The final spring radio numbers will leave both ESPN New York’s “Michael Kay Show” and WFAN’s Mike Francesa claiming they deserve the next parade up the Canyon of Heroes.
It is Kay, though, who has to be the most happy with the results.
In the traditional Nielsen Audio Measurement that the stations sell advertising against, 25-to-54-year-old men, Kay’s program topped Francesa’s with a 6.4 share to 6.1.
However, Francesa’s program does not include his digital stream, whereas Kay’s does. With Francesa’s stream, Francesa edges ahead 6.6-6.4.
Either way, the two were No. 1 and 2 in the market, leaving long-time, first-times to argue back and forth on Twitter who deserves to be declared the sports radio king of New York.
ESPN looks at it as a second straight win for Kay, while FAN thinks it is the status quo for Francesa.
But the factor that makes the spring results sweeter for Kay’s show is that FAN is the Yankees’ radio home. The reason the station pays close to $20 million annually, according to sources, is to increase the ratings across the board — and it has mostly worked. Overall, FAN crushed ESPN in the spring — except that Francesa and Kay were essentially even.
Even without the streaming, “Boomer & Gio” rose to No. 1 in the market. ESPN’s “Golic & Wingo’s” necks craned up at ninth.
Again, with the stream, FAN’s 10 a.m.-1 p.m. show, “Joe & Evan”, finished first and had the highest ratings on the station with a 7.2 to ESPN’s 3.4 for “Humpty, Canty & Rothenberg.”
Meanwhile, from 1-3, CMB was second in its time slot with a 6.7 — better than Francesa. Stephen A. Smith’s national show was almost half CMB’s at 3.4. CMB gave Francesa a huge head start over Kay each day.
Now, while the ratings game takes its traditional summer vacation, the drama inside the stations will continue. Both have levels of uncertainty centered around the two Mikes.
Kay just had vocal cord surgery that will leave him mute for three weeks, while Francesa is, well, Francesa.
At FAN, Francesa’s cloud hovers above the whole station’s future. The rupture Entercom caused when it allowed Francesa to return in the spring of last year will come to a head relatively soon, as Chris Carlin’s, Maggie Gray’s and Bart Scott’s contracts are up.
After his long retirement tour and four-month hiatus, Francesa trampled back into FAN, usurping CMB and relegating them to the 1-3 p.m. slot. Not only did CMB handle it with class, they have gone out and put up numbers.
It is a successful show, though it may not be on much longer because the 65-year-old Francesa seems as if he is staying at the station.
The idea that Francesa would just do his paid app and sail off into irrelevance seems unlikely. No matter how indecisive he has sounded, it is hard to believe he is going to quit again soon.
Unsigned contract or not, he’s still being paid to work largely from home. He’s already semi-retired with a seven-digit salary and control of the station.
This has left CMB’s future in doubt again, despite its success. Radio companies are not usually in the business of paying eight hosts when it could just be five.
FAN could return the station’s top-rated show, hosted by Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts, to four hours and add an hour back to Francesa.
Entercom is expected to make a decision on CMB by the fall, but could let it drag out until later.
Gray just had a baby boy.
“We don’t know,” Gray’s agent, Debbie Spander, said when asked about the future. “We are waiting to hear from them. She’s still on maternity leave.”
While Carlin’s agent, Jerry Sibowitz, declined comment, Scott’s representative, Mark Lepselter, said they, too, are waiting to see where the show stands.
CMB could be forced out of WFAN by Mike Francesas indecisiveness
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“I don’t have clarity on the future of the show so I have to be cognizant of that,” Lepselter said. “My job is to stay connected to people in the industry, be aware of potential opportunities for all my clients.”
Entercom/FAN declined to publicly talk about its plans.
Meanwhile at ESPN, besides Kay’s show, it lost to FAN handily. ESPN’s business model of having two national shows sandwiched between “Humpty & Canty” with Rothenberg might work financially, but it puts it at a serious disadvantage ratings wise. While it could one day go all local, there is no evidence that is in the process of happening yet.
Kay is expected to be OK after his vocal cord surgery, but just as much as Francesa is with FAN, Kay is the franchise for ESPN. Surgery is surgery so there is angst.
“However long he needs, he’ll get,” ESPN New York’s GM Tim McCarthy said.
However you look at it, sports radio is thriving in New York. The real story of these ratings is that Kay and Francesa are not only fighting for the No. 1 spot in sports, but in overall afternoon drive time.
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