While many sports radio stations emphasize their personalities, we have another clear case of on the field dictating the sports radio audience. A very busy fall season with a ton going on has had a significant impact in several key markets, based on the just released Nielsen ratings for the September/October period.
As usual, Boston listeners rule the roost, with two of the top four stations in total audience being the rival sports stations. WBZ-FM Sports Hub jumped up to #3 in total audience with a huge increase from a 4.4 rating to a 6.3 in just one month. The Hub also leap frogged past WEEI-FM, which aired the Red Sox post-season contests during this time and also rose to a 6.2 rating.
WEEI-FM finished #2 in morning drive as well as the obvious #1 at night with Red Sox baseball, which will not be there for the next ratings period.
Nothing short of amazing to have two sports stations rated this highly, given how few markets even have one sports station with this large of an audience throughout the broadcast week.
In Philadelphia, the unexpected solid start by the Eagles is paying dividends for both sports stations.
As you would expect WIP-FM, which airs their games, moved up to #6 overall showing a roughly 20% increase in its total audience from the August/September ratings period.
Having this large of an audience made it good timing for WIP-FM to unveil its new weekday lineup as of this week. The station moved (former Eagles linebacker) Ike Reese into the afternoon drive spot, and has chosen Chris Carlin from New York City's "Loud Mouths" on SNY to join him. Carlin and Reese replace Josh Innes in that spot. The station also has hired Joe DeCamara, who left 97.5 The Fanatic earlier this month, to team up with (also a former Eagle) Jon Ritchie for the new midday show which began this week.
As a result of these moves, Michael Barkann is no longer with the station. Barkann had been co-hosting middays along with Reese until this week.
Over at WPEN-FM, even with less than 25% of the total audience of WIP-FM, the ESPN affiliate showed a roughly 33% total audience increase over the past month, now at #17 in the market.
Perhaps the biggest shocker of these new ratings comes from the Twin Cities, where KFXN-FM The Fan has skyrocketed to the #1 station in the entire market for the first time ever. The station has gone from a 5.3 to an 8.9 rating in just two months. Obviously, the undefeated start (during the entire ratings book) by the NFL Vikings was a huge contributor to this. Especially when you note that
KSTP-AM, even though it increased its audience for the second consecutive month, now has a 1.5 rating.
KFXN-FM's win includes being first in morning drive, and second in total audience for both middays and afternoon drive.
In New York City, both stations gained in audience for the month. Even without a post-season appearance by the Yankees, WFAN 660 finished #10 overall with a .6 rise from the previous month. WEPN ESPN increased its audience by 20% overall, although it still did not finish in the top 20.
Chicago's WSCR 670 The Score actually dropped .3 from the previous month, although the Cubs flagship station came in #6 overall. WMVP ESPN 1000 gained .4 but again finished out of the top 20.
It is significant to note the gains by ESPN stations in Philly, NYC, and Chicago, as well as in Dallas, as the network airs all post-season baseball games.
The Giants' post-season run (at the time of the ratings) helped KNBR 680 finish #3 and ahead of every music station in the market (with news and talk stations at #1 and #2), while KGMZ-FM gained slightly but still has roughly 30% of the total audience of KNBR.
The brief post-season run of the Rangers helped KRLD-FM rise to #7 in the market (for this ratings book), while KTCK-AM The Ticket rose to #14 overall, and KESN-FM ESPN also went up by .3 of a ratings point. However, KRLD-FM's #2 ranking at night is sure to dive without the Rangers, and the station was only 19th in morning drive. KTCK-AM did rise to #5 in morning drive.
WXYT-FM 97.1 is still The Ticket in Detroit, again at #1 overall, which includes dominating afternoon drive and being the most listened to station at night and on the weekends.
Denver's KKFN-FM The Fan increased by 1.3 and rose to #6 in the market. In Baltimore, the Orioles' one-game post-season existence helped this ratings book. The station rose by 1.1 in the ratings to #5 overall. However, without local baseball for the next ratings book, this figures to be temporary.
In Los Angeles, even with the final broadcasts of Vin Scully and the Dodgers making it all the way to the NLCS, KLAC 570 still didn't even show up among the top 25 most listened to stations in the market. And while the L.A. Rams are helping the TV ratings, KSPN 710 still finished with an overall rating of under 1.0, while KSWD "The Sound" (music station) also fell slightly. KSPN and KSWD both act as flagship stations for the Rams broadcasts.
As for ratings of recent national telecasts, it's quite the mixed bag. Opening night of the World Series (the only game played as of press time) showed Fox's ratings up roughly 20% over last year's opener which included the Mets (vs. Kansas City). In Chicago, the telecast had an impressive 34.1 overnight rating for the first Cubs World Series game since 1945.
Yet, TNT, which had the NBA season opening doubleheader including the championship ceremony from Cleveland (down the block from the World Series game), scored its best opening night doubleheader rating in three years at and after the same time.
Last Thursday (10/20) was an interesting one for the Chicago area, having Game 5 of the Cubs vs. Dodgers NLCS on against the NFL rivalry between the Bears and Packers. Around the country, CBS won the night among ratings for the national networks (while Fox Sports was content to air the baseball game with two of the top three markets on FS1 instead of Fox Sports).
This resulted in the NFL telecast having over 7,000,000 more viewers than FS1 did for its hidden away post-season coverage. In Chicago, over 400,000 more households were watching FS1 for the baseball than the Bears on the NFL telecast.
SAN ANTONIO: This is a big deal locally. The Spurs have changed their Spanish radio station after 22 seasons. Both the home and road broadcasts (as has been the case for years) now air on KXTN 107.5. This is big for the team, as KXTN currently has more than six times the total audience of KCOR 1350, which had aired the games since the mid-90's.
HOUSTON and DETROIT: Sorry to report that we have lost two important sports media members within the past few days.
Bob Allen, the former Sports Director of KTRK and KHOU Houston, who covered sports there since the 70's, passed away at age 70.
Long time Detroit Free Press columnist Drew Sharp, who wrote for the Free Press since 1999, passed away at the age of 56. Although most known as a sports columnist, he also served the newspaper as beat writer for Michigan State and Pistons during his tenure.
Both will be missed by the respective local sports community.