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104.5 The Zone Dominates Nashville’s January Ratings

Earlier this month we released our “2015 Best In Sports Radio” series which highlighted the Top 20 in a number of different categories. If you read my follow up piece, you likely recall how I pointed out that a number of smaller market stations and shows didn’t receive their due when many had a legitimate gripe.

In the case of great brands like 610 Sports in Kansas City, 101 ESPN in St. Louis, and 99.9 The Fan in Raleigh, they did everything they were supposed to do from a performance standpoint. Their only crime in receiving credit was not tripling the size of their population and becoming a top 10 market, and that’s unfair.

Well, one brand that didn’t bellyache over any of the results but had as strong of a reason to as anyone, was 104.5 The Zone in Nashville.

To many on the outside, the Nashville market may be best known for the Titans and Country music but to plenty of industry insiders, The Zone has become a well respected brand in the sports talk format. It has been and continues to be one of the highest rated brands in the nation, but even many who work in the sports radio field aren’t aware of just how dominant their performance is.

I was able to do some digging and gather the ratings data for the January book in the Nashville market, and I’m excited to share it with you because I believe this is a story that deserves to be told. In my opinion, it’s flown under the radar for far too long.

Let’s start by focusing on M-SU 6a-Mid with Men 25-54.

  • 104.5 The Zone = 11.2 (1st)

*** The Zone’s closest competitor, 102.5 and 94.9 The Game, finished tied for 16th with a 1.8.

Next up, M-F 6a-7p with Men 25-54.

  • 104.5 The Zone = 12.7 (1st)

When you turn the attention towards the radio station’s weekday programs, it’s the same story. Let’s begin by looking at M-F 6a-10a with Men 25-54.

  • 104.5 The Zone (The Wakeup Zone) = 14.2 (1st)

Shifting gears, we move on to middays M-F 10a-3p with Men 25-54.

  • 104.5 The Zone (Dan Patrick Show and Midday 180) = 11.7 (1st)

To wrap things up we shine the spotlight on M-F 3p-7p with Men 25-54.

  • 104.5 The Zone (3HL and Primetime) = 12.3 (1st)

Even the radio station’s weekends deliver a 9.7 which is also good enough for 1st.

At this point, the real internal story is which show is going to gain bragging rights for being the best on the radio station. The threat of competition is not on the radio station’s radar. For this month, the honor of being recognized as the station’s best belongs to ‘The Wake Up Zone” which features Kevin Ingram, Frank Wycheck and Mark Howard.

What’s scary is that when you look at the money demo (Persons 25-54), the same story exists.

For example, The Zone was tied for 5th M-SU 6a-Mid with a 6.8. They were 4th M-F 6a-7p with a 7.5. In mornings they finished 2nd with an 8.6. Middays came in 5th with a 7.1. And in afternoon drive, they’re 4th with a 6.9.

What this data tells us is that The Zone owns the market with Men 25-54, and the real competitive focus is on beating brands in the Persons 25-54 category. When a sports station is able to do that, it puts a company in position to have huge financial success.

Let me be clear about one thing as it pertains to this story. I don’t work for 104.5 The Zone or Cumulus who owns the radio station. The only thing I gain by sharing this story is some additional web traffic, a few thank you’s from listeners and industry folks who are appreciative of learning the information, and if I play my cards right, maybe a retweet from Mickey Ryan, Brent Dougherty and Blaine Bishop of 3HL.

If The Zone was losing badly, I wouldn’t hesitate to share that story because I believe in being fair, objective, and honest. In this case though there isn’t much to say other than “congrats on a job well done!”

The purpose of this piece is to educate you on what this brand has created in its local market, and acknowledge why they deserve to be in the conversation among elite brands in the sports radio format. Stations such as 98.5 The Sports Hub and WEEI in Boston, WFAN in New York, 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, and KFAN in Minneapolis all deserve to be at the top of the list, but 104.5 The Zone can make an argument for why they belong in the same discussion.

When you’re delivering double digit ratings and 1st place finishes month after month, that’s impossible to ignore. It’s these types of stories that demonstrate the power sports radio has in local markets, and the more we become familiar with them, the more the mainstream media will have to take notice of the way this format and its personalities connect with local audiences, and deliver results for advertisers.

I know this much, if you’re an advertiser looking to reach Men in the Nashville market, and you’re not investing the majority of your budget on The Zone, your strategy is severely flawed. There’s an old saying in sports radio “you fish where the fish are” and in this case, they’re all swimming in The Zone’s waters.

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