The sports radio world has had a number of developments recently which are worth passing along. I remind you that this column doesn’t work without your input. Whether it’s company news, personal news, a brand success story, a creative idea or something else that you think would be valuable to our readers, if you have an item worth passing along, please send an email to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me. Now here’s the latest information.
Last week Entercom confirmed the rumors of a flip to talk in San Diego. Those who were expecting Energy 97.3 to become a full service FM sports station though were left with only part of their appetite fulfilled. The station has been rebranded as 97.3 The Machine. The lineup includes some sports via San Diego Padres baseball and Dan Sileo in middays. The Machine though is taking a different approach in both drive times, focusing on hot talk and comedy courtesy of The Men’s Room and Kevin Klein Live. Evening and weekend programming will include a mixture of classic rock and comedy bits. With San Diego having just one professional team and two sports stations with established local talent in place, The Machine is hoping a different approach allows it to make a greater impact.
One show which is not part of the new lineup on 97.3 The Machine is The Jim Rome Show. Rome was recently dropped by The Mighty 1090, the San Diego station where he first introduced his unique brand of sports talk. Despite being a mainstay on the station over the past few decades, 1090 said Rome’s numbers had declined and a change was necessary. The decision created a lot of local noise which led 1090’s Market Manager Mike Glickenhaus to make a rare appearance on Scott and BR to address it. To hear the interview click here. Rome’s program has been replaced on 1090 by ESPN Radio‘s Dan Le Batard Show. Le Batard’s program has also been added to ESPN 1000 in Chicago’s evening schedule.
A little further north, Sean Farnham has quietly left the afternoon show at ESPN LA 710 after just two months on the job. The ESPN college hoops analyst and former radio host had been added to the mix in December where he was to join Marcellus Wiley and Eric Davis as part of a revised three man team. Davis though was let go the following month after sexual harassment allegations arose from his time working at the NFL Network. That led to Wiley and Farnham working together as a two-man unit. However, that too was short lived because now Farnham is gone and Travis Rodgers has been added to the mix. Local sources haven’t said much about the change. Farnham hasn’t addressed it directly either.
One place you will be able to hear Farnham going forward is on SiriusXM‘s Pac-12 radio. The satellite company has launched a series of new college conference channels. The Pac-12 product hit the air on Monday and includes a new morning show featuring Guy Haberman and Ryan Leaf, and an afternoon show with Geoff Schwartz and Kate Scott and Sean O’Connell taking turns as lead host. Farnham and Charles Arbuckle are expected to make appearances on the channel, and former Arizona State head basketball coach Bill Frieder and former Arizona State guard and Pac-12 Player of the Year Eddie House are visiting this week to discuss the Pac-12 Tournament.
SiriusXM also unveiled its ACC Radio channel. The lineup includes “ACC This Morning” with Mark Packer and Wes Durham. The afternoon slot is being branded as “ACC Today” and features the team of Chris Spatola and Jac Collinsworth. The channel also includes contributions from Fran Franschilla, Bobby Cremins, Aaron Taylor, Jonathan Vilma and Tom Luginbill.
If that wasn’t enough SiriusXM news for you, Mad Dog Sports Radio has one item to pass along as well. Danny Kanell has been added to channel’s weekday lineup. The former QB turned radio and TV analyst is joining Steve Torre weekdays from 1p-3p ET.
WEEI in Boston created some buzz on Tuesday. The radio station brought in Britt McHenry as a third host on the popular morning program Kirk and Callahan. No word if future appearances will take place with McHenry or if it’s a one-time deal. The station is also going thru a search in afternoons to fill the seat vacated by Michael Holley. McHenry has also added a Friday night TV program in Washington DC on FOX 5 working with Bram Weinstein and Guy Lambert.
Well wishes go out to Beanie Wells. The former NFL and Ohio State RB has been battling health issues which have caused him to miss time from his radio program on 97.1 The Fan in Columbus. Wells said he’s been experiencing headaches and dealing with memory loss as a result of a traumatic brain injury which he suffered while playing football. The challenges have forced Wells to take on a diminished role on the show for the foreseeable future while dealing with his challenges. The station will use a rotation of co-hosts alongside host Tim Hall until further notice.
Afternoon producer and on-air host Ben Heisler is ready to take on a new challenge. After spending 4 years with 610 Sports, Heisler has announced he’s leaving the station for an opportunity as the new Director of Media Relations for Fantasy Sports Markets. Heisler says he plans to continue hosting his fantasy show on 610 and remain a fantasy insider in radio/TV/digital. He also stays active hosting a podcast for Awful Announcing. To read FSM’s release on hiring Heisler click here.
Kudos to Ben and Skin of 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. The afternoon show landed an interview on February 23rd with Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant which generated a lot of mainstream media attention. The brash Cowboys wideout addressed speculation about his future in Dallas and said “I’m ready to make my mark. I don’t care what nobody is talking about, I couldn’t care less. Everybody that ain’t with Dez Bryant, they can kiss my ass.” Those remarks were followed up by Cowboys Executive Vice President Stephen Jones offering a number of non committal responses about Bryant’s future with the franchise. To hear the Bryant interview, click here.
Westwood One‘s NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball tournament coverage will be utilized as part of Turner Sports, CBS, and the NCAA’s March Madness LIVE streaming services. The network’s play-by-play broadcasts from all 67 tournament games will be streamed along with TV coverage from Turner and CBS as part of a special “Fast Break” channel which will be similar in style to what NFL fans have become accustomed to with “Red Zone.”
Portland Trail Blazers play by play announcer Brian Wheeler continues to battle health issues. As a result, it’s forced Wheeler to restrict his availability to working only home games. Scott Lynn has been handling road games for the franchise.
Congratulations to Zach Gelb. The afternoon host and program director of 920 The Jersey FOX Sports Radio has announced he’s leaving the Trenton, NJ sports station for an opportunity on CBS Sports Radio. Gelb will be heard on weekend overnights hosting the 2a-6a ET shift. His final day with 920 will be March 15th. The radio station hasn’t announced yet how they will operate in afternoon show beyond that date. With his move to CBS Sports Radio, Gelb will also give up his part-time hosting role during the football season on 97.5 The Fanatic.
Sticking in the Tri-State area, 98.7 ESPN Radio New York host Dave Rothenberg will be honored on Saturday April 21st by his alma mater NYIT. The school has declared that day ‘Dave Rothenberg Day‘. The special day will include an appearance by Rothenberg and his on-air partners Chris Canty and Rick DiPietro at the school’s LaCrosse game against LIU Post. The trio will preside over a ceremonial faceoff among other activities. For more information click here.
Hall of Fame broadcaster and the voice of the San Francisco Giants Jon Miller appeared on the Watch The Media podcast with John Shrader. Miller offered his insights on a number of subjects including his admiration for Vin Scully and his call of Hank Aaron’s 715th homerun, Barry Bonds’ homerun chase, his lengthy career and more. To hear it click here.
SB Nation Radio has launched a new show. Two Man Game features former NBA star Mario Elie and local host Joel Blank. The program is scheduled to debut on March 10th and will air each Saturday from 3p-4p ET.
In South Florida, Alpha Media Hot AC morning co-host Kevin Rolston has been handed the keys to his own sports program on 640 The Hurricane. Rolston is now installed weekdays from 3p-4p ET and hosting the show affectionately titled “Kevin’s Other Show.”
After 42 years, John ‘JT’ Thompson decided it was time to step away from mornings on Talk/Sports 960 WBST in South Bend. The station has replaced Thompson’s show with ESPN Radio‘s Wingo and Golic.
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.