Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mark Elfenbein and the Larger Changes

I share AP's regret at Mark Elfenbein's departure from Sunday mornings for a midday gig at 105.3.

This site has had occasion to remark on Elfenbein's unique broadcast sound in this market.  I'll miss him on Sunday mornings.  He had a solid show and good chemistry with his guys.

However  .  .  .

I have also thought that Elfenbein is probably best in small doses.  A few hours of an all-Elf show a week was probably about right.  I wish him the best on his everyday gig (real estate biz must really be depressed), but if I were Fan management I'd look for a strong co-host for him, or at least a sidekick that will offset his somewhat spicy delivery.  He works well with other voices on the show, doesn't seem to have big ego issues.  [[SEE CORRECTION BELOW.]]

Could they have found an everyday slot for Elf?  If it were up to me, I'd ditch the Top Ten and install a nighttime host, and Elfenbein would have been perfect for that. 

Richie Whitt in his report suggests that Elf may have been ill-treated by The Ticket, as a second-class citizen weekend host not worthy of standing with the weekday guys in the recent 15th anniversary celebrations.  So there may have been some behind-the-scenes stuff that made it uncomfortable for him to stay, or easy to go.  Maybe some anonymous insider in the know will lift the veil for us.

I'd been meaning to talik about some of the larger changes at The Ticket, but I don't know exactly what's going on.  New studio; new signal.  Elf leaving.  And all those ads for new sales and technical guys.  Sounds to me like The Ticket is going through some behind-the-scenes stuff, some of it good for P1s, some of it bad. 

Some of it, of course, is natural turnover in the volatile world of local radio.   Well-regarded but poorly-paid second-stringers at the mic and at the board looking for a better living elsewhere.

The Fan is not sitting still.  So far its all-Ticket hiring policy isn't working out for it, kind of like the Bengals' Cowboy poaching.  But they're in there slugging, and somewhere along the line, somewhere during the broadcast day, they're going to strike a little gold.

Note that in the portrait above, that Your Plainsman is "scanning the sports radio horizon," despite the name of the site.  I've been switching channels more frequently lately, checking out the competition when I've wearied of some tired bit or overexposure of one host or another.  Anyone want to steer me in the direction of good sportstalk elsewhere, lemme know.

CORRECTION:  I didn't realize they were going to team Elfenbein up with Josh Lewin..  Wow, an all-Jewish midday on The Fan.  Interesting.  That might be a potent alternative to BaD Radio.  If you're tired of all the bickering over there, Josh and Elf might seem worth a listen.

ADDENDUM, 2:30 pm:  Looks like Todd Archer is also changing his affiliation to ESPN.   Todd's OK, but this is not an immense loss from a daily broadcast standpoint.  The question I have is -- what does it mean about what's going on at The Ticket or, perhaps more meaningfully, what's ESPN's management up to?  Guessing that they're tired of looking foolish in this market (although promoting Hammer to five endless hours of drive is unlikely to prove an inspired strategy) and going to spend some bucks to class up their output.

27 comments:

P1 Steven said...

I agree. I would nothing more than original night time programming for THE TICKET! Something comparable to The Orphanage...

Anonymous said...

You guys and your hating on the Top 10! You gotta remember that few of us get to be all-day listeners. If it weren't for the Top 10, I wouldn't know half the references and schtick going on. I would never hear Norm or BAD Radio. Basically, I'd never hear anything but Musers 8am-9am and Hardline 5pm-6pm (and that slot is 50% ads already).

It seems to me The Ticket is a prisoner of its own popularity. Its programs are so successful there really is nowhere to bring in new talent, save for weekends, which leads nowhere. Look at Ben & Skin. Those guys back-benched it for years, with no hope of ever getting a weekday slot. Who can blame them for leaving?

The Musers aren't going anywhere, and neither is Norm. Rhyner and The Hardline are going to be a fixture until The Old Grey Wolf goes to the Great Gig in the Sky. Which basically leaves BAD Radio, which is very successful in its own right, but truthfully, it is the Ticket's backup plan should something ever go awry with The Musers or The Hardline. Their back-benchers are the top-rated program in its slot. That's a "good problem to have," as they say, but still a problem.

I can see a lot of potential Ticket talent getting frustrated at the lack of opportunity and moving on. It sucks for them. I've been in that position, both in radio and other professions. But you can't expect Cat and Bennett to dump the highest-rated programs on the air (in their demo) for some newbs. Just not gonna happen.

