[Inside Radio]

Sports radio spiked the ratings ball in the end zone in September. The format posted its best September results since the beginning of PPM measurement across the three broad demos of 6+, 18-34 and 25-54. Sports captured a 4.7 share among listeners aged 6+, a 3.7 in the 18-34 demo and a 5.3 among 25-54 year-olds, new data from Nielsen shows.

September, of course, is primetime for sports radio as NFL and college football return and baseball winds down. But this year’s 4.7 share in 6+ is up from September 2015’s 4.6, while the 5.3 in 25-54 eclipses last September’s 5.1 share.

While impressive, the numbers fall short of sports radio’s all-time highest PPM share ever recorded in any month. The 6.0 share in the 25-54 demo first set in October and November of 2014, and repeated again last October, was the highest of any month for the format. That has all eyes on the October 2016 survey to see if sports can repeat – or beat – the record.

Sports isn’t the only format to reap a seasonal increase in the fall. News/talk also gets a lift this time of year, especially during an unprecedented presidential election that seems to bring a new storyline to the news cycle every day. So it’s surprising that news/talk’s ratings dipped slightly in September, after rising to historic levels in recent months. Among listeners age 6 and older, news/talk fell from 9.6 in August to 9.3 in September. However Nielsen’s September PPM survey actually measures more of August than September – the survey extended through Sept. 7 – and therefore didn’t include the first Presidential debate, which drew 84 million TV viewers. “News/Talk is still well ahead of its pace last year,” Nielsen says in a new report. “And when the October results are out, we’ll finally get to see the impact of the debate on audience tune-in.”

While post-election analysis and discussion will continue to fuel the format’s content engine, news/talk experts say now’s the time to be thinking about what’s next after the drama of the election subsides. “Yes, it’s election year and it’s going to be all about politics,” Justin Chase, Beasley Media Group’s VP of Programming, told Inside Radio earlier this year. “But after this election, all bets are off.”