The news has been trickling in over the past few weeks so we have plenty to catch you up on. A reminder, it helps us, and benefits the remainder of industry folks when they’re kept in the loop about news involving yourself or your brand. To have your information included in a future UTR column please pass along any pertinent details via email to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me.
Now on to some of the news you might have missed.
Congratulations to Bob Valvano on signing a new 2-year contract with Union Broadcasting in Louisville and ESPN Radio in Bristol to continue in his current roles as a local and national talk show host and college basketball analyst. Bobby V can be heard on ESPN 680 as well as across the nation on ESPN Radio.
In other positive news related to ESPN Radio, congrats are overdue for Mike Urrunaga and Vince Kates. The two longtime producers have been elevated to supervisor roles. Kates is now overseeing the network’s evening programming and Urrunaga its weekend shows. The moves provide new challenges for both men while also allowing Pete Gianesini and Louise Cornetta to focus more on digital content and podcast development.
Cumulus Media has made an excellent hire to lead its programming efforts at News Radio 106.7 FM in Atlanta. Accomplished sports radio veteran Tom Lee has been brought in to oversee the station’s programming efforts. Lee has worked in Los Angeles, Dallas, Seattle and Philadelphia and was last in charge of The Beast 980 before it was sold and flipped to a different format.
Elsewhere in Atlanta, Former Atlanta Falcon Bob Whitfield has hosted his last show on 1230 The Fan 2 in Atlanta. Station owner David Dickey told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Whitfield’s show with Larry Sachs wasn’t what he was looking for. Whitfield joined the show in late-July. Dickey is trying to find a different role for Whitfield on one of his other Atlanta radio stations.
Thrilled to see SiriusXM add pro wrestler Tommy Dreamer to its roster as a talk show host. Dreamer, who has co-hosted a few wrestling shows with Dave LaGreca on Busted Open Radio, and is most familiar for his work in ECW and WWE, has a strong passion for professional sports. The satellite company is giving him an opportunity to scratch that itch by contributing on a part-time basis to a few different sports channels, in addition to adding his insights on the latest activity inside the squared circle.
102.9/750 The Game in Portland has brought thru a few interesting personalities recently. The radio station has utilized Mark Zinno formerly of 92.9 The Game in Atlanta, Zakariah formerly of 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, Brian Noe of FOX Sports Radio, Seth Harp of Sports Radio 930 in Jacksonville, and Erik Gee formerly of 107.7 The Franchise in Oklahoma City. The radio station is working thru a process to identify future talent for its vacant afternoon slot.
Staying in Portland, best wishes go out to Brian Wheeler, the radio voice of the Portland Trail Blazers. Wheeler has been sidelined with health issues, causing him to miss a number of Blazers games to begin the 2017-2018 campaign. Scott Lynn has stepped in on an interim basis to hold down the fort. Wheeler says he’s focused on getting himself better and is appreciative of everyone’s well wishes and hopes to be back behind the microphone real soon.
It’s not every day that you see a headline that reads “San Antonio Sports Talk Show Host in Twitter feud with singer, Richard Marx” but Mike Taylor of The Ticket 760 found himself in that spot a few weeks ago. Taylor and Marx exchanged words over searching for vegan options and Marx’s wife Daisy Fuentes. To read more click here.
Just when he thought he was out, they pulled him back in. Bob Ramsey is back on the St. Louis radio airwaves on 550 KTRS. Ramsey, who also calls Saint Louis University Billikens Men’s Basketball games, is working a part-time schedule, hosting evening shows with Sports Director Brendan Wiese.
Longtime Missouri basketball radio color commentator Gary Link was relieved of his duties recently by Mizzou Athletics. Link had been a part of the broadcast team since 1996. He also played for the school from 1970-74. The school says it’s working with Mizzou Sports Properties to identify a permanent replacement.
Some contractual news out of Charlotte that you might have missed. Former NFL offensive lineman Frank Garcia has signed a new deal with 102.5/610 The Fan, WFNZ. Garcia has been a mainstay on the radio station since 2007 and presently teams in middays with Kyle Bailey. The deal is said to be a multi-year agreement.
A little further south, 107.5 The Game in Columbia, SC recently promoted Tim Hill to program director. The announcement was made a few weeks ago. In addition to programming the radio station, Hill serves as host of the morning show, The Early Game.