Besides, we've seen recently what happens to Ticket personalities when they leave the nurturing biosphere: they kinda suck. Anyone think Greggo is as good on "RAGE" as he was on The Hardline? How about Ben & Skin? That was a disaster. And I suspect Elf will sound like generic sports guy #83 without the Ticket to back him up and give him some depth. Let's face it, the fundamentals are strong at 1310, and they make some personalities look better than they are. Kinda like a great O-Line will make a mediocre QB look good.

As far as scanning other stations, I too, have been switching more lately. For one, it seems my PM drive time is aligned perfectly to catch 8,000 commercials on the Hardline. Plus, when Corby talks college football, I go anywhere else. Anywhere. And these days it's a lot of College football. (PLEASE, why can't you guys do this from 3-5!?!?!?) But my scans have shown no life outside 1310. I caught some of RAGE yesterday (hey, Greg can speak again!), and it sucked. It was basically 20 minutes of Ritchie making some sense in his droll manner and Greggo being stupid and arguing when he had no point to argue whatsoever. Let's face it - the guy is ignorant. It was kinda funny when he had Rhyner to counterbalance his foolishness, but as the centerpiece of a 5-hour talk program, his ignorance is grating and just plain wrong.

I think I'm going back to music in the PM; at least until The Hardline pulls it's thing together. But please don't take away my Top 10. Without it, I would be pretty lost. The fun in listening to the Ticket is getting the inside jokes that you only get after consuming a bunch of it's insulated culture; but if it gets to a point where if you're not "in the know" - why listen?

Anonymous said...

You guys and your hating on the Top 10! You gotta remember that few of us get to be all-day listeners. If it weren't for the Top 10, I wouldn't know half the references and schtick going on. I would never hear Norm or BAD Radio. Basically, I'd never hear anything but Musers 8am-9am and Hardline 5pm-6pm (and that slot is 50% ads already).

It seems to me The Ticket is a prisoner of its own popularity. Its programs are so successful there really is nowhere to bring in new talent, save for weekends, which leads nowhere. Look at Ben & Skin. Those guys back-benched it for years, with no hope of ever getting a weekday slot. Who can blame them for leaving?

The Musers aren't going anywhere, and neither is Norm. Rhyner and The Hardline are going to be a fixture until The Old Grey Wolf goes to the Great Gig in the Sky. Which basically leaves BAD Radio, which is very successful in its own right, but truthfully, it is the Ticket's backup plan should something ever go awry with The Musers or The Hardline. Their back-benchers are the top-rated program in its slot. That's a "good problem to have," as they say, but still a problem.

I can see a lot of potential Ticket talent getting frustrated at the lack of opportunity and moving on. It sucks for them. I've been in that position, both in radio and other professions. But you can't expect Cat and Bennett to dump the highest-rated programs on the air (in their demo) for some newbs. Just not gonna happen.

Besides, we've seen recently what happens to Ticket personalities when they leave the nurturing biosphere: they kinda suck. Anyone think Greggo is as good on "RAGE" as he was on The Hardline? How about Ben & Skin? That was a disaster. And I suspect Elf will sound like generic sports guy #83 without the Ticket to back him up and give him some depth. Let's face it, the fundamentals are strong at 1310, and they make some personalities look better than they are. Kinda like a great O-Line will make a mediocre QB look good.

As far as scanning other stations, I too, have been switching more lately. For one, it seems my PM drive time is aligned perfectly to catch 8,000 commercials on the Hardline. Plus, when Corby talks college football, I go anywhere else. Anywhere. And these days it's a lot of College football. (PLEASE, why can't you guys do this from 3-5!?!?!?) But my scans have shown no life outside 1310. I caught some of RAGE yesterday (hey, Greg can speak again!), and it sucked. It was basically 20 minutes of Ritchie making some sense in his droll manner and Greggo being stupid and arguing when he had no point to argue whatsoever. Let's face it - the guy is ignorant. It was kinda funny when he had Rhyner to counterbalance his foolishness, but as the centerpiece of a 5-hour talk program, his ignorance is grating and just plain wrong.

I think I'm going back to music in the PM; at least until The Hardline pulls it's thing together. But please don't take away my Top 10. Without it, I would be pretty lost. The fun in listening to the Ticket is getting the inside jokes that you only get after consuming a bunch of it's insulated culture; but if it gets to a point where if you're not "in the know" - why listen?

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the double post. I was getting an error from Blogger and didn't realize it went through.

Anonymous said...

Why not do an original from 7-10 and do Top 10 10-12?

Anonymous said...

