KNBR's Come-to-Jesus time began on Monday and will conclude in a few weeks; the all-sports AM 680 will be devoid of Warriors games (as the W's have moved to 95.7 FM The Game) and the 49ers (ugh!) don't play Sunday.
KNBR will have to rely on its talk-shows and outside of the afternoon drive minus one dreadful moron host, Knibber will be talk exclusively. That is, after the 500 hours of commercials and "updates" disguised as breaking sports news.
KNBR built a successful brand based on its almost monopoly of Bay Area sports. During baseball season and its six-month presence, the station's talk shows centered on Giants' baseball games and not much else (rightly so, in some cases). As the Giants began to have success in the post season, KNBR extended its talk and milked its prize asset sometimes to the extreme but it all worked well in the ratings department and revenues soared in the sales offices. Everyone got drunk rich.
After October baseball magic --the 49ers and Warriors took off --it helps that the 49ers were good and the Warriors were just beginning to become the model franchise they've evolved into but all of that is gone now and KNBR will have to be creative. They will be tested to the limit.
For one thing, they will have to figure out how to talk successfully without the benefit of the suddenly NBA version of "America's Team." Granted, in terms of popularity, the Warriors are still #2 behind the Giants but with the addition of Kevin Durant and the rest of the team, a radio station devoid of its winter bread and butter has to hurt the "Sports Leader."
The 49ers are lousy now and don't generate much caller traction other than for the leather lungs to berate Jed York and pray for a DeBartolo sighting in Santa Clara. "Let's go to Salty in Clovis" wears thin after the sixth straight loss.
KNBR will survive this phase having made loads of cash during the past six-plus years with ratings nirvana, low overhead, and the innate ability to reward its "star" announcers and screw the lower-level staff that do the heavy lifting. Now comes the hard part.
The Warriors radio home now is Game territory --a big hit indeed, but the Game still has a very poor signal and can't be heard in most of the city and parts of the Bay Area. KNBR's 50,000 watts and prime AM dial position will always supersede The Game's better overall product and talk shows but when there's nothing to listen to, what's a sports radio fan to do. Probably tune into Satellite radio or flip on ESPN.
Let's check the ratings in a month or so. I see a trend developing.