Baseball on radio still rules in the big markets. On opening day of the 2010 baseball season, Arbitron used the day to release its "PPM Radio Listening for Pro Baseball" report covering the 23 top markets in which the PPM system was in use during the 2009 baseball season.
The report shows that 10 teams average more than 115,000 listeners per game in their home market. It comes as no surprise that the NYC market dominates with Yankees and Mets broadcasts holding 2 of the top 3 teams, averaging from 277,000 (Mets) to over 412,000 (Yankees) listeners per game. Finding Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, and San Francisco among the top 5 markets is no surprise, based on population alone.
I find 2 of the top 10 to be worthy of note. St. Louis Cardinals broadcasts showed up as 7th in the majors with an average of 135,200 listeners per game. True, the Cardinals were in first place much of the season and made it into the post-season. But from a radio standpoint, this is fascinating because the Cardinals games continue on KTRS-AM and no longer on KMOX. Many fans not all that far from St. Louis have been upset about the move to KTRS because of its weaker signal, especially at night. This report proves that people will make the effort to find the broadcasts when the team is in serious contention. There have been recent reports that even though the Cardinals own part of KTRS, considerations might be made after this season about letting the Cards return to KMOX. This one bears watching, or should we say, listening.
Boston Red Sox games on WEEI-AM placed 8th in this report. Yet, I have to believe this report actually could hurt the scope of Red Sox broadcasts. More than any other MLB team, the Red Sox remain a regional team, while the 8th place rank is based only on WEEI in Boston. If the other "home" markets for Red Sox games, such as Portland ME, were factored in, their team rank would be much higher.
It also remains to be seen whether or not this report will actually help the radio stations. As commented on in recent months, more and more pro teams are taking over their own media packages and then are able to combine broadcast sponsorships with other team offerings. Radio stations risk losing out on revenue from potential game sponsors when teams can also offer game programs, stadium signage, team web site, and other advertising and marketing opportunities in addition to radio time. Stations seem willing to go along with this for now, not realizing it could easily siphon away potential advertisers for other station programming.
It will be interesting to see whether or not Versus' new "The Daily Line" sports recap at 6 PM ET on weekdays makes a dent in audience habits. My hunch is that it will with hockey fans, especially with a few more days left in the regular season to determine playoff pairings, and through the first round or two of the playoffs. Otherwise, it probably won't be enough to attract a new audience. The show competes with ESPN and regional sports networks reports, either of which has the proven resources to please the fans seeking either a national overview or local sports coverage prior to the night's game action.
Liam McHugh doesn't seem to be a big enough name, and model Jenn Sterger may not be able to hold the interest of the serious sports fan after the first glance or two. Comedian Reese Waters will also be a part of the show, but many sports fans want the information instead.
LOS ANGELES: Opening day also meant the regular season debut of the Angels TV broadcast team of Victor Rojas now working with Mark Gubicza. It was nice to see them both take a couple minutes out of their hour long pre-game show leading into Monday night's opener against Minnesota to remember the loss of play-by-play voice Rory Markas since the end of the 2009 season. In a touching moment, Gubicza shared his memory of having talked with Markas on the very day he passed away.
Less than one week prior to the season opener, KLAA 830, which is partially owned by Angels owner Arte Moreno, has increased its relationship with KSPN 710. In addition to KSPN picking up a minimum of 60 Angels broadcasts (providing increased signal coverage to more of Los Angeles County), the stations are working together on additional ESPN programming. Late night and overnight ESPN programming will air on both stations, while ESPN Radio national programming from the midday will air on 830 AM.
SAN DIEGO: This past Friday (April 2) marked the return of "The Scott and BR Show" on XX Sports 1090 after a 3-week salary dispute which took the 5-9 morning show off the air. Just in time for the opening of the Padres season, and for their games carried on the station.
NEW YORK: WPEN 1050 began its revised weekday schedule this week, including shortening Michael Kay's afternoon drive show by one hour from 3 to 7 PM. Seth Everett now hosts a one-hour midday show from 10 to 11 AM including columnists and beat reporters. Jody McDonald and Brandon Tierney will air from 1 to 3 PM. The station is also catering to early risers with "The Leadoff Spot" recap of the prior night's games, hosted by Ryan Ruocco from 5 to 6 AM.
SEATTLE: This past Monday (April 5) marked the end of an era for KJR when Dave Grosby hosted his final show for the station. The Groz began his initial stint with the station upon its birth as a sports station in 1991 and had been back since 1996.
Word is he will move over to 710 ESPN to do more than call Seattle University basketball, possibly joining Kevin Calabro to co-host afternoon drive.
DALLAS: 103.3 ESPN began its revised schedule on Tuesday (April 6). The Ben and Skin Show moves into the 9 AM to Noon spot, while the new "Coop and Nate Show" with Chuck Cooperstein and Nate Newton airs from 2 to 3 PM. Galloway and Company now airs from 3 to 7 PM.
BOSTON: A couple of lineup tweaks at 98.5 The Sports Hub take effect this week. The Toucher and Rich Show continues as co-hosts Fred Toettcher and Rich Shertnelieb reportedly signed contract extensions. However, CSN New England's Andy Gresh replaces Gary Tanguay on its midday show, while Scott Zolak continues. Tanguay continues his CSN hosting duties for Celtics pre and post-game programming, but it has not been announced (as of press time) whether or not he will be with the station to handle Patriots programming for the coming season.
PITTSBURGH: WEAE 1250 expands its airing of the Stan & Guy Show from 10 AM to 2 PM as of this week. Probably in response to The Fan 93.7.
The ESPN station will be the host station for Mike & Mike's national show this Thursday (April 8) as the pair will be in Pittsburgh for a book signing later that day.
RICHMOND: The baseball minor league (Eastern League) Richmond Flying Squirrels begin airing on Sports Radio 910 later this month, including having all 142 games also streaming on the station's web site.
SALISBURY MD: The area's first FM sports station debuted last Thursday as 95.9 FM became The Sports Animal, changing over from active rock. The station plans different programming from sister station Sportstalk 960 including carrying Orioles broadcasts. No word yet on whether or not the station will carry over Washington Redskins broadcasts, which were carried in its rock station days. One local show has already begun on the FM side, with Scott and Jon 'Whiskey' Wilson hosting "Off The Bench" in between syndicated sports programming.
SIOUX FALLS: KWSN-AM adds "Calling All Sports" at 2 PM starting on May 3rd, bringing its local sports schedule to 2 to 7 PM on weekdays.