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ESPN Radio and The Drive are Both in The Ratings Basement


We all know the saying “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” But if it’s an absolute dumpster fire, you better do something quickly. Such is the case for ESPN radio, which debuts an almost entirely new schedule Monday.

ESPN Radio has had the appeal of a colonoscopy for years. With anemic ratings and so many other listener options such as streaming and podcasts, the suits at the Worldwide Leader decided to napalm the product and start from scratch.

As a result Mike Golic, Trey Wingo, Stephen A. Smith and Will Cain are all out. The new lineup is here:

5 - 9 AM: Keyshawn, Jay, and Zubin with Keyshawn Johnson, Jay Williams, and Zubin Mehenti.

9 - 11 AM: The Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz

11 AM - 1 PM: The Mike Greenberg Show

1-3 PM: The Max Kellerman Show

The effect these changes will have on the ratings nationally and locally here in Maine obviously remains to be seen.

On 92.9FM The Ticket, the ESPN affiliate in Bangor, they are promoting that “Our Day will start as usual with The Morning Line from 6am - 8am with Wayne, Bryan, Greg, Kevin and Jeff”

And in the afternoons “Get caught up on all of the sports conversations with interviews, insight, humor, and more The Drive from 4pm until 6pm with Jim, Mark, Aaron, Ernie and the crew.”

While I don’t have any insight into how Wayne Harvey and his team are doing in the local morning show ratings, my former show The Drive just suffered through what has to be one of the worst ratings periods in station history.

The Drive boys finished 10th in the market in the all important men 25-64 demo. This is down 80% from fall 2019.

Basically a station could play non stop polka music and political ads and do a better number than this. They would have been better off to close up shop, quarantine and save the gas needed to commute to the studio daily.

“But Jeff” you apologists say. “They have an excuse because there were no games being played.”

True. But there were many major stories like Brady leaving, would the Sox play and UMaine cancelling the spring season.

Somehow The Drive didn’t properly address any of these and instead relied on compiling social media clicks with their endless "Town of the Minute, Hour, Day, Week, Month, and Year" contest. Clearly listeners had zero interest.

By contrast the Sports Hub in Boston hit topics hard like Brady leaving and rolled up some of their biggest ratings ever during the same period and were #1 almost across the board in the same key demos.

Perhaps the new ESPN radio lineup will be a hit nationally and locally will help 92.9FM The Ticket in the fall ratings. Or perhaps more napalm will be needed.

Mandated Legal Sourcing to keep me out of trouble: Ratings appear courtesy of Nielsen Topline Radio Ratings, Spring 2020, Bangor TSA, Persons 25-64, Monday-Friday, 4pm to 6pm. #10 based on Average rating.

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