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Is KFWB Ready For Beast Mode?

Jason Barrett

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Southern California proper probably needs another all-sports radio station like the ozone layer needs another hole.

That said, go fetch an umbrella. The unbearable barometric conditions could get weird again. Cloudy with a chance of more meatball opinions pelting down upon us.

Even if KFWB-AM (980) continues to position itself for a morph into what would be the fourth sports-centric station in these parts starting Sept. 1, that shouldn’t translate that into a situation where the sky is falling. The residual effect of this potential hybrid national lineup from the CBS and NBC sports radio networks is that Jim Rome stands to finally have an L.A. radio base again.

It’s been some 20 months since Rome left his weekday show on the Premier Radio Network, carried locally as part of Fox Sports Radio on KLAC-AM (570), and joined the new CBS Radio lineup. After giving his 9 a.m.-to-noon spot to comedian Jay Mohr, Rome has been virtually unheard since except for those who track him down through online streaming or standing in an updraft of San Diego’s 1090-AM.

Rome had already made CBS Sports Net his weekday afternoon TV home, as well as the monthly Showtime curse-words-and-all program that has been the highlight to date with his career diversion. But circling back to an L.A. listener base that has been with him from the start his career back at XTRA-AM 690 in the 1990s is what a station like KFWB needs to find some relevancy again as it has floundered in a format funk and ownership purgatory for the last several years.

Diane Sutter, the point person in the KFWB Asset Trust set up when CBS had to attempt to sell off the station because of FCC regulations about owning too many media assets in one city, told the KFWB staffers recently that the all-sports format change was coming. The KFWB Twitter account had a post last week about how the “new AM 980 shakes up the #LA #sports scene in September.”

It was also disclosed that KFWB had taken out website domains such as 980TheBeast.com and FeedTheBeast980.com in preparation for its new marketing approach. Think of “The Beast” as putting the “B” into a new KFWB.

It also has ownership of the names 980Fan.com and TheFanLA.com from two years ago.

KFWB, an historic station on the L.A. scene since the 1920s, but one that still seems to struggle with its 5,000-watt signal coming out of East L.A., has already been carrying the NBC Radio Sports shows “Going Deep” with Amani Toomer and Dan Schwartzman in the 7-to-10 p.m. slot as well as “Eric Kuselias Show” from 3-to-5 a.m.

Local sports updates from long-time KFWB voices Bill Seward, Ted Sobel and Bob Harvey, whose jobs are contracted through another company called the Total Traffic & Weather Network, are left wondering if their services will be carried on through the all-sports change.

The station has the groundwork laid by already having claimed the Clippers’ radio rights the last few years and keeping them as an anchor tenant through 2015. Too bad it didn’t also scoop up the Stanley Cup championship Kings, who recently cut a deal with KABC-AM (790) after years of buying time on KTLK-AM (1150).

A wise move by the station would be to partner with KLAA-AM (830) and add the Angels’ and Ducks’ simulcast games, giving it year-around live sports programming. It may not provide a huge boost to the ratings, but from an advertising sales strategy it would makes for a better product when trying to match up against a KLAC or KSPN with its own menu of live games.

Smart, too, would be to cultivate a live, local sports show from 6-to-9 a.m. leading into Rome, in an attempt to draw L.A.-centric listeners.

The bottom line is that KFWB has an opportunity to make some inroads on the local sports landscape with some creative networking. The sky may not be the limit, but there always seems to be ad revenue to be generated in this medium from hair loss, freezing fat, credit card consolidation, child custody lawyers or some sort of male-part dysfunction.

For the rest of this article visit the LA Daily News where it was originally published

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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