Just a few years ago, Tom Barnard was talking about retiring from radio. Now, starting Monday, he’ll expand his on-air workload to more than seven hours a day, including an unusual arrangement with 105 FM/The Ticket, an all-sports station that’s calling on some heavy hitters to get attention in a crowded field.
“I’ve got a lot to say,” said Barnard, who in addition to his primary job hosting KQRS’ “Morning Show,” will stretch his weekday podcast from one hour to three with former WCCO anchor Don Shelby as his sidekick. The final hour of that program will be simulcast from 6 to 7 p.m. on the Ticket, which launched its sports format in April. Barnard said he won’t get additional money for his contribution to 105 FM, but the gig will give him a chance to promote his podcast, as well as the KQ show, to a younger audience. “It’s good exposure for the station and it’s good exposure for me.”
Both KQRS and the Ticket are owned by Atlanta-based Cumulus Media.
The Ticket, which formerly played grown-up pop that skewed toward women and girls, has yet to register in the ratings. The latest numbers show that its chief rival, KFAN, has an audience of about 328,000 people while sports station ESPN-1500 boasts about 149,000. The Ticket trailed with fewer than 34,000 listeners.
One disadvantage is that the station isn’t always easy to find. It’s on three separate frequencies (105.1, 105.3 and 105.7) and each has limited geographical reach.
A bigger reason: The station launched without any local voices, relying on such nationally syndicated personalities as Jim Rome and John Feinstein.
On Monday, the station will also premiere a 3-6 p.m. program co-hosted by former KFAN talker Mike Morris and St. Paul Pioneer Press sports columnist Bob Sansevere, who serves as sports director for KQ’s morning show.
Scott Jameson, operations manager for KQ, the Ticket and rock station 93X, said having the other station’s top personalities contribute to the Ticket makes sense because rock and sports both skew toward male audiences.
“We’ve got two well-performing rock stations and it’s smart to leverage those brands to help our baby brother grow up,” he said. Morris, a former Vikings player who was fired by KFAN last year after nearly 12 years there, essentially echoed that point when asked what it felt like to be returning to the airwaves. “Back in black,” he said. “AC/DC: ‘Back in Black.’ ”