In my role here at Sports Media Journal I visit a lot of websites. Among them are sites of sports radio stations. I go to these sites to sample audio streams of content, get bios of hosts, and find information about the station I wouldn’t otherwise obtain from listening to the radio.
In examining these sports radio sites I noticed something peculiar, at least to me. For some reason many stations feel the need to include pictures of scantily clad women on their site.
I understand that the key demographic for sports radio is men, primarily ages 25 to 54. I fall into that demo. And although I like seeing photos of beautiful women with little clothing on like the next guy, what does this have to do with sports? OK, bad question. More to the point of sports radio, how do these pictures translate into getting people to listen to the station?
The only answer I can come up with is that getting people to return to the site will increase its web popularity, resulting in selling more Internet ads at higher prices. But how much does a radio station rely on revenue from its website? Seems to me like it’s not that much.
I decided to take a look at how many sports radio stations employ the use of these bikini beauties on their websites. I examined sports radio websites from the top 30 radio markets in the country. It actually amounted to 28 markets because one of them either did not have a sports radio station (Puerto Rico) or it shared sports radio with a nearby market (Nassau Country, NY).
In those 28 markets there are 42 sports radio stations (many large cities have more than one station) with websites. Of those 42 sites, 23 of them, more than half, contain photos of women in some sort of suggestive clothing. Here is a breakdown of how they are presented:
The most common term used on these websites to promote these women is “Babe”. On these sites you will find “Babes” of “the Day”, “the Week” (check out the sponsor…wise cross promotion?) and “station specific Babes”.
“Girls” is also a popular term to promote these women. We have “Fan Girls“, “Game Day Girls“, “Ball Girls“, “Mud Girls” (middle of the homepage), and, not to be left out of the conversation, “ESPN Girls“.
Some of the more creative names used by some of the sites include “Tailgaters“, a “Q-T“, and a “Sports Kitten“. Others want you to get “Wet on the Net” or “XTRA Wet on the Net“. (I guess the drawback to being “wet” is you have to share the same girls.)
Then there are stations who take a different tact in promoting women on their site. KLAC in Los Angeles decided to promote a certain wife of a soccer star as their “Babe”. Others are not as blatant in their promotion. Check out the menu bar here. While one has no shame at all, putting their “Babes on Demand“. Can they fit anymore here?
Although pleasing to the eye, employing this “Babe” strategy may get more hits for the website, but will not lure more listeners to the station. And that’s these stations bread and butter. Producing a product that sports fans want to hear will.