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Chad Finn | Sports Media

By any measure, sports remains Boston’s top radio programming

Patriots games are broadcast on 98.5 the Sports Hub. Tom Szczerbowski/Getty

WEEI’s “Kirk & Callahan” won morning drive, the Sports Hub’s “Felger & Massarotti” was tops in afternoon drive, and Boston’s two prominent sports radio stations once again dominated the Nielsen Audio ratings in the fall.

In the men’s 25-54 demographic, the Sports Hub earned an 11.3 share and WEEI a 9.2 to finish 1-2 in the fall period from Sept. 14 to Dec. 6.

But in the effort to tell the complete story, there are other variables to be considered. The Sports Hub gains an additional 1.0 share from its online stream.

WEEI’s online stream is already included in the single number. But WEEI picks up a 0.7 share from its WVEI-Providence listeners that are within the Boston market.


(An explanation of the stations’ different streaming measures is, as usual, explained at the bottom of this segment.)

Some of the Sports Hub’s overall advantage comes on the weekends, when it airs Patriots game broadcasts as the team’s flagship station. WEEI found significant success during some of its individual weekday programs.

WEEI earned victory in the mornings with “Kirk & Callahan” finishing first (13.0), one spot ahead of the Sports Hub’s “Toucher & Rich” (12.2, plus 0.3 for its online stream).

“Kirk & Callahan,” which has been the top-rated morning show in the market in 10 of the last 12 months, picks up an additional 0.8 share for its WVEI-Providence audience located in the Boston market.

It marks the third straight three-month period in which “Kirk & Callahan” topped “Toucher & Rich” in the 6-10 a.m. time period.

In middays (10 a.m.-2 p.m.), this one will be a matter of semantics and debate between the stations. Factoring in all of the variables, WEEI’s “OMF” took first, the culmination of enormous progress over the last year.

“OMF” finished first in the fall with a 10.3 share, edging the Sports Hub’s second-place “Zolak & Bertrand” program (9.8) without the latter’s stream included. With that 0.9 streaming share included, “Zolak & Bertrand” would move from second to first. But “OMF” — featuring Glenn Ordway, Lou Merloni, and Christian Fauria — claims the top spot even with the “Zolak & Bertrand” stream included when its own WVEI share (0.8) is included.


It’s a remarkable turnaround from a year ago, when “Zolak & Bertrand” had a 10.2 and “OMF” a 7.9. The Sports Hub typically has been tough to overcome in the fall in part because of cohost Scott Zolak’s popularity as the Patriots’ color analyst.

In afternoon drive (2-6 p.m.), the Sports Hub’s “Felger & Massarotti” was the highest-rated show, finishing first with a 14.6 share, 16.3 with streaming added.

WEEI’s “Dale & Holley,’’ which includes Rich Keefe, was second (10.4, 11.3 with WVEI’s 0.9 included).

In the 6-11 p.m. window, the Sports Hub was first (10.1, 11.6 with stream) while WEEI was second (7.5, 8.4 with WVEI). The Sports Hub often airs Bruins and some Celtics broadcasts in that time slot.

Now for the usual note about streaming: The Sports Hub and WEEI have different methods for measuring streaming, both valid, but the cause of some controversy.

WEEI uses Total Line Reporting, which includes the stream in its Nielsen Audio ratings since it is a direct simulcast of the radio.

The Sports Hub does not use Total Line Reporting and has a separate online stream, which generates a separate share. That is expected to change now that its sale to Beasley Media has been completed.


Here is a further explanation of what it means — including insight from Nielsen — and why the stations have different interpretations of whether the Sports Hub’s streaming number should be added.

Classic sentiment

Hard to believe that this year’s NHL Winter Classic between the Sabres and Rangers at Citi Field Monday is already the 10th edition of the irresistibly nostalgic outdoor game. The game debuted on NBC in 2008, with Sidney Crosby’s shootout goal giving the Penguins a 2-1 win over the Sabres at Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson Stadium.

A decade later, it’s still a rousing success, in part because of the warm-feelings-on-a-cold-day pond-hockey vibe that can make even Mike Milbury sentimental.

“I was in Buffalo for that first one 10 years ago, and [can’t forget] the Crosby shootout goal where he celebrated and tried to jump but he couldn’t quite get off the ice, but he was clearly elated,’’ said Milbury.

“For me, what struck was how committed the players are to this game. It’s not just another game on the schedule. It is a special event.

“But as somebody who really grew up playing outside, it’s hard for me to describe the excitement you feel on a pond, on a river, and now even more so, on a homemade rink in the middle of a stadium that will seat 50,000 or 60,000, however many thousands of people. There’s just a new level of adrenaline that they’ll hit.


“I feel somewhat cheated that this thing started only 10 years ago. It would have had to start close to half a century ago if I could have played in one.”

Familiar voice

There are a couple of notable reasons for Bruins fans to tune in to NBC Sports Network in the buildup to the Winter Classic on the parent network NBC. While the local broadcast of the Bruins-Capitals matchup Thursday night (7:30) will air exclusively on NESN, the game will air nationally on NBCSN outside of NESN’s domain. And the nightcap following the Bruins game has local appeal as well. Old friend Dave Goucher, who departed as the Bruins’ radio play-by-play voice to become the television voice for the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, is on the NBCSN call of Knights-Kings following Bruins-Capitals. It’s a great opportunity for the deserving Goucher, who had hoped that the move to television would open up opportunities to call national games.

Chad Finn can be reached at finn@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeChadFinn.