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Under The Radar – February 6, 2018

Jason Barrett

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A week on radio row in Minneapolis was the focus for most sports radio broadcasters last week. While everyone was busy chasing down guests, riding roller coasters, braving the elements, and dining at Shake Shack, news was being made throughout the industry. Here are some of the developments you might have missed. As always, please pass along any news tips via email to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me.

Unrelated to this week’s UTR news, I want to applaud the city of Minneapolis for being a great Super Bowl host city. The people were friendly, transportation was readily available, security moved people along smoothly at the airport and the city looked fantastic. This was my third time visiting and I’ve enjoyed each experience.

I wish I could say the same for the NFL which doesn’t undervalues the support it receives from radio partners on radio row. Cramming 100+ stations into a tight space outside of a food court made it extremely difficult for hosts and guests to move around. It was even more noticeable when shows left their tables to grab a bite or use the bathroom during commercial breaks and had to fight crowds to get back on the air in time.

One particular story which was relayed to me involved a wounded warrior needing to get out of his wheelchair (it wouldn’t fit thru the small walking space) and crawl to a guest appearance a few tables away. I also personally witnessed a woman with an infant child in a stroller and young child holding her hand almost get trampled and have the stroller flipped by a mob of people trying to get close to Terrell Owens. I understand the public’s passion to meet players but people shouldn’t be put in a position of danger in the process.

I did like the visuals for stations broadcasting inside the Mall of America. It looked great on TV and social media. The check in process was much smoother and the back and forth jousting between Patriots and Eagles fans added additional entertainment value to the week. A verbal spat between two hosts/stations gave folks additional material to work with.

From a location standpoint, choosing the Mall of America made a ton of sense. What I don’t understand though is why the NFL didn’t work with the largest mall in the country to provide enough space for shows and stations to operate let alone be able to walk, store equipment or even stretch their arms or legs. These stations dedicate dollars, manpower, and hours of programming to selling the NFL’s final game of their season. Hopefully they take that into deeper consideration when planning future Super Bowl weeks.

Now on to the news!

680 The Fan has made a change to its weekday lineup. “The Front Row” which features Steak Shapiro, Brian Finneran and Sandra Golden has moved from middays to mornings. Chris Dimino and Nick Cellini shift from mornings to middays. The new schedule went into affect on Monday.

Congratulations to Dan Bennett, Jeff Catlin, Bruce Gilbert and the entire Cumulus Dallas team on the 24-year anniversary of Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket. The Dallas Morning News ran a few stories highlighting the station’s start and popular moments along the way. To read about the birth of the station click here. For insight on the creation and popularity of the Fake Jerry Jones click here. For a firsthand account of the station’s first 24-hours click here.

Red Zebra Broadcasting in Washington DC has chosen to re-brand ESPN 980. The radio station has dropped ESPN from its name and embraced the new moniker, The Team 980. The station planned to make the change last Wednesday morning but when the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on Tuesday night, on-air plans had to be changed and the station decided to let the cat out of the bag early. For more on the story click here.

WEEI in Boston has announced a renewal of Patriots Monday and Friday with the defending AFC champions. The partnership between Entercom Boston and the New England Patriots began in 1995 and expanded in 2008. It includes weekly appearances during the NFL season by Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and other Patriots players. The deal is said to be a multi-year agreement. For more click here.

Former WWE wrestler Mark Henry, who made a few hosting appearances in Austin, Texas on AM 1300 The Zone, has apparently caught the radio bug. “The World’s Strongest Man” has agreed to join SiriusXM‘s ‘Busted Open’ as a third host alongside David LaGreca and Bully Ray on Tuesdays. The show airs on SiriusXM Rush 93 from 9a-12p ET.

103.7 The Buzz in Little Rock, Arkansas came under fire for running its annual “Babe Bracket” contest. The promotion has been in existence for over two decades and pits 16 female anchors and reporters against each other with the audience determining who advances. A poll which ran afterwards asking local fans if the bracket should be ended produced a 60-40 result in favor of it continuing. To read more click here.

