The Redskins and Red Zebra broadcasting — the Daniel Snyder-controlled network of local radio stations — will have a closer business relationship under a new management structure created this month, according to the team.
Red Zebra CEO Rick Carmean left the company and will not be replaced, while Redskins Executive Vice President Terry Bateman, the chairman of Red Zebra, will take a more active role in running the stations.
Carmean told employees at ESPN 980, the team’s flagship station, about his departure early last week. Bateman then addressed employees on Friday, explaining the justification for the move.
“The message is we’re trying to create a better business; that’s all there is to it,” Bateman said in an interview in his Redskins Park office Tuesday afternoon. “We’re not changing the content of the radio station.”
A station employee asked Bateman last week if the team will exert more control over ESPN 980’s content; listeners and employees of rival station 106.7 The Fan have asked the same question on social media. Bateman said Tuesday there would “absolutely not” be increased control of the station’s content.
“The team is not really any more closely involved than it was before,” he said Tuesday. “Everybody knows what the ownership structure of the team and the station was before; it’s exactly the same now. There’s not any difference. So the only thing we’re doing really is working closer on the business relationship. …
“If the Redskins stink it up on Sunday, then it’s your job to tell the truth about what’s going on, right?” he said he told the station’s employees. “You’ve got to talk about it, because otherwise you’ve got zero credibility. If you take it to a personal level and start assaulting somebody’s character, I don’t care if you’re a radio talk-show host or a software executive or anybody else; that’s inappropriate. It’s just human decency. So keep the line there.”
Bateman said the “big driver” of the radio stations is Redskins game broadcasts and surrounding programming, and that it makes sound business sense for the business staffs to work together. Red Zebra will be able to sell Redskins assets — like television commercials and FedEx Field signage — while Redskins staffers will be able to sell radio time. They will also share sales information, and work together to take care of clients.
“We’re going to really create synergy between the two groups and work closer together,” he said. “We’ll be able to just create a more comprehensive marketing package for our clients, make it easier for them to buy the whole thing, and just create a better business environment, better client service. And honestly, hopefully it will mean more revenue for the organization.”
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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.