95.7 The Game has been mired in ratings mediocrity since scrapping their previous format to go all-sports and compete with KNBR, a West Coast juggernaut that has several built-in advantages including the region’s most popular teams and a strong signal. They’ve broken through with one successful show, “The Wheelhouse,” primarily because Greg Papa carries the kind of weight that allows him to be frank about players, coaches and owners.
The rest of the lineup has been switched around so often that it’s hard for casual listeners to keep track of who’s hosting and when, and yesterday the station announced the cancellation of a show that KGMZ kept on the air for quite some time, “The Rise Guys,” which wasn’t killing numbers-wise in a competitive slot but was pretty popular among many (at least if the comments on yesterday’s post about the show’s demise are any indication).
So where will The Game go from here? I received some information yesterday that sheds a little light on their strategy.
The Damon Bruce hire and compensation
In the past couple months, the Game has fired five hosts: Matt Steinmetz, Sean O’Connell, Whitey Gleason, Mark Kreidler and Dan Dibley. They’ve hired two: John Middlekauff and Damon Bruce.
I’ve been told Bruce got a pretty significant raise to head to 95.7, to a salary in the neighborhood of $200,000 per year. But make no mistake — the moves they’ve made have cut costs fairly drastically overall.
Whether it was to work alongside Bruce, host during drive-time instead of Bruce, or host a different show entirely, The Game was definitely interested in signing Larry Krueger. In fact, Entercom was in talks with both Bruce and Krueger starting in January, perhaps even sooner.
Krueger opted instead to stick with KNBR, which makes sense for a few reasons, including:
- By all accounts, the show he does with Gary Radnich is doing pretty well in the ratings.
- KNBR is here to stay; KGMZ‘s future is uncertain.
- Radnich won’t be around forever. Remember, Cumulus isn’t averse to cutting costs either.
Where Jason Barrett fits in to all this
The Game’s program director is still around … for now. He posted a tweet expressing excitement about the addition of Bruce and the time-slot change for Ric Bucher and Chris Townsend, and another thanking Kreidler, Gleason and Dibley for their contributions.
I also received a copy of the email he sent to 95.7’s staff before the release was emailed to me and whoever else gets those releases.
Please see the press release below as it pertains to some changes taking place on 95.7 The Game. We will address everything publicly later today on the afternoon show at 5pm and again tomorrow morning at 8am when Haberman & Middlekauff step in to hold down mornings in the short term. Any questions please let me know.
The only quotes in yesterday’s press release came from Bruce and Steve DiNardo, Entercom San Francisco’s Vice-President and Market Manager. That’s a departure from previous releases of a similar nature.
On the new 10-to-noon show featuring Middlekauff and Guy Haberman (1/10/14):
“Most new shows take months, even years, to develop on-air chemistry. Guy and John, who have been friends since high school, will have real chemistry on day 1,” said 95.7 The GAME Program Director Jason Barrett. “We couldn’t be more excited about pairing two young, fresh, knowledgeable and exciting talents like Guy and John on-air. Bay Area sports fans will be in for two great hours of sports radio starting January 20th.”
Announcement of “Raiders Mondays” (9/6/13):
“As the Raiders flagship station, we want to make sure our coverage for the Silver and Black is second to none.” Said 95.7 The GAME Program Director Jason Barrett. “With this exciting array of talent joining our team for the 2013 NFL season, we believe the Raider Nation will receive the type of insight, information and opinion they deserve.”
The addition of Sean O’Connell (2/8/13):
“To say that Sean O’Connell is a unique talent would be a tremendous understatement,” said Jason Barrett, 95.7 The GAME Program Director. “Bay Area sports fans are going to love his passion, plus, now we also have a guaranteed bodyguard at future events, which will come in handy since our hosts have a tendency to fire up the fan base.”
Bucher and Towny (11/26/12):
“Ric & Chris are two of the best sports personalities on the radio and with their deep local roots covering Bay Area teams, I have no doubt that sports fans will be thoroughly entertained every weekday afternoon,” said Jason Barrett, Program Director of 95.7 The GAME.
You get the picture. Either Barrett was too busy to provide a quote trumpeting the most newsworthy changes The Game has ever made, or something’s up.
The future of KGMZ as a sports talk station
95.7 The Game can’t keep switching out hosts every few months and hope to provide real competition for KNBR. So it’s up to Bruce to back up his bluster and bravado — he’s been trumpeting himself as the only truly fearless voice in the Bay Area for years — by anchoring the FM station he used to make fun of as a host on KNBR 1050. The money has to be nice, but he’s in for a major challenge: going toe-to-toe with Tom Tolbert and San Francisco Giants games. If Bruce isn’t up to it, KNBR’s only competition will probably come from satellite radio in future years.
