Photo via SFGate

Photo via SFGate

Gary Radnich made a joke this morning about how he and Larry Krueger have the fifth best sports talk show in the country. Like most of Radnich’s jokes, there’s a little bit of truth behind that statement.

Just before Christmas, Radio Ink ranked the top 30 sports talk radio shows in the country. KNBR made the list three times, but the top yakkers on “The Leader” according to this list are Gary (and Larry, presumably, although he didn’t get a mention):

#1) Mike Francesa – WFAN in New York
“It is no surprise to any of us at CBS Radio that Mike has been awarded this outstanding honor as he has been unquestionably the dominant personality in the format for over two decades now and counting. His iconic position in afternoon drive on the nation’s # 1 sports station in the nation’s # 1 market has become the gold standard in our industry and we are proud to see his contributions and accomplishments being recognized with such a deserving distinction.”      Chris Oliviero, Senior Vice President, Programming, CBS RADIO.

#2) Michael Kay – WEPN (ESPN) in New York
#3) Mike Mulligan & Brian Hanley – WSCR-AM (CBS) in Chicago
#4) John Dennis & Gerry Callahan – WEEI (Entercom) in Boston
#5) Gary Radnich – KNBR (Cumulus) in San Francisco
#6) Eric Bickel, John-Paul Flaim, Jason Bishop and John Auville (The Sports Junkies) – WJFK (CBS) in DC
#7) Boomer & Carton – WFAN in New York
#8) Angelo Cataldi – WIP (CBS) in Philadelphia
#9) Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman – WMVP (ESPN) in Chicago
#10) George Dunhm, Craig Miller and Keith Gordon – KTCK (Cumulus) in Dallas
#11) Charlie Pallilo – KBME (Clear Channel) in Houston
#12) Dan McNeil – WSCR (CBS) in Chicago
#13) Petros & Money – KLAC (Clear Channel) L.A.
#14) Brian Murphy and Paul Mccaffrey – KNBR (Cumulus) in San Francisco
#15) Mike Gastineau – KJR (Clear Channel) Seattle (Mike retired after our issue published)
#16) Glenn Ordway & Michael Holley – WEEI (Entercom) Boston
#17) Randy Galloway – KESN (ESPN) in Dallas
#18) Fred Toettcher & Rich Shertenlieb – WBZ-FM (CBS) in Boston
#19) Sandy Clough – KKFN (Lincoln) in Denver
#20) Tom Tolbert – KNBR (Cumulus) San Francisco
#21) Mitch Levy – KJR (Clear Channel) in Seattle
#22) Michael Joseph – WYGM (Clear Channel) Orlando
#23) Jeremy White and Howard Simon – WGR-AM (Entercom) in Buffalo
#24) Mike Schopp & Chris Parker – WGR-AM (Entercom) Buffalo
#25) Jody Oehler – KFFN – (Journal) in Tucson
#26) Adam Gold and Joe Ovies – WCMC (Capitol) Raleigh
#27) John Bishop and Mike’l Severe – KOZN (NRG) in Omaha
#28) Bob Fescoe – KCSP (Entercom) Kansas City
#29) Matt Moscona – WNXX (Guaranty) in Baton Rouge
#30) Joby Fawcett – WEJL ( Shamrock) Scranton

That’s just one person’s (or trade publication’s) list, but Radio Ink isn’t alone. TALKERS ranked the top 100 shows back in July, and Gary and Larry were again the top KNBR show (No. 17 overall, and this time Krueger got a mention). Other notable hosts who made TALKERS’ list included Tolbert (No. 24), Murph & Mac (No. 31), Tony Bruno (No. 48), and Brandon Tierney and Eric Davis (No. 94, RIP). TALKERS also ranked Francesa as the top host, so one can safely assume WFAN doesn’t miss Mike “Mad Dog” Russo at all.

The only established show on KNBR 680 that didn’t get a mention on either list: Fitz and Brooks.

How did these industry pubs rate the hosts? Both outlets’ explanations were on the ambiguous side.

Radio Ink:

We’ve named individuals, duos, teams, and crews. As long as they’re not syndicated, are focused on the local sports scene, and were nominated by their station or company, they were eligible to be on our list. Following the nominations, our panel of sports experts went to work to determine the order.


The editors of TALKERS magazine have ranked sports talk hosts, duos or ensembles from 1 to 100 based upon a set of criteria that includes a combination of hard and soft factors. The results are, admittedly, subjective. Being true to the realities of the media business, ratings and revenue are two of the major factors — some would say they are the only factors worth considering — but the editors also took into account other qualities that help create a list that is reflective of the industry’s diversity and total flavor and still give credit where credit is due. Those qualities include: courage, effort, impact, recognition, service, talent and uniqueness.

As regular readers of the ratings posts know, we at BASG only have access to Arbitron’s cumulative numbers. One needs a subscription to see the ratings and demo stats for specific shows, and Arbitron’s penalties for releasing the private numbers are so stringent that nobody has yet leaked them to us.

While Radnich’s ratings must at least be respectable to get this type of recognition, I think it says just as much about his national reputation. He’s the most tenured host in the region with Ralph Barbieri currently on the sidelines, and is known as an innovator for his free-flowing style on television back when sports anchors were all meat-and-potatoes, give ’em the scores and highlights and get out of the way types. There’s a reason why some call Radnich “The King,” and it’s not just because he drives a Bentley.

Radnich mentions how his radio show’s ratings are pretty high — especially with the addition of Krueger — fairly often. CSN California also simulcasts his show every morning, which has to mean something (after all, there’s an infinite number of informercials they could run instead).

While regular listeners sometimes complain that Radnich’s shtick hasn’t changed in a long time, maybe that’s just the point: they’re listening so much that they notice the patterns. What industry people who listen on an occasional basis hear is a show that’s still fresh and unique enough to make it one of the best programs of its kind in the country.