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KSTP-AM's share rises: new ESPN format or just the Twins?

Haven't done a look at radio ratings in a few months, but with AM1500's big sports-format switch to 1500 ESPN, it's time to see if there's any early ratings bump.

As you can see from the spaghetti chart below, 1500 ESPN (second black line) took a big jump-up between March and April, from a 1.8 percent share of the total listening audience to 3.7 percent. That's not so newsworthy; since the station got Twins broadcast rights in 2007, that leap happens every spring.

The 3.7 tops last year's 3.3, and this April is KSTP-AM's best month of the 13-month Portable People Meter era, save for last October when the Twins were in the playoffs. The improved 2010 results is likely explained by the Twins, not the new sports format, since Target Field's opening has created playoff-level interest.

When KSTP fully implemented the hybrid ESPN-Sportstalk schedule April 12, the lineup featured nationally syndicated programming in the a.m. (Mike & Mike in drive time, Colin Cowherd 9 a.m.-noon) and local stars Pat Reusse and Joe Soucheray from noon to 6 p.m.

Plunging into actual dayparts and demographics (adults 25-to-54, the ones advertisers target): The Mike-&-Mike share is off a quarter from a year earlier, when Reusse held down the slot, while ESPN's Colin Cowherd is roughly matching the numbers put up by the ignominious Prebil & Murphy. That's not a shock — many expected the national shows would suck wind for local sports junkies. At least KSTP doesn't pay the host's salaries (it gives ESPN some commercial spots as payment).

Meanwhile, the Reusse-Soucheray relay race posted a 75 percent share growth, topping a 6 percent share during the six-hour afternoon block.

Before we pronounce the Curmudgeon Crew a hit though, there's this huge caveat: in the 14 weekdays since the April 12 switch, the Twins played five day games in the noon to 6 p.m. hours, compared to only one last year. That makes it highly likely the Twins, not the sportswriters, are propelling the growth. There are fewer day games the rest of the spring and summer, so future ratings books will tell the tale.

KSTP V.P. Dan Seeman is playing it cautious, crediting both the Twins and his station's blizzard of billboards (Block E looks like Block ESPN) along with his talent: "It’s early but we are very pleased with the launch of 1500 ESPN. The excitement surrounding the Twins and a new stadium, along with the a new on-air line-up and an aggressive marketing campaign have accounted for major ratings increases from April 2009 to April 2010."

By the way, whatever KSTP is gaining doesn't seem to be coming from sports rival KFAN's hide. The Fan's April-to-April shares among all listeners, 6 a.m. to midnight, was virtually flat: 2.4 percent versus 2.3 percent.

KFAN exec Gregg Swedberg declined comment on his rebooted competitor, noting only, "KFAN’s ratings are about where they were a year ago."

Anything else interesting in the April book? KDWB has settled in as the overall number two, eclipsing the K102 country folk. WCCO-AM's April overal share slumped toward the low end of its 13-month range (5.5) amid major personnel turnover. Christian statio KTIS-FM again touched its 13-month high (4.1) while KHTC-FM (4.0) continued to post solid gains since last year's switch from B96. Oldies station Love105 (3.7) has been a steady gainer, while The Current (1.5) is at the bottom of its range.

Here are the crazy-quilt share trends:

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Comments (6)

Looks like WCCO AM and all their changes are not producing positive results. When a radio station makes such big changes, where in the world is the advertising and packaging to promote those changes? With the Twins gone from the 830, this station has seen a real decline in their audience.

I blogged about the same topic -- just the views of one sports radio fan.

I seem to be an anomaly (no surprise), because I like the national morning programming on KSTP and abhor the gravel-voiced geezers they air in the afternoon.

'CCO lost me several years ago as a listener even before they lost the Twins.

I used to wake up to morning show, but tired of the adolescent locker room humor. I tired of Sid Hartman slurring his words in the morning and being bowed to as "a legend", and found little of interest as woman (and a big Twins fan) to really get excited about.

I'm not sure about the new KSTP format - prefer local to national myself, and find myself flipping between KFAN and KSTP1500 depending on the time of day.

Tried FM107.1 for awhile till they went the gossip station route. Geez. Can anyone run a decent, intelligent radio station anymore?

I am liking the Mike & Mike show a lot more than I thought I would. I don't care for Colin Cowherd however.

WCCO simply plays way too many commercials and has too many things that are sponsored ("this weather forecast brought to you by...)

I know that's how the make money but maybe they could charge the advertisers more and advertise less. That might get people like me to listen more.

I'm not really a big sports talk fan (though I am pretty constantly listening to the Twins broadcast), but the Reusse/Mackey show from 12-2 has been a pleasant surprise. Reusse is a curmudgeon but he's not out of touch on too much, and where he is out of touch (stats, the internet) Mackey provides the other voice. Pretty much the only sports talk show I actively try to catch. Pretty good chemistry and not as many wandering golf rants as the Reusse/Souch show.

Ok....I know I got here 2 weeks too late, but did anyone else notice that KTIS or WLITE's ratings peaked in December ???

Cmas must do wonders for them, eh? LOLOL Rock on, God !!!

Color me sad about WCCO, too. Spend money on a statue (sp?) for Sid H, for slurring words for 50 years, but get rid of those REAL radio professionals. That makes 100% sense.