One of sports radio’s longest tenured duos will continue entertaining listeners as ESPN Los Angeles 710 announced a multiyear contract extension with midday hosts Steve Mason and John Ireland.
The announcement was made the same day that Ireland returned as co-host of his midday show following a three week hiatus. Ireland, who is employed by the Los Angeles Lakers as their television play-by-play voice, was off-air since the Lakers reached an agreement to acquire Anthony Davis. Unable to talk about the trade until it was finalized, Ireland returned to ESPN LA’s airwaves this week after the deal was made official by the NBA on July 6th.
“We could not be more excited about the fact that Steve and John will continue with ESPNLA for years to come,” said Scott McCarthy, vice president and general manager of ESPNLA. “While the two of them are singlehandedly responsible for the lion’s share of my high blood pressure, they are the best in the business. It’s amazing, and incredibly rare, to see a radio duo delivering their highest numbers ever after 25 years together.”
ESPN LA’s longtime midday hosts first teamed up in 1994 on San Diego’s XTRA 690. After five years together, Steve Mason, an Ohio native moved to New York City to join WNEW. Mason and Ireland reunited from 2003 – 07 on KSPN 710 in Los Angeles, and again in 2008 where they’ve remained as ESPN LA’s midday duo.
“It’s a privilege to work at ESPN and it’s an honor to be the OG of sports talk radio in Los Angeles,” Steve Mason said in the press release. “Special thanks to all the program directors that have worked with us. Can’t wait to meet the next one (after the current guy),” Mason joked. Dan Zampillo has been the ESPN LA program director since 2016.
“Mason and I always say that to succeed in life, you need talent, a strong work ethic, and most of all, luck,” added Ireland. “We feel extremely lucky that ESPN is allowing us to continue with the show.”
Mason and Ireland broadcast each weekday from noon – 3pm PT on ESPN LA, usually extending their show about 30 minutes into the 3 o’clock hour, for what’s known as “purgatory,” their crosstalk segment with afternoon host Jorge Sedano.
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.