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The Michael Kay Show Beats WFAN in the Winter Book

The race for afternoon ratings supremacy in New York City tightened in 2017 between Mike Francesa and The Michael Kay Show. But despite a few close calls, Francesa stayed in front until signing off for the final time this past December.

Fast forward to 2018, and the picture has certainly changed. The Fan now finds itself in unfamiliar territory, looking up at its competitor in the afternoon drive ratings.

For the first time ever since moving into afternoons 13 years ago, The Michael Kay Show on 98.7 FM ESPN NY defeated The Fan head to head in afternoons. Michael Kay, Don LaGreca and Peter Rosenberg delivered a 4.4, which was two tenths higher than The Fan’s “CMB” which features Chris Carlin, Maggie Gray and Bart Scott. The news was first reported by Neil Best of Newsday.

The feat is a major accomplishment for Kay and his partners. The show has improved on the air and gained strong momentum since adding Rosenberg to the mix, and although critics will point out that the show didn’t defeat Francesa and narrowly slipped past CMB, a win is a win anyway you slice it.

Victory aside, both stations were down compared to the fall book. Kay’s show finished tied for 8th, six tenths of a point behind its fall performance. The Fan was 10th and a stunning 2.2 points lower than its fall showing.

The one saving grace for The Fan’s afternoon trio was that they won the head to head battle for their full show. “CMB” was 9th with a 4.3 between the hours of 2p-6:30p. 98.7 FM ESPN NY was 11th with a 3.9 during that four and a half hour period.

ESPN New York Senior VP and General Manager Tim McCarthy told Newsday, “I’m really happy for Michael, Don and Peter. They’ve been doing this for a long time, and the good news is the ratings over the last year have continued to grow in the right direction.”

Mark Chernoff, WFAN’s Vice President of Programming told Best he was pleased with how the ratings were trending in March and is very optimistic about more growth in the spring.

A few items worth pointing out regarding the New York race.

  • Michael Kay’s show doesn’t receive the local boost from morning drive that The Fan does.
  • 98.7 FM ESPN NY operates on one signal. The Fan broadcasts on both FM and a powerful AM signal.
  • The Michael Kay Show receives additional exposure due to a TV simulcast on the YES Network.
  • WFAN is the flagship station for the New York Yankees. With the Bronx Bombers back in action, their presence on the radio station should provide an added cume boost for The Fan in the spring/summer/fall books. That should help lift the station’s numbers, but won’t necessarily tell us whether New York sports radio fans have flocked to the station’s new afternoon show. ESPN NY meanwhile doesn’t have the benefit of carrying local baseball play by play.
  • “CMB” are only 4 months into their program. Shows usually need time to hit their stride and develop a loyal following.

The Fan remained ahead in mornings with Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti placing 7th with a 5.1 compared to ESPN New York’s airing of the national show “Wingo and Golic” which was 14th with a 3.0. “Boomer and Gio” though were down significantly from the fall when the station came in 1st with a 7.7.

Not to be forgotten, The Fan’s midday show led by Joe Beningo and Evan Roberts produced a 6th place finish. The show delivered a 4.8, down from the fall when they turned in a 5.5. During the 10a-2p hours they were comfortably ahead of 98.7 ESPN NY which was far back in 16th with a 2.4.

The #1 rated station with Men 25-54 in New York for the fall book according to Nielsen Audio was 106.7 Lite FM which reeled in an impressive 8.2 share.

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