Isn't there anyone else out there who thinks that the knbr morning show (kate scott and to some extent, pcon excluded) with brian murphy is absolutely horrendous radio? The most annoying voice on the airwaves, from his incessant marin county bragging, ear punishing attempts to sing and horrible voice impressions, I cannot stomach them except for short intervals at a time. How can such a nasal, whiny voice be so prominantly featured on the sports leader? Oh, and the way in which he dominates every interview, to the detriment and exclusion of paulie mac (who is okay), is baffling and extremely annoying. Should be renamed to murph & murph show, given the number of times his insufferable bmw, golf, credit union et al spots are aired, coupled with stupid attempts to "identify" with the "average" demographic, e.g. "do you feel me?". No dude, I don't. The Rise Guys for me were a welcome alternative, as John Feinstein, albeit a well respected journalist, is not for me good radio, either. Been pretty loyal to DBruce since he's been on local radio because I liked his "radio honesty", but feel sometimes lately he's been pressing more & more to say something outrageous or that has shock value for the sole purpose of moving the needle. Even though I grew up with "the sports leader" from way back when Radnich was asking "what are you driving" & support the sports franchises on the leader, I like having a listening alternative and voice. I really do hope that the Bay Area's ONLY FM station, errr (ode to Jim Rome), new sound for sports, can make it & sticks around.
I think Murphy and Kate would be OK if they got rid of Paulie (oh boy Grateful Dead on a sports show Again!) and PCon (oh boy random 80's movie on a sports show Again!). The non-sports nonsense they bring, Murphy's obvious prickishness you bring up (he is a good interviewer though), the ridiculous amount of commercials and the biased homer ism in the morning make up the crap in the punch bowl. Rise Guys while no great shakes were light years ahead of this audio garbage.
@Drew Dawg Yeah, the Murph and Mac show is not all that good, mainly for the reasons we've all stated. I've been listening to Haberman and Middlekauf in the mornings now, and I will make the switch to Bucher and Townsend in the mornings. I just can't listen to Murph and Mac anymore.
Paulie Mac's songs have gotten more annoying, especially the latest "Bogut Nights" one. Sometimes Paulie Mac sounds embarrassed when they get ready to play his song.
Ironic and hilarious you referenced Paulie's Grateful Dead fetish. He was doing it again this morning lol. Honestly, do people here in The Bay, and sports fans here in general, truly connect with him on that level in this day and age? Really tired. I agree, Murph is a good interviewer and his background in journalism does come through to the forefront when he conducts interviews. I will give him that, and I actually do enjoy it at times. It works when he is able to conduct them in a manner where Paulie isn't trying to clumsily interject (which is extremely annoying and uncomfortable, like a kid trying to get his two cents in). Just be professionals and figure out the rhythm and rhyme. After how many years of working together they still have got this down? Also, there are times when he behaves immaturely and unprofessionally, in a similar way a lot of Bay Area journalists take things too personally (Ann Killion against Bonds, Kaepernick, Lowell Cohn Kaepernick, etc.), and will get defensive after the interview has completed. Don't they have a clue that Harbaugh is Harbaugh and to figure it out? He's not going to be warm and fuzzy, he's not going to give you a lot, in fact he's a bit of an unbalanced crazy man, but I love his coaching, love the strength of character he brings, and this is what matters. Don't take it personally and don't be such a woose.
Yup, totally connect with Paulie Mac and the Dead-SF Sports connection.
About time you get on the bus!
@paperback writer You mean the bus that left in 1965? Lol. No worries, glad it works for you. For me, I understand the value of history and don't ever want to forget the past as there's always learning to be had, but I don't live in it.
Thanks for the polite response.
You may save yourself the grief and STOP listening to them. LOL
My credo is music and athletics is timeless, so I'm good.
I don't dislike the people on that show-they all seem to be nice people who you could grab a beer with. I just don't like these 4 people together. For me (nod to Marty Lurie) , they are all talented enough to work in radio, but together they are romper room. Keep PCon and Kate with Gary and continue giving them hosting, relief duties (college fb for PCon). Paulies musical knowledge is great- he should just display it at one of cumulus' FM music properties. I think Murph can be real good if he was a little more straight and a little less goofy. Would love to see him as Tolberts partner in drive time-perfect blend of sports and humor without going off the rails.
Not a chance Kreuger was ever going to the game.
Too many obvious reasons to list.
I DO BELIEVE he played pretend as a contract negotiating ploy, thats negotiating 101.
Funny - the advent of the game, really has only had a radio influence here in that it benefits KNBR employees in salary negotiations.
IF the game was serious about getting Kreuger, it would have been a waste to team him with DBruce Poor chemistry, burning up 2 high salaries in one time slot?
LOL. - the game, LOL
@paperback writer Damon and Krueger had good chemistry on 49ers pre and postgame, I thought.
I thought the Rise Guys were awulf, so I am glad to see them go. I will miss Bucher and Towny in the afternoon though. As for D Bruce, I don't know how to feel about him joining the team he bashed for months...
@_DeLi_ Yeah, it does still seem weird and kind of hard to fathom that Damon is actually joining 95.7, after pretty much bashing them since they started. I wonder what changed and what made him seriously consider 95.7 after criticizing them and being against them. Of course what he's getting paid is obviously a factor, but I wonder what else was a factor. I guess we'll find out on Mar. 31st.
