In the most recent episode of Kirk Minihane’s podcast, Enough About Me, the former WEEI morning personality spoke with current afternoon host, Christian Fauria taking the audience behind the scenes in their relationship.
Today the two consider each other friends and it sounded that way during their 75 minute conversation, but Minihane and Fauria’s relationship has been rocky since meeting in 2014, including physical altercations and on-air blowups.
June 26th, 2015, their most public altercation occurred during WEEI’s morning show, Dennis and Callahan which Minihane co-hosted at the time. While Fauria was in-studio with his co-hosts, Lou Merloni and Glenn Ordway for a crossover segment, Kirk told the former NFL tight-end, he was only on-air because of his football career. The discussion escalated into a heated and uncomfortable argument, leading to Minihane being suspended for one show. While rehashing the argument on the podcast, both admitted they sounded crazy, Fauria added he hates listening back to the audio, calling it an embarrassing out of body experience.
Their personalities didn’t mesh well at the start, with Fauria being used to a locker-room mentality of teammates working together and Minihane preferring to test people’s limits. The public ribbing caught Fauria off guard, while Minihane viewed the slander as entertaining radio that benefited both shows. A radio war within a station can be controversial, but it can also push the audience to want to hear reaction from the hosts involved.
A year later, Paul Chartier the producer of Ordway, Merloni and Fauria (midday show at the time) provided Minihane with audio of the trio discussing wanting to be on afternoon drive. The morning show, now Kirk and Callahan, played the audio on-air leading to the next installment of Fauria vs Minihane.
After Kirk’s show ended, rather than walking directly out of the studio, Minihane “snickered” as Fauria walked in. “Next thing I know I am up against the wall,” recalled Minihane.
Others quickly intervened, but not before Minihane said something he categorized as “really dumb,” without sharing what that was.
“My goal was to get in your face as much as possible so you actually gave me an excuse to put my hands on you, so if you would have touched me at all, if you would have grabbed my arm, then you were gonna end up going to the ground,” Fauria said on the podcast while looking back on the incident.
As cooler heads prevailed, Fauria apologized to Minihane the same day of the incident, admitting he overreacted. Minihane apologized for what he said, still not letting us in on what it was, only agreeing with Fauria that it was a cheap shot.
Feeling better about the situation, Fauria went to host his show, believing they moved on from the near fight. While Fauria was on-air, Minihane went to HR, which he admits now was an unfair move, but Kirk still believes nothing in radio should ever get physical. “It’s radio, here’s your weapon in radio…you’re bigger than me, you’re stronger than me, you can beat me up, your weapon [in radio] is your brain and your microphone.”
As Fauria and Minihane began to learn each other’s limits, their relationship developed. The former NFL tight-end realized hosts willing to call each other out can be a good thing. It keeps hosts on their toes and creative, providing ammunition, discussion and debate, Fauria explained while admitting WEEI doesn’t have a radio war dynamic right now.
Minihane was permanently removed from the WEEI morning show last fall after his second leave of absence for mental health reasons. Still an employee of Entercom, plans were announced for Minihane to host a daily show on Radio.com, but nearly five months later its yet to launch.
“You need to be on the air,” Fauria told Minihane during the podcast, adding “I think there is a side of you that knows eventually the opportunity to come back will arrive”
“I don’t think so,” Minihane responded, “I don’t want to do it.”
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.