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.