Also on the PD circuit, it’s good to see former FOX Sports 910 program director Neil Larrimore resurface. After being let go by iHeart Phoenix, Larrimore was scooped up by Cumulus Media and named PD of WPRO-AM and WPRV-AM in Providence, RI.
After a stellar run with the San Francisco Chronicle, Kevin Lynch has decided to make radio his full time focus. The Bay Area veteran has signed on to contribute full time to KNBR.com where he’s primarily covering the San Francisco 49ers, along with Warriors and Raiders stories as needed.
Other news out of the Bay Area, Entercom San Francisco recently changed General Managers. Steve DiNardo has left the company and been replaced by Susan Larkin. Prior to joining Entercom, Larkin oversaw operations for COX Communications’ 14 stations in Orlando and Jacksonville. She’s been in the radio industry for nearly 25 years. Entercom San Francisco presently operates local sports radio station 95.7 The Game.
Dave “Deuce” Mason announced a few weeks back that he’s moved on from Good Day Sacramento to increase his role with the Sacramento Kings. Mason serves as Executive Producer of Kings radio broadcasts and has begun creating digital content for the Kings’ website and social platforms.
After more than a decade with Good Karma Broadcasting, Joe Colella has left his position as the evening host and afternoon sports anchor at ESPN West Palm 106.3 FM. Colella started as an intern at ESPN Radio 760 in 2003, and climbed the ladder to becoming a producer and on-air talent. He is said to be leaving the radio industry for an opportunity in content marketing. To read more click here.
Peter Mundo has been hosting/producing an hour-long weekly radio show in conjunction with his Big 12 website, Heartland Sports, and it’s been added by stations in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa and West Virginia. The show is split into four-segments, exactly 42 minutes of content, and is entirely focused on Big 12 football. To learn more click here.
Hosting a sports radio show is a dream come true for many, but being able to do that while also owning the radio station is an opportunity that not everyone has the chance to experience. For Nate Brown though that situation has presented itself in Rapid City, SD. Brown is in the process of purchasing KIMM (1150AM/106.7 FM) and as part of the sale will flip the station to all-sports including moving his evening show into PM drive starting November 6th.
Greg Frank confirmed that he’s been named a host and play by play announcer at WILD 102 in Roseau, MN.
Joe Ostrowski of 670 The Score in Chicago has been retained by VSIN to contribute to its new podcast network. Ostrowski is producing a new podcast titled “Early Odds” which drops each Monday morning.
Australian podcaster and keynote speaker Sean Callanan conducted an interesting conversation recently with Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Tank contributor Mark Cuban. The podcast went in-depth on technology, business, investing, and a number of sports discussions. To hear it click here.
YES Network and ESPN play by play man Ryan Ruocco was profiled recently by Adweek. The article took a look at Ruocco’s rapid rise in the sports media business. To read it, click here.
Previously announced via Twitter, Michelle McMahon has joined NBC Sports Chicago covering the Chicago Blackhawks.
Robbie Hummel has decided to put his basketball career in the rear view mirror and turn his attention to working in sports media. Hummel has signed on with ESPN and the Big Ten Network to serve as a color analyst on college basketball games. He’ll also perform in-studio analyst duties as well.
In case you missed it, after being laid off by ESPN and going silent on social media for a few months, Marc Stein has returned. The longtime NBA insider is now covering the NBA for the New York Times. This season represents the 25th year that Stein has been covering professional basketball.
In the print world, Mike Jones has departed the Washington Post after a seven year stint. Jones has accepted an opportunity covering the NFL for the USA Today.
The Athletic stayed busy adding more help. The latest to join the company is Sarah Goldstein. She’s been added to the site’s NHL platform.
After losing a number of local writers, the Bay Area News Group is working on restocking its roster. The company’s latest addition is Logan Murdock, who has taken over as a multimedia reporter covering the Golden State Warriors.
FanRag Sports recently laid off a number of staffers. Adam Biggers, Bernie Pleskoff, Dave Hogg and John Perroto all confirmed their departures on Twitter. Despite the bad news for those men, FanRag has made a positive addition by striking a deal with Utah Jazz radio voice David Locke to bring his Locked on Podcast Network to their platform.
And Gator Country has added Eric Fawcett this season as a contributor to its coverage of Florida Gators Men’s basketball.
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.