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Sportscasting now the "real" alternative radio?

Padres don't deliver ratings for FM-94/9

Panic at the Disco can relax — they are welcome on 91X.
Panic at the Disco can relax — they are welcome on 91X.

Does Linkin Park mix with Petco Park? Not really, according to newly released Nielsen ratings showing the results of the first full month Padres play-by-play aired on alt-rocker FM-94/9 — the station took a ratings hit.

Until this year, live Padres games aired on an AM talk or sports station. Modern rocker FM-94/9 took a gamble by agreeing to air the Padres for the next five years, mixing alt-rock with baseball.

Nielsen ratings showed that for April, FM-94/9 finished behind chief rival 91X for the first time in four years. FM-94/9 came in at 21st place, well behind 91X, which moved up to 15th place.

FM-94/9’s ratings slide could be temporary as Padres fans get used to the new station. Or, the tepid ratings could be connected to the fact that the Padres have the worst record in Major League Baseball. Or maybe it’s because live baseball and alt-rock don’t mix.

But 91X, which ruled the local airwaves in the ’80s and early ’90s, is logging its ratings resurgence at quite a cost. The station that once stormed the airwaves with the Ramones, the Clash, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Rage Against the Machine is showing new life because it has embraced dance-happy, synth-drenched pop hits. The once-nicknamed “cutting edge of rock” has gone pop.

Video:

Marian Hill, "Down"

Garret Michaels was program director of FM-94/9 (2002–2012) when Rolling Stone annointed that station as one of the cred-heavy “radio stations that don’t suck.” Now Michaels calls the shots at 91X. He defends his decision to give heavy 91X airplay to the Vocoder-doctored pop confection “Down,” by Marian Hill. “It’s the number-one streamed song in San Diego,” says Michaels.

And Michaels says he has no shame in playing Panic at the Disco’s sappy “Death of a Bachelor.” He says the kids want it. “Nowadays you have to throw it against the wall and see if it sticks….

Michaels says it’s become hard for rock bands to connect with today’s 18–34 crowd, which he says is alternative radio’s “target demographic.”

“‘Lights Out,’ by Royal Blood, is stalling at 27 on the alternative chart,” he says. “Rise Against’s new song is peaking at 22. It’s tough for rockers right now. Everything is cyclical, and right now there are very few true-blue rock bands making it in the format.”

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Panic at the Disco can relax — they are welcome on 91X.
Panic at the Disco can relax — they are welcome on 91X.

Does Linkin Park mix with Petco Park? Not really, according to newly released Nielsen ratings showing the results of the first full month Padres play-by-play aired on alt-rocker FM-94/9 — the station took a ratings hit.

Until this year, live Padres games aired on an AM talk or sports station. Modern rocker FM-94/9 took a gamble by agreeing to air the Padres for the next five years, mixing alt-rock with baseball.

Nielsen ratings showed that for April, FM-94/9 finished behind chief rival 91X for the first time in four years. FM-94/9 came in at 21st place, well behind 91X, which moved up to 15th place.

FM-94/9’s ratings slide could be temporary as Padres fans get used to the new station. Or, the tepid ratings could be connected to the fact that the Padres have the worst record in Major League Baseball. Or maybe it’s because live baseball and alt-rock don’t mix.

But 91X, which ruled the local airwaves in the ’80s and early ’90s, is logging its ratings resurgence at quite a cost. The station that once stormed the airwaves with the Ramones, the Clash, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Rage Against the Machine is showing new life because it has embraced dance-happy, synth-drenched pop hits. The once-nicknamed “cutting edge of rock” has gone pop.

Video:

Marian Hill, "Down"

Garret Michaels was program director of FM-94/9 (2002–2012) when Rolling Stone annointed that station as one of the cred-heavy “radio stations that don’t suck.” Now Michaels calls the shots at 91X. He defends his decision to give heavy 91X airplay to the Vocoder-doctored pop confection “Down,” by Marian Hill. “It’s the number-one streamed song in San Diego,” says Michaels.

And Michaels says he has no shame in playing Panic at the Disco’s sappy “Death of a Bachelor.” He says the kids want it. “Nowadays you have to throw it against the wall and see if it sticks….

Michaels says it’s become hard for rock bands to connect with today’s 18–34 crowd, which he says is alternative radio’s “target demographic.”

“‘Lights Out,’ by Royal Blood, is stalling at 27 on the alternative chart,” he says. “Rise Against’s new song is peaking at 22. It’s tough for rockers right now. Everything is cyclical, and right now there are very few true-blue rock bands making it in the format.”

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13

It should be noted that FM-94/9 is even poppier than 91X. It should also be noted that 91X also beat Rock 105 for the first time in many years.

