Kay’s and ESPN’s Radio Ratings Conundrum

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Michael Kay’s shtick is deigned for a Yankees’ loving audience. It works on the YES Network because that’s what the YES Network wants, but it isn’t going to work on a radio show.

Therefore it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Kay’s poor ratings are now attracting notice since ESPN added an FM signal by taking over 98.7 in New York.

You can read the reports of Kay’s low ratings here on BobsBlitz.com.

Prior to the ESPN NY shift to FM, there were viable excuses for Kay not to have the ratings of Mike Francesa on WFAN. The station was hard to find if you weren’t looking for it; the signal for 1050 AM was weak.

Now that he’s on FM and ESPN is trying desperately to establish a foothold in the New York radio market, it comes down to the bottom line and the bottom line for Kay is he has to get ratings for the station. If he doesn’t do that, he’s going to be replaced. What makes the situation all the more untenable for Kay is the vulnerability of Francesa as a solo act. ESPN has to be asking itself where they’d be if they had a host who could attract those disenfranchised Francesa listeners who don’t want to hear him talk about horseracing or golf.

Kay worships the Yankees and says utterly idiotic things in fulfilling the mandate of the YES Network of selling the club above all notions of objectivity. That extended to his ESPN show and unless you’re a masochistic Mets’ fan or a sycophantic Yankees’ fan seeking validation, it’s not something to willingly listen to.

If Kay claims his persona on the YES broadcasts is an act taken to its logical extreme, that isn’t going to assuage the irritation of the fans who don’t want to hear his voice interjecting itself into their enjoyment with a pre-prepared, poorly written and narcissistic narration of such moments as Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit or Mariano Rivera’s record-breaking save; of omnipotent declarations that the 2010 ALCS was “over” after the Rangers blew game 1; of his statements that he “protected” Joe Torre while he was managing the team as if that was part of his job.

You can’t go from being a Yankees’ shill to an objective analyst.

Yankees’ fans don’t want to hear him, so what chance does he have attracting an audience for a radio show when fans have a choice they don’t have during the games on YES?

His ratings are weak because of him, not because of the signal and not because of other issues. I don’t see any possible way for him to stem the tide that will end in him being replaced with someone more marketable to a wider-ranging New York audience.

The ratings in the time slot wouldn’t be worse if ESPN NY had a syndicated national show that was just as likely to talk about the BCS and Alabama’s, Michigan’s or LSU’s chances at a National Championship than they are now with Kay talking about the Yankees.

That’s a clearer signal than you’d get on AM, FM or if you were being screamed at in your own home.

It says in the above-linked piece that he has the football season to get it right, but I don’t think he has that long. When the baseball season is over, so might be his show.

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