When last we checked in on the sports radio scene in St. Louis – just last weekend, in fact – the leading station in the genre, WXOS/”ESPN 101.1″, was so dominant that it accounted for 85% of the market share in the format, with the other two stations, KFNS/”590 The Fan” and KXFN/”1380 The Fan 2″ regularly posting Gary Keithley-esque ratings outside of one show in morning drive on KFNS.
Interestingly, the two are sister stations.
But now it appears that they will now become – get this – brother and sister stations.
That’s right: The firm that owns the duo, Grand Slam Sports, is expected to drop their respective sports formats as early as May. Their new identities will be – you’ve been warned – “590 The Man” and “1380 The Woman.”
As you would expect, the couple’s new formats remain spoken-word, but with talk programming that appeals to male and female listeners. In fact, “The Man”, which is expected to continue a tiny portion of sports talk, has announced that its new morning show will be the syndicated program hosted by Hulk Hogan’s best friend, Bubba The Love Sponge.
In giving birth to “The Man” and “The Woman,” Grand Slam Sports – which may or may not decide to change the name of its outfit to “Grand Slam People” – is cleaning house, displacing all on-air talent with the exception of KFNS late morning host Frank Cusumano, who will be a holdover with the new “Man” lineup.
“I felt the content of the shows was not drawing the audience,” admitted Dan Marshall, the president of Grand Slam Radio. I thought if we could change the formats, we could make better content… I think we can do better on the content and create more stable radio stations.”
Translation: The fact that the most popular sports radio show in St. Louis was not a local program, but ESPN Radio’s “Mike And Mike,” means the sports radio landscape in St. Louis is just brutal, so let’s cash out now, while we still have our dignity.
With the new “guy talk” approach on KFNS, it appears as if the station is taking the advice of its former host, Kevin Slaten, who was quoted as saying: “I don’t think the all-sports format works anymore… I don’t think you can win anymore unless you do ‘man-talk’.”
I wonder if Kevin’s going to hit up KFNS for a consulting fee, on the heels of this news.
Also quoted around the same time was KFNS/KXFN general manager Katy Pavelonis, who said this: “I don’t know how you can have ‘the best sports city in America’ and not have strong sports radio.”
Oh, yeah: they’ve relinquished her programming duties for “The Man” and “The Woman” but remains with the station in a sales role – which was the initial purpose for her hire in the first place, before being thrust into the GM role last year. Instead, Marshall will have a say in programming on “The Man,” while “The Woman” will be run by Robin Jackson – a male, by the way.
One of the casualties of the upcoming consummation of “The Man” and “The Woman” is Tim McKernan. It was on his program for one week last March that Fox sports announcer Joe Buck co-hosted, and their show included guests like Charlie Sheen. Buck did the radio cameo with the goal of setting up his own podcast, which apparently has not come into fruition a year after the fact.
Now that “The Man” is looking for talent that can appeal to male listeners, why not have Buck on its roster – excuse me, schedule? It’s certainly feasible for sports announcers to hold down radio shows as they work their schedule of games. New York Yankees announcer Michael Kay has been a fixture on ESPN Radio’s New York outlet virtually since its inception. Buck calls, what, a few dozen baseball games a year, playoffs included? Should be a piece of cake for him.
Then again, maybe Buck would be smart not to align himself with what sounds like the tackiest radio branding idea ever. “590 The Man” and “1380 The Woman.” Reminds me of when two AM radio stations in Washington, D.C. became “McCain 570” and “Obama 1260” just around election time five years ago.
But it looks as if “ESPN 101.1” won’t be the lone sports radio choice in St. Louis for long: McKernan is considering launching his own sports station, provided he finds enough capital commitment to it.
And wouldn’t it be poetic justice for McKernan, one-third of the highest-rated show on KFNS or KXFN at the moment, if his new sports station made sweet ratings genocide of “The Man” and “The Woman.”
They say you really can’t judge a radio format prior to its launch based on the name alone – I disagree. This makes the mid-2000’s “Free-FM” format look like “The Rush Limbaugh Show.”
That being said, I give it about a year – fifteen months, tops – before Grand Slam Broadcasting revokes their “Man” card.