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Under The Radar – July 17, 2017

Jason Barrett

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Is there ever a week where the sports media industry isn’t busy? I keep waiting for one of these periods to emerge where the activity isn’t strong enough to produce a full column yet even on slow weeks, but there’s always something.

Although I’m sure you know the drill by now, I have to be a broken record because new people are also finding the column. If you’d like to have your personal or company news shared with the sports media industry in this article, please pass it along via email to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me.

Now here are this week’s stories.

Many have inquired about the status of the BSM Podcast. After producing 14 episodes, enough to complete a first full season, a short break was necessary. BSM is happy to report that a new episode will be coming out in the next few days. The first installment of Season 2 is a good one. It features an in-depth conversation with Houston and New Orleans sports radio host Josh Innes. To listen to past episodes click here.

The New York Daily News reported something pretty interested this past weekend. According to Bob Raissman, Clay Travis was offered his own show on FOX Sports 1 by former executive Jamie Horowitz. Except there was one condition – Travis could not discuss politics on television, radio or social media. By taking the job Travis would’ve further elevated his profile and made a ton of money but he declined the offer, choosing instead to stay true to his principles. To read the full article click here.

Although Travis may not be adding a heavy presence on FS1‘s airwaves, the network is scouting others who they feel can enhance their on-air programming. According to Michael McCarthy of the Sporting News, FS1 recently brought in “Today” correspondent and anchor Jenna Wolfe for an audition for their upcoming morning show First Things First which features Nick Wright and Cris Carter. The audition reportedly went well, leading the network to open up discussions with Wolfe and her representatives.

Congratulations is in store for Ryan Ruocco. The ESPN and YES Network play by play announcer and former 98.7FM ESPN NY radio host began hosting a podcast for The Players Tribune with New York Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia. The debut episode features a special appearance by Derek Jeter, and it has quickly shot up the iTunes charts. To take a listen click here.

Meanwhile, one of Ruocco’s former on-air partners, Robin Lundberg, is also in the news. The former ESPN Radio and 98.7FM ESPN New York host stepped in this past Saturday for a few hours on the airwaves of WFAN. Rumors have been circulating about Lundberg being on The Fan’s radar to host a lead-in show to Boomer and Carton, but nothing official has been announced just yet.

Another talented radio personality is diving head first into the podcasting space. Former Houston radio host and current NFL Network draft analyst Lance Zierlein has launched his Off The Script podcast. Zierlein teased an upcoming episode featuring himself and former Astros Lance Berkman and Lance McCullers. He also spoke recently to CultureMap about his decision to leave radio. You can read the interview by clicking here.

A role change could be on the horizon for St. Louis sports radio host and executive Tim McKernan. The 590 The Fan KFNS morning man struck a deal last year with station owner Randy Markel to oversee operations as President and CEO, with the idea being to eventually assume ownership once Markel recouped his investment. However, Markel has been more involved than expected. According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Markel has started talks with McKernan about restructuring his deal and eliminating his ownership stake and CEO and President duties.

Checkpoint Radio continues to gain momentum. The esports show which is hosted by Nate Bender, Robbie Landis, Norris Howard and Joe Sloan has added 101 ESPN in St. Louis and 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia as affiliates. For more information on the show click here.

Unfortunate news out of Boston. Christian Arcand announced on social media that he was laid off by Boston Herald Radio. Arcand is however still hosting WEEI Late Night on the Boston sports radio station.

The news is similar in San Francisco for on-air personality Zakariah. The evening and Athletics Pre/Post game host has been let go by 95.7 The Game. To reach him and discuss future opportunities click here.

Surprising news out of Texas. Rod Babers, who had co-hosted The Sports Buffet on Ticket 760 in San Antonio and AM 1300 The Zone in Austin is no longer active on each stations. Babers and Craig Way had formed a strong team in afternoons but Way left in January to join Austin sports station 104.9 The Horn. With Babers gone, The Ticket afternoon show is being hosted by Chris Duel. AM 1300 has begun airing The Doug Gottlieb Show from FOX Sports Radio.

In Salt Lake City, ESPN 700 (KALL-AM) and the University of Utah and its media rights holder Learfield Utes Sports have extended their broadcast agreement through the 2021-2022 season. The radio station has served as the University’s radio partner for an impressive sixty six years.

The University of Alabama has struck a new deal with Townsquare Media Tuscaloosa. The new agreement is a seven year extension for games to continue airing on Tide 102.9, gospel station Praise 93.3, and country stations 95.3 The Bear and Catfish 1230AM and 100.1FM.

Another play by play agreement has been extended in Bloomington, Illinois. Cumulus Media has signed a new five year deal with Illinois State Athletics and Learfield Redbird Sports Properties. The agreement calls for AM 1230 and 93.7 NASH to continue serving as the flagship stations for Redbird football and men’s basketball.

SportsRadio 850 in Norfolk has expanded its morning show from one hour to two starting Monday July 17th. As a result, Nick Bailey gains an extra sixty minutes to inform and entertain local fans.

Former CBS Radio CEO Dan Mason, who contributes as an analyst for the Horse Racing Radio Network, recently wrote a series on how to break into the horse racing industry. Some of the suggestions he passed along can also transfer to the broadcasting business. To read his latest piece, the fourth part of a five part series, click here.

Sticking with horse racing broadcasting news, the New York Racing Association has added a four-time All-Star to their lineup. Former major league catcher Paul Lo Duca has agreed to become part of the “Saratoga Live” crew. The analytical show runs daily during the 40-day meet for two or two-and-a-half hours and is available on the MSG+ network. Lo Duca will work with Greg Wolf, Andy Serling, Maggie Wolfendale, Tom Amoss and Gabby Gaudet. He’s also expected to contribute on select NYRA broadcasts this the fall when racing returns to Belmont Park.

Congratulations to Dov Kramer of WFAN. The radio station’s executive producer recently celebrated his 30-year anniversary with the radio station.

Washington D.C. radio host Nick Ashooh has launched a website which features audio, video and written pieces. To learn more about it click here.

Many in the sports media business remain curious about the long term prospects of The Athletic. The new digital brand which is reliant on subscriptions has been stacking their talent pool by adding established writers. Stewart Mandel, formerly of FOX Sports and Sports Illustrated, previously announced he’d signed on to write for the website. Now this week, San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami has revealed he too would be joining the platform. Seth Davis, formerly of Sports Illustrated, is also expected to write for the site. For more details click here.

According to The Big Lead, after a company sale and losing its biggest sports asset Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo Sports appears to be ready to add new blood to its sports department. TBL says Pete Thamel is leaving Sports Illustrated to join Yahoo. Thamel covered college football for SI and also worked previously for the New York Times.

Also in the print world, Brian Christopherson has announced that he’s leaving the Lincoln Journal Star after 13 years. Ten of those years involved covering Huskers football. Christopher says he will remain involved covering the Huskers except he’ll be doing so now for 247Sports and Scout Media.

Sports Radio News

SURVEY: 16.9% of All Sports Radio Listeners Are Streaming

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 Nielsen reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.

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Streaming Radio

According to Nielsen, All 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 its 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.

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Sports Radio News

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.

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MLB Radio

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.

Radio Listeners to MLB

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.

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Sports Radio News

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”

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Jeff Dean Show

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”

Jeff Dean Facebook

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.

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