“The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN New York radio out-rated WFAN’s “The Afternoon Drive” in the winter ratings book that was reported by Nielsen Audio on Monday.
It was a closely watched race, because this is the first quarterly ratings “book” in WFAN’s post-Mike Francesa era, and it showed Kay outdoing WFAN for the first time in the more than 13 years since he moved to afternoon drive time.
The margin was narrow for the report, which covered Jan. 4 through March 28.
ESPN averaged 4.4 percent of the radio audience to 4.2 for WFAN in the key demographic of men ages 25-54 from 3 to 6:30 p.m., when Kay, Don La Greca and Peter Rosenberg are on at the same time as WFAN’s Chris Carlin, Maggie Gray and Bart Scott.
Those figures placed Kay’s show in a tie for eighth overall among New York radio stations and “CMB” 10th.
While outperforming WFAN is a milestone for Kay, his numbers were down compared to the autumn, when he averaged 5.0 percent of the audience and was fourth overall. But WFAN was down by more; Francesa was second in the market with a 6.6 share in the fall.
Both stations likely were hurt by the lack of local NFL playoff games in January and by poor seasons for the local winter teams. The spring book began on March 29, baseball’s Opening Day, and almost certainly will produce better ratings for both shows.
Carlin, Gray and Scott out-rated ESPN for their full time slot of 2 to 6:30 p.m. In that period, they were ninth with a 4.3 share and ESPN was 11th with a 3.9.
Tim McCarthy, ESPN New York’s senior VP and general manager, said, “I’m really happy for Michael, Don and Peter. They’ve been doing this for a long time, and the good news is the ratings over the last year have continued to grow in the right direction.”
McCarthy noted that Kay’s ratings achievements are more impressive in light of ESPN’s mix of local and national shows. Kay’s show gets less of a boost from its lead-in than does WFAN.
Mark Chernoff, WFAN’s vice president of programming, said he was pleased with how the ratings were trending in March and said he is “very optimistic” about more growth in the spring.
At the time of the ratings book’s completion, WFAN’s afternoon show had been on the air for less than three months.
“I’m pleased with the chemistry that they all have, that we get a variety of opinion, topics have been right on,” Chernoff said. “It was a brand new show and a radically different show from the type of show Mike was doing, from a single person to a multi-person show, and we knew that we had to bring people in.”
WFAN also unveiled a new morning show for the winter, with Gregg Giannotti joining Boomer Esiason. That show finished seventh in the market in the target demographic with 5.1 percent of the audience.
That compares to 7.7 and first place overall in the fall, when Jerry Recco filled in after the arrest and eventual resignation of Craig Carton in early September.
ESPN’s national morning show, now featuring Trey Wingo alongside Mike Golic, finished 14th with a 3.0 share after finishing 12th with a 3.4 in the autumn.
In their first quarter since expanding from three to four hours, midday WFAN hosts Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts finished sixth with a 4.8 share, after finishing fifth with a 5.5 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the fall.
ESPN New York was 16th with a 2.4 share from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the winter book.
ESPN New York finished tied for eighth and WFAN 10th from 3 to 6:30 p.m. in the winter ratings book for men ages 25-54.
Here are the top 10 New York stations in that demographic, according to Nielsen Audio:
WLTW (106.7 Lite FM): 8.2 percent of audience
WAXQ (Q-104): 5.6
WHTZ (Z100): 5.2
WKTU (103.5 FM): 4.9
WSKQ (Mega 97.9, Spanish): 4.6
WQHT (Hot 97): 4.6
ESPN New York: 4.4
WBLS (107.5-FM): 4.4