Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Turning Off The Mike On Morning Radio

As we touched on last week, the many changes at ESPN are much more than the staff reductions and the impact that has on its coverage of the various major sports. This week we learn officially that management is going a step further, messing with their radio bread & butter.

Mike & Mike, the staple of the ESPN Radio Network, will see the long time team of Greenberg and Golic broken up sometime before the end of the year. After all these years together, this show has been the one that some of the stations around the country have often made a major effort to carry, often in place of a local morning show.

It will soon become "Mike & Trey" as Mike Golic will be joined by Trey Wingo for the three hour show. Mike Golic Jr., who hosts the 4 AM to 6 AM ET spot, will stay on to participate with his father (and Wingo) for the first hour each morning.

Incredibly, the "Mike & Trey Show" will also be coming off the long standing (Mike & Mike) simulcast on ESPN2, which takes away an anchor morning show from the TV side. The simulcast won't completely vanish, although moving it to the lesser viewed ESPNU is not likely to spark an audience increase, especially with new co-hosts.

Instead, ESPN will debut a so-called "new" show in early January which will air from 7 AM to 10 AM ET and be hosted by Mike Greenberg, with SportsCenter moving to ESPN2. If you consider ESPNU in the morning as an option, it means that from 8 AM to 10 AM ET on weekdays, TV viewers would now have choices "between" Mike & Mike instead of the staple program which successfully ran for years.

Combine this change with the significant reduction of Baseball Tonight (from seven nights to one) and this is what the paying subscribers (who have not cut the cord) get for their increasing monthly fees. And, we still don't know what ESPN might be thinking for its expanded NFL and NBA coverage shows yet.

Meanwhile, while ESPN reduces its TV baseball coverage, the radio ratings for the month of April show how much baseball means to the ratings.

In Boston, the two sports stations came in at #5 and #6 overall in the market. WEEI-FM jumped back up .6 to a 4.8, while WBZ-FM Sports Hub held steady right behind with a 4.7 Nielsen rating for the month.

The Yankees helped New York's WFAN-FM jump up to #9 overall (including #1 at night) with its Yankees broadcasts, while Mets flagship WOR jumped .5 overall for the month.

Chicago Cubs broadcasts helped WSCR The Score 670 to jump more than 40% from March to April into the top 10 after being just 21st overall for March. This while WMVP ESPN 1000, now without any major local play-by-play, dropped .4 to its lowest rating of 2017 despite strong midday numbers.

San Francisco's KNBR 680 rose more than one full ratings point and back into the top five in the market, while KGMZ-FM The Game dipped slightly from March.

Philadelphia's WIP-FM with the Phillies broadcasts rose another .7 to be at #7 overall in the market during April, while WPEN-FM dropped one-half point during the same period.

In Detroit, WXYT-FM The Ticket rose more than 30% from the previous month and is now at #2 in total listeners, while Baltimore's WJZ-FM rose another 1.4 ratings points in one month and is now at #5 in the market.

Pittsburgh's KDKA-FM showed a rise of 1.8 to the #6 overall position, while St. Louis saw KMOX with its Cardinals broadcasts finish #1 in the market for the first time since 2015 with a rise of more than two full ratings points.

However, the markets which always struggle with sports stations still did not show gains, even with baseball (in some instances). Both Los Angeles sports stations, even with airing Dodgers (KLAC 570)  and Angels (KSPN 710) games, failed to crack the top 30 in the market while showing overall ratings of under one rating point.

Houston's three sports stations each failed to crack the top 20, even though KBME-AM showed a nice increase of .6 of a ratings point to edge out KILT-AM, which doubled up on KFNC-FM. San Diego's XPRS-AM dropped while KLSD-AM showed a slight increase, but neither registered more than a 0.8 overall.

Fox Sports continues to increase the role for Alex Rodriguez as he makes his game analyst debut this week. He will be the analyst on Thursday (5/18) when Fox Sports 1 airs the Yankees vs. Royals game in prime time. The fact is that if Rodriguez wasn't going to be making his debut in the booth, we might not have even known that FS1 is airing this game nationally.

Then, on Saturday (5/20), Rodriguez will team with Joe Buck for the Fox Sports prime time regional telecast of the Mets vs. the Angels. Most of the Midwest as well as northern California and surrounding areas will get the Giants vs. Cardinals telecast which will have A.J. Pierzynski as the analyst while Joe Davis does the play-by-play.

Compass Media Networks has announced its radio broadcast schedule of 72 NFL and major college football games for the 2017 season. On the NFL side, they will provide national coverage of the Dallas Cowboys along with regional coverage of Oakland Raiders games.

ATLANTA: Recently retired outfielder Jeff Francoeur has joined the Braves TV crew as an analyst for some of the upcoming telecasts on Fox Sports South and Fox Sports Southeast. Francoeur will make his debut on June 5th when the Braves host the Phillies.

PEORIA: It will play in Peoria. Sports radio, that is. WNGY 95.9 The Sports Nut is, at least for now, airing Fox Sports Radio programming.

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