Chicago’s ESPN 1000 kicked off it’s 20th Fanniversary celebration early this morning at Austin’s in Libertyville. Midday host Carmen DeFalco told Barrett Sports Media that the station is planning to bring back former hosts and iconic Chicago voices for the celebration. “It has been business as usual on air this week. All the best surprises are coming Friday.”
Mike Golic and Trey Wingo kicked off the festivities at 5am in Chicago. The duo was in town to host their nationally syndicated morning show from Austin’s. The rest of the ESPN 1000 lineup will broadcast live as well. DeFalco’s on air partner John “Jurko” Jurkovich will have a reunion, via telephone, with his former Mac, Jurko, and Harry co-hosts Dan McNeil and Harry Teinowitz.
DeFalco was one of the earliest hires at ESPN 1000. “My first shift was just a weekend update shift,” he told BSM via telephone earlier this week. “But I have been on the air here in one form or another for 20 years at this station.”
He gave the answer you would expect most Chicago hosts to give when you ask about the most memorable moment of their broadcasting career. DeFalco says the morning after the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series he didn’t want to walk in with the attitude of “we’ll just turn the mics on and the show will do itself.”
DeFalco “spent most of the night of Game 7 thinking about what the night meant to Cub fans, what the night meant to generations of Cub fans that came and went and missed it.” It was a personal mission for him, as he said he thought about his grandfather in the moments after the final out was recorded. “He lived to 92. A long, wonderful life, and he survived a World War, and getting wounded twice, and he STILL never saw the Cubs win it all.”
Earlier this week, the station’s vice president and general manager Jim Pastor told Robert Feder of the Daily Herald that today’s celebration isn’t about ratings or sales success. It is about what ESPN 1000 has meant to Chicago sports fans for the last two decades.
Most importantly, we know where we stand with Chicago sports fans and our partners. The relationship we have with them can be heard and felt on our air every day.
The station is owned and operated by the Walt Disney Company. It first became a sports station in 1993 known simply by its call letters, WMVP, under the control of Evergreen Broadcasting. The station was sold to Bonneville International in 1997 and briefly flipped to a news/sports hybrid. Disney took over the station and rebranded it as ESPN 1000 with an all sports format on October 12, 2008.
Some of the original hires are still at the station. Those include program director Adam Delevit, who was originally hired as a producer at the station, and afternoon host Marc “Silvy” Silverman.
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.