Closing out a remarkable 30 year run at WFAN, Mike Francesa’s second to last show was a celebration of his industry creating radio career. Five and a half hours, jam packed with 85 surprise guests live from the Paley Center for Media in Manhattan.
Beginning with Jim Nantz, ending with Lawrence Taylor and a full cast of surprises in between, Mike’s second to last WFAN performance was fast paced and unpredictable. Masterfully produced by Brian Monzo, to get 85 celebrities on and off the program in a timely manner was no easy task.
Highlights of the show were hearing Chris Russo and Don Imus back on WFAN. John Calipari was the most entertaining guest of the evening, providing great banter and showcasing a special chemistry between the two.
Near the end of the show, station program director Mark Chernoff informed Mike his studio would be forever named the Mike Francesa studio. A well deserved honorary gesture for the host that not only helped build WFAN, but the entire sports radio landscape.
Lawrence Taylor being the final guest of the show was not necessarily a highlight, but his asking Mike for $100 of stripper money will certainly be infamously memorable.
Three guests that would have been interesting to hear from were Pat Riley, Bill Parcells and Boomer Esiason. Francesa often spoke of his severed relationship with Riley ever since he and Dog criticized Pat’s departure from the New York Knicks. A staple of the program during his time as head coach of the Knicks, Riley was requested by producer Brian Monzo, but the invitation was declined.
During Mike and the Maddog, Coach Parcells and Mike Francesa were very close friends, but they’ve distanced over the years. In a recent New York Post article Mike stated “Wish it was better. Sometimes you can be so close — and we were so close — that a lot of things get in the way,” regarding their relationship.
Francesa and Esiason have not had the warmest relationship, but for the last ten years they’ve both anchored the success of WFAN. A quick passing of the torch moment with Esiason remaining as the station’s most recognizable host would have been an interesting listen.
The full slate of 85 guests is listed below. Jim Nantz, Chris Christie, Bob Costas, Dan Patrick, Linda Cohn, Rich Eisen, Regis Philbin, Chris Russo and Don Imus to name a few of what made for an impressive send off for one of radio’s most important figures. The full show can be heard by clicking here.
Julio – Mike’s Driver
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.