An iconic voice of Kansas athletics — and a former broadcaster for the Kansas City Royals — is calling it quits following this college basketball season.
Bob Davis, who has served as the play-by-by broadcaster for the Kansas Jayhawks for 32 seasons, will retire in 2016, KU announced Tuesday. That means Saturday’s Sunflower Showdown at Memorial Stadium will be his final college football broadcast.
“I’ve been really lucky to be the ‘Voice of the Jayhawks’ for 32 years,” Davis said. “It was a dream job for me when it happened.”
Davis, who graduated from Topeka West High School and Washburn University, started at Kansas in the fall of 1984, embarking on a career that would include eight of Kansas’ 14 Final Four appearances and NCAA titles in 1988 and 2008. He also called six bowl games, including Kansas’ Orange Bowl triumph after the 2007 season. His legendary voice was present for nearly every significant moment during the tenures of Larry Brown, Roy Williams and Bill Self.
“Bob Davis is an institution in the state of Kansas,” KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger said, “and we thank him for everything he’s meant to KU. Jayhawk fans here and around the country have grown up listening to Bob and consider him a member of their family. We at KU will always consider Bob part of our family.”
For Kansas City area sports fans, Davis, 71, also left an indelible mark as a long-time broadcaster with the Kansas City Royals. Davis spent 16 years broadcasting Royals game, shepherding fans through the dark years on radio and television. Davis announced his retirement from his Royals duties in February 2013.
Before taking over at Kansas, Davis spent 16 years broadcasting Fort Hays State University sports, including Fort Hays’ first NAIA basketball national championship in 1984. A member of the FHSU Hall of Fame, Davis also called games at Hays High School and Thomas More Prep, in addition to broadcasts of the Wichita Aeros Triple-A baseball team for KWCH-TV.
Davis’ career began in 1968 at KAYS Radio and TV. According to Davis, his duties included everything from “board shift, to a noon TV show, to running the camera for the 6 p.m., newscast, to doing the sports on the 10 p.m., newscast.” Davis also worked for 20 years as a morning sports anchor at KMBZ Radio in Kansas City.
“I had a wonderful first job out in western Kansas at Hays, 16 years there with college and high school sports and a lot of baseball,” Davis said. “Then to come to Lawrence and be able to follow the Jayhawks — bowl games, eight Final Fours and some terrific moments, seeing a team win an Orange Bowl and two national (basketball) championships and three other national championship games.”
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.