The University of New Mexico’s flagship athletic programs – men’s basketball and football – will remain on the Lobos’ longtime flagship station for at least three more years.
On Friday, Pat Frisch, AM operations director for Albuquerque’s Cumulus-owned stations, told theJournal that KKOB (770 AM) has signed a new three-year agreement to keep Learfield Sports Properties as a partner. Learfield, based in Jefferson City, Mo., owns the broadcast rights for UNM men’s and women’s basketball and football games.
“That will keep men’s basketball and football on 770, and women’s basketball on The Sports Animal at 610 AM,” Frisch said. “It’s for the 2015, ’16 and ’17-18 school years.
“We started the negotiations in February. Learfield owns some pretty big teams, so they want radio stations with a lot of wattage. We have 50,000 watts, which is something they really like.”
Frisch has been with the station for 17 years, but said the Lobo football and basketball games have been aired on KKOB “for about 50 years.”
Learfield negotiates with UNM for the Lobo product, then with radio stations to sell the broadcasts. Frisch said Learfield also hires the broadcasters, but he said he assumes the broadcast teams will remain the same this year.
Robert Portnoy does play-by-play for both men’s basketball and football. Hunter Greene was the analyst for basketball and DonTrell Moore for football last year.
“Clearly, there’s a long history with KKOB broadcasting Lobo games,” said UNM athletic director Paul Krebs. “While we’re not involved directly in the negotiation process, I’m very happy to continue to be on 770. It’s a good relationship, and one I hope continues.”
Frisch said part of the appeal for Learfield is having a station that reaches so many areas that directly helps Lobo sports.
“We have the strongest station in (the) Southwest at night, when most games are played, and 770 covers 17 states,” Frisch said. “The biggest sports thing in town is New Mexico Lobo sports. It’s the greatest thing you can have in this market when it comes to sports. And it helps UNM as a recruiting tool, because we reach so many states.”
“I think that’s a very fair statement,” Krebs said. “They have such a large coverage area. And anytime you can get your brand and message out to a large population base, it’s a good thing.”
Joe O’Neill, president of KQTM-FM (101.7 The Team), said he was surprised Learfield didn’t reach out to his station, which is a 24-hour ESPN sports affiliate. The Team has broadcast Lobo baseball the past seven seasons and plans to again next season.
“As New Mexico’s highest-rated sports station, it makes sense that we would be a viable option,” O’Neill said. “But KKOB’s strength of signal and having familiarity (for fans) are factors. However, with the advent of streaming applications and the incredibly high use of smartphones, that strength of signal has never been less important. Quite frankly, we feel Lobos sports – and Lobo fans – would benefit from being on a dedicated sports station, especially one on FM. We’re a 24-hour sports station, and KKOB is a 24-hour news/talk station. It would seem to make sense that a sports listener would be more likely to buy tickets and support the teams.”
SURVEY: 16.9% of All Sports Radio Listeners Are Streaming
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 Nielsen reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.
According to Nielsen, All 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 its 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.