Stephen A. Smith is fed up with Curt Schilling taking shots at him, and ESPN. The former Pitcher has been speaking out over the past few weeks about the television network’s liberal agenda, and support of racist personalities. One specific commentary Schilling took exception to was Smith’s opinions on RG3’s issues with the Washington Redskins.
After staying silent the past few weeks, Smith had enough. Today he unleashed a verbal tirade against the former pitcher during his radio show on SiriusXM’s “Mad Dog Sports Radio”.
“I can’t stand people who worked for ESPN that depart from ESPN clearly harboring whatever bitterness they harbor and try to throw talent under the bus — like talent has something to do with them being gone,” Smith said. “I have nothing to do with it.”
“Let me speak up on behalf of ESPN when I say this to Curt Schilling: You are gone not because you have conservative views instead of liberal views. Your ass is gone because you did not want to listen,” Smith continued. “ESPN tells me to shut-up, they’re my employer whether I like it or not. If I want to keep my job, I’ve got to shut the hell up.”
“You want to sit here and have a debate about what really went on?” asked Smith. “Name the time and place and I’ll show up, with the permission of ESPN — of course. I guess listening to my boss makes me a bad guy. Well guess what? I’d rather be bad than stupid.”
In response to his previous comments on Griffin, and the Redskins, Smith sought to clear the air.
“What I was lamenting was the treatment of Jay Gruden and how specific he was in dissecting Robert Griffin III, compared to how celebratory he was about Kirk Cousins,” said Smith. “At no time did I imply or state that RGIII wasn’t playing because he is black. That is a lie.”
When asked by the New York Daily News if his comments were aimed towards all personalities who have departed ESPN and continued to take shots, Smith was very specific in who they were meant for.
“My comments were strictly about Schilling,” Smith said via email. “No one else.”
It’s highly unlikely that ESPN would sanction a faceoff between one of their top stars, and one of their most outspoken former employees. But if they ever wanted to generate a must-watch television program, this one has all the ingredients media companies look for. Just don’t expect Schilling to be a First Take candidate anytime soon.
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.