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SportsRadio 1010 tries new mix

By JOHN COTEY
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 21, 2002

When SportsRadio 1010 shuffled its lineup this week, it stood to reason that it was a reaction to the recent ratings that showed that WDAE-AM 620 was blowing 1010 off the dial.

Not so, says general manager Jeff Ryan, who claims changes were being discussed long before the latest ratings, and are an attempt "to utilize my people the best way I can."

That is why he moved Scot Brantley and Ronnie Lane from the 3-7 p.m. slot to noon-3, replacing the SportChix, who move to 10-noon, replacing The Replacement Show, which moves to 3-7.

At first glance, it's easy to feel badly for Brantley and Lane, who are lined up against the mighty Jim Rome Show. But Ryan is counting on a local show with a strong emphasis on football led by a good football mind in Brantley pulling in listeners who otherwise would have no one to call and talk Bucs (or Rays ... or Lightning).

Sure, the SportChix were there before, but listening to Brantley talk about the Bucs is a better local alternative than the SportChix, whose sports knowledge seems to be limited to discussion of their personal favorites, like Dan Marino and Pete Rose, and who take turns calling each other tramps (or some derivative thereof).

"Scot is well-known, and if you're not interested in what's happening across the country, this gives you the chance to listen to a show in the local market talking about local teams," Ryan said.

Brantley and Lane may not beat Rome, but they should beat the SportChix, who have a formidable task: stealing listeners from the established Chris Thomas, who despite flatulence jokes and animal sounds still presents the smartest, most well-reasoned and well-spoken view on sports in this market.

The switch also breaks up the five consecutive hours of "soft" sports provided by Replacements and SportChix.

There is potential in The Replacement Show format (which the syndicated Sports Junkies pulled off well, though 1010 no longer carries them). And there are funny moments, but the show is clearly an acquired taste: You have to listen every day to get some of it.

Will the changes be enough to put a dent in Steve Duemig's audience at WDAE? Is a local sports alternative to Rome going to work? Will the SportChix find a bigger audience in the morning?

"The whole staff embraced (the changes)," Ryan said. "Whenever you make changes, the biggest concern is the talent and how it responds to the changes. Our talent was very, very excited."

BUENO, UNIVISION: I offered to tape ESPN's soccer coverage for my noncable father-in-law, but when I failed to come through the first day he tuned to Univision.

Now he's hooked. And apparently, he is far from alone.

Comparing it to scoring the "defining goal in the history of Spanish-language television," Univision's 2:15 a.m. broadcast of the Mexico-United States World Cup match Monday drew 4.2-million viewers, the highest for any Spanish-language sports telecast among men, women and adults 18-49.

So while my VCR was dormant, Univision delivered 42 percent more total viewers than ESPN, according to the Nielsen Hispanic Television Index, as well as attracting the largest Hispanic audience of any Spanish-language sports telecast, including the 1994 and '98 World Cup finals.

-- John C. Cotey can be reached at 727-893-8129, or by email at cotey@sptimes.com.

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