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Sports media: WQAM upgrades; opens letter to Manning; Heat-Marlins conflict


There are two very different but accurate ways of assessing the state of WQAM-560, the market’s longest-running sports radio station.

From the glass-half-empty view: 790 The Ticket has beaten WQAM three consecutive months – including every daypart in the most recent full ratings book, with a 2.3 share to WQAM’s 1.2 in men 25 to 54, spanning most of December. 790’s edge in every time slot has continued into the New Year, with the exception of WQAM’s Joe Rose beating 790 during one of the two January weeks already tabulated by Arbitron.

But here’s the glass-half-full view: WQAM is more profitable than at any time in the past 15 years because it’s no longer paying big contracts to the Miami Dolphins, Hank Goldberg and Neil Rogers, who retired 18 months before his death in 2010. And that’s what matters most to Beasley Broadcasting.

And say this for WQAM: General Manager Joe Bell clearly has enhanced his lineup since last summer by adding part-timer Channing Crowder; swapping out Kevin Kiley for Curtis Stevenson alongside Michael Irvin; and most significantly, by replacing Gino Torretta and Steve White with Adam Kuperstein and Steve Goldstein. Another change could be coming this summer if Michael Irvin and WQAM part ways.

It’s a tossup whether Irvin remains with WQAM beyond the expiration of his contract in June. WQAM has kept in touch with several hosts, including Scott Kaplan and Seattle-based Mitch Levy, in case an opening arises.

WQAM prefers Irvin relocate from Dallas to Miami, but he has shown no inclination to do that. And WQAM doesn’t know if Irvin wants to continue on radio longterm because of his NFL Network gig.

WQAM likes Kaplan, once South Florida based, and he’s available after being fired from a San Diego radio station this week because of cruel comments about broadcaster Andrea Lloyd, a member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

Kaplan called her a “beast, monster and animal” and a “sasquatch of a women,” adding: “I think she is currently a woman. I cannot confirm for you that she has been a woman her entire life. My guess is that at some point, she had some form of surgery.”

After his firing, Kaplan expressed remorse and said he would call Lloyd. But this wasn’t a first offense for Kaplan, who previously was sued by a woman he called a “skank” on the air.

Unsolicited advice for WQAM: If you pursue Kaplan, make sure he’s genuinely contrite about what got him canned. And make sure you can void his contract if he makes similarly offensive remarks.

WQAM isn’t chasing Kaplan at this moment, but don’t be surprised if that changes. A decision on Irvin's future will help determine that.

Crowder, unfortunately, will be off the air for a couple months while he prepares to make an NFL comeback, according to program director Lee Feldman.

Meanwhile, WQAM strengthened early afternoons with Kuperstein/Goldstein; they’re polished, personable and possess a broader base of sports knowledge than Torretta and White, who were out-rated by Colin Cowherd’s ESPN Radio show during their final months at WQAM.  

Our biggest beef with WQAM: The absence of sports updates at the top the hour during the afternoon. 

### “Sports Brothers” Ed Fox and Jeff Freeman, who were replaced on 790 by Jason Jackson, have been hired to do weekend afternoon talk shows on 640 AM.

### Dan Marino says he won’t lobby Peyton Manning to join the Dolphins, but some media lobbying has begun. In Seattle, radio host and ESPN college football analyst Brock Huard – who played quarterback at the University of Washington and for the Seattle Seahawks – penned an open letter to Manning this week, trying to convince him to join the Seahawks.

Among Huard’s selling points: The Seahawks play in a “winnable division”; coach Pete Carroll “is as committed to football as you are”; and owner Paul Allen “is the best in the business. He won’t meddle.”

Huard writes that the Seahawks and Redskins make the most sense for Manning. Huard wrote the Dolphins “are fond of Matt Flynn” (ignoring the fact they want Manning more) and warned Manning that Mike Sherman’s addition as Dolphins offensive coordinator “means a return to the old-school West Coast system” (not necessarily, Brock).

### Early warning of an unfortunate conflict: The first regular-season game at the Marlins new ballpark (7 p.m. April 4 against the Cardinals) will go head-to-head with the Heat’s 8 p.m. home game against Oklahoma City – which could be an NBA Finals preview.  ESPN originally announced it would air the Heat game, with the Marlins game on ESPN2. But that was reversed a couple weeks ago. ESPN is in 99 million homes, ESPN2 in 98.9 million.

### The fact NBC-6's Super Bowl rating (40.6) was the worst among 56 major markets - well below the 47.0 national average - wasn't surprising considering Miami-Fort Lauderdale’s 17.7 average rating for Dolphins games rank among the lowest for the 30 markets.

Nationally, the game finished as the sixth-highest rated Super Bowl ever (49ers-Bengals in 1982 remains No. 1 with a 49.1), and the 12th highest-rated TV program in U.S. history. The highest rated show remains the 1983 finale of MASH (60.2).

Variety points out that the 111.3 million viewers for the Super Bowl was more than the combined audiences for the college national championship games in football (24.2 million) and basketball (20.1), and the deciding games of the World Series (25.4), NBA Finals (23.9) and Stanley Cup (8.5).