With the legendary Marv Albert no longer calling NBA games for TNT, that means there is an opening on the lead NBA broadcast crew for the 2021-22 season. One of the people that would be in line to take that position is Ian Eagle, who has called games at Turner Sports since 2010. He even was a sideline reporter for a game back in 1996.
This week, Eagle was on the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast with Jimmy Traina. Eagle was asked if the open position is one he wants. He admitted that he thinks about it, but isn’t jumping to any conclusions.
“I think the way these jobs work is they don’t come around all that often. When something opens up and you think you might be a good fit, of course it crosses your mind. But, you also recognize there’s other people that feel the same way,” Eagle told Traina. “With Turner, they’re in a really advantageous position. They have a lot of great broadcasters in their stable. How it all plays out, what the pairings look like, I’m not even sure they’re necessarily going to say this is our A crew, this is our B crew. My goal is to continue and keep working for them and do big NBA games when those are available to me.”
Of course, Eagle is known for being the play-by-play voice for the Brooklyn Nets and calling NFL games for CBS as the voice of the number two crew. If the lead TNT gig were to come up, Eagle looks at balancing all of those jobs as a “jigsaw puzzle”.
“How do you get the pieces to fit together especially when you are juggling a number of balls in the air? For me, I’ve been incredibly fortunate that I’ve had all these opportunities, but I’ve also been able to maintain them because I figure out how to make it work scheduling-wise and I don’t make it a problem for any of those companies. I try to make myself available.”
Eagle has always been grateful for the bosses that he has worked with that have allowed him to do so many things. He cited Michael McCarthy, the then President of MSG Network, being open to Eagle taking a week away from the Nets to call the NCAA Tournament in 1998 on CBS.
McCarthy gave him the green light. In fact, it was due to CBS having most of their announcers at the Winter Olympics and NBA All-Star weekend that Eagle was able to call a college basketball game in February of that year, which led to the opportunity.
“Relationships are really important and fostering them and maintaining them and not taking them for granted. I think for me on a personal level, that’s been a big part of success. It’s not ass kissing. It’s actually finding a commonality and a common bond and doing the work that’s required to maintain the relationship. Staying in touch and checking in and finding where that fine line is of feedback and input and developing a back-and-forth.
“I can’t tell you how many times in the course of my career somebody that was in a position to make a decision that would affect my life fortunately made the decision that benefitted me based on the fact that they trusted me or they believed in me or I had built enough equity in the relationship for them to believe in me. It does take an understanding boss somewhere along the line to see the big picture. Sometimes you do get a boss that doesn’t see it that way and you have to accept that too.”
The old saying in the sports media business is it’s not what you know, but who you know. Due to Eagle being able to maintain those relationships, he has been able to be a part of so many great sporting events.
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.