Houston Radio's Sports-Talk Battle Goes On

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The latest ratings are out, and there's a bit of a surprise in Houston sports-talk radio -- the fledgling outsider, KGOW, has made a bit of a name for itself.

As we wrote about a year and a half ago, Houston is -- very oddly -- the home of four sports-talk radio stations. It's odd because even when you add up the ratings for all those stations, they don't come close to what the biggest station in Dallas gets all on its own.

At the time we wrote, KGOW ("The Game") was not yet on the air, but it was poised to take on radio giants CBS (KILT-AM), Clear Channel (KBME, "The Sports Animal") and ESPN on the FM dial.

No one thought Houston could support four stations, and KGOW was predicted to be K-GONE in a short time.

Not so fast, though.

As David Barron reports in the Houston Chronicle, the first ratings book to include KGOW (the station had previously opted out of being measured) showed a surprisingly robust audience for the morning show. It led among men 25-54 for the time period.

This being radio, though, there are a million ways to parse out the results. Some stations cite favorable demographics, others note that KGOW's "cume" was low -- in other words, it had fewer listeners, but those listeners tended to stay tuned longer.

Michael Berry, head of Clear Channel's AM stations here, tells Hair Balls that he is "quite happy with our ratings as they are."

Those ratings are only one indicator of success, and each of the four stations can find things to be proud of. It's important to note that the rating system is skewed toward time spent listening, rather than how many people are actually listening at a given moment. But it is what is, and we all continue to slug it out, bearing in mind that there are many ways to serve listeners and clients.

Football season is over for the locals, and spring training is a long way away. So it's hard to say whether the shows will build any in the coming months.

Until then, the small but dedicated legions of "first-time callers, long-time listeners" will have to carry the load.

-- Richard Connelly

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