Shaking the radio tree

I know, I know. A lot of you aren’t happy. The relaunch of 95.7 as KGMZ or “The Game” hasn’t resulted in more A’s-focused programming. The shift to a sort of KNBR Jr. is more than a little upsetting. And I can even infer that from Lew Wolff’s response to my question about the radio situation, which he deemed “not perfect.” By all rights the A’s deserve a shot at full-time coverage, which in turn should grow the fan base. Sadly for the A’s and we A’s fans, life is pretty damned unfair. Just as the A’s haven’t been world-beaters at the gate, they also haven’t been killing it on the radio, at least historically. We can at least be thankful that they are on a sports station that provides some support, but that’s the bare minimum at least for the time being.

Looking at the big picture, the emergence of The Game is much more compelling in terms of how it affects the Bay Area sports radio landscape. When we first discussed the station, it made sense for it to settle into a nice place between the KNBR-680 and KNBR-1050. However, the station’s hiring of the Sacramento-based Rise Guys, NY loud guy Brandon Tierney paired up with 49ers radio color commentator Eric Davis, and several CSN Insiders, has shown that Entercom means serious business. Cumulus, which runs the twin KNBR stations, has already sacrificed 1050 and is in full retreat with its only local host, Damon Bruce, now pairing up with fading stalwart Gary Radnich on 680. Tony Bruno’s syndicated show is probably not long for 1050 after his racist remark during the Phillies-Giants brawl on Friday night. The loss of Bruce and Bruno leaves KNBR parent Cumulus with few real alternatives. Its only draws are Jim Rome and Warriors/49ers broadcasts when they conflict with the Giants. Already a terrible ratings performer, 1050’s impending demise may force Cumulus to reconsider how it carries its various sports properties. The 49ers re-signed with Cumulus through the 2014 season. The Warriors may jump ship as soon as they see an ready alternative, which may be The Game (perhaps depending on what happens with the Sharks).

Complicating matters for Cumulus is their impending merger with Citadel, which is supposed to be voted on in a week. If the merger is approved, it’s possible that due to FCC rules about ownership of radio stations in specific markets, 1050 or other stations will have to be placed in a trust for future divestiture. Putting 1050 in such a trust could lead to the end of 1050 as we know it, pushing The Game into the #2 sports talk spot in the Bay Area. That would change The Game from a threat to a real competitor. Even if 1050 were to survive, it would only be a shadow of itself. In any case, KNBR management has to be on its toes from here on out instead of coasting as it has for the last several years.

The sad part is that throughout all of this, the A’s are relegated to being bystanders. They don’t have enough clout to dictate anything, and having only two stations could amp up the competing-for-Giants-fans angle. We can only hope that coverage shifts back towards the A’s as the 2012 season starts. Until then, at least it’s “compatible” programming.

30 thoughts on “Shaking the radio tree

  1. The promos 957 runs attacking knbr are atrocious, and they’re pushing them hard. Station stinks after relaunch.

  2. I can’t say I’d do anything differently if I was the station’s program director. If they’re going to eventually become the #1 sports station in the market (which would certainly be my goal), they’ll have to cover all the teams. I read the transcripts of a chat with the PD (I think it can still be found on their homepage) in which he said to look for more A’s-specific stuff like a regular Bob Melvin Show, etc. next season, that it was impossible to do so this year because of the late start.

    BTW, I have no problem with the spots attacking KNBR. What’s atrocious to one man is humorous to another.

  3. I mostly tune in to hear the Rise Guys (I am a sacramento Native living in the intermountain west). I love the new energy they bring with Dan Dibley on board. I have yet to listen to The Wheelhouse or The Drive. I know A’s fans are starved for attention on sports radio, but like hecanfoos said it is a business. The Game is not trying to become a niche radio station. They want to dominate the market. You certainly hear more A’s talk on The Game then on KNBR. I think A’s fans expectations were way too high coming into this. That said, Chris Townsend dominates with A’s coverage. Billy Bean and Bob 2.0 (as dibs calls him) have already been on the station with the Rise Guys. People need to give it some time. A show finds its audience over a couple months. Not 3 days. Let’s watch and see what happens with regards to A’s coverage starting next season. Also, it would hurt if they A’s were a more consistant team. Hardcore fans will always be there, but the average person likes a winner. Win consistently, and people will come to the coliseum and listen on the radio. Then hosts will be forced to adjust.

