Angelo Cataldi shows some vulnerability in ratings battle with Anthony Gargano

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ESPN 97.5 The Fanatic's Anthony Gargano (left) is narrowing the rating gap between Sportsradio 94.1 WIP's longtime morning champ Angelo Cataldi.

Sportsradio 94WIP’s Angelo Cataldi has been a dominant voice in Philadelphia sports-talk radio for 25 years, but for the first time, the reigning ratings champ might be showing a bit of vulnerability. 

According to numbers obtained by Philly.com, ESPN 97.5 The Fanatic’s Anthony Gargano has pulled close to Cataldi, ending the August ratings period (7/16-8/12) in fourth place among men between the ages of 25 and 54 with a 6.0 share. Cataldi still beat Gargano, nabbing third place with a 6.8 share, but the close finish could be the first time Cataldi has faced a serious challenger during his long radio career. 

Gargano and co-host Jon Marks have slowly been building an audience since their show launched at the end of April, growing from the 4.9 share the pair earned during the May ratings period. The growth isn’t unexpected, considering the station replaced the nationally-syndicated “Mike and Mike” show with a local broadcast. Last year, “Mike and Mike” brought in a 4.2 share during the August 2014 ratings period, so Gargano and Marks have been able to bring that up by nearly two points in the span of four ratings periods. 

Most surprising is the apparent slide in Cataldi’s ratings. During last year’s August ratings period, Cataldi had a 9.8 share, a decline of three full points from last year. Part of that might be explained by a lackluster Phillies season that fans tuned out of early. In addition, Cataldi was off four days during the August ratings period, and having a local show on an opposing station for listeners to check out might have played a factor. 

Nielsen defines shares as the measure of the percentage of listeners tuned into a radio station. For example, a 4.2 share means 4.2 percent of listeners are tuned into a particular station or program.

Ratings experts also caution not to overplay the meaning of just one month of ratings, especially in the slower summer season with a subpar Phillies team. Both stations understand the importance of the upcoming Eagles season, which is why both have attempted to bolster their football coverage with popular ex-Eagles players. WIP will be pairing Jon Runyan with Cataldi on Mondays following Eagles games, while The Fanatic is bringing back Brian Westbrook and pairing him with Gargano. 

In other ratings news, despite retiring co-hosts and shifting lineups, WIP’s Josh Innes was able to retain his ratings lead over The Fanatic’s Mike Missanelli. Innes finished the August ratings period with a 8.0 share, good enough for second place among men between the ages of 25 and 54. Missanelli finished just behind Innes in third place with a 7.5 share. Both hosts were gone for significant amounts of time during the month, so the next ratings period should be a good indicator how the pairing of Spike Eskin and Hollis Thomas with Innes is being received, and if the new trio can retain the ratings lead Innes built with retired co-host Tony Bruno.