A five million-dollar sexual harassment lawsuit was filed against CBS Radio, featuring midday host Joe Benigno as a main defendant according to The New York Post.
Lauren Lockwood, a 40-year old sales executive who worked for CBS Radio from 2006 until last summer, claims WFAN was run like a frat house. The suit alleges that Benigno pressured Lockwood to engage in a threesome with him and his wife on numerous occasions, and that her career was derailed when she refused.
The suit says Benigno, who joined WFAN in 1994 as an overnight host prior to moving to middays in 2004, “showed [Lockwood] a nude photo of his wife with a prostitute and propositioned [Lockwood] to join him, his wife and a prostitute in sexual intercourse.”
Benigno is not the only person named in the five million-dollar lawsuit. Lockwood’s boss, Sean Argaman is among the employees who are alleged to have contributed to an atmosphere that was heavily filled with drinking and sexual harassment. Lockwood claims she was an award-winning salesperson who was unfairly suspended and ultimately fired after attempting to break up a brawl at the Conor McGregor/Floyd Mayweather boxing match last August.
The WFAN lineup, which remained stagnant for so long, has undergone many changes in recent months, but Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts remained staples for the station. Each host signed a three-year contract with WFAN to remain in the midday slot last September, but at the age of 65 it will be interesting to see whether or not the longtime Benigno chooses to stay and dispute the allegations or retire and head to Florida as he often discusses.
Benigno, who returns from vacation on Sunday, is scheduled to broadcast from Yankee Stadium as part of the station’s FanFest celebration leading up to the Subway Series Finale. He did not return a voicemail from the New York Post seeking comment on the lawsuit.
A spokesperson for Entercom, which purchased CBS Radio’s stations including WFAN in November, said they will not comment on pending litigation, but did add “we do intend to defend the company vigorously.”
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.