  4. I am not sure the station could play this any other way. We can’t get enough fans to fill the stadium, fan base is down and the radio and tv numbers are not very good either. I look at the station as a long term investment that will grow the A’s brand. As for now, the station has to draw listeners and those listeners will be drawn from KNBR, so be it. Without a balanced station, the A’s would be off to another weak signal before you knew what hit you! This radio station is just like tv. I don’t leave my channel on the same station all day long. It is called choice. Turn the channel if you don’t like what is on. No station is going to have A’s talk 12-24 hours a day, especially when they are not the talk of the town. Giants won the WS last year, it’s up to the A’s to field a better team and catch the casual fans. When the A’s are on you listen, if a certain show/slot you like is on, you will listen, but when they talk about SF teams, you can turn the channel. One thing for sure, I will be listening. The station is still finding its way and I do beleive they will increase the A’s coverage for next season. I would also expect them to be fair and balanced in their coverage.

  5. I really don’t have a problem with the relaunch. I always thought that in order for the station to be competitive they couldn’t limit themselves to being an East Bay station. I am disappointed with a couple of the hosts being a little dismissive with regard to the A’s, but I guess that’s what happens when the hosts are brought in from outside of the Bay Area. They have no emotional attachment to the team.
    If the A’s continue to play at their current level, and the Giants really take a dive in the standings, I’d expect the talk to be almost 100% football, 60% Niners, 40% Raiders.

  6. There’s a difference between being “an East Bay station” and talking Giants and Niners peripheral stories (see: Barry Bonds statue) that are already covered ad nauseum on another frequency . The only shakeup here is that we now have a choice between crap and shit.

  7. Seems like most of the time when I turn on 95.7, they’re talking about the Giants or 49ers. Isn’t that what AM 680 is for?

  8. 95.7 is increasing their sports base. Avid A’s fans have the following reasons to cheer:

    1. Each 95.7 host devotes more time to the A’s than all the combined KNBR hosts as a whole.

    2. Rick Tittle can be heard on weekends which gives us an alternative to…

    3. The Marty Lurie weekend show which is fading fast. (I’m not sure what happened when he moved from KTRB to KNBR–no more memories of the game or interesting interviews with baseball insiders (e.g. Shooty Babbit). He seems to be devoted to callers talking about the same topic hour, after hour, after hour, after…..)

  9. I don’t see how the A’s can feel that being marginalized on a station that carries their product is tenable, even in the short term. Sardonically ringing a bell whenever the A’s are mentioned is not something you expect to hear on the station airing their games.

  10. So far, I’m waiting to reserve serious judgment until a couple of moths in. However, I really don’t like “49er Mondays.” I can’t believe the biggest day of the week for football talk is going to be monopolized by one team, of which, is looking to be worse than the Raiders. As for the A’s, I see the station’s point, but to openly mock A’s fans and bag on the stadium, team, etc., it’s seems uncalled for.

  11. I don’t think I would mind so much if the other 95.7 hosts wanted to talk about the Giants or criticize the A’s if they had anything new to say or knew what they were talking about. So far, I haven’t heard it (and I have been listening a fair bit to the midday and afternoon shows as well as the very early morning Sporting News Radio syndicated stuff that’s on during my 4 AM commute).

    I’m also disappointed that the station sounds like any other commercial sports-talk station — same kind of music transitions, same kind of dude-bro hosts, speaking with the same energy, same style, directing themselves to the same little segment of the audience. I’m sure the station management believes that’s how they have to sound, because that’s what’s been shown to work with their audience and they might be right — I don’t know much about the research behind sports-talk radio. But I don’t think that’s a given. I was listening to Rick Tittle doing the pregame this morning, and he sounded very different — for one thing, he was on by himself, but his pacing was more measured and relaxed, he was working the mic in a more intimate way, he sounded companionable.

  12. I have a problem with the outsiders 95.7 FM has brought in, especially Brandon Tierney. He is very obnoxious and “morning zooish” – I can’t see how that will work in this market. He has ZERO on-air chemistry with Eric Davis. It’s unlistenable at times.

