OTC: STL Sports Talk Radio Ratings Take A Dive / How Safe Are 610’s & 810’s Audiences?

“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.

[email protected] and Twitter / greghall24

About Greg Hall

Software guy who has been writing my Off The Couch column in KC newspapers, publications and websites since 1994. Has been bounced from some of the finest media establishments this side of State Line Road. Dad first and everything else second...and there are a lot of everything elses.
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62 Responses to OTC: STL Sports Talk Radio Ratings Take A Dive / How Safe Are 610’s & 810’s Audiences?

  1. Java Man says:

    Sports and hate radio on the am dial. What a wasteland.
    I really miss the likes of Mike Murphy on local radio.

    • Harley says:

      The real problem with sports radio.
      1. Not enough to keep an audience involved. There’s just not enough fresh news
      or stories to keep an audience at one station. This time of year it’s all KU bball.
      Now the MU left that story is pretty negligible in this market. The tv stations like espn/nbcsports etc. carry all the information nationally so whats left to talk about..
      ku bad calls/a draft that’s 3 months away/ku bball…just no compelling information
      to keep the audience listening.
      2. THE OLD CRANKY GUYS: get off these boards you cranky old white guys.
      You’re nothing but bad news. Nothing positive…just negative crap about everything.
      Nothing makes you happy. The old cranky guys like chuckles the clown/smarmyman/
      old man/and the rest ofthe sad old white guys who see their lives going down the
      drain and have nothing positive or enlightening to talk about. The old guys like
      wilson/mike/hearne on kcc…the cranky old nobodies whofill up these blogs with
      negative/bad news/crap!!! Yes…kc radio is exciting but reading the comments
      of smarmyman/chuckles the clown/and the rest of the old white guys is just
      plain depressing.
      3. WHB and 610 do well. They do a good job covering what littel good news there
      is. KK is okay…the guys on 610 areokay…but if there’s no news to cover what do you do. Look at fox 4 tv with an hour to fill in a day with nothing newsworthy.
      How many tmes can the sports talk guys bang on glass or hunt or talk about
      the qb or the linemen….this town dowsn’t have much news so theres so much
      fluff to fill up the time that it gets somewhat old.
      4. WHB AND 610 ARE BUSINESSES!!!! They are there to make money!!!!!
      SEcondary is to do well with their audience. WHB and 610 make money…
      they couldn’t pay those bills if they didn’t do some revenues. WHB is like the
      second or third highest biling station in the demo…They make money…lots of
      it. And if a client wants a 5 mintue spot and they’re willing to pay for it…the station
      will take it. Sandy and those guys are shrewd business people …they know how
      to make money! And all you people remember the ads!!!! I can tell you one
      advertiser sells more product off whb than all t5he other stations they advertise
      combined…BUSINESS IS GOOD…don’t doubt these people …they are pros.
      Sports radio will continue to be around. They aresuccessful unlike the old white
      cranky guys who are always complaining about onething or another.
      Stop being so negative.

  2. The Word says:

    To me that’s a myth that no one in the SEC cares about basketball. I’ve watched a lot of SEC basketball this year and many of them do car when they have good teams worth careing about.

    They cared in Tenn when Bruce Pearl was the HC. They cared at LSU in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s when guys like Pistol Pete, Chris Jackson, some guy named O’Neil and coach Brown was around.

    They’re starting to care about basketball at Ole Miss right now.

    How many people in the state of TX care about basketball? How many people in NU or Cu cared about basketball?

  3. b12 says:

    Oh..Kissel/KK reads the comments. Even if he grudgingly agrees, or thinks something is a good idea; he can’t implement anything seen on here. It would acknowledge a chink in the armor.

  4. Old Man Kissel says:

    Haters are going to hate. Nothing is wrong with 810. Their still No.1, not only in the city, but looks to be in two states. Deal with it.

    810 scoops 610 once again…

    • Jim says:

      Thank Goddess they don’t have you writing copy for them. They’re, not their. Good gravy, Old Man!

