By Mike Kinosian
LOS ANGELES — To say this has been the wackiest baseball season on record – and perhaps the strangest, most challenging year, in general, in our lifetime – would be the height of understatement.
Yes, we’ve previously witnessed MLB strikes that cancelled games (1972 and 1982).
One in 1994 actually wiped out the post-season, including that year’s World Series.
Lockouts have occurred in 1973, 1976, and 1990.
Owing to the coronavirus pandemic, however, 2020’s entire 162-game season was whittled down to just 60 games.
Fingers remain crossed, but there’s no guarantee that reduced slate will be fulfilled.
Moreover, games are being played with no fans in the stands.
Preceded by two games on (Thursday) July 23, MLB teams gave it a go on (Friday) July 24 and their respective radio flagships returned to action as well, although some broadcast teams are doing play-by-play from remote studios.
With that as a backdrop, we present our exceptionally tardy first-of-the-year overview of MLB flagships.
As usual, this analysis comes with some unique ground rules and fine-print.
Leading off, the following scoreboards are for an MLB team’s English-language, Nielsen Audio subscribing key station during the August 2020 sweep (July 16 – August 12).
Some MLB teams have an AM and FM flagship and/or an emergency alternative (backup); however, our lineup card only shows one “designated hitter” per team.
In cases where the multiple flagships include music FMs, we have selected the spoken-word station. If both flagships are from the spoken-word arena, the sports talk outlet gets the nod.
Mirroring the one-station-per-team model, MLB flagships listed here have ratings data from one Nielsen Audio metro.
For example, information is limited for the flagships of the Mets (news WCBS-AM) and Yankees (sports talk WFAN) to their home market of New York City, even though they may appear in Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island) and/or Middlesex-Somerset-Union.
Likewise, key stations for the Giants (sports talk KNBR) and A’s (business news KNEW-AM in its first-year) appear in San Francisco and San Jose, but only the San Francisco data is used here.
The primary flagship for the Los Angeles Angels, (sports talk) KLAA, is unlisted (August 2020) in both the Los Angeles and Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario reports. Therefore, we are using the team’s secondary outlet, (sports talk) KSPN, throughout this entire overview.
No ratings information is available/shown for the main outlet of the American League East’s Toronto Blue Jays (sports talk CJCL).
Data cited here is not limited to any specific day-part. All stats are full-week, Monday – Sunday, 6:00 am – 12:00 midnight (6+).
Since the season was delayed from late-March until July 23 – 24, we are foregoing our usual year-to-year comparisons; however, we are adding cume as a new component.
Spoiler Alert: So, how did fans react after being in lockdown mode in the ongoing COVID-19 crisis with no baseball as a diversion?
Did they miss MLB on radio, or have they moved on and lost interest in our “National Pastime?”
In results reminiscent of how adult contemporary outlets obliterate the competition when they play all-Christmas music, not one of our MLB flagships showed July 2020 – August 2020 erosion (90% improved/10% were unchanged).
If not even more so, cume results are equally as impressive – as every MLB key station registers a month-to-month cume uptick.
Up next: The extensive August 2020 news/talk overview; email managing editor Mike Kinosian at Kinosian@TALKERS.com