SBD/November 14, 2013/Media

WFAN's Mike Francesa Tops Talkers' "Heavy Hundred" Of Sports Talk Radio

TALKERS magazine announced its second annual "Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk -- The 100 Most Important Sports Talk Radio Host in America." The hosts are ranked from 1-100 "based upon a set of criteria that includes a combination of hard and soft factors." Two of the major factors are "ratings and revenue," but the editors also "took into account other qualities." Those include "courage, effort, impact, recognition, service, talent and uniqueness" (TALKERS.com, 11/13). The top 25 are listed below.

TALKERS MAGAZINE'S '13 HEAVY HUNDRED OF SPORTS TALK
RANK STATION NAME
1 WFAN-AM N.Y. Mike Francesa
2 WFAN-AM N.Y. Boomer Esiason & Craig Carton
3 CBS Sports Radio Jim Rome
4 Fox Sports Radio Dan Patrick
5 WXYT-FM Detroit Mike Valenti & Terry Foster
6 WBZ-FM Boston Mike Felger & Tony Massarotti
7 ESPN Radio Mike Greenberg & Mike Golic
8 WXYT-FM Detroit Doug Karsch & Scott Anderson
9 WIP-AM/FM Philadelphia Angelo Cataldi
10 WBZ-FM Boston Fred Toettcher & Rich Shertenlieb
11 WSCR-AM Chicago Mike Mulligan & Brian Hanley
12 Fox Sports Radio Pat O'Brien & Steve Hartman
13 KJR-AM Seattle Dave Mahler
T14 WAXY-AM Miami & ESPN Radio Dan Le Batard
T14 WPEN-FM Philadelphia Mike Missanelli
15 KTCK-AM Dallas George Dunham & Craig Miller
16 KNBR-AM S.F. Gary Radnich & Larry Krueger
17 ESPN Radio 710 L.A. Steve Mason & John Ireland
18 WXYT-FM Detroit Mike Stone & Bill McAllister
19 WSCR-AM Chicago Terry Boers & Dan Bernstein
20 KNBR-AM S.F. Tom Tolbert
21 Fox Sports Radio Jay Mohr
22 ESPN Radio Colin Cowherd
23 WIP-AM/FM Philadelphia Anthony Gargano & Glen Macnow
24 ESPN Radio Chicago 1000 Carmen DeFalco & John Jurkovic
25 KDKA-FM Pittsburgh Joe Starkey, Josh Miller & Chris Mueller

FINDING A NEW AUDIENCE: While mediums such as newspapers and magazines are still trying to adapt to a digital landscape, sports talk radio execs said they have seamlessly transitioned to the current media environment. Speaking yesterday at the '13 Covington & Burling Sports Media & Technology conference, execs from each of the major sports radio operations said their audience has increased through the advent of technologies such as digital audio streaming and podcasting. Additionally, despite fears of cannibalization through the TV simulcasting of many popular sports talk radio programs, in most cases the practice has instead led to improved audiences on radio. "Audio listening is actually way up when you combine all the platforms, especially mobile," said ESPN Senior VP/Productions & Business Divisions Traug Keller. "Our audio audience is 65% higher than what's in (radio measurement outfit) Arbitron figures when you add in these other things. In terms of reach, it's second only to TV." Despite that increasing audience, the panelists acknowledged that they have not done enough to communicate the power and influence of sports talk radio and need to do a better job conveying their successes to both advertisers and audiences. "We've always been second-class citizens to TV," said SiriusXM Satellite Radio Senior VP/Sports Programming Steve Cohen. “It's always been more difficult for us to do our job. But unlike TV, we're an interactive medium. We can bring people closer to the teams they love." Similarly, the panelists said the demands of being a sports talk radio host are often misunderstood. "A lot of people have really underestimated what it takes to host a daily sports talk radio show," said CBS Radio Exec VP/Programming Chris Oliviero. "Mike Francesca goes on for five hours every day with no teleprompter and no script. It's basically him and a phone and a microphone. So you have to have an incredible work ethic and really strong entertainment value" (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer). 
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