KTBB FM going to pure sports – it is hard to see a large audience for sports talk at all hours day and night.

Posted/updated on: June 6, 2013 at 10:34 am

Re: KTBB FM going to pure sports. I know nothing about the radio business, but it is hard to see a large audience for sports talk at all hours day and night. Perhaps during football season maybe, but after that, basketball, soccer, bowling?? We now have 2 stations in this market devoted to sports. This air time gets down to the minutia of the manufacturer of the shoe laces on the 3rd string quarterback’s shoes. C’mon! Does radio make money doing this type of programming? Do women listen to this stuff? I don’t think so. Please explain the business logic from an owner’s perspective of how this is a cash cow. Does ESPN cause this magic to happen? Can this decision from HQ possibly be reversed in the interest of the local businesses who would like to support programming that appeals to a broader market?

ANSWER:

First, I AM HQ. The decision came from me. If I ever wish to appeal the decision, I’ll have to find a mirror.

Second, all-sports radio is one of the real success stories in radio today. The format has audience and ratings 12 months a year. And it’s not about the “shoe laces on the third string quarterback’s shoes.” With respect to the two largest big leauge sports, by the time the NFL has finished the Super Bowl, the Texas Rangers and all of Major League Baseball will be headed to training camp. By the time basball season is over in early November, it’s starting to become clear which teams will be a factor in the NFL post-season.

Then there’s major college football and NCAA’s Final Four. Not to mention the NBA, the NHL and NASCAR.

There’s something to talk about every week. That’s why Sports Illustrated publishes a magazine 52 weeks of every year.

All-sports radio is very successful and among those successes across the country, ESPN Radio stands at the pinnacle. ESPN is arguably the best practitioner of spoken-word radio in the business right now and I mean that even when compared to the “big guns” of talk radio like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity (both of whom appear on KTBB 600 AM). ESPN’s product — the talent and execution — is simply outstanding. That fact, taken together with the sports department that we have built here over the past 20 years, gives us what we believe is a huge advantage over the one other station in the market that is half-heartedly airing some second-tier sports
programming.

Given that we gave Dave Ramsey, Clark Howard, et.al. three years to make an audience success out of KTBB-FM, and given that that success never materialized, and given that there was a gaping hole in this market for a quality all-sports station upon which we could utilize talent and programming assets we already own, and given that all-sports radio when done well is working spectacularly well in markets across the country; switching KTBB-FM to ESPN’s all-sports format was a pretty easy decision.

The answer to your question asking if women listen to the format the answer is yes, but not in nearly as great numbers as men. We know that going in and target our ad sales effort accordingly. Again using Sports Illustrated as an example, it doesn’t contain ads from the same advertisers as found in Southern Living.

And that’s why the format IS a cash cow. All-sports radio opens up advertiser categories that are unlikely to buy radio on any other format just as Sports Illustrated has advertisers that buy little or no other magazine advertising. For the right advertisers, the format produces excellent results.

We’ll wind up with much greater demand for commercial inventory on ESPN 92.1 FM than Dave Ramsey, Clark Howard, et.al. were ever able to generate. We quickly discovered when we shut down the music on KDOK and turned that station into KTBB-FM that just about all we were able to do with our current KTBB-AM advertisers was allocate some of what they were going to spend on KTBB-AM anyway to KTBB-FM. The station did not attract significant additional budgets from our existing clients by virtue of its programming and it did not attract additional demand as a result of its ratings. Its ratings were poor and getting poorer with every survey.

We are, however, already starting to see demand from a different cohort of advertisers for ESPN and that’s before the station has had time to be rated. This represents true incremental revenue to us, something that the prior incarnation of the station, despite our best efforts, was never able to produce in any significant way.

Thus, as to your question, “Does radio make money doing this type of programming?,” the answer is, yes, a ton of it. In markets large and small.

Such is our hope for ESPN 92.1 FM.

I hope this answers your questions.

Many thanks for taking the time to write.

Paul L. Gleiser

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