Paul Allen is the king of local sports-talk radio, even though he's not a local sports-talk radio host.
It probably helps he's the play-by-play voice of the region's most popular team, the NFL's Minnesota Vikings, and his three-hour weekday show is heavy with Vikings talk year-around.
The 9 a.m.-noon talker on 740 The Fan has the most-listened-to show among those on Fargo-Moorhead's two all-sports stations, 740 The Fan and Bison 1660, according to the latest Nielsen ratings.
Allen's show, originating in the Twin Cities on KFAN and syndicated on the station's Upper Midwest network, had an average of about 3,000 people tuned in at any one time during the most recent ratings period, which ran from mid-September to early December.
Those numbers come from Nielsen's Total Survey Area of the Fargo-Moorhead market, which includes 30 counties in eastern North Dakota, western Minnesota and South Dakota. They are for all listeners 12 years old and older, or "12+" in radio parlance.
A total of about 7,600 people listened to Allen's show per hour each week in the TSA.
The Fan, also available at 107.3 FM, dominated the all-sports format. Each of its shows had more listeners than those on Bison 1660 from 6 a.m. to midnight weekdays, the time period that was surveyed.
"Common Man" Dan Cole averaged about 2,600 listeners from 1-3 p.m. on The Fan.
The "Jack Michaels Show," The Fan's one local hour (noon- 1 p.m.) in its daytime lineup, averaged 2,500 listeners. Michaels is also KFGO's sports director and calls University of North Dakota football and women's basketball games.
That made it the most popular local show during the daytime. Bison 1660's highest-rated local show was "The Insiders," hosted by North Dakota State football and men's basketball play-by-play announcer Jeff Culhane and NDSU assistant athletic director Jeremy Jorgenson, which averaged about 900 listeners 11 a.m.-1 p.m., according to Nielsen.
Bison 1660's other local weekday talk show, "The BrakeDown" with Bison women's basketball play-by-play announcer Keith Brake, averaged about 250 listeners in its 4-6 p.m. time slot.
Bison 1660 is KQWB-AM, also heard on 92.7 FM, rebranded in 2016 as the radio home of NDSU athletics. The station is the flagship of the Bison radio network, which carries NDSU games and related content. Most importantly it is the radio home of the Bison football team, winners of seven of the last eight Football Championship Subdivision national titles.
The station is owned by Radio FM Media, a property of Bison booster Jim Ingstad. Through a partnership with NDSU, a percentage of advertising dollars generated from Bison-related content goes to the athletics department.
Bison 1660 carries Fox Sports Radio programming outside of its local content. Its most popular syndicated program is the "Dan Patrick Show," 8-11 a.m., which averages about 400 listeners, according to the ratings.
The Fan is the beneficiary of the KFAN's powerhouse status in sports-talk radio and a 50,000-watt blowtorch daytime signal. The KFAN stable includes highly-rated programs like Allen, Cole, "The Powertrip Morning Show" and Dan Barreiro. Not only do those programs dominate key radio demographics like men aged 25-54 in the Twin Cities, they are heard across the station's network that includes cities like Fargo-Moorhead; Bismarck, N.D.; Rochester, Minn.; St. Cloud, Minn.; Duluth, Minn. and other smaller Minnesota markets.
Fargo-Moorhead's radio ratings are calculated by Nielsen with listener diaries. Random people are selected to fill out diaries with their listening habits during ratings periods. In large markets like the Twin Cities, listeners are given electronic devices called portable people meters that measure what radio stations they are listening to.
News/talk station KFGO was top-rated in Fargo-Moorhead in the fall, according to Nielsen, followed by hit-music station Y-94.