Recent behavior from the Houston Astros’ front office caused at least one notable baseball fan to stop watching. Disgusted with the Astros actions, New York Yankees radio announcer, Suzyn Waldman told The Boston Globe she has not watched any of the World Series.
In 2018, pitcher Roberto Osuna was suspended 75 games by Major League Baseball for violating the league’s domestic violence policy. Osuna was charged with assault, but the alleged victim refused to testify and the case was never prosecuted. At the time, Osuna was a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, but the Houston Astros chose to ignore backlash and trade for the pitcher.
The Yankees traded for their closer, Aroldis Chapman under similar circumstances a few years ago. But Waldman’s disgust for the Astros is less about the acquisition of Osuna and more about their offensive interactions with female sports reporters following the 2019 ALCS.
“Listen, they did what they did and Osuna did what he did. I understand it. I don’t like it, but I understand it,” Waldman told The Globe regarding the Astros decision to acquire the pitcher.
While the Astros celebrated their ALCS victory, assistant GM Brandon Taubman repeatedly yelled, “Thank God we got Osuna! I’m so f—ing glad we got Osuna!” directing the chant at a group of female sports reporters. One of the reporters was wearing a domestic violence bracelet and previously promoted the phone number for domestic violence hotlines on Twitter. Those tweets which sometimes coincided with Osuna entering a game for the Astros, reportedly generated complaints from Taubman.
When SI’s Stephanie Apstein reported Taubman’s actions, the Astros quickly defended their assistant GM and called her story misleading, irresponsible and fabricated. Days later, the Astros began to backpedal as they apologized and fired Taubman who admitted wrongdoing.
“My brother is a teacher. As he used to say to the kids, when they’d say sorry: ‘You’re not sorry, you’re caught,’ ” Waldman said. “There’s a difference. …They lied about the whole thing.”
“What [the Astros] did was worse than [assistant GM Brandon] Taubman yelling at her, which is vile enough,” Waldman told The Globe of the Astros attempt to discredit a reporter and defend the despicable actions by their now former assistant GM. “They tried to ruin a young woman’s career. How do you come back from that?”
Waldman is a pioneer in the sports broadcast industry, having battled sexism and harassment during her own career. The first ever voice of WFAN and a full-time Yankees broadcaster since 2005, Waldman has received insolent hostility, vile letters and death threats. Even today at the age of 73 and in the midst of a career spanning more than three decades, Waldman is not fully accepted in an industry largely dominated by men.
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.