Galaxy Communications is finalizing an agreement to sell a 21 percent ownership stake in the company. The interested buyer is a group which includes Syracuse University basketball coach Jim Boeheim, former Syracuse and Washington Wizards player Etan Thomas, and sports memorabilia expert Brandon Steiner.
The deal is waiting for approval from the Federal Communications Commission. If approved, the investor group would spend 2.1 million dollars to assume partial ownership of the company.
What’s likely to produce some local chatter is how the involvement of Boeheim in the radio group will impact Galaxy’s local stations. Classic rocker TK99 serves as the flagship station of Syracuse football and basketball games, and sports talker, ESPN Radio Syracuse (97.7 FM and 1200 AM), provides regular weekday local programs featuring hosts, guests and callers discussing Syracuse sports.
Galaxy President and CEO Ed Levine told Syracuse.com that he doesn’t see a conflict of interest since the radio station’s agreement is arranged separately with IMG College. Levine said he reached out to Boeheim and other investors about a year ago to help him pay off a loan he took out when he bought out a different group who were looking to cash out after a five-year investment. Finding someone with local ties to Syracuse was important because Levine didn’t want the company’s fate being decided by a private equity firm in New York, and Boeheim was at the top of the list.
Once the deal is completed, Ed and his wife, Pam, Galaxy’s CEO of its growing events marketing division, would retain 79 percent ownership in the Syracuse-based company. That could change slightly if other investors are added to the deal. Under that scenario, the group’s ownership interest would rise to 27 percent and the total investment would increase to $2.7 million.
In addition to owning and operating TK99 and ESPN Radio 97.7/100.1 in Syracuse, Galaxy also runs ESPN 1310 in Utica-Rome, KROCK (94.9 Utica and 100.9 and 106.5 Syracuse), Sunny 102 in Syracuse, and Mix 102.5 and 99.1 Tony FM in Utica-Rome.
Levine says he expects the FCC to grant approval sometime this summer.
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.
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.
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.