Matt Jones is off Kentucky Sports Radio for the foreseeable future. The decision comes after a complaint from the Republican Party of Kentucky, accusing Jones of violating regulations by accepting campaign contributions from corporations. The owner, founder and host of Kentucky Sports Radio has been considering a run for senate as a Democratic candidate against Republican Mitch McConnell in 2020.
“Matt Jones must be held accountable immediately for misusing multiple platforms paid for by his corporate sponsors to unlawfully promote his US Senate candidacy,” said RPK Chairman J. McCauley Brown. “RPK’s complaint is an important first step in stopping Jones’ flagrant failure to comply with federal regulations, and we urge the FEC to deliver a swift and strong penalty.”
“The complaint is absolute nonsense and very disappointing from someone as powerful as McConnell,” Jones responded via his KSR blog. “I have said repeatedly in public and in filings with the FEC that I am not yet a candidate and I haven’t used the show to raise money or talk about my Exploratory Committee in any way. Nevertheless Senator McConnell has complained that having me on air is unfair and the man who speaks often about the importance of free speech and the exchange of public ideas has decided to cut off mine.”
In response to the Republican Party complaint, iHeartMedia, which owns KSR’s more than 35 affiliates, asked Jones to take a radio sabbatical.
Jones planned on stepping away from KSR within the next few weeks to make a decision on whether or not he should run against McConnell, but the Republican Party complaint sends the radio host off-air sooner than expected. If Jones chooses not to run, he plans on returning to KSR and extending his partnership with iHeart.
This isn’t the first time politics got in the way of a media gig for Jones. During the summer, Jones was removed from his evening TV show on WLEX, Hey Kentucky! Part of the reason for Jones’ TV dismissal was a book he’s currently writing, Mitch, Please! How Mitch McConnell Sold Out Kentucky (and America too), taking aim at Kentucky’s Senior United States Senator as he bids for his seventh term.
Last week, while the demise of Deadspin was in full force, many KSR listeners reached out to Jones, questioning if he could continue to intersect sports and politics.
“The difference is I still own KSR,” Jones responded while talking about Deadspin “Part of the reason 15 years later we haven’t sold [KSR] is because I don’t want, on that, to have a boss. I want to be able to do what we want to do. It’s the one thing we have where we can do whatever [we want].”
“As soon as you go to your corporate overlords, all of a sudden the entire thing that made that website what it was, they might take it away,” Jones added. One week later, Jones’ radio show was taken away from him.
The situations are different, but Jones being forced to go radio silent one week after he expressed the importance of keeping the brand’s editorial control is interesting timing.
KSR will continue as a syndicated radio show with their regular co-hosts and contributors, less Matt Jones. Ryan Lemond, Drew Franklin and Shannon The Dude are expected to continue KSR for the interim.
As Jones continues to ponder a run for Senate, another media member, former college football coach and ESPN analyst Tommy Tuberville is in the midst of a campaign. Tuberville entered the 2020 Republican primary for the U.S. Senate in Alabama earlier this year.
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.