on Jan. 5th, 2017.

Boers has a very good reason for picking that date to retire. Jan. 2, 2017, marks the 25-year anniversary of the debut of WSCR The Score (on a different Chicago frequency), and Boers was a part of the station from the start.

His replacement will likely come from within (which sounds familiar), with speculation pointing toward current night host Laurence Holmes, whose show is so often pre-empted or shortened by play-by-play broadcasts.

PHILADELPHIA: Although the number of years and terms have yet to be released, it is official that WIP-FM 94 will continue as the flagship station for the Phillies on a multi-year extension. Scott Franzke, Larry Andersen, and Jim Jackson will continue as the broadcast team.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Again, Teams Drive Sports Radio Ratings

The proof is in the ratings. When it comes to sports radio, it's what is going on with the local teams that makes the difference. The Chicago Cubs run to a World Series win is a prime example. Neither Chicago all sports station made any program lineup changes in the past couple of months.

Due to WSCR 670 The Score being the flagship station for the Cubs, and WMVP ESPN 1000 airing the national broadcasts, both stations posted significant ratings gains for the ratings period of early October to early November, which timed out to include the entire Cubs post-season run. During this time, The Score's afternoon co-host, Terry Boers, continued to be away for most of the month due to medical problems, which means its on-air staff was not at full strength.

The Score increased its total audience by roughly one-third from just the previous month, finishing a record high #2 overall in the market. At the same time, WMVP increased by .8 of a ratings point, finishing a respectable #11 overall in the market. As you would expect, both stations provided expanded pre-game and post-game programming along with local discussion about the Cubs throughout the broadcast day.

At the same time, Boston, which continues as the strongest market in the country for sports talk radio, had the Red Sox eliminated in the first round and had both stations combine to lose one full ratings point for the month. Even with that, however, WBZ-FM Sports Hub came in at #3 overall in the market, now .7 of a ratings point ahead of WEEI-FM (Red Sox flagship), which already lost .8 of a ratings point for the month which included that Red Sox playoff series and finished a strong #6.

New York City listeners appeared to be interested in the ESPN national post-season baseball broadcasts, as WEPN-FM ESPN gained .3 of a ratings point for the month. At the same time, WFAN 660, while still finishing well ahead of WEPN, lost exactly .3 of a ratings point during the same period.

We saw a similar move in Dallas, where KTCK-AM The Ticket gained .5 for the month and finished #10 overall in the market. By doing so, it leaped past KRLD-FM which dropped .5 and to #12 in the market. KESN-FM ESPN held steady.

Both Philadelphia sports stations held steady (each down .1), with WIP-FM coming in at #7 with more than double the total audienc eof WPEN-FM ESPN. In Detroit, WXYT-FM The Ticket dipped to #3 in the market, losing 20% of its overall audience from the month before.

In Minneapolis, KFXN-FM The Fan held at #1 overall in the market despite a .4 drop, while maintaining more than four times the total audience of KSTP-AM, even though it went up .2.

The Dodgers post-season run deep into the NLCS helped KLAC 570 to one of its best ratings periods ever (as a sports station), although the station still did not crack the market's top 25. Similar to what happened in Chicago, KSPN ESPN 710 gained .4 during the same period.

On the NFL side, this past Sunday's (11/20) NBC game between Green Bay and Washington was up roughly 2% from last season's Week 11 telecast, and this was likely from a big push in the Milwaukee/Green Bay market. The Milwaukee market scored an amazing 42.3 Nielsen rating and a 59 share of the local audience. The next three biggest markets, understandably, were Richmond, Washington D.C., and Norfolk, with ratings all in the 20's.

On the college football side, while we can understand the hype this year for the Ohio State vs. Michigan game coming up on Saturday (11/26), ESPN is expanding its GameDay show to five hours in length. As you might expect, the show will originate from Columbus.

This past Saturday (11/19) was a disappointing one for CBS, ad its Missouri vs. Tennessee telecast came in with a lower audience than NBC's telecast of Notre Dame vs. Virginia Tech, even with the disappointing season for Notre Dame.

CHICAGO: It appears that the Comcast SportsNet regional networks are looking at blowing up their SportsNet Central sportscasts and go with a revised format. The Comcast SportsNet Chicago has announced that 'Central' will be replaced starting on December 5th. They plan to have a 15-minute "In The Loop" show with what it claims will have an emphasis on social media and interactive content.

Sure. Fans would rather see opinions from local fans just like them instead of more highlights and analysis from experts. What an awful decision.

COLUMBUS: It won't be easy to compete against 97.1 WBNS The Fan, but WXZX 105.7 is going to give it a try. The station is dropping its alternative music format for a sports format surrounding its airing of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Cincinnati Bengals broadcasts. Its new morning show will be local, co-hosted by Bruce Hooley and Maddie Spielman.

Happy Turkey!!