The Business of Sports Radio: is it a Choice between Real and Ratings?

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Good Morning I’m Ashley Barnes and today we are looking at the world of sports radio but leaving the games aside as we peep into the business area of this arena.  In every aspect of media comes the question of is it really real news or are the ratings ruling the show and sports radio is no exception.

The answer is, it’s a circle.  In order to make the money, you have to have good ratings and when you make the money you can deliver the good stuff… content that is.  Mitch Rosen from CBS’s sports radio 670 The Score agrees that ratings are a big part of Sports radio…

“People are wearing these meters 365 days a year, there is no downtime, so we tell our on air host to come to play, if you aren’t coming to play people may be turning the station and we don’t want that to happen” Says Rosen.

Without these the big personalities that make The Score or ESPN’s 1000 AM WMVP would not be possible. The higher your ratings the more the advertisers pay for a spot on the station. And who wouldn’t want to make more on each ad?

There is another aspect that allows Sports Radio to thrive: Partnerships. But these moneymakers create other issues. For example, The Score partners with the Chicago Baseball team, the White Sox. This means that The Score, the official White Sox Station, pays the Sox to cover the games and in return they are able to sell advertising for the Sox.

These two major sources of income bring up the question of ethics.  Do these revenue streams create a box of requirements that the sports radio stations have to fulfill to keep the flow of money coming or is it really straight sports? Some stations have their own methods

“Play the hits, what I like to say is play the hits, what are the hits in sports radio? You know, for a rock and roll classic music station you’ re playing the hits the Stone, The who, Led Zepplin, for sports radio what are the hits today?” Says Rosen.

Of course playing the hits could be exactly what the listeners want. There is no easy answer when discussing ethics behind the business scene. The only straight way is to ask: is the station open about who or what pays the bills… Then it is up to you, the listeners make a choice.  Ashley Barnes Loyola News Chicago


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