  5. John says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who has grown tired of the Border’s Patrol’s juvenile toilet humor. I preferred the show at one point but NOW…it’s just annoying, specifically, the segement with Gary Lezak and that annoying “It’s Friday” song, really?! Give it a rest! I can’t listen to Keitzman. The Big Show…I’m still trying to give those guys a shot…but there is little chemistry and I’m not even sure they like each other. Parkins and Carrington are operating like they know they will be fired, soon. I can tolerate Petro but he has on too many guest and if he’s just going to belittle them…why do they even bother? I find myself listening to sports radio less and less (on the national level, too)

    • Markus Aurelius says:

      Geeesh, you sound like my 99 year old grandmother…..everything makes you cranky. I actually relate to and enjoy the Border Patrol but like Mike Gundy, I’m a man and I’m 40. I also find Gary’s segments to be pretty entertaining – as much or more so than others.

      • harley says:

        i agreee markus…these old guys who post on kcc/tonys/hall…they’re
        terrible people with really bad attitiudes.
        Its because they are on the downslide of life…nothing that makes
        them happy…no sex…beer bellies…no hair…i mean its all negative
        all the time.
        If you don’t like the stations…don’t listen…they’re still making millions
        why the old cranky guys bitch and scream and holler.
        KK does a great job….they all do…but the constant comments by thse
        old…cranky white crackers is so freaking old.
        Maybe greg needs to start asite titled “OLD MEN COMMENTS” AND
        let the old guys go at it. Oh wait…hearne christopher’s already got
        that market loicked up!!!!!!

        • Grammer Police says:

          I understand that there are some cranky comments in posts but Harley work on your grammer. What’s up with the … in your sentence structure? Are you simply writing these comments on the fly?

  6. JP says:

    As I noted above, 810 has become robotic. Kevin Harlan here, Frank Boal there, Stan Weber on KK, all with the same opinions that they had in 2005. Nothing changes at 810, and even their pre season coverage of Chiefs and Royals is totally boring. It’s not that they have some listeners, they just dont bother trying to improve. The morning show is still the best, but they have on too many guests who bring nothing. I do enjoy SJJ and the Crew’s opinions and they are unique. I wish we heard that more on the morning show. As noted above, Petro is apparently the expert on every sport where he brings in the real experts, and his shouting down of their opinions gets old fast.

    610 tries and tries. Fescoe at least brings some interesting (if crazy) takes and Klingler is a good foil to Bob. But the rest of their lineup is just boring. Parkins brings nothing and the Big Show has been a Big Blow to any competition for KK.

    I have satellite radio, and there is always good music on there. The sports stations are generally mainstream, but they have a lot of live events at night. I do miss Finebaum, while on sabbatical between stations and I also liked Michael Kay for the New York view on sports. Locally, Parks and Wreck is an appropriate name as Dana Wright’s laugh wakes up half the dogs in Kansas City. Darla is well.. Darla. Face it, we are in a lame radio town. Get Satellite Radio if you’re on the road. Just my 2 cents.

    • Alphonse Tooty says:

      When she was on channel 5 I always thought it a distinct possibility that Dana Wright was transexual. Am I right?

    • Barles James says:

      ahhh -a Fescoe fan. This explains a lot JP.

  7. BlackJack says:

    610 has basically turned into “All Chiefs, all the time”.
    The breaking down of the draft (by both stations) has become mind-numbingly monotonous. I mean, until the Chiefs actually make their selection, there is no news to discuss on that front.
    Whenever the Border Patrol degenerates into a frat-boy, low-brow peanut gallery, I change the channel. If I want to hear dick jokes and hard-on sound effects I’ll tune into Johnny Dare.
    SSJ is an MU homer fanboy, and Bukaty is always apologizing for being a KU fan. Nobody calls Kietzman to the carpet for some of the riduculous theories he has. Fescoe is so obtuse and heavy-handed with his comments you would think everything in his world is either black or white.
    I just don’t get the value of having Herm Edwards as an analyst for anything, much less 3 times a week on BP and BTL. Keitzman seems to think the dude is a savant, but Herm simply refuses to give any hard opinions or criticize anyone.
    That all being said, tuning in to Petro or Kietzman’s monologue whenever there is noteworthy local news still can be compelling radio.

  8. Goose13 says:

    Saying that you are the no.1 sports radio station in Kansas City is not a big goal. There are only two local sport stations. You have a 50% to be no.1. Really, that is a scoop. KK is a D-bag.

  9. Taxee says:

    The only sports show I can listen to without changing the dial every few minutes or turning it off completely is Fox Sports Sunday with Ben Maller and Tom Looney. Maller sounds drunk and/or high, and Looney has the most appropriate last name in broadcasting. They slam everybody from athletes, callers, other broadcasters and themselves. The closest thing to Scott and Sid I’ve heard. 610 will carry them from 200-600 unless KU or the Royals are on, or hear them from the Fox Sports website.

