This past May, as the St. Louis Blues played in their first Stanley Cup Final since 1970, their radio broadcast made a change. Radio play-by-play voice Chris Kerber made the unprecedented decision to invite the team’s TV announcer John Kelly into the booth.
Because of the gesture, Kerber was honored at the Musial Awards, given by the St. Louis Sports Commission and National Sportsmanship Foundation to figures in athletics “who embody class and character.” The Musial Awards were presented this past Saturday night at Stifel Theatre in St. Louis, hosted by KSDK news anchor Mike Bush.
Before the Finals last season, Blues TV announcer, John Kelly had not called a game since the first round of the NHL playoffs. With NBC owning exclusive TV coverage of the Stanley Cup, the Fox Sports Midwest broadcaster expected to watch the Finals as a fan. Radio announcer Chris Kerber had another idea.
“I knew what it would mean to John and his family,” Kerber told Dan Caesar of The St. Louis Post Dispatch “I had never called a Stanley Cup Final game, and it was my 19th year in the league. John had never called a Stanley Cup Final game, and he’d been in the league even longer.”
Serving as an announcer for the Blues runs in the Kelly family, with current play-by-play voice, John having worked on their broadcast from 1989 – 92 and again starting in 2005. John’s younger brother, Dan P. Kelly was the Blues announcer from 1997 – 2000 and their father, Dan Kelly began as a broadcaster early in the team’s existence, having called their first trip to the Stanley Cup in 1970. Thanks to Kerber’s thoughtfulness, John Kelly was able to call the second period of each 2019 Stanley Cup game.
“To me it was just the right thing,” Kerber added. “You look back on it and it makes you even happier that you did it knowing that it meant a lot more to so many more people than you ever would have imagined.”
“Chris did an unprecedented thing in broadcasting,” Kelly told The Post Dispatch. “For him to give up (the microphone), Chris didn’t do it for the recognition.”
Kerber didn’t do it for the recognition, but his gesture certainly earned the honorary award he received Saturday night.
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.