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Under The Radar – April 4, 2018

Jason Barrett

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Welcome back to another week of UTR. Our mission with this column is to catch you up on some of the activity that may have slipped by you in sports media circles while you were busy trying to improve your radio station or show. If you have future news to share please pass a tip along via email to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me. Now, here are the latest developments.

New San Diego sports/talk/rock station 97.3 The Machine debuted March 2nd and in less than a month the brand has come under attack. Dan Sileo has been involved in a series of social media exchanges with Darren Smith and Scott Kaplan of Mighty 1090 and new morning host Kevin Klein earned himself a spot in hot water after posting an image of the Coronado Bridge with the caption “JUMP” and the additional text “to a new morning show.” The problem with that post is that the Coronado Bridge is known for having one of the highest suicide rates of any place in the country and using the word “jump” showed a lack of awareness. The poorly thought out post has resulted in local backlash, Klein’s morning show being delayed, and public comments from San Diego Padres CEO Ron Fowler who has expressed concern over the team being affiliated with station. “We’re going to get through this first home stand, then sit down and evaluate it (the relationship with The Machine),” said Fowler. “We’re going to assess our legal obligations. We just want a good radio partner that’s not offensive to the community.” Deadspin didn’t do the brand any favors either with this scathing review.

Boomer Esiason and Gregg Gionnatti are less than thrilled with Chris “Mad Dog” Russo of SiriusXM‘s “Mad Dog Radio” after the former FAN host took a few jabs at his former station’s lineup during a TV conversation with Mike Francesa on the MLB Network. During an on-air exchange between Russo and Francesa, Mad Dog joked that The Fan would soon have lineup openings. Francesa played along and asked “who’s leaving?” The comments ticked off WFAN‘s morning team, leading Esiason to label the duo as “classless” and point out how the two men are only in the news when they’re talking about their former station. To hear the comments made my both parties and my follow up opinion on the situation click here.

Speaking of WFAN, midday host Evan Roberts has launched a podcast. The new digital offering will allow Roberts to explore topics he doesn’t spend a ton of time on during his radio program with Joe Beningo such as pro wrestling, the baseball hall of fame, fatherhood, TV shows, and more. To hear the debut episode click here.

Congratulations are in order for Damon Bruce. The San Francisco afternoon host on 95.7 The Game recently signed a new three-year contract extension to remain installed as The Game’s homerun hitter in PM drive. Bruce joined the station in March 2014 after spending a decade at KNBR 680/1050.

Seven-time MLB All-Star Matt Holliday has taken the plunge into the broadcasting business. The former Rockie, Cardinal, Athletic and Yankee has joined SiriusXM‘s MLB Network Radio lineup. Future details of Holliday’s on-air involvement will be announced soon.

Following the exit of Ben Heisler, 610 Sports in Kansas City is shuffling the deck behind the scenes. APD and morning producer Steven Spector has moved into afternoons to oversee The Drive with CDot and Fanning. Ryan Witkowski who had been producing The Day Shift with Bink and Lake earns an earlier wakeup call and now starts his day alongside Bob Fescoe, Mike Welch and Josh Klingler. Taking Witkowski’s place in middays is Stephen Serda, who receives an internal promotion but still maintains involvement with Ron Hughley on the evening show.

Bomani Jones is back on the podcasting circuit. The former ESPN Radio afternoon host who remains involved on ESPN television and will soon co-host a daily TV show with Pablo Torre has produced a new episode of his podcast “The Right Time with Bomani Jones.” The plan is for the podcast to be made available bi-weekly. To hear the latest show click here.

Continuing with ESPN related news, former producer turned podcast host, speaker, and author Jason Romano is conducting a webinar on Thursday April 26th to teach people the 5 essential steps to breaking into the broadcasting/media business. For more information on how to sign up click here.

Kaila Burns-Heffner is transferring from ESPN’s Bristol headquarters to the company’s Charlotte location. Burns-Heffner is expected to contribute in event production on the network’s college sports programming.

After departing ESPN a few weeks ago, Jim Trotter has a new home. The talented football reporter has signed on with the NFL Network and NFL.com.

In addition to losing Trotter, ESPN now has a hole at The Undefeated. Talented writer Mike Wise has announced he’s leaving the website. In a post on social media, Wise said his three-plus years with The Undefeated paralleled some of the most chaotic, turbulent times he’s ever been a part of at a media company. Despite the drama, he felt the brand produced good work and a number of genuine friendships were made. Wise’s current plan is to work on a biography of 1964 10K Olympic champion Billy Mills, and hopes to share additional professional news in the near future.

Longtime Dallas sports media columnist Barry Horn is no longer with the Dallas Morning News. He had written about the business since the 1990’s. No word on if the newspaper will replace his position.

Sticking with the subject of sports media writers, after leaving Sports Illustrated for The Athletic, Richard Deitsch has started a new podcast. You can hear it by clicking here. Deitsch’s former teammate Jimmy Traina has taken over the SI Media Podcast. You can hear current and future episodes by clicking here.

In podcast promotional news, ESPN received some positive press from Time. The respected publication listed the network’s 30 for 30 podcast and The Lowe Post podcast with Zach Lowe as two of the best digital audio offerings available. To read the article click here.

St. Louis radio and television personality Angella Sharpe has added a new employer to her resume. The St. Louis Blues in-game arena host has accepted an opportunity with the Tampa Bay Rays to contribute as their in-game host and emcee. Sharpe says the position will not impact her duties with the Blues.

And Matt Lombardo has landed a new opportunity. The former 97.5 The Fanatic host, update anchor and Eagles reporter has joined the Star-Ledger as a reporter working on the New York Giants beat.

Sports Radio News

SURVEY: 16.9% of All Sports Radio Listeners Are Streaming

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 Nielsen reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.

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Streaming Radio

According to Nielsen, All 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 its 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.

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Sports Radio News

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.

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MLB Radio

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.

Radio Listeners to MLB

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.

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Sports Radio News

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”

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Jeff Dean Show

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”

Jeff Dean Facebook

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.

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