It’s been more than half a year since the Radio Rumble took place at KFNS, when a long series of frustrations — including missed payrolls — bubbled over at 590 AM, with fists flying and just-dismissed host Brian McKenna being arrested for assaulting his former boss, Dan Marshall.
McKenna was not charged and has been off the air since then. But he’s set to return on Jan. 5, one day short of seven months from the date of the incident.
He’ll team with STLtoday.com sports columnist Jeff Gordon at WQQX (1490 AM), which fairly quietly has been in the sports-talk format since last year.
They’ll man the 7-9 a.m. weekday slot, leading into the 9-11 a.m. program with Howard Balzer and Charlie “Tuna” Edwards — the only local show currently airing on the station that primarily carries Fox Sports Radio national shows.
McKenna and Gordon will buy their own airtime, as has become increasingly common in many sports-talk positions, and Mc-Kenna said he has retained many of his sponsors from KFNS.
“That was the key” to coming back, McKenna said. “Luckily I have some loyal advertisers.”
He knew it wouldn’t be easy to get back on the air.
“I was looking outside of radio,’’ he said. “There aren’t a lot of jobs out there, especially ones that pay anything. If the right opportunity presented itself, I was willing to get out of radio.”
But as he has said before, “radio can be a drug.”
And he’s ready for his next fix.
“I can’t imagine how fun it would have been Wednesday morning to have been on the air talking about the Blues’ comeback against the Kings,’’ he said. “And I want to have a voice in St. Louis for charities, and this will allow me to do that.”
McKenna has been in the St. Louis sports broadcasting business for more than two decades, and although he sometimes has worked in the “guy-talk” format he said the new program will provide what his listeners are accustomed to hearing.
“The show will be what it has always been — sports, entertainment and the naked truth,” he said on a Facebook post. “Bar stool talk if you will. We will cover the Rams, Cards, SLU and of course the Blues.”
There is only one other local morning drive-time sports radio program in the morning, “The Morning After” on WGNU (920 AM) — WXOS (101.1 FM) airs ESPN Radio’s national “Mike and Mike” show. And Gordon said he and McKenna will try to be different from the 920 show, which features Tim McKernan, Jim Hayes and Doug Vaughn.
“They do a good job of what they do, you can’t try to do what they do because they’re awesome at it,” Gordon said. “We have to create our own emphasis.”
And Blues coverage will get a heavy emphasis from McKenna and Gordon, who have worked together before.
“There’s going to be a ton of focus on the Blues going into the spring,” Gordon said. “Brian and I both really love hockey.”
Balzer, who has been at the station for nearly 14 months and has had its only local show since Jack Clark left last spring, is glad that he’ll be having some company.
“I feel like a lone wolf a little bit,” he said. “I’ve been trying to encourage people to come over. I think it’s a good step getting another good show, we’ll have a pretty solid four-hour block in the morning. I’m certainly enthused about having those guys as a lead-in to my show.”
McKenna said he and Balzer have been given the opportunity by management to try to make a go of the station and envision more local programming eventually being added to the station, which is part of the Insane Broadcasting group.
“Our plan is to try to continue to expand, to encourage other people to come be part of the programming and build up something good,” Balzer said. “Both Brian and I are hoping this will open some eyes.”
McKenna said that at least for a while the station might re-air the morning shows in the afternoon and that Dan Patrick’s national show also probably will be in the mix rather than a low-level local show.
“Even an average national radio show beats a bad local one every single time,’’ McKenna said. “Just because somebody has money (to buy airtime), that doesn’t mean they will get a show.”
Meanwhile, McKenna is realistic about his return to the airwaves.
“Radio isn’t going to define me, and after three to six months this doesn’t work out I can go on to do something else and (the station) will go on,’’ he said. “But we have the opportunity to make something of this.
“It will be built slowly,’’ he said of the station, then lobbed a shot at KFNS — which now is off the air.
“I know the electric bill always will be paid’’ at 1490, he said.
Credit to STL Today where this was originally published
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.