The new FM sports talker off to an encouraging start
The newest contender in sports-talk radio field has something to smile about according to September ratings report released by Arbitron yesterday.
Not only did the new Sports Hub 98.5 earn very respectable numbers in its target male demos but starting out with zero listeners on August 13th the new sports talker registered an estimated 488,000 weekly listeners after the first five weeks on the air. Meanwhile, now-dark ESPN 890 only pulled an estimated 52,000 weekly listeners after four years on the air.
In the overall listeners 6+ category, SportsHub 98.5/WBZ-FM came in 17th but in its target demo of male listeners 25-54, the station was tied for 8th place(not the 11th as was reported in the Boston Herald today). WEEI AM 850 finished first in that same demo. But in the younger male 18-34 demo which favors FM to AM listening, the gap between WEEI AM and WBZ-FM was much smaller - WEEI was tied for 6th while WBZ-FM was tied for 8th according to an Arbitron spokesperson who provided the rankings to BRW.
While the SportsHub came strong out of the gate, the sports audience also grew for WEEI in September which means the rookie sports talker pulled its audience from other FM stations on the dial, and not so much from the established AM sports talker.
BRW Notebook :
More changes on the way? : While SportsHub 98-5 may not be putting any major dents into WEEI's armor, it could be having an impact on the first FM all-talk station in the market. While the SportsHub may be all sports from 10am on, it has everything-goes format(including sports, of course) with super popular "Toucher and Rich".
As mentioned here last week, WTKK 96.9FM dropped the last two hours of syndicated Don Imus' morning show(the live show is now heard from 6am-7am) and shifted around its local line-up. Interestingly enough, "Eagan and Braude", the new morning team at WTKK were doing their own version of whatever-sticks format this week.(Yes, they even talked about the Red Sox' playoff game today.)
But there were a number of other changes, in front and behind the mic, that were made at WTKK : station's news director and afternoon anchor Ed Cherubino was let go and as of this week, WTKK hasn't been doing live afternoon news updates during Michael Graham and Jay Severin shows. Cherubino, a 25-year Boston radio veteran, was the lone holdover from Smooth Jazz 96.9FM sign-off in August 1999. Longtime assistant program director Eric Caldwell and promotions coordinator Corey Anderson were shown the door. WTKK's changed its on-air slogan from "Boston's Talk Evolution" to "Boston Talks". A number of Boston radio insiders expect Imus' show be dropped altogether by year's end.