Years ago, Jon Marks used to work for Mike Missanelli. Now he's topping him in the ratings.
Marks and his 94.1 WIP co-host, former Eagles linebacker Ike Reese, defeated 97.5 The Fanatic's longtime ratings champ in the 2018 winter ratings book, which uses data gathered from January through March to measure popularity.
It was a narrow victory, less than a share among men ages 25 to 54, the most important listening demographic for both radio stations (all numbers in this story are for men 25 to 54). But it was the first time WIP defeated Missanelli in a quarterly book since 2015, when Missanelli lost to WIP's short-lived duo of Josh Innes and Tony Bruno. Marks and Reese ended the most recent quarter in third place in the market, while Missanelli finished narrowly behind them in fourth place.
But Eric Johnson, who took over as program director of The Fanatic in December, isn't ready to concede the victory. Johnson pointed out that if you combine the terrestrial numbers with streaming ratings offered by Nielsen, Missanelli eked out the win over WIP.
"They surely do win when you take the stream out of it, but in 2018, you can't take the stream out of it," Johnson said. "You write what you want to write, but I'm still saying Mike Missanelli beat WIP."
Spike Eskin, program director for WIP, said Johnson's take is misleading because the way the data is collected by Nielsen is designed to measure radio ratings, not streaming numbers.
"That's not me dismissing the importance of the stream. What I'm dismissing is the notion that you would measure it using a radio rating," Eskin said. "I'm very confident if you were to compare our actual streaming numbers to our competition in the afternoon, it would show that we have a clear advantage."
Most radio stations count only the terrestrial ratings numbers to determine things like advertising rates and bonus offers, which is why Nielsen reports the two as seperate numbers. But stations rarely use Nielsen numbers to sell ads online anyway, due to their volatility and web analytics that let companies track the exact numbers of their streaming audience.
WIP finished third overall in the market, nearly four full ratings shares ahead of The Fanatic, which ended the quarter in fourth place. Year-to-year, both stations were up, but WIP managed to grow its ratings more than 100 percent compared to 2017, and ended the quarter with the highest-rated winter ratings book in the station's history.
Once upon a time, Anthony Gargano presented a serious challenge to perennial morning ratings champion Angelo Cataldi. But especially during Eagles' season, the ratings gap between The Fanatic and WIP only seems to be getting wider.
Once again, Cataldi and the WIP Morning Show crew crushed Gargano, more than doubling his ratings for the quarter. The second-place finish isn't in itself surprising, considering Cataldi's popularity and WIP's partnership with the Eagles. But Gargano and co-host Bob Cooney, who finished in fifth place, benefited the least from the ratings bump every sports show in the city enjoyed due to the Eagles' Super Bowl victory.
"We're really, really lucky to have that morning show as an anchor, not just on the air with ratings, but as an example of how to work," Eskin said. "They never let up, and there's never a day that they're mailing it in."
As Johnson points out, Gargano has the toughest job at the station in facing off against Cataldi, who has been a dominant radio voice in Philadelphia for nearly 30 years. Johnson said there's no thought of making a change in The Fanatic's morning lineup, citing Gargano's popularity with younger listeners.
Ironically, both sports stations were defeated during the Eagles' historic postseason run by WMMR's Preston & Steve, who have dominated ratings in Philadelphia for nearly a decade. Once again, the duo of Preston Elliot and Steve Morrison finished in first place in the market, well ahead of both Cataldi and Gargano.
WIP's duo of Joe DeCamara and former Eagles fullback Jon Ritchie continued their upward climb in the ratings with a third-place finish, more than three full ratings share ahead of The Fanatic. More impressive, the duo is up a whopping 111 percent compared to last year.