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Will Cain Says He Never Felt He Couldn’t Be Himself At ESPN

“He did also mention some employees at ESPN would agree privately with his viewpoints.”

Ricky Keeler

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On the latest episode of his Wins & Losses podcastOutkick The Coverage’s Clay Travis got the chance to interview former ESPN personality Will Cain as Cain gets set to begin his new role on FOX News this weekend. He will be one of the hosts on Fox & Friends Weekend from 6-10 AM ET. 

Over the course of almost 90 minutes, Travis and Cain dove into Cain’s interesting career path, his time at ESPN, his takes on sports media, the latest news with the Big Ten and PAC-12 postponing football, and much more. 

When Cain talked about his life experiences such as working on a ranch in Montana shortly after college, he discussed with Travis how he felt that life should be a challenge for people. “I think you should be put in uncomfortable situations,” he said.

When the two of them did get into sports, Cain did mention that with the latest postponements of fall football, he does not believe that we know the full effects that kind of a decision can have. 

“I mean in terms of mental health, I mean in terms of the future prospect of these athletes careers. I mean in terms of the ability to have these spaces where we can unify together and have fun. I don’t think we fully know the cost of cancelling college football.”

Cain worked at ESPN beginning in March 2015. Once he got there, he told Travis that it was not hard for him to voice his opinions. He mentioned no one at ESPN ever told him what he could or couldn’t say and that they never made him feel unwanted. 

“I came from politics. I was much more rough and tumble, I was maybe even naive that my point of view would be so out of the ordinary in sports,” Cain said. “If you share a point of view that the guardians of sports media don’t like, you are absolutely at risk of being branded a racist, you are at risk of being branded someone on the wrong side of history and immoral and you really should, in their estimation, have your platform taken away.”

Cain continued saying that a lack of diversity of opinion is not just an ESPN problem.

“I don’t think this is unique to ESPN. Over the last 6 months, this idea that you can only have one point of view has absolutely had rocket boosters on it. It didn’t ever manifest in ‘we don’t want Will on air.’ ESPN supported me, they wanted me. They wanted me to stay at ESPN when my contract was up and we were negotiating. The role of social critics, the role of blogs and critics, and the like-mindedness in media has really forced everything to become monolithically one point of view.”

While Cain’s viewpoints were different than many of his co-workers, he did tell Travis that most of his relationships with his co-workers were good and that the ones he had with people such as Stephen A. Smith, Tim Hasselbeck, Damien Woody, Marcus Spears, and Dan Orlovsky were some he wanted to maintain. He did also mention some employees at ESPN would agree privately with his viewpoints.

“I think that as the points of view have gotten more extreme in the media as a whole, I think more people are gravitating to my position when they seem grounded in reason and rationality. I am a little disappointed sometimes that they feel these ways privately, but don’t say it publicly. Sometimes, it can be even as innocuous as saying Will Cain is good or Will Cain is right can be controversial. I understand, it’s a very rational choice to make to be quiet.”

At the end of the interview, Cain mentioned advice he gave to somebody about the radio industry and how he does not let what other people say about him define him.

“I told them take what you say very seriously, but do not take yourself very seriously. I allowed people to say you are a racist to me on air. I required them to back it up and I sometimes got mad, but I usually got over it pretty quickly. I will let that person come back on my radio show. I know who I am and they don’t get to define it, I define who I am. I don’t hold really big grudges.”

Sports Radio News

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.

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Streaming Radio

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.

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Sports Radio News

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.

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MLB Radio

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.

Radio Listeners to MLB

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.

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Sports Radio News

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”

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Jeff Dean Show

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”

Jeff Dean Facebook

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.

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