Starting on Monday, 101 ESPN will have a new weekday lineup. The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy have forced St. Louis’ sports radio leader to make adjustments including parting ways with one of the most recognized personalities in the market.
Several hosts will change dayparts to help the station move forward but the headline that is certain to generate a lot of attention is the exit of longtime host Bernie Miklasz.
Miklasz has been a fixture in St. Louis sports media for decades. The former St. Louis Post Dispatch columnist joined 101 ESPN in April of 2009. He’s spent most of the past decade patrolling 101’s airwaves, delivering ratings, and earning recognition from industry executives as the #1 Mid-Market Morning Show in BSM’s annual Top 20 each of the past three years.
101 ESPN afternoon host Randy Karraker paid tribute to Miklasz today on his show and said the situation was the result of the economy being shut down. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reached out to Miklasz for comment and he wasn’t ready to discuss the situation but did say that he’s trying to keep things in perspective and stay positive.
With Miklasz gone, 101 ESPN will turn to Randy Karraker to take over the morning drive slot. Karraker will be joined by Miklasz’s former co-host Michelle Smallmon for a new show. The program is expected to air weekdays from 7a-10a CT.
Karraker’s move to mornings creates an opening in afternoons on the station’s top rated program The Fast Lane. Brad Thompson and Chris Rongey will remain with the show and taking over Karraker’s role will be midday host Anthony Stalter. Stalter originally joined 101 as the show’s producer and has since gone on to thrive as a host working alongside the late Chris Duncan and former Blues player Jamie Rivers. He’s also added PT hosting opportunities at the ESPN Radio network.
As Stalter moves into afternoons and away from middays, 101 will add a 1-hour show featuring St. Louis Cardinals broadcaster Dan McLaughlin from 10a-11 CT. They’ll also retool the midday show with Rivers, adding one of its rising stars Brandon ‘BK’ Kiley as the lead host. The midday team will occupy the weekday slot of 11a-2p CT.
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.