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ESPN’s Al Jaffe To Retire

Jason Barrett

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Dubbed “The Kingmaker” by then-SportsCenter anchor Rich Eisen in 1996, Al Jaffe earned the royal moniker through his 28-year ESPN career. Jaffe, whose real title is Vice President, Talent Negotiation and Production Recruitment, retires Friday following a career where he hired and negotiated contracts with scores of ESPN broadcasters.

Linda Cohn, Rece Davis, Neil Everett, Mike Greenberg, Suzy Kolber, Kenny Mayne, Karl Ravech, Robin Roberts, Stuart Scott, Mike Tirico, Trey Wingo and Stan Verrett are among the many that Al hired at ESPN.

When he joined SportsCenter in 1987, he also hired production assistants, the gateway position to the ESPN production department. The  “Jaffe Quiz” which tested the sports knowledge and instilled fear into applicants, included everything from knowing who won the Vezina Trophy to naming the backup catcher of the Kansas City Royals.

Hundreds of people working today in sports television passed the quiz and launched their careers as ESPN PAs, including several current ESPN leaders from Senior Vice President, Production and Remote Events Mark Gross to Senior Vice President, Production College Events Stephanie Druley.

Al says the best part of his job has been identifying and recruiting new talent, particularly taking chances that later paid dividends.

“It’s been gratifying seeing people do well and get rewarded for talent and hard work,” he says.

His 15 minutes of fame began in 2004 when his talent scout skills and quick wit were put to use on-air as the Simon Cowell-like judge for Dream Job, an ESPN show designed to uncover new on-air talent.

The three seasons of Dream Job even led to a live stage show version at ESPN the Weekend at Walt Disney World, with Al the featured judge who, in the spirit of the happiest place on earth, heaped praise on the contestants.

He also got to play himself in a “This is SportsCenter” spot featuring agent Scott Boras (see below) and anchor Scott Van Pelt.

Out of the thousands of resumes he received, his favorite was sent to him inside a plastic wiffle ball bat.

He also remembers one very aggressive candidate who followed him into a men’s room at a conference to hand him a tape and a resume.

Neither approach landed the people jobs. It seems the Kingmaker preferred traditional qualities like smarts and experience.

Credit to ESPN Front Row where this story 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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