On a funny and somewhat serious note, I wonder if he's taking this time off to mend fences with the people there before he works there.
@Pulgas de Brent Burns haha. Yeah, it really does. Watch Damon not mention that as one of the reasons why he came to The Game.
@_DeLi_ $$$ changes a lot of things
Bruce will give the game a big ratings bounce....finally an A hire....
dear game, minus papa your lineup is horrible, like your reception
I wonder if Dibley regrets leaving his gig at the leader. Kate Scott is better than he ever was so I doubt he'll be getting his job back any time soon. Might have to leave the Bay for his next gig.
@Pulgas de Brent Burns I agree. It's always good to leave an employer with class, no matter how you leave the place. You never know when you will need a job again, and it's just good to leave a place on good terms. It's always a positive sign when an employer tells you you're welcome to come back.
@MilpitasNinerGuy This is why you don't burn your bridges
They picked the correct KNBR personnel to go after. I know DBruce and Krueger have detractors but they are the only "move the needle" types on the station. Woodson too pedestrian, Tolbert and Raddy too established and Fitz and Brooks and the morning clown show are too lame. Hope Kriedler or Dibley get to do something local or maybe go back to Sacto.
Sad to see the Rise Guys go... their caffeinated exchanges always helped me wake up on my morning commute... unlike other sleepy/mellow morning hosts. I guess I'll give DB another chance... he can have insightful opinions... but often devolves into rabble-rousing. We shall see...
Damon Sucks! He is just like Kreidler and Ratto. These guys have no idea what they are talking about. Do you think Ratto has ever laced up a pair of skates? Yet, he tries to contradict Remenda about the Sharks strategies. Damon though that the Giants should have grabbed Manny for $20M in 2010. That would have worked out well for the eventual world champs. Sometimes I wonder what these stations are thinking when they hire people who have no clue about sports. They make comments on things as if they are facts, when the comments are simply idiotic.
Wow, Damon got PAID!.... Interesting that they went after Krueger, even though it's not surprisingly. Krueger is an asset to KNBR, and he really helps carry Gary's show along with Kate.
I think him and Damon co-hosting on 95.7 would've been a good show. It will be interesting to see if they go after Krueger again in the future, and try to pair him and Damon up.
Yeah, you can't blame Krueger for staying at KNBR for now. He does have a good thing with Gary and Kate right now, and as others have said, who knows what the future holds for 95.7 as a sports station.
@Otis Byrd III they would have been recreating the 9ers pre and post show
I would love it if KNBR brought The Rise Guys to thier station and maybe did something for 1050. That station is now a Barron wasteland and I don't get what KNBR is hoping to accomplish. Are they going all national syndicated? Can they stop doing the Tom Tolbert Simulcast? Are they going to do anything to give 1050 any buzz? I mean I would like to see The Rise Guys come back, but I kind of don't want them to lose John Feinstein either. I wish they would just get rid of Murph and Mac and bring in The Rise Guys to host the morning show. I just think with the handcuffs off, the Rise Guys in the morning would be really entertaining. In fact, I did think they were entertaining by The Game, but the problem with the Game has more to do with format than it does with Hosts. The Rise Guys deserve to be on in this Market.
@GregMolumby I think KNBR sees the ratings book where they're doing just fine and sees no reason to change. If the Game had better management they're still ripe for the picking three years later.
After working with Gary, I don't think Larry wants to dumb himself down enough to work with Damon Bruce. I tend to think this entire episode won't amount to much. Damon has his small group of (overly)enthusiastic jersey-wearing devotees who will follow him over to 95.7, but his show is simply too dumb and clichéd to make any significant mainstream headway against Tolbert (Damon couldn't even knock off Fitz and Stuttering Rod for cryin' out loud.) At the end of the day, Damon is trying to do a show in SF that belongs in Des Moines and I think the bigger story will be the Game's mistake in replacing the Rise Guys with Bucher and Towny.
PS If I were KNBR, I would look into using the Rise Guys (separately or together) to patch a few holes like Fitz & R...R...Rod, or Brianna Murphy & Polly Mac or perhaps give Mr T a cohost who could direct the flow of the show and allow Tom to return to being the funny second banana.
@Beaver I think that is the Cumulus bargaining chip. If any of the KNBR hosts want big raises, Cumulus could always dump them and bring in the Rise Guys. I do wonder who else at knbr besides larry krueger has a contract coming up.
I don't think it's likely knbr brings in all 3 rise guys. But what about linking dibley with Woodson at night? They are both very smart, quick, witty guys that I think would feed off of one another well.
@DBThree I had the same thought that Dibs has a lot of energy and would be pretty good at night after games. He seems like a pretty devoted family man as well and I worry about him running out of options.
I am not surprised to hear that 97.5 has reached out to Larry Kreuger.
The only question is what took them so long.
If they are smart they will be patient. He is the key to rounding out a legitimate on-air lineup.
I'm gonna listen to D-Bruce. (previously) I wish he wasn't on 12-3pm. but now that he's on later, I'm gonna listen as much as I can. oy yoy yoy