Three hours is a lot of time to fill every day for anyone but veterans. How about Top 10 from 7-9, then a B-team show from 9-11? Let's be honest, the Dan Patrick show is a beating. It seems very out-of-place on the Ticket.

Signed,
Anonymous from 2nd comment

Scott said...

I kinda like the top 10. When I am out of town, I can stream after I am done working and catch up. I am sure the top 10 listeners are not many, but, I am not sure any other show is going to draw many more listeners. Bick Dick did not do well, the Hot spot did poorly, it is a tough slot. Back in the day, that spot was prime, it was the only spot for sports talk. Now, folks are doing other things.

Not sure what to make of all the changes. I have been switching around also. Got so bad the other day, I listened to Rush Limbaugh, who I actually like.

But, they are still the best in town.

Scott said...

And, what is the deal with Todd Archer, I just heard a back handed comment about him

Anonymous said...

There have been discussions within the Ticket on possible changes to the after 7p programming. The thing is it's part of the larger power known as Cumulus. Dan Patrick Show pays good money to be on the air in Dallas on the Ticket and while the powers there would love to get rid of it, the powers that run the whole show aka Cumulus have made it well known that's not happening.

From 7-9 there's really not a better option than the Top 10. That show has slightly better ratings than anything else that's ever played in that spot and if you put an original show or move one of the weekend shows (Orphanage, The Scrubs, Cirque) to that spot, there'd be a lot of missed shows due to various events especially during this time with the Dallas Stars broadcasts.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Shoopie.

The Plainsman said...

That last Anonymous is the Anonymous who seems to have a Ticket source somwewhere. Why don't you guys make up some names for yourselves? (You could make up a new one every time so you wouldn't get too familiar to comment-reading Confessors.

Yep, look like Todd Archer is out, also. He can be good if the host is engaged, but the Hardline seems barely to tolerate him and he responds in kind. I'm not going to miss him terribly, nor do I think The Ranch Report or his pre-game reports on Sundays require replacement.

As far as the Top 10 is concerned -- I don't hate it and yeah, it would get bounced a fair percentage of the time. I don't mind it being there and Jake does a pretty good job with it.

Dan Patrick -- could be worse but not a good Ticket fit.

But something must be up at the Ticket, and I think what's up is ESPN flexing its financial muscle to lure some Ticket guys -- AA ball Ticket guys, but Ticket guys nonetheless.

I think a few ratings books from now it will be interesting to see how Lewin/Elf is doing against BaD.

P1 Steven said...

Dan Patrick wouldnt be soo bad if it wasnt pre-recorded. He is talking about "upcoming events" that have already occured. I have never checked out the ratings for Top 10, but if someone says they are better than anything they have had before Ill believe them. How do the ratings compare against live shows on THE FAIL & ESPN? I tend to tune into whatever spare is live after 7 pm. Although, ARNIE is a total beating, but Gavin is ok...In theory, I would think that The Fan could draw new listeners w/ Ranger & Cowboy games.

DRW1961 said...

Archer isn't leaving the Ticket, he's leaving the Dallas Morning News. The Ranch Report was part of the co-op between the DMN and the Ticket so I'm guessing that it will continue - but with a different DMN person in the role. Maybe JJT?

Anonymous said...

I just assume that Anonymous with inside info is Grubes. Even if it's not, I prefer to believe so.

So wait a minute - Plainsman, you said ESPN is flexing muscle, but Elf and Lewin are going to The Fan. Last I checked, that's not ESPN.

GAVIN IS OK!? Child, please!

-Anonymous B

Gypo Nolan said...

David Moore is taking over the Ranch Reports.

The Plainsman said...

Last Anon: Well, that's what I get for trying to keep up with comments while I'm actually trying to work. No, 105.3 The Fan is not ESPN.

I could research this, but does anyone know if 105.3 is part of a larger media conglomerate?

Thanks for noting my GROSS ERROR. I will endeavor to do better.

Michael said...

That wasn't me posting anonymously. I always post with my name fully visible. I'll gladly contribute, but I don't post anything too "inside." Not worth the trouble if I get caught, in all honesty. Ticket history and stuff like that, I'm your Shoopy.

-Grubes

Michael said...

And the Fan is owned by CBS.

-Grubes

The Plainsman said...

I am grateful to hear from Michael and occasionally other Ticket guys with historical context and corrections. I understand that they can't publicly post inside poop, but I appreciate hearing from them whenever they have something they're ethically able to offer.

