Sports Media

The “Leader” strikes back: John Lund to leave 95.7, join Tom Tolbert on KNBR 680

John Lund, one half of 95.7 The Game’s successful mid-day show “The Afternoon Delight” with Greg Papa, has signed a contract with KNBR, and KNBR is planning to pair him with Tom Tolbert. This story was first reported by former KGMZ program director Jason Barrett, who says Lund’s contract expires in July and it’s possible he’ll continue working at 95.7 through then.

Lund will replace Ray Ratto, who has served as Tolbert’s most frequent co-host in the years since Ralph Barbieri was fired, but never had his name listed on the show (unless you count the “Welcome back to Mr. T and the Coach” lead-in they aired occasionally after commercial breaks). KNBR is interested in keeping Ratto in a part-time role, according to Barrett. This makes sense, because I highly doubt this move had anything to do with Ratto’s skills as a host or his on-air chemistry with Tolbert, which is strong.

Dismantling “The Afternoon Delight”

Remember several years ago, when 95.7 was the upstart little brother, running attack ads calling KNBR “old and busted” and signing talent away from “The Sports Leader”? KNBR in effect yawned and said, “Whatever, we got this. That little FM station will just shrivel up and die.” The move to bring in Lund shows times have changed, 95.7 has made inroads, and KNBR is doing what it can to kneecap their FM competitor. In other words, the so-called “Radio Wars” now represent an actual battle of sorts.

Back in December, Barrett published the supposedly secret demo (men 25-54) ratings for both stations, which is the only way you can see the numbers broken out for each show. KNBR held the edge overall in that demo (4.8 to 3.8), with large leads in the morning (6.1 to 3.9) and afternoon drive (5.3 to 3.0). One of 95.7’s shows beat KNBR, however — Papa and Lund earned a 4.2 rating in December, compared to a 3.1 for KNBR 680’s show in the same time slot hosted by Bob Fitzgerald and Rod Brooks.

Those numbers probably stayed the same or maybe even got worse for KNBR, because they recently made a slight tweak to their programming schedule. KNBR moved Gary Radnich and Larry Krueger from 9-noon to 10-1, so their show now overlaps with the first hour of Papa and Lund. Fitz and Brooks went from three hours to two. Now they’ve poached Lund, forcing 95.7 to either have Papa do the show by himself or find a partner for him.

Barrett makes the point that Lund is “capable of running point,” which will allow Tolbert to play the role of shooting guard in a sense without having to worry about steering the show and managing the clock. There might be some truth to this, but that’s not why a radio station like KNBR outbids a competitor, especially with its parent company’s stock doing poorly (Cumulus Media closed at $0.33 per share today; it sat at $2.53 on May 20, 2015) and significant layoffs at other Cumulus properties like KGO and KFOG.

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