BY JOHN FAY
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Here's my theory why WBOB-AM (1160) got the numbers it did when the Arbitron ratings book was released last week: For one solid year, the station had the same lineup from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Listeners knew they were going to get Lance McAlister from 10 to 1, Tim Lewis from 1 to 4 and Dave Lapham and Paul Sturgeon from 4 to 7.
All of the shows are different and each has a core audience.
"People have gotten a chance to know what I'm like," McAlister said. "They may like me or dislike me, but they know what to expect." The biggest boost for BOB was from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. when it went from a 0.5 rating to 1.2.
"Lance has been here a year," Lewis said. "He's developed a rapport with the listeners. My show has benefited from that." McAlister, who replaced the Fabulous Sports Babe's show, thinks he and Lewis help one another.
"We play off one another naturally, because we disagree on just about everything," McAlister said. "People call Tim's show and say, "Can you believe what Lance was saying?' "
The numbers from 3 to 7 p.m. did not improve as much as earlier numbers, going from 1.0 to 1.3.
Part of that is BOB's weak signal. When I listened to Lap and Fish on the way to Oxford this past winter, I lost the signal right after I passed Mount Rumpke on U.S. 27.
The weak signal makes one wonder if BOB can ever move beyond a station rated in the high teens locally. Overall, BOB was tied for 19th.
But the station has made an impact.
Perhaps it is a reason behind WLW's slide. WLW still got a 6.6 to BOB's 0.9 overall, but WLW went from second to seventh among listeners age 25-54.
"We've attacked WLW pretty hard," Lewis said. "When you do that, you have to produce. I think we appeal to younger listeners with the in-your-face sports."
Said McAlister: "I think other stations have gone from wondering about us to worrying about us."
SportsCenter, ESPN's trademark show, will air for the 20,000 time on May 17. But George Grande, who anchored the first one on Sept. 7, 1979, wasn't so sure there'd be a second one.
What went wrong, George?
"What went right would be the better question," said Grande, now the play-by-play man on Reds TV.
The studio that Grande and co-anchor Lee Leonard worked out of was the only building finished at ESPN's complex in Bristol, Conn. The show was run out of trailers.
The only reason SportsCenter started in September was ESPN had a contract with the NCAA to run five taped-delayed college games each weekend. The executive would have rather waited until January 1980.
The biggest glitch of the first broadcast was a live interview with Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer.
"They had a technical problem," Grande said. "We came up four minutes short. So we debated whether college football should have a playoff for four minutes."
Grande, who was at ESPN for 10 years, said no one had any idea how big the network would become in the early days.
"I left CBS to go there," he said. "My boss at CBS told me I was crazy."
Grande and partner Chris Welsh had a solid interview with baseball commissioner Bud Selig during Sunday's Reds game. They asked Selig all the tough questions about Marge Schott and the stadium.
Derrek Dickey was back on the radio Sunday doing the Chicago Bulls game five months after suffering a stroke.
Dickey, the former University of Cincinnati and Purcell High star, has been in physical and speech therapy since the Nov. 5 stroke.
"From day one, there was never any doubt in my mind I'd be able to go back to work," he told Chicago reporters. "Right now, I'm looking to do this game. We'll see beyond that." John Fay covers radio - TV sports for The Enquirer.