It seemed as if things had cooled at Grand Slam Sports, which owns two St. Louis radio signals and last year was the epicenter of controversy, a revolt by some against management, racial tension and bad blood between some people working there.
The situation become so volatile that fisticuffs broke out in the studios last summer between broadcaster Brian McKenna and company executive Dan Marshall.
Marshall ended up in a hospital, McKenna in jail. Charges were not filed but a civil suit looms.
Since then, the operation has been significantly scaled back and now operates in comparative obscurity, but sources say certainly not with harmony.
KFNS (590 AM) broadcast in the sports format for two decades before Marshall converted it to a “guy-talk” format in 2013. But that failed after a year and the station has been off the air since November because of unpaid bills and huge debt. KXFN (1380 AM), Grand Slam’s other station, has been broadcasting in the “extreme radio” format.
But multiple sources said there’s a lot of maneuvering going on behind the scenes to try to get 1380 to carry an internet talk-show site that carries a lot of sports chat. That plan would bring controversial longtime St. Louis sports-radio host Kevin Slaten back to the local airwaves.
The story goes that the station would pick up fare being carried on the talkstl.com website — including the afternoon drive-time show hosted by rabble-rousing Slaten, who has been off radio since KFNS shut down. It would be a twist — a website being simulcast on the air instead of the other way around.
However, the sources said disagreement among Grand Slam’s owners has thwarted the plan because the company is trying to sell the stations. One ownership camp, which includes Marshall, is gung-ho on the simulcasting idea but the other is strongly opposed, thinking that move would disrupt the sales process to someone who would have the resources to clean up things.
Mike Calvin, who used to be Grand Slam’s operations manager, recently resigned that position. But he is working for the company as an independent contractor and his primary responsibility is to try to sell its stations.
He did not want to comment about the ongoing situation but he recently sent a memo to some staffers, and the Post-Dispatch obtained a copy of that note.
“There are major forces at work to lease the station out to Talk STL and Dan Marshall as a sports station in another one of his foolish attempts to ruin another radio station,” the note said, adding that Calvin is not being paid but wants to see good things happen for the remaining employees.
“I work for you, us and the right thing. … I consider you all friends and family,” the memo also said. “I will not allow some people and some of our investors to sabotage 1380. They have started a face book [sic], rumor mill campaign already on the streets that 1380 is being flipped to sports which will make sales even more difficult. If something was to happen REST ASSURE I would call you all or have a meeting immediately. I would not leave you in the wind.”
Marshall could not be reached for comment.
Calvin’s memo also says radio “can be (doesn’t need to be) but can be an ugly business and with some of the players against us it is a daily dog fight and I’m a mean dog!”
Credit to STL Today who originally published this article
16.9% of All Sports Radio Listeners Are Streaming
The news comes as Nielsen reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.
According to Nielsen, sports radio stations are the third-most streamed spoken word format, just behind Talk/Personality and News/Talk/Info. The trend is continuing to show that streaming is on the uptick.
The survey found that in May 2022, 16.9% of sports talk radio’s audience tunes in via the station’s online stream. That news comes as Nielson reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.
Nielsen notes that in the 45 PPM markets they are grabbing data from and the 4,800+ stations that stream in those markets, just 30% of them are encoded. That encoding allows for Nielsen to accurately measure the streams. They used the listener data from 1,500 stations across the U.S., in their latest report, AM/FM Radio Streaming Growth in PPM Markets.
The survey also showed that streaming levels differ widely by radio format. Spoken word formats display strong streaming listenership (Talk/Personality: 31.2%, News/Talk/Info: 19.1%, All Sports: 16.9%). In fact, Nielsen found that 1/3 of all AM/FM streaming in PPM markets is to spoken word formats.
New Study Finds Listeners to MLB on Radio Are Willing to Spend
More than one third (34%) of the respondents recently purchased clothing/apparel that features their favorite team… 27% have visited a ballpark in the past year. That compares to only 19% of the average MLB fan base has made an apparel purchase to support their team while just 11% have gone to a game in person in that same time span.
When it comes to advertiser’s attempting to reach an affluent and engaged audience, sports talk radio might have a whale on their hands. Major League Baseball play-by-play features an audience that has money and has no problems spending it.
In a recent MRI-Simmons study, data shows that consumers who listen to MLB broadcasts on the radio are the perfect audience for sports marketers. According to the analysis, done by Katz Radio Group, nearly two thirds (62%) of those surveyed consider themselves “super fans” of baseball. That number is 58% higher than the average.
Those “super fans” are willing to spend to support their team, as well. More than one third (34%) of the respondents recently purchased clothing/apparel that features their favorite team. Those fans are also far more willing to make the trip to see their team. The study found that 27% have visited a ballpark in the past year. That compares to only 19% of the average MLB fan base has made an apparel purchase to support their team while just 11% have gone to a game in person in that same time span.
The news continues getting better for advertisers. Continued analysis reveals that 66% of listeners are currently employed and have a median household income greater than $106,000.
Listeners to MLB games on the radio are also 34% more likely to place a sports bet and 106% more likely to be a participant in fantasy baseball.
Jeff Dean Signs Off At ESPN Tucson for The Final Time
Dean said on Facebook: “…the years of burning the candle at both ends has taken a dire toll on my health and for the first time in my life, I’m going to put myself and my livelihood first”
Fans will no longer be able to tune into ESPN Tucson and hear Jeff Dean hosting his show. Friday morning was his last show, according to his Facebook and Twitter pages.
The Jeff Dean Show had been airing from 7-9a MT weekday mornings. Dean took to social media to relay the news and the reason behind him stepping away from the microphone. Dean said on Facebook:
“This morning I signed off from my radio show on ESPN Tucson for the final time. I have been devoting too much of my life and my time to working multiple jobs…the years of burning the candle at both ends has taken a dire toll on my health and for the first time in my life, I’m going to put myself and my livelihood first”
Dean went on to emphasize that he isn’t stepping away from ESPN Tucson, he’s just taking himself off the air. He also added that “gladly, I will be continuing my position as PA announcer of University of Arizona Football and Men’s basketball.”
Dean would also go onto Twitter to add even further context for his self-removal from the ESPN Tucson airwaves. He added, “It’s not a decision I arrived at hastily, as it’s been a 6 month mental grind to make the ultimate decision that had to be made, and I’m not particularly happy about it, but I have to put my health first, we all do, and make sure we’re around long enough to enjoy life”.
Dean had been ESPN Tucson’s morning host since November 2019.