    Furthermore, Tierney routinely bashes the A’s. He even called A’s fans “demented and lost.” After receiving complaints from A’s fans regarding the lack of A’s talk on the station, Tierney now rings a bell whenever the A’s are mentioned (followed by his sophomoric laugh) – which is very insulting.

  13. Honestly, I have enjoyed the new station for the most part especially when greg papa has been co hosting on the wheelhouse. I just think A’s fans should be happy the team is getting any exposure at all compared to the days before 95.7. Lets face it the team is not relavent and because of that there is no way any station would commit very much air time to such a bland team. As much as I hate to say it, right now the giants are very relevant, which is why they are getting so much exposure on 95.7.

  14. Yeah, painful a truth as it is to hear, solely East Bay sports programming — especially the all-A’s programming some are wishing for — will unfortunately mean that The Game will be as Spanish Language in 2013 as KTRB is today. It’s horrifying but it’s something we’ve been in denial about as A’s fans for way too long: this franchise is “demented and lost” due to the outright neglect of the bogus Commissioner’s office and his phony delegation to his “committee” to resolve the issue that haunts every aspect of what currently goes on with this once-proud (but now devastated into irrelevancy by the very forces allegedly in authority to uphold its interests) thing called Oakland Athletics.

    Until then, there will be no reason for KGMZ to do anything but talk about what people are talking about, and that sure isn’t the A’s… as a new station trying to compete with something that has a 30+ year head start and a defending championship team with which to operate, they could do no different. Ask yourself: what have the A’s as a franchise done or accomplished — especially these last five years leading up to the Giants domination of the market — to merit anyone’s attention, even us hardcores? Of course — and I just told Chris Townsend this — if The Game just decides to play totally safe and state the obvious, and thus positions themselves as KNBR East and a mere addition to the Echo Chamber of Orange and Black Propanganda promulgated by The Sports MisLeader, they are likewise doomed to be all-Mariachi, all-the-time by mid-decade here. This, because as we’ve so sadly seen in the nationwide political spectrum in which this radio situation finds analogy, voters will choose the dyed-in-the-wool, Troglodyte Ayn Rand Republican every time over the Faux-Republican equivalent in the Democratic Party; if the choice is Velveeta or Cheese, most folks go with Cheese.

  15. @EN – I’m offended by your remarks. Signed, Tony Bruno. (This is only a joke)

  16. The Drive is a disaster. Tierney is a total ass and Davis doesn’t even seem to like him. I actually feel sorry for Davis b/c I think he could make a decent co-host if he wasn’t partnered up with such a moron. How they thought a New Yorker could come in and provide some perspective on the BA sports landscape is beyond me. I haven’t had as much chance to listen to the wheelhouse. I caught the first hour of the first day and was less than impressed. I listened again on Friday and I thought it worked quite well with Papa, even if Lund is somewhat obnoxious.
    The good news is the Rise Guys are outstanding. They are intelligent, funny, and not condescending to A’s fans. Even if the relaunch hasn’t been what I hoped it would be, the addition of the Rise Guys almost make it worth it. Obviously, Townsend is still fantastic.
    Hopefully Tierney gets the boot and Lund, if he stays, is teamed up with someone like Papa or Roxy Bernstein on a permanent basis so that the show is a bit more mellow.

  17. For now, I will listen to the Rise Guys and A’s games. That is a net positive, maybe we will gain more reasons to appreciate the new station in the coming months.

  18. Emperor “Epic” Nobody.

  19. I understand there will be Giants talk which is annoying to us A’s fans. But Tierney is the worst host to hit bay area sports radio. His loud mouth bull dog ways don’t work here. Then the constant making fun of A’s fans, has grown old fast. It’s one thing to talk crap about the team But he has put down the fans and made fun of them everyday both on air and online. Takes talent to be hated more than Fitz here.

  20. I like Dibley. Tittle is good on the weekend. Tierney and Davis was a terrible choice for that slot. Davis doesn’t know much about baseball, so he’s sounds lost right now. Tierney is interesting. I would enjoy him better on the late night, like after Townsend. Townsend is ok. We could do better there. Nothing personal, but the passion he exudes seems a little forced at times. They really need a better Raider presence.
    I wonder how hard it would be to break the Raider TV contract and move to The Game?