Hadn't heard from anyone for awhile, wondered if maybe our little site here was declared off limits. (Although in general, it supports the station pretty consistently.) Glad to hear that is not the case.

Shaggy said...

Thanks, G

Anonymous said...

One thing to realize, and I've said this here before IIRC, the vast majority of advertising is bought for 6a-7p. So while 7p-mid ratings are nice to have, when it comes to Men 25-54 (that all important demographic, as Rhyner likes to remind us) it's really not that big a part of the pie.

And as for 7p-Mid ratings, in todays book, the Fan has a 12.2, ESPN a 6.6, and Ticket a 1.4. But that's the ALCS and the World Series.

Go back a few months to when people didn't care so much about baseball (we'll call that June) and the Fan had a 4.2, ESPN a 2.4 and the Ticket a 1.7. So they're losing in the daypart that's least important overall.

But like I said, the advertising is bought 6a-7p. And consider these numbers:
Mon-Sun 6a to mid, the Ticket has about a 7 share.
M-Fri 6a-mid, just over an 8 share.
M-Fri 6a-7p, they have a 9-plus.

Add both ESPN and the Fan's ratings together, and the Ticket still beats them.

Anonymous said...

And the other thing to remember is how listening habits change after work. Sure some people are working and listening to the Ticket at night, but if you get home, are you going to watch tonights mavs game live, listen to it live, or listen to the Ticket give updates on it every 20 minutes?
The vast majority of people are watching it live. So yeah, the Fan or ESPN are winning at night, but there is one HELL of a lot less people listening. Most sports fans are in front of the TV at that point...

The Plainsman said...

Sensational posts from all Confessors, and great information and analysis from our Anonymous radio hound. You all have my thanks.

Anon is very persuasive that the post 7p slots are not of great significance. However, I would think that the drastic falloff at 7 PM would have The Ticket looking around for a way to leverage The Hardline's stratospheric ratings into more compelling content. (Sorry, all you Top 10 fans.) A good start would be cutting down on the enormous block of ads and other stuff between the HL theme and the Top 10.

It's an interesting time for The Little One, isn't it? Thanks again, everyone, and keep it up. My traffic continues to grow and I'm sure your comments are a big part of it.

P1 Steven said...

@ ANON... Rhyner is dead

Since I work in the evenings as well, I find myself tuning into the Mavs/Stars post games lately. I know they only do home games, but why bother if The Ticket did not find it that important. Is this just to catch the folks heading home? BTW Sea Bass gets is in the TEMP spot for MAVS post game. Anyone else worthy of that post?

JS said...

Count me in as a fan of the Ticket Top 10.

The big question is: Can we all please do a write-in campaign to the Ticket ... to have the Dallas Stars games moved to another radio station? I can't believe any significant number of people actually listen to a hockey game on the radio here in Dallas! I get SO beaten down when I turn on the Ticket (after 7pm) to hear the Top 10, and I get a blasted broadcast of a hockey game instead!

Anonymous said...

Ladies please!! Anyone that's a P-1 or used to be a P-1 should know what's happening at Ticket. As far as Elf goes, the dudes good at what he does. One of the most solid guys on he station and knows his stuff. As several of you stated, no where to go at Ticket for most part timers. Not s surprise to anyone. But what you all fail to realize is this is NOT the same 105.3 The Fan as before. With Proven winner wherever he goes Bruce Gilbert running the show, they're not messing around. Greggo back with Richie Witt regardless of what you think is a strong move. Elf brings them huge credibilty and will boost their numbers big time. Lewin is better on radio than tv and will be solid. Look out little Ticket. It might take a while, but you'll have company on that ratings mountaintop soon!!

The Plainsman said...

Anonymous, not only do I agree, I believe I wrote above that CBS (I stupidly said ESPN) was flexing its financial muscle to improve its offerings.

Although . . . I've heard enough of RaGE to think that they're not going to make a large dent without some changes in that showgram. I'll stop using this gag soon, but it's true -- Richie Whitt has a voice for newsprint. Hammer is the Wade Phillips of Dallas radio -- an assistant with some weight, but don't give him the top job.

Lewin/Elfenbein is a different story. I only heard a few minutes and thought it needed a lot of polish -- Elfenbein has yet to find his feet as a co-banana and so far seems like a far distant second . But I don't expect that to continue. I have a feeling a fairish number of BaD listeners are loose in the socket and will be checking out what The Fan has to offer.

On the whole, though, it's clear that CBS sees a huge market going to waste with weak programming, and they're doing everything they can to get a bigger piece of the pie.