Long before Jessica Mendoza became the first woman to work as an MLB game analyst on ESPN, Suzyn Waldman, bringing new meaning to the word “determination,” was setting an example for any young woman with the long-shot dream of becoming a baseball broadcaster.
Running this obstacle course populated by mega egos, back-stabbers, scoundrels, liars, and slobs has always proved to be the ultimate test of gender equity. Waldman proved to be tougher than the rest. Just ask Chris (Mad Dog) Russo, whose ass she nearly kicked many moons ago in the old Yankee Stadium.
Get it? For Waldman, it took a lot more than knowledge, communication skills, love of the game and an unbreakable confidence in her ability to talk baseball as well as anyone else behind a major league microphone.
We are not suggesting Mendoza’s road was easy. Yet, by the time Tuesday night rolled around, when she became the first woman to call a MLB playoff game on ESPN, many of the potholes on her path had already been filled by Waldman and other women pioneers of the sports microphone.
Mendoza’s rapid rise put this all into clear focus. Not only did it bring back memories of Ma Pinstripe’s trip from WFAN to YES, to the old Baseball Network, to her 11 seasons working with John (Pa Pinstripe) Sterling in the Yankees Radio Network booth, but what an incredible, anxiety filled journey that was.
For that alone, Waldman is deserving of the Ford C. Frick Award, which would put her in the broadcast wing of baseball’s Hall of Fame. If being a pioneer isn’t enough we have more evidence to submit.
Along with Sterling, who handles every inning of play-by-play, she created a unique chemistry (yes, it is cockeyed and comical at times), making each and every broadcast entertaining. Her insight on the Yankees is impeccable. No one in this city has covered them on a daily basis longer.
Yes, she has routinely gone over the top with emotion and pom-poms, like when Roger Clemens, from George Steinbrenner’s private box, announced his comeback in 2007. That’s just part of the package.
It’s different. Not a typical Seamhead broadcast.
The flip side, which often gets ignored because of this personality-driven approach, is how caustic her criticism can be. Like after the Yankees were eliminated by the Astros Tuesday night. On YES, Joe Girardi was talking about the effort the Yankees had given all season long, adding there were plenty of banged-up guys sitting in the Bombers clubhouse.
On the radio postgame show, Waldman was not buying Girardi’s line. “We heard a lot about injuries in there (the Yankee clubhouse), but it happens to all these teams,” Waldman said with more than a touch of disgust. “I don’t want to hear it.”
Any chance Yankees fans were feeling the same way?
Chances are (cue Sterling tribute to Johnny Mathis) they were. And it’s likely Waldman went to sleep angry.
See, after all these years, and with those hills climbed a distant memory, Suzyn Waldman still cares.
Jessica Mendoza should thank her.
Credit to the NY Daily News who originally published this article
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.