Hearne: How Big a Bite Will ‘The Fan’ Take Out of WHB & 610 Sports?

kevinAbout new sports talk station The Fan

For starters it’s Kansas City’s only FM sports talk station at 102.5 FM. That’s actually huge, given that far fewer listeners today make their way to the AM dial where entrenched sports talkers WHB and 610 Sports reside.

As a 250 watt “translator” signal – coming off one of Cumulus’s HD2 frequencies here –  The Fan is hardly a force to be reckoned with. That said, in its previous life doing syndicated comedy it blew the doors off 610 Sports last month with a 2.1 share of listeners 6 and older and a cume of 199,800 listeners. Compare that to 610’s 1.6 share and  148,100 listeners.

The game plan for the new Fan:

“It’s not going to overtake 610 or WHB, but if it even gets one share point of the four and a half to five share points of sports radio listenership in Kansas City, it’s going to take 20 percent out of somebody’s hide,” says a radio insider. “I mean, if you take 20 percent out of anything it’s going to make an impact.”


tannamax“When Entercom blew up classic rock station 99.7KY several years ago it sent KCFX FM to No. 1 in Kansas City, even though KY wasn’t very strong. The Fan isn’t going to knock anybody off, it’s just going to splinter the marketplace. Like having three country stations here did. Prior to WDAF FM signing on, Q104 or KFKF were No. 1, but they haven’t been since.

“So yes, 102.5 The Fan is a peashooter, but that peashooter had enough power to beat 610 Sports in the last two books in November and December.”

Other radio experts point to the fact the comedy channel at 102.5 did as well as it did because it was the only funny bone in KC’s radio ranks. And that sans a sports team like the Chiefs, Royals, KU or MU it will be hard for The Fan to build a cume.

“You could run CBS syndication all day long on a 100,000 watt FM powerhouse and WHB and 610 would still beat them in ratings by providing local content and providing local play by play,” says a second industry source.  “It should also be noted that the comedy channel also beat Cumulus’  own KCMO-AM and FM translator combo (cume) of  126,000 and WHB who had 179,000.  KCMO serves as more proof that you just can’t put the signal on a translator with a ton of syndication and expect audience growth.”

That said, the Kansas City Business Journal reported last month that The Fan will be adding local programming, so we’ll see.

As for the benefits of putting sports on the FM dial, when 610 signed on years ago, there was a debate at Entercom over whether to place it on FM.

Fortunately for WHB (sources say Kevin Kietzman was extremely worried 610 would go the FM route), Entercom elected to stick with AM.

Screen shot 2013-01-08 at 2.21.24 PMThe $64 million question:

If Cumulus can find two translators here, why can’t Entercom?

If 610 Sports wants to leap ahead of the pack with its strong local programming, why not do a translator deal on one of Entercom’s HD2 stations?

Because if a weak as a kitten syndicated comedy station can pull a 2.5 share, think what a local sports powerhouse could do. Possibly a combined 3 share or better, which could catapult 610 past the mighty WHB and change the landscape of sports talk radio in Kansas City.





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11 Responses to Hearne: How Big a Bite Will ‘The Fan’ Take Out of WHB & 610 Sports?

  1. Rj Keitchen says:

    If The Fan gives us more and better Sporting KC coverage then they will lock me in as a listener. 610 and 810 both suck when it comes to SKC coverage.

    • admin says:

      Don’t hold your breath on that one. They aren’t even doing local yet (if they ever do). MLS will be lucky to get much if any coverage, especially during prime time.

  2. Mysterious J says:

    As I pointed out the other day, the fact that a national name like Jim Rome couldn’t compete with a local voice in this market tells me that anonymous syndicated programming is not likely to get a measurable audience.

  3. Rainbow Man says:

    I don’t think KK and the 810 ratings are going anywhere yet. KK may be over 45 and a little suburban in taste, but KK’s listeners are buying new cars, jewelry, bowl game trips, home enhancements, fitness packages, etc etc… His content is appealing and if he didn’t peel off a little wackiness now and again… the things we want to say but won’t… No one would listen. His homieness to KSU just makes him more human too. I know all kinds of KU ( I am a KU fan) and Nebraska fans who go crazy mad about him…. and why? Because they are always listening. They may not like KK but their wives are getting rocks from Joslin’s. I will say this about KK… That guy KNOWS his market and he serves them.

  4. Harry Balczak says:

    At least Jim Rome is back on the air in KC. No more boring Petro or whatever nobody 610 has on in his place

  5. Grant says:

    Oh, great. Now we get to hear about the Lakers, Red Sox, Yankees, NY Giants, Knicks and Jets more. That’s going to be popular in K.C.

    • admin says:

      They may yet offer local content. In the meantime, there are probably a lot of die hard sports types that follow the national scene rather than just the local.

      Think about the transplanted Kansas Citians, for example, who still root for and/or follow the teams in their former cities

  6. harley says:

    sorry hearne but you’re out of your league again. sorry.
    1. no one cares about cume audience. That’s fine for an older demographic but
    advertisers could care less.
    2. cumulus….epic fail when it comes tothe small stations…rock-gone…comedy-gone…
    sports…soonto be gone..Cumulus is shedding talent like crazy right now and
    this is not going to work. National shows? you can get thaton espn…maybe
    jim rome…after that zilch. and rome was a major problem for ratings on
    610 when they had him.
    3. when were q or kfkf #1? probably never. Prove your comment!
    4. your predictions for radio are as bad as whiney/chu ckles/mark smiths
    5. 6 and older??????????? really…WHO CARES?
    6. no advertising…just like the comedy/rock stations…the fan has/will have no ads..
    7. the fan won’t splinter any sports talk marketplace….again wrong!
    8. advertisers are not concerned with the things you write about…if you want
    to write about media…hire a media expert to write.
    hearne…i think you write some good articles about bars/the kc star/some other
    subjects but when you gt to media is apparent you really are lite.

    • admin says:

      We’ll see.

      But this isn’t me making these pronouncements, there are some of the top radio execs in the biz.

      And if you look at sports talk radio having a 4 to 5 share of local listening and The Fan can carve out even a point, that’s a 20 percent hit to somebody.

  7. b12 says:

    102.5 won’t make a dent in 610 or 810 where it counts…advertising dollars.

    Anything they’re providing on a whopping 250 watt translator can be found already online. Local content rules…610 and 810 provide it, and will roll on.

    102.5 is either another format or off the air in 18 months.

    810’s strength is knowing when to blow off the top of the hour ESPN and run with something that is compelling. 610 will stick to the clock.

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