WFAN continues a year long stretch of being in the news for the wrong reasons. On Monday, Mike Francesa commented on the station’s most recent matter which saw Knicks, Rangers and Madison Square Garden owner, James Dolan ban all employees from Entercom owned radio stations.
Dolan’s decision derives from a rant by Maggie Gray this past summer, where the WFAN host took issue with the billionaire’s song titled “I Should Have Known,” about his friend Harvey Weinstein. Francesa always had a good personal and working relationship with Dolan and the Garden, but the MSG ban includes Mike’s WFAN show. Although not discussed on-air, the door could be open for Garden personnel to join Francesa on one of his Mike’s On App shows that are not broadcast by WFAN.
Francesa took issue with the Garden public relations team and Dolan for implementing the ban, but he also defended the billionaire owner because Mike believes most disparagement of Dolan in the last 15 years has been unfair. Francesa went on to criticize his WFAN Maggie Gray, accusing her of going over the top with her now infamous Dolan rant, in an attempt to draw attention to the show, Carlin, Maggie and Bart.
After discussing Entercom’s current relationship with MSG, Francesa closed the segment by dropping a second bombshell regarding the future of a partnership between WFAN and his oft-criticized app.
“I knew it was going to be uncomfortable, and maybe it was more uncomfortable than I thought,” Mike said about his May return to WFAN. “It’s been successful, we’ve done what we’ve had to do, I think from a business standpoint they’re thrilled, but still, it’s not the most comfortable thing.” Mike furthered the statement by saying he upset the apple card by changing the station’s lineup and promoting his personal app, which Entercom was supposed to buy an ownership stake in.
Mike often promotes his app while on-air at WFAN, attempting to drive listeners to purchase the platform and listen to his shows that are not broadcast by the station. Anytime a caller questioned Francesa for advertising the app while on-air, Mike would reiterate Entercom’s ownership in the app, but apparently that partnership has yet to happen.
“We haven’t even come to a deal yet, which makes me think that maybe the app and the show don’t work together, and maybe that’s something we’re going to have to adjust, one way or the other,” said Francesa. “We’re going to have to wait and see about that, because we still don’t have a deal, so maybe it’s not the right…maybe the app and this show can’t work together. That’s possible. And if it is, we’ll adjust one.”
After James Kratch of NJ.com wrote a story deducting that the above statements could mean the end of the app, Francesa quickly responded to vehemently refute the sentiment.
“And if anything leaves, it will not be the Mike’s On app. So got it?” responded Mike. “Underline it, put a punctuation mark and own it. The Mike’s On app is going nowhere. Nowhere, and FAN has nothing to do with it. And that, in essence, may be the conflict, because to utilize this show to promote the app may be something that doesn’t work as well as I had hoped it did. That’s all…But the app is going nowhere. Because you guys have been wrong about the app from the beginning.”
Mike continued, “I will be with CAA as long as I’m working professionally. You can take that to the bank. They are great people, I love working with them. They’ve put some wonderful people on the app who have done great work. Their technical people have done great work, everyone has been committed to it in front of my guys, who have done a great job with it. The guys I handpicked to put on it and work on it have done a great job. Everybody’s put in a lot of time and effort, and it’s done incredibly well. CAA is thrilled with it, we’re thrilled with it, it’s going nowhere.
“The other part? We’ll see what happens. Now, see if you can figure it now. Now that I’ve took you there, I’ve left the crumbs for you, let’s see if you can put the pieces together without screwing it up.”
While Francesa certainly made a clear threat that he could leave WFAN, the iconic radio host tried that less than a year ago and quickly returned. Maybe Francesa now views his app as a stable home for a daily sports show, but it’s also possible he decided to pile on Entercom while they’re vulnerable, attempting to pressure them into purchasing a stake in the Mike’s On platform.
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.