How to Fix Detroit Sports 105.1

Advice for how to fix Detoit Sports 105.1 WMGC. I would have submitted this months ago but I always figured they’d pull the plug by now. To my amazement, they are still operating an all-sports format. I wrote a VERY “nailed it in hindsight” article about Detroit Sports 105.1 after their first few putrid ratings books. For all of its accuracy, I was wrong about one thing… they aren’t as cash strapped as I had once thought. If they were, they wouldn’t have outbid (unsuccessfully, but still…) 97.1 for Detroit Tigers broadcast rights, tried to hold onto an expensive Drew Lane when his contract was up, or most importantly, continued beyond 2014 as a sports radio station. For whatever reason, they seem to be married to…. whatever this is.

I have no agenda. I’ve worked with enough people at both stations through they years and respect most of them enough not to pick on any one individually. Sure, I have my opinions as to which shows “suck” and which one’s I enjoy, but I’m not going to get into that here. I’m also not here to play fantasy football with radio staffs and creating unrealistic, cap UN-friendly radio lineups… I’m here to help navigate the Detroit Sports 105.1 minefield of bad decisions and implement realistic changes the station could make TODAY to eek above a .9 rating. Listeners deserve better, the competition deserves a better effort than this.

For the 97.1 The Ticket haters, and they’re out there… The Ticket isn’t going away. Detroit Sports 105.1 is not going to unseat them even if these changes ARE made because of the “teams” and the fact that they are so established. However, 105.1 CAN improve on a .9. Here’s how…

How to Fix Detroit Sports 105.1

Hire Tom Bigby As A Consultant – From what I’ve heard, he’s available and still consulting. The man who transformed struggling (but still above a 2 share) WXYT AM into the 97.1 The Ticket ratings juggernaut is a phone call away. He’s expensive, but so is hemorrhaging payroll while hoping your ratings creep over a 1 share. Call him. Do eeeeet. Do eeeet now.

Find Your Valenti – Or grow your own. Hosts at both Detroit Sports 105.1 and 97.1 The Ticket are getting long in the tooth. All the young upstarts at fledgling maverick WDFN in the mid 90s are all pushing the upper end of the target demo – even Matt Dery. Instead of looking for familiar retreads to host or for fill-in, 105.1 would be best served bringing in a young, brash out-of-towner and grooming him. Time to draft an unproven rookie in the first round and build a team around him. If you were going to re-sign Drew Lane for mega $$$, you could throw $85K a year at some brat with an attitude.

Rethink Your Guests Part I – Heads up! 85% of Detroit sports radio listeners don’t know who Dana O’Neil is, 90% don’t want to hear an interview with her and prefer host opinions on DETROIT sports, and 100% of the listeners don’t want an interview with any reporter that lasts longer than 5 minutes. This is only part of the Bigby formula but dammit if he isn’t right. NO guest gets more than 5 minutes. Having reporters on as guests is LAZY sports radio. Great for podcasts, terrible for listeners in cars inches away from the next radio preset button.

Rethink Your Guests Part II – No more Detroit athletes from the 90s (and even 80s). It’s tired and no one cares. You can’t grow young audiences with Herman Moore. If it couldn’t be done in 1995, it can’t in 2016! Throw out that crusty roladex. Interviews are OK in small doses. If it’s not with a major player or decision maker, they’re best left 5 minutes or less. Or, not at all. Let your hosts be your stars.

Never, EVER, pre-empt Your Drive Time Shows With College Basketball – Management did this to us when I worked at WXYT AM. Our competition deservedly laughed their asses off at us.

Get Young and Be Immature – Go guerilla on your competition. Call them names. Embrace your underdog role. Your “alternative” to 97.1 is proving to be boring and the proof is in the pudding (ratings). 5 phone calls a segment, no calls from listeners over 45 seconds. It works. Try it.

Ditch the 3 Headed Monster – Why is Detroit Sports 105.1 adopting the failings of WXYT AMs The Lockerroom from 2002? Baligian is good enough on his own to carry a show. 3 people interrupting each other with equal time is rough. Drew Lane was correct to balk at the suggestion for a 3 man booth when he was negotiating for a contract extension.

Other Petty Annoyances to Consider –
1 – Why the hell do I have to “register” to listen online, I don’t have to anywhere else. That’s costing you.
2 – No one wants to hear a 45 minute segment about your picks with 3 hosts and 2 guests. No one.
3 – Play the hits. PS “the hits” isn’t an interview with former Piston Kim English, or the “voice of the Cincinnati Bengals” Dan Hoard, or 2016 Dre Bly.

It’s funny how old WDFN staffers STILL like to say WXYT only beat them because of the strong FM signal WXYT switched to when they went to 97.1. Detroit Sports 105.1 is proving an FM signal is useless vs idiotic decision making, horrible management, and zero vision. WDFN’s pre 2006 scratchy ass AM signal was quadrupling current 105.1 ratings. 97.1 The Ticket won with a formula (and an FM signal designed to lure pro sports broadcasting rights). This formula part is painfully ignored by Detroit Sports 105.1. It’s killing them.

The gripe against 97.1 is that The Ticket would rather talk about “best hamburgers in Detroit” topics while Detroit Sports 105.1 wants to be above that and “talk sports”. That’s fine and often justified, but if your hosts are interviewing retreads about topics THEY should have opinions about, and they don’t know how to invite a listener to participate, or your hosts interview Kevin O’Neill for 15 minutes, you’re not really offering much of an alternative.

Detoit Sports 105.1 Ratings Source –

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