It has been 8½ years since 1050 ESPN Radio launched, and although the station has had its moments, it continues to trail badly against the entrenched ratings leader, WFAN.
In February, WFAN averaged triple 1050's ratings overall among men ages 25 to 54, winning easily in every key time slot, including 5.7 percent to 1.7 percent of the target audience from 6 to 10 a.m.
In January, when 1050's afternoon show had exclusive access to the Jets during their playoff run and an ad-free hour from 5 to 6, WFAN averaged 7.1 percent from 3 to 7 p.m. to 1050's 2.8.
What can 1050 do to reverse the trend after all these years?
"We will continue to do what we've been doing, and that's to build on the strength and resources of the ESPN brand,'' said Dave Roberts, the station's general manager since December.
The next step in the station's evolution will coincide with the launch of ESPNNewYork.com, which will subsume the 1050 Web site and showcase some of the station's personalities.
The radio station, in turn, will feature staffers from the new Web site. Roberts called it "synergy'' that will serve fans.
That includes a new 10 to 11 a.m. show hosted by Seth Everett that will showcase New York stories, including those by ESPNNewYork.com writers. Everett's show is part of a revamped lineup debuting April 5 with Colin Cowherd's national show from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Brandon Tierney and Jody McDonald from 1 to 3 and Michael Kay from 3 to 7.
Roberts called the blend of national and local programming "a nice mix'' and said, "We're not going to try to out-FAN the FAN.''
But he repeatedly emphasized ESPN's resources and added that if they are properly utilized, "We like our chances not only to compete but to win.''