Holy Toledo! Bill King has been called to Cooperstown.
One of the most prominent sports announcers in Bay Area sports history has been named the winner of the 2017 Ford C. Frick Award after finishing as a finalist for the honor seven times. King passed away in 2005, after spending more than four decades calling the action for many of the Bay Area’s sports teams.
During his career, King served as the voice of the Oakland Athletics for 25 years, the longest tenure of any A’s announcer since the team’s games were first broadcast in Philadelphia in 1938. He was the club’s radio announcer from 1981 to 2005, and called the team’s World Series victory over their crosstown rivals, the San Francisco Giants in 1989, Rickey Henderson’s record-breaking stolen base in 1991, and Scott Hatteberg’s pinch-hit walk-off homerun in 2002, which helped the A’s extend their league-record winning streak to 20 games.
Ironically, it was the Giants who gave King his Bay Area play by play start. He was part of their original broadcasting team, working alongside Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons.
After working for the Giants, King joined the Golden State Warriors as their play by play announcer when the franchise moved to San Francisco in 1962. He announced Warrior games until 1983, including the team’s first NBA Championship on the West Coast in 1974-1975.
If holding two high profile jobs for over two decades wasn’t enough, King also had a historic run as the voice of the Oakland Raiders. He became the team’s play by play voice in 1966, working for the franchise through the 1992 season. He even commuted to Los Angeles from 1982-1984 when the Raiders relocated to Southern California. During his time working for Al Davis, he called all three Raiders Super Bowl victories.
King’s stepdaughter, Kathleen Lowenthal told the San Francisco Chronicle that she got the call Wednesday morning from Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson.
“When he called, I was like a little kid, and crying,” she said. “I had no idea I’d cry. Then Ken Korach called me, and he was crying. I just wish Bill were here. He never thought this would happen. He didn’t seek it. That was never a motivation. It’s his time, and I’m thrilled.”
King was behind the microphone to call the famous Oakland Raiders “Holy Roller” touchdown against San Diego in 1978. It’s one of the most memorable play by play calls in sports history.
One person who’s been a strong advocate for King’s entry into Cooperstown has been current A’s radio play by play announcer Ken Korach. His 2013 book Holy Toledo – Lessons from Bill King: Renaissance Man of the Mic drew additional attention to King’s stellar work, and earned high praise from other members of the sports media.
When Korach learned that King had finally earned the call to the Hall he said “It’s just incredible. A lot of tears, to be honest with you. It’s so heartwarming. I’ve heard from broadcasters, writers. It’s really emotional. This is going to be such a wonderful celebration for A’s fans and that’s the definition of a Hall of Famer — someone who had that kind of impact on so many people. Bill King was a one-in-a-million person.”
Current Raiders play by play announcer Greg Papa, who has served as the voice of the Silver and Black for the past 21 seasons, has said of King, “He is without a doubt the best radio play-by-play announcer in all of sports. His energy, preparation, his thoroughness, his word choice—he is without peer.”
The Baseball Hall of Fame issued a press release on King’s pending honor, adding, “Bill King’s enthusiasm for every game he called carried through the airwaves and into the hearts of fans throughout Northern California for 25 incredible years with the Oakland Athletics. From his distinctive word choices in describing the action to his unabashed love of Oakland and the Bay Area, King crafted a career that became synonymous with the action at the Oakland Coliseum and throughout the sports world.”
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.