ESPN Arkansas’ afternoon host, Derek Ruscin, will not be on the air in the immediate future because of some commentary about a current Arkansas Razorback baseball player, Michael Turner.
Turner, who is the team’s catcher, was responding to a reporter’s questions about the Razorbacks’ struggles on the field. Turner’s responded was that the team is “trying to keep the circle tight and cut out a lot of the outside noise. It’s not always that easy to play here. There’s a lot of people that are fans, some are good fans, some are not good fans. And if you read Twitter after the game, it can get in your mind a little bit. So we’re just trying to keep the circle tight and keep moving forward.”
It was in response to those comments that Ruscin made his: “I’ll say it, and I wouldn’t say this about a young player, Michael Turner, he’s a fifth-year guy from Kent State, he’s a stupid ass, the catcher for the Arkansas Razorbacks,” during Friday’s Ruscin & Zach.
Ruscin wasn’t finished: “First of all, you’re not a Razorback, you’re a rental player and you’ve sucked, so thanks for nothing. Secondly, as a rental player, you do not get to come in here and criticize this fan base, you stupid ass. Not a chance. The question was about what’s wrong with the team, and you used the entire answer to take a swing at this fan base. You’re a disgrace, Michael Turner. You’re a disgrace! You should not get to wear that uniform again. What a loser! You know why they’re losing, because you’re a loser, and you’re the catcher. You’re in charge of this whole thing on the infield. You’re a loser and a disgrace. And you can’t get out of this program soon enough.”
Ruscin’s show airs throughout the state of Arkansas. Also, the cluster of stations is tied strongly to the state’s most populous university as a radio partner.
ESPN Arkansas market manager Tommy Craft released a statement early Friday evening detailing Ruscin’s upcoming absence. His statement read “Derek Ruscin will be taking time away from his afternoon role on ESPN Arkansas stations. His comments during Friday’s show concerning Michael Turner went too far and did not meet our companies’ standard for quality content.”
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.