  10. jdweis1972PV_Pathfinder says:

    While home with the flu today, I gave 102.5 a try. It’s all ads. Maybe no more or less than local content, but it quickly got old getting 8 minutes of content, tease for the next topic and then national ads followed by local adds. Then repeat. No thanks.

  11. Splitlog Quindaro says:

    This is no mystery. Stern and Limbaugh are colossal next to Rome. I would argue that the strongest sports radio demo are white men 35 and over… There is no one coming in behind them. The college football bubble will burst in the next two decades. It is fat now because the last generation that grew up on football as a staple has all the money now. No one is coming in behind them.

  12. Tom says:

    AM radio is an intellectual wasteland. Younger sports fans are transitioning to podcasts/twitter for content that is entertaining without being aimed at the lowest common denominator. Compare the quality of any episode of Bill Simmons podcast to any hour of content put together this year by the local stations. They don’t compare

  13. Illegal Hit After the Play says:

    In the early days of 1510, listening to SportsTalk, esp Kietzman, was riveting radio. Modern KK is simply a throwback to everything 1510 chided back in the Don Fortune era– overwrought ad campaigns, overdone sponsorships, and worst of all: Remotes from EVERY Goddamn car wash, Kia dealership, and factory outlet store in town. Kietzman is a deplorable prick, who demands ‘suck duty’ of his young interns while making critical judgements of any sports figure in town. This tool can spend an entire segment detailing his golf score at Falcon Ridge while extolling the “Come and get it!” savings at Bushnell’s Factory Outlet. Does it not seem that the guy has no gameplan in opening up his segments? I can only hear so many monologues referencing his ‘conversations with mom’ and his want of ‘safety nets at the K.’ Mama’s boy, pussy, and hypocrite. 610, how have you not knocked this guy out?

  14. Brummy says:

    I don’t even want to read about it.

  15. Stevo says:

    AM ratings are down because people listen to the high quality internet stream on their phone. Duh. They better figure out how to factor that in or they’ll all turn into broadcast TV…making decisions about shows without taking into account DVR’s.

  16. Mike Hunt says:

    Sports radio in this town peaked when Whitlock and Maas had their afternoon show. Then Maas left, Whitlock pissed it away by talking bad about Entercom on the air and it has pretty much been downhill since. I personally think sports radio in this town is as bad now, if not worse, then it was in the late ’90’s when all there was to choose from was Don Fortune and 1510/ Union was just starting to get off the ground.
    D.A. was entertaining along with a handful of others, but fo the most part 610 has been abysmal for the last 7-8 years. 810 hasn’t been much better; they just haven’t had as much turnover. Other than Steven St. John is there anybody else on that station that is actually entertaining? K.K. has his moments (usually when he’s acting like a lunatic), but those are few and far between. I’m happy that 102.5 changed to an all-sports format. It’s nice to hear Jim Rome on in K.C. again and some of the other shows aren’t too shabby either. But I agree with Kevin Slaten about the all-sports format waning in popularity. I think that’s been the trend for the past few years and it’s only going to get worse (or better depending on how you look at it). I think radio is evolving along with peoples’ taste in what they want to listen to. Plus, the really entertaining personalities (Whitlock, Maas) have left this market and I assume the same has happened in other markets as well. If you want a quasi-star personality for a sports host then you’re forced to get online or listen to a national show. It doesn’t seem like they exsist in local markets anymore. And this is a new generation of sports fans… I’m 32 years old and remember when Don Fortune and Sports Overnight America with Ron Barr were the only things you could listen to in this town. So the all-sports format was great for me and probably a lot of other guys my age and older. But the younger crowd? Not so much anymore. I think that if we give it another 5 years it’s possible 610 drops its’ all-sports format altogether and we see 810 complete their transformation into what they claimed they’d never be: A boring local lineup that nobody will want to listen to (Don Fortune and the old 980 crew). It’s sad that sports radio has become so awful in this town. I remember the days when it was great and all I would have on in the car was sports radio all the time. Not anymore, though… and not because I don’t want to. It’s just that most of it is unlistenable anymore and that to me, a guy who remembers the days before there was much local sports talk in this town, is sad.

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