When Entercom's 95.7 FM-The Game debuted in April, 2011, I was intrigued. I always thought sports radio on FM was a clever device and that in this market, it could work. It works in sports-heavy Boston, why not the Bay Area. Moreover, it seemed to me KNBR had worn out its welcome and was largely living on its Giants, 49ers and Warriors affiliations --their talk-radio, for the most part, was mostly meh.
As the latest dynamic duo hits the street, a few things need to be aired, so to speak.
*The Game has never been known to be bold and take a chance. I suggested something fairly radical, but it can't be any worse then their current presentation.
*It continues to mystify me that their, PD, Jason Barrett, is still employed. Barrett's programming menu has been nothing short of a disaster, with experiment after experiment going nowhere.
Barrett's tenure has been largely defined by a knack for bringing in out-of-town unknown loud-mouths who don't know the Bay Area market--this is not exactly rocket science, but SF is not NY. That's not in any way denigrating NY nor the city but the point is what goes in the 212 and 718 doesn't naturally resonate in the 415 and 408/510. Pretty much common sense unless your Barrett and it's still mind-boggling that his boss doesn't see that. I don't know Barrett, never met him, but you can learn a lot from a guy who does contests to get hired hosts literally off the street. That's a wise business model.
It goes on. Hiring human junkets like Brandon Tierney--(boy, that worked well, didn't it?), was a foolish move from the get-go. There's been other puzzling moves too. The concept of originality, I guess, is something that's not on the sticky pad in Barrett's office. And spending globs of money on radio-TV ads making fun and belittling the competition was a ludicrous move at best. What was that all about? "You suck, we don't---you have old, stodgy listeners, we're fresh and new--listen to us, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah!" KNBR was nervous enough to tweak their schedule and pass out a few memos but the bottom line is KNBR still has the dial position and the dominant teams, advantage Cumulus.
Truth be told, I welcome an alternative to the sports leader. But if you're going up against the big boys you have to have a firm, legitimate game plan, (no pun intended); you have to have original ideas and a long-term commitment and business model to implement. A Brandon Tierney, (who lives from radio suitcase to suitcase), is not a well-thought-out hire. Tierney lasted about as long as expected and never registered an ounce of traction on the local sports radar. His blustery was far more pronounced than his results.
Local, fresh, and engaging personalities make for successful radio. By and large, it's not a science but it goes a long way to reaching out to listeners begging for something different, something edgy, something, well, that's not the half-eaten omelet called "Murph and Mac". The Game's "Rise Guys" mostly do it right but the hodgepodge of manufactured shtick and reliance on a curious brand of humor isn't working. I like Dan Dibley, to a degree, but he's not a dominant personality. Of course, sad for the Game, neither are his partners.
The fundamental problem with 95.7 is a lack of original programming, a very lousy signal and extremely poor guidance. You can always help yourself as the flagship of MLB and the NFL because, like KNBR, you build your talk shows around your clients, (although Knibber does it better)--but franchises alone don't automatically lead to ratings nirvana particularly when one of your teams doesn't win a lot of its games. That's where the PD earns his living and in the case of Barrett, he's done nothing to earn any sort of respect let alone job longevity.
FRIDAY MEDIA NOTES...
*That hot microphone that Michael Savage didn't know was hot the other day on his KSFO, (and syndicated), show created quite a storm. Savage was heard ripping another local host, (who frankly deserved it), and lecturing a producer rather, uh, pointedly. It wasn't especially juicy but it was enough to spring a rumor that a head might roll.
*I'll be filling in next Tuesday on KSCO from Noon-2 PM, (following Rush Limbaugh); we'll do some media material and a few surprises. Management is also talking about a weekend show that will concentrate on radio, TV, the Net, sort of a "Reliable Sources", stay tuned and be sure to listen on Tuesday.
*Changes, I'm told by a mole, are coming to KRON faster than you can say Van Ness Ave.
*Speaking of KSFO, have you noticed the frequent amounts of dead air lately? Maybe someone should wake up the engineer dept. On the other hand, the dead air is far more superior to the actual content at times.
*I figured it out: Maybe Raponi over there at KTVU doesn't have a computer.
*Follow me on Twitter