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Sports Business

Petition seeks to ban Dakich from calling IU games on ESPN

March 31, 2016
KEYWORDS Sports Business

You can find a petition on Change.org for just about anything.

From political to medical to fanatical, the requests are seemingly endless.

There’s even a petition to ban Dan Dakich from announcing Indiana University games on ESPN. A petition started last month has scored 1,506 signatures.

The complaints about Dakich on the Change.org petition run the gamut. He’s too opinionated; too smug; his on-court demonstrations of how to play basketball stink; and his tweets are too arrogant and snarky.

Some petitioners think he’s too much of a homer. Others think he’s unfairly harsh on IU. One sentiment is unanimous among the petitioners: They want him gone.

“I’m signing because Dakich is just the worst. When the term ‘bloviating ignoramus’ comes to mind, I first think of Donald Trump, of course, but second, I think of Dan Dakich,” wrote one petitioner.

Despite the petition, all indications are that Dakich isn’t going anywhere. ESPN officials have featured him on a broad range of college basketball programs airing during this month’s NCAA basketball tournament. He’s often paired with ESPN’s favorite son, Mike Tirico, and calls prime-time games.

ESPN officials were still working on a response to the Dakich petition at The Score's deadline.

His local radio ratings indicate Dakich may have more fans than critics. Either that or his critics are just as drawn to "The Dan Dakich Show" on WFNI-AM 1070 The Fan [airing weekdays from noon to 3 p.m.] as his fans are. Either way, station officials love them some Dakich.

“It’s a can’t-miss show,” said Bob Richards, The Fan’s vice president of programming.

And that’s “pretty uncommon” for a show airing during a non-drive-time slot, he added.

A look at the Nielsen listener numbers over the last four months shows that Dakich’s ratings are among the tops of all shows on 1070. Dakich’s show has even beaten the popular "The Ride with JMV" in ratings for men 25 to 54—the most important demographic for a sports-talk show—in two of the last four months.  

The listenership of Dakich’s show is often two to four times higher than those of shows on The Fan’s primary sports-talk competitor, WNDE-AM 1260 in the men 25-to-54 demo.

Dakich runs against "The Rush Limbaugh Show," which airs from noon to 3 p.m. on WNDE. Dakich has soundly beaten that show—in the 25-to-54 male demo—in each of the last four months.

It is notoriously difficult to measure the number of people listening to a radio show at any given time. But ratings tell us that nearly 10 percent of male radio listeners ages 25 to 54 are tuned to Dakich's show during its timeslot. In its timeslot, it has ranked No. 2 in that demographic in three of the last four months.

The show has an average of about 30,000 men in the 25-to-54 demographic listening each week, according to The Fan. In comparison, between 2.3 and 5.7 percent of men in that age demographic listened to Limbaugh's show.

In February, Dakich's total weekly audience averaged about 55,000.

Richards said one reason for Dakich’s on-air success is simple: the A-List guests he attracts, Richards said. Dakich can thank ESPN for many of those connections. But it’s more than that.

“His personality,” Richards said. “It’s honest. You definitely know where Dan stands on a topic. His show is not just sports. It’s certainly not just stats and performance. It goes much deeper than that.”

As far as the Dakich detractors and the petition, Richards isn’t surprised. The Fan’s parent firm, Emmis Communications Corp., doesn’t pay Dakich to be liked, he said.

“It’s not about being popular,” Richards said. “It’s about being authentic and honest. That’s what draws people to the show. Of course, that’s going to spark disagreements as well.”

But Richards said the feedback he’s gotten on Dakich has been far more positive than negative—even when Dakich lambasted his old IU Coach, Bob Knight, and called him "an incredibly small human being" for not showing up in Bloomington earlier this year for a celebration of the school’s undefeated 1976 men’s basketball team.

The most important proof of Dakich’s support from Emmis officials rests with ad sales.

“Ad sales on his show are strong,” Richards said. “Strong and steadily growing.”


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