  21. rise guys, dibley, papa, davis, and townsend are the only salvagable parts of the station’s on air talent thru the first week of the second reboot of the station. everybody else mainly lund and ESPECIALLY tierney can go back to where they came from.

    with so much local talent here to be hired from both sides of the bay, why hire a guy from por and especially the most obnoxious of nyc sports radio hosts who couldn’t give a damn about the bay area sports landscape or east bay sports scene had they not arrived here. other out of towners who’ve been hired in this area like bruce and even going back to the early days of the 1050 like brooks/selio/frantz didn’t act as obnoxious as this tierney guy has acted not only this past week his first week on air here locally but his stupid comments for weeks now on the 95.7 facebook page.

    to me they are no different than issac/suke or jackson when they were hired here. least those guys were here for the short term and pretty much knew they weren’t here for the long term. i’m afraid these two new jokers will be here much longer than “talents” from the first reboot in april but in no way i think will these two be here next year at this time. if they are, then they’re gonna lose a lot of listeners if the first week is a sampling of what we should expect the next 6-7 months. real test will come when baseball season is over and see how the talent by itself will be in trying to attract and keep listeners during football season.

  22. I agree with everyone else – the Rise Guys has been a pleasant surprise. They aren’t condescending towards the A’s and Raiders, or any other Bay Area team for that matter. Usually morning sports shows are loud and obnoxious but not these guys, which is refreshing. However, John Lund and Brandon Tierney are awful – especially Tierney. Eric Davis (though he doesn’t seem to care about baseball) has talent, but Tierney completely neutralizes him. Davis deserves much better. I’ve stopped listening to Tierney and Davis because of Tierney’s annoying shtick. It didn’t help that Tierney kept bashing the A’s on air and on the station’s Facebook wall. Tierney’s anti-A’s Facebook postings were unprofessional and bizarre. Chris Townsend has been solid so far with his nightly show.

  23. Well Brandon Tierney is at again. He posted on the station’s Facebook wall that only after the A’s win five games in a row, he will stop ringing his bell (Tierney sardonically rings a bell whenever he mentions the A’s.) Seriously, this guy might be the worst Bay Area sports radio talk show host ever.

  24. i think somebody like papa could be a great cohost with davis. looks as papa is done with chronicle live and although it’s thought he’d be working more pre/post game duties on csnba, i think he’d do well as a full time radio host which he was back on 1050 over a decade ago at the noon time hour. papa could be a nice counterbalance as a raiders proponent to davis as the niners proponent. he really has the ability to talk about all the bay area teams here with some kind of knowledge.

  25. @emperor nobody, I disagree with your cheese analogy. If The Game puts forward better personalities and better production value they will grow and hang around even if they are talking about the same stuff. Like example, The Rise Guys v Murph and Mac. I think everyone on this board would agree right now that the Rise Guys are better and the topics are the same. But You dont have to worry about someone breaking into song about Bochy, or going on for 30 minutes about the greatful dead or 80’s music.

  26. Whenever someone says something racist, there are always people ready to jump to that person’s defense to assure everyone that the person is not racist. In fact, offending person often repeats the same thing themselves. Probably the most recent example is Michael Richards (aka Seinfeld’s Kramer). He said some of the most racist things I’ve ever heard, yet went on Letterman to assure everyone he’s not one. Honestly, I’m not even sure what that means when people do that. Does it mean “I usually only think racist things, but don’t say them out loud?” Cuz that what it sure seems like.

  27. @gojohn10, there is no defending what Bruno did.

  28. those people that try confuse me too

  29. Rise Guys >> The Monty Show. That is all.

  30. The guy with the bell is an East Coast loud mouth like the guy on KNBR who said ‘illegal alien’. It’s a simple matter of marketing; we don’t like idiots who think the New York Post is a real newspaper and Imus is a ‘great broadcaster.’ If I wanted to live in NY or Philly and spend my days yelling “I got yer (blank) right here!” and grabbing my crotch, I would have. Instead I’m from Nor Cal and think that crap is for losers. Lose that guy now, 95.7. You could do better hiring Ralph and Tom’s sidekick or just about anyone for that matter.

    Otherwise, I think we just need to be patient. The Giants have a seamless propaganda machine and it will take years to match it, At least the A’s have a chance now.

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