On Tuesday, WWL’s verified Twitter account used a homophobic slur in reference to station employee Seth Dunlap. On Wednesday, the sports radio host decided to take the night off from his show.
Dunlap hosts The Last Lap on WWL in New Orleans, Monday – Friday from 8 – 11pm in addition to the Saints pregame show on their radio network. The offensive tweet came just days after the radio host shared that he’s openly gay, in response to Saints quarterback, Drew Brees supporting a group that has historically opposed LGBT rights. The Tweet, sent from an unknown person, was quickly deleted, but not before it was seen, shared and screengrabbed by many.
Dunlap hosted his nighttime show on Tuesday, but chose to skip his Wednesday program. When Dunlap began his Tuesday show, the offensive tweet had yet to become mainstream news. By Wednesday, the tweet was not just an issue within WWL, but a national story. Dunlap explained on Twitter, his decision to miss Wednesday’s radio show.
“Being yourself has never been more important,” Dunlap tweeted. “The hate that has infected our society threatens to tear us apart from the inside out. I’m overwhelmed, but I’m also very proud of who I am and the life I live. I’ll be taking tonight off from the show to reflect and decompress.”
According to The Advocate, WWL afternoon host, Scoot Paisant spoke about the incident at length during his Wednesday show, offering support of both the radio station and Dunlap.
“We have a history of not being afraid to hire openly gay people,” Paisant said, referring to the late David Tyree of WWL. “I don’t know who wrote this. But with technology, we should be able to find out who it is.
“But I think the real bigger question here is: Who are we? Why would anybody see that and go to social media, Facebook, and attack WWL as if we really did that? … To attack us over this is absurd. We have done nothing but embrace the right thing to do.”
Entercom, which owns WWL sent out an internal memo on Wednesday explaining the obvious, the homophobic tweet does not reflect the company’s standards. More importantly, the memo acknowledged that Kevin Cassidy, Entercom New Orleans SVP and Market Manager, spoke to Dunlap directly to express disgust with the tweet and share support for their host. Entercom continues to take all possible steps toward finding who sent the tweet.
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.