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.”
“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.
The $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.