As bankruptcy issues occupy the focus of Cumulus Media, the situation created an opportunity for 670 The Score. The Chicago sports radio station was able to lure away the radio rights to the Chicago Bulls from Cumulus NewsTalk station WLS. The Bulls played their first game on The Score this past Saturday. Chuck Swirsky and Bill Wennington remain on board as the radio broadcast team.

Jim Henderson is riding off into the sunset. The longtime radio voice of the New Orleans Saints has decided it’s time to turn off his microphone and hand the reigns to someone else. Henderson had been part of the Saints broadcast on the team’s flagship station WWL since 1986.

Behind the scenes news worth sharing from Nashville. Congratulations to Chase McCabe of 102.5 The Game who was recently promoted to Assistant Program Director. McCabe has been with the station for six years and will be counted on by PD Ryan Porth to help the station continue growing. Part of his new responsibilities include serving as the Executive Producer of the station’s morning show.

Meanwhile in Cleveland, former Detroit Sports 105.1 host and contributor Jake Chapman has been named executive producer of 92.3 The Fan‘s midday show, ‘Baskin and Phelps’ and the Cleveland Browns radio network. For Chapman it’s an opportunity to return to his home state after stints in Michigan and Florida.

In the Pacific Northwest, the Seattle Mariners have confirmed the addition of Gary Hill Jr. as the team’s new Executive Producer of Mariners broadcasts. Seattle’s games are heard on radio on 710 ESPN Seattle.

AJ Hawk will reunite with Anthony Rothman on 97.1 The Fan in Columbus starting March 5th. “Off-Season with AJ Hawk” will air each Monday from noon to 1pm ET. The show will be part of the station’s schedule until late August. Hawk will also join Rothman and his on-air partner Bobby Carpenter on Football Friday’s during the fall.

Lineup changes were made in Phoenix at 1580 The Fanatic. Shawn Crespin is now teaming in mornings with Michael Bauer. Craig Fouhy is hosting 12p-1p after previously working the 9a-10a shift. Tim and Jake Montemayor and Jeff Dean are no longer part of the M-F lineup. No word on why the station elected to switch things up.

The Pioneer Press in Minneapolis wrote a good piece on broadcasting from radio row during the week of the Super Bowl. To check it out click here.

MLS broadcasting news out of Atlanta. Mike Conti has been named the new play by play voice of the Atlanta United. Jason Longshore returns for his second season as the team’s color analyst. United games air locally on 92.9 The Game.

Townsquare Media’s 92.9 The Ticket has signed on as the new Boston Red Sox affiliate in Bangor, ME. The Sox previously aired their games on The Pulse 620AM WZON which recently underwent a format change.

All the best to Rob Johnson on his new opportunity hosting weekdays from 4p-6p CT on Sports Radio KMIS 1050AM/103.9FM in southeast Missouri. Johnson’s program ‘Making The Play’ was added to the station’s lineup yesterday.

Good news has found its way to Jake Brown‘s doorstep. The CBS Radio digital host and contributor has accepted an opportunity with MLB.com to become an Associate Site Manager. Brown says the new position won’t affect his ability to continue hosting ‘The Jake Brown Show’ for Radio.com or contributing for SNY.

In minor league baseball broadcasting news, Melanie Newman has been hired by the Frisco Rough Riders as their #2 broadcaster. Newman will be counted on to provide human interest and video pieces for the team and FOX Sports Southwest.

Switching to the television world, Michelle Margaux has been named the new in-game reporter for the Tampa Bay Rays. Rays games air in the Tampa market on FOX Sports Sun.

Jeff Wallner has been added to WCPO‘s coverage of the Cincinnati Reds for the 2018 season. Wallner says he’ll contribute more features and analysis this season than nuts and bolts game coverage.

In the Bay Area, Kerry Crowley has signed on as the new San Francisco Giants beat reporter for the Bay Area News Group. Crowley’s written, audio and video work will appear in both the Mercury News and East Bay Times.

And Nashville’s A to Z Sports has announced that Zach Ragan has signed on to cover the Tennessee Titans and Volunteers. Ragan’s first piece for A to Z’s website was published last week.

Sports Radio News

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.

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Streaming Radio

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.

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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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