Your comments on Stern are arguable, bc he did not compete in a PPM world. However, if Male >40 talk is not a winning methodology, then how do you explain KTCK. It's my understanding that they dominate M25-54 throughout all day parts, with one of the weakest signals in the market, and AM to boot. Also, KTCK scored high in the diary world, but has not only maintained those ratings in a PPM universe, but increased. You sound well versed on the subject, please correct me if I am misinformed.
Nearly all men (and even quite a few women) like sports. Only a minority of people like Stern. The "appeal universe" of Stern and sports is vastly different.
The reason why Stern did well in the diary was long TSL despite a cume that barely got to 10th in the daypart. In the PPM, the appeal of niche formats or shows generally does not increase much, while the TSL is decimated. Thus, it is logical to think that Stern might have fallen out of the top 10 in NY and Miami in the PPM, were he on in this new measurement world.
KTCK puts a 5 mV/m over 6.443 million of the 6.508 million residents of the metro. Add in the reinforcement of the KTDK (FM) and you don't have that bad a facility... for as long as there is some traffic on AM in the market. While The Ticket gets a lower cume than many in the male demo, the listening levels are high because of the basic broad appeal of sports.