“Fans are tuning out St. Louis sports-talk radio in massive quantities, the ratings say. The jock-talk format targets men ages 25-54 and figures compiled by Arbitron, which surveys radio listenership, show that there was a mammoth decline — 58 percent — in market share in the format over the past year.”
Dan Caesar, writer, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
GH: I don’t have access to the Arbitron ratings for here in Kansas City so if anyone does, please post them below in the Comments section. Is sports talk radio on the AM dial losing its hold on young and middle-aged men? Has the golden goose finally run out of eggs? It looks like that might be the case in Missouri’s largest sports and media market. Read on.
“The St. Louis market is over-populated with all-sports stations and the pie isn’t big enough to keep all of them afloat. Add to that the establishment of more all-sports programming by the major networks and we’ll see over-saturation.”
Frank Absher, executive director of the St. Louis media history foundation, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
GH: Is oversaturation a problem in Kansas City? 610, 810, and 102.5 have 24-hour all-sports talk formats. 1510 also carries ESPN Radio programming for portions of the day. That is a lot of sports talk in the country’s 33rd ranked media market. But KC sports talk has always appeared to weather the lulls since it went big-time after the turn of the century.
“We’re not doing anything different [programming wise] than before, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense. There’s no panic here in any way. And we don’t plan to do anything different.”
John Kijowski, in charge of WXOS in St. Louis, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
GH: Kijowski points to the way the listenership data is gathered as the problem for the dramatic falloff in local ratings. The Post-Dispatch reports that WXOS remains the “clear leader” in St. Louis sports talk but that even they have lost “more than half its market share” since last January.
“All three [St. Louis] sports stations have cut back significantly in recent years. KFNS turned over its morning drive-time block to insideSTL Enterprises LLC — which is run by the show’s ringleader, Tim McKernan. At KXFN, hosts buy their air time and sell ads. At WXOS, there have been layoffs in each of the last two years.”
Dan Caesar, writer, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
GH: Staff cutbacks have happened at 610 and 810 as well. But almost every business that survived the downturn of 2008 has had to downsize or trim some jobs.
“I don’t think the all-sports format works anymore. What you have to have is more man-talk, which we will do at 1190. My show will be the only one that has any sports. I don’t think you can win anymore unless you do that. You have lame [sports-talk] people on the air who all say the same thing, there’s no difference between shows other than Tim [McKernan’s] and mine. Everybody else rehashes the same baloney. People running these stations don’t have one ounce of creativity.”
Kevin Slaten, who was recently fired by KFNS after almost 20 years of sports talk, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
GH: Sports talk has changed very little in Kansas City over the last decade. At 810 even the names have rarely changed in the past ten years. The guests are constants as well. 810 has found a format and style they are comfortable with or at least afraid from which to differentiate. It’s the same old same old but it seems to work for them. I find myself getting more news online and from Twitter – but I still spend time listening to at least portions of the local sports talk programming – but not nearly as much as even three years ago.
“St. Louis sports fans want to hear [live] interviews and ‘sound’ [tape of players and coaches talking after games]. That’s what we’re now providing. There definitely is a place for us in this market. I consider myself a lifesaver because people won’t be driving into ditches, from boredom, anymore in the afternoons.”
Katy Pavelonis, who fired Slaten and is currently overseeing St. Louis’ sports talk stations 590 and 1380, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
GH: Katy sounds clueless. She is doing nothing more than serving her listeners the same old recipe that has the St. Louis market wondering where their audience went.
“Since my credible information says KFNS lost 90K in January ’13 it would appear Pavelonis has a tough time with the truth.”
Kevin Slaten, who added this in the column’s Comments section, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
GH: Sounds like Slaten and Katy might have a little Whitlock and Kietzman thing going under the Arch.
You can read Caesar’s complete column here.
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