May 24, 2017

Entercom is the Philadelphia-based group that owns KISW-99.9FM, a top-rated rock station in Seattle that hosts "The Mens Room," a successful afternoon dude-oriented talk fest that irreverently talks up pot, ladies, music, beer, movies, TV, cars and many other trending topics. Yesterday, the hosts announced on air that their listeners will be hearing some minor changes to their show going forward since they are going to start syndicating their afternoon show to other markets. Insiders say it is likely The Mens Room could be picked up by FM-94/9 which is also owned by Entercom. FM-94/9 is now the poorest-performing station in its San Diego "cluster" of stations. The Mens Room hosts would not disclose what other cities their show may end up on.

May 24, 2017

Interesting that the Padres fired Mike Dee after Dee arranges for the Padres broadcasts to be switched over to Entercom station FM 94.9--and then Dee winds up working for Entercom. Wonder if the Padres have any regrets about the switch. 94.9 might.

May 24, 2017

Yes aardvark good point. Maybe Dee has a vested interest to make sure his Padres/949 decision ultimately makes sense. Maybe there is more sports/male-based talk in 949s future. Maybe some talk hosts from 1090 might end up on 949. Maybe that above mentioned Men's Room show is destined for 949.

May 25, 2017

And even as bad as 94.9 is doing now, their ratings are higher than 1090 and 1360. Combined.

May 25, 2017

Wow...that's pretty dismal. Yet another reminder that SD isn't much of a die-hard sports town. I used to listen to 1360 all the time in the mornings when Dan Patrick's show lead into Jay Mohr's. Both of those were pretty fun and loose listens that had an entertaining collections of talkers. Cowherd's show (DP's old time slot) is just one national guy ranting, which leads into two local guys ranting where Mohr used to be. Funny enough, both of the shows I liked are somewhat similar to that new show that 94/9 might pick-up. As far as music goes, I think the general consensus is 100.7 is by and far the best local rock station at the moment. It's like classic rock for the alterna-kids and 80s new-wavers.

May 25, 2017

Yes, San Diego is no Boston or Detroit or Cleveland. It just isn't that into sports. That's why if 94/9 drops alt rock for talk, it seems likely it would be a mix of male-oriented talk, sports-talk and Padres. What I don't get is why did Entercom commit to five years of Padres on 94/9 when the rest of the station's music DJs seem to completely ignore the Padres. There is no interaction between the music side and the Padres. When the Chargers were on Rock 105 the morning show was constantly talking to the players and coaches and the whole station seemed connected to what the Chargers were doing. 94/9 is treating the Padres like a burden they would rather not have. And then there's Mighty 1090 which has nothing to talk about any more since SDSU and The Padres left them and since the Chargers left town. Last week I heard Scott Kaplan on air personally bashing one UT sports columnist, while speaking lovingly to Kevin Acee, a different UT columnist who shamelessly used his column as a mouthpiece for the Spanos family. I gather that Acee is the only UT sportswriter who will still speak to Kaplan.

May 25, 2017

Kaplan was probably bashing Mark Zeigler, since Zeigler has repeatedly brought up the many problems with the FSI proposal for Soccer City. Acee still speaks to Kaplan if for no other reason than to promote Soccer City, which currently fits into the Soccer City love fest that happens daily on 1090 between noon and 6 Monday through Friday.

May 25, 2017

It's not that San Diego isn't into sports, so much as it's been a rough go of it for local teams of late. The Chargers left town after years of subjecting the fan base to stadium talk, the Padres are tanking on purpose in order to build through the draft and SDSU basketball isn't enough to move the needle. All of this combined with a large percentage of said fan base being fickle transplants who tend to only be loyal when the teams are doing well? (See: 2004-2007) It's not surprising 1090 and 1360's ratings are so low right now.

May 25, 2017

Since The Padres are the only major team left in town, 1090 might be onto something with bringing Cantore in on their evening slot. The show that 94.9 is considering may be a better fit for 1090 and 1360 as well. Getting listeners to tune into two people talking about The Padres and SDSU is gonna be tough sailing. It might be time for these stations to get a bit more experimental. Maybe try a lil of what Bill Simmons did with Grantland...sports and pop-culture. They have to do something. There just isn't enough to talk about anymore.

May 26, 2017

Cantore is already gone from the lineup at 1090.

May 26, 2017

Cantore lasted less than a month. Something about how they wanted him to talk more traditional sports but he wanted to stick with action sports. In hindsight, it seems like Cantore should have started out as a once-a-week weekend show and then grow from there. His five day a week show was just too much of a shock to 1090's traditional sports system. But as it is now, 1090 is tanking horribly in spite of its 50,000 watts. And 1360 will never matter because of its horrible AM signal. Seems like an opportunity for 94/9 to come in and swoop up male listeners with a new sports+lifestyle+entertainment talk format.....listeners who just don't relate to traditional sports talk on AM radio.

May 27, 2017

Damn...not even a month? The shock 1090 might have to deal with is that their traditional sports anchor is up in LA now. Local sports talk radio just seems so pointless in this city right now. Agree about 1360's awful signal for sure. Trying to listen to that station while driving downtown was a nightmare.

May 27, 2017

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