Ravens' radio ratings: apples, oranges and a mea culpa

ON MEDIA

January 26, 2007|By RAY FRAGER

This week's version of a light bulb joke:

How many sports media columnists does it take to screw up a report on radio ratings?

Answer: See picture above.

Last week, I said Ravens regular-season games on WBAL (1090 AM) and 98 Rock (WIYY/97.9 FM) in 2006 drew more listeners than the games on JACKfm (WQSR/102.7 FM) and ESPN Radio 1300 (WJFK/1300 AM) in 2005.

Which is true. But that may be all I got right.

According to numbers compiled by Arbitron, the radio ratings service, WBAL/98 Rock averaged 166,300 Baltimore-area listeners 18 and older for each game. However, I shouldn't have said the 2005 audience was only a quarter of that number. Actually, WBAL/98 Rock registered an apparent 40 percent increase, not a 300 percent rise.

The Arbitron report didn't contain two sets of numbers derived in the same manner. So I was comparing apples and oranges (or, if my wife isn't looking, comparing pizza and ice cream).

According to Thom Mocarsky, Arbitron senior vice president for press and investor relations, WBAL/98 Rock had ordered up a customized report to sample the Ravens audience via a phone survey. The listener numbers for CBS Radio's stations in 2005 were the result of Arbitron's normal sampling method, the diary. The latter, relying on people's memories when they fill in the pages, produces lower numbers than when someone calls your house and asks if you listened to the Ravens game yesterday.

"The diary is good at tracking habitual behavior. ... It is not designed to be precise," Mocarsky said.

So, comparing apples to apples (or pepperoni slices to pepperoni slices), WBAL/98 Rock showed an increase of 19,400 over CBS Radio via diary-based ratings. For the first 13 regular-season games of 2005, JACKfm and ESPN Radio 1300 averaged 49,000, Arbitron shows. For the first 13 games of 2006, WBAL/98 Rock averaged 68,400.

Maybe that rise shows the difference between a 6-10 season and a 13-3 team, or maybe it reflects a broadcast stripped of the annoyingly constant, built-in commercials of the previous year. Or maybe both.

But there is no maybe about one thing: I was wrong last week, and I apologize.

Back on the air

Tony Kornheiser is returning to radio. The Washington Post reported this week that Kornheiser, ESPN Monday Night Football commentator, Pardon The Interruption co-talker and erstwhile Post sports columnist, will begin a weekday morning show on Washington Post Radio (WTWP/1500 AM, 107.7 FM) on Feb. 20. The program will air 8:30 to 10:30.

Kornheiser's last radio program was on Washington's all-sports WTEM (980 AM). He previously had an ESPN Radio show.

It doesn't seem Kornheiser's former sidekick, Andy Pollin, is coming, too. He still works for WTEM.

For Baltimore fans of Kornheiser's crankily comic shtick - think of him as a dialed-down version of Curb Your Enthusiasm's Larry David - this is double good news. Not only is Kornheiser coming back, but he also will be heard on a much stronger AM signal than WTEM's.

Meanwhile, other media reports indicate Kornheiser will be returning to Monday Night Football next season, after one-and-done talk had circulated in the fall.

Into the ring

HBO is touting it as a boxing version of Hard Knocks training camp shows with the Ravens and Dallas Cowboys, but De La Hoya/Mayweather 24/7 brings with it that old television staple, synergy.

The "all-access" four-episode series (debuting April 15 at 10:30 p.m.) will take viewers over the final weeks of preparation for the Oscar De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather junior middleweight championship fight May 5. And that bout is being televised by - drum roll, please - HBO pay-per-view.

In the swing

Golf Digest conducted a survey of fans' television preferences, and CBS' David Feherty was named favorite announcer, getting 26 percent of the vote to 20 percent for the runner-up, NBC's Johnny Miller. Miller also tied with Lanny Wadkins, formerly of CBS, for least favorite announcer, each named by 14 percent of respondents. The love/hate thing bodes well for Miller's continued TV presence.

ray.frager@baltsun.com

Read Ray Frager's blog at baltimoresun.com/mediumwell.

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