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Under The Radar – July 5, 2018

Jason Barrett

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It’s been a while since we brought you an Under The Radar column but to borrow a line from Mike Greenberg “we’re back and better than ever.” OK maybe that’s a stretch but if it’s sports media industry news you crave, then you’ve come to the right place.

The following message may sound repetitive if you’ve read this column before but it’s important that we get it out to keep you informed. The only way we can help tell your story is if you take the time to let us know about it. All it takes is sending an email to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me and including a few details about your individual or station’s news story, and when the next UTR piece comes out we’ll try to make sure you’re included. It’s that easy.

Now that we’ve tackled that issue, let’s move on to the latest news!

Friday marks the final day of Chris Oliviero‘s tenure as EVP of programming for Entercom. The highly respected radio executive announced on June 22nd that he’d be leaving the company to explore new opportunities. He is expected though to remain in an advisory role thru the remainder of the year. Prior to joining Entercom, Oliviero spent 22 years with CBS Radio, helping establish the company as one of the best in broadcasting. Many of the top sports talk brands in America have either been created, strengthened or rebuilt under his watchful eye. BSM wishes Chris the best in his future pursuits. To stay in touch with him via email click here.

As interest rapidly increases in sports betting content, VSiN have been on quite the roll. The Vegas Stats and Information Network has secured new radio partnerships with the Mighty 1090 in San Diego, 104.5 ESPN in Baton Rouge, FOX Sports 1290 in Wilmington, DE, FOX Sports 960 in Salisbury, MD and Sports Radio 1450 in Springfield, IL. That’s in addition to prior partnerships announced with 670 The Score in Chicago and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. A few other major market brands are expected to be announced soon once agreements are finalized. Some sports brands in states which have yet to legalize sports gambling have taken a wait and see approach towards increasing their sports betting content, but their tentativeness has opened the door for rock stations who also target the Male 25-54 demographic. The content after all appeals to both audiences. How that will factor into future partnerships with VSiN will be interesting to follow. One thing’s for certain, the interest level from brands is only going to increase as we inch closer to football season.

As great as Colin Cowherd is at delivering analogies and opinions, what he did on Thursday’s show to turn a lemon into lemonade was worth highlighting. It’s a great lesson for talk show hosts on how to handle things when a curveball gets thrown in your direction. Cowherd’s guest booker Dave Coelho asked Colin if he’d want former Laker great Norm Nixon on the show to discuss LeBron’s arrival in Los Angeles. Cowherd agreed and Coelho texted him to set it up and then sent a car to bring him to the studio. Except when Coelho went downstairs to meet Nixon to bring him to the studio he discovered that Nixon looked nothing like the guest he thought he had booked. It turned out that Norm Nixon Jr., an actor, writer, music producer and comedian, and the son of the Lakers great was the recipient of the texts. Cowherd said it was the first time in 30 years that he had ever experienced a situation like that. To watch the way it unfolded click here.

Sad news out of Charlotte. Entercom Charlotte digital director Nathan Richie lost his life in a motorcycle accident in mid-June. Richie spent over two decades working in the market including the past year with Entercom and was highly regarded. To show their respect for a fallen teammate, Market Manager Matt Hanlon and his programming teams utilized their on-air, online, and social platforms on all local brands to highlight the impact Richie made on those he came in contact with. It was a very classy gesture by the operation. A funeral service was also arranged by Richie’s family to allow those who knew him to say their final goodbyes.

Also in Charlotte, former WFNZ host turned Charlotte Hornets radio play by play voice Chris Kroeger has launched a podcast for his new NBA employer. Kroeger has made good use of his newfound access, sitting down with new GM Mitch Kupchak and head coach James Borrego, and visiting with this year’s draftees Miles Bridges and Devonte’ Graham. He’s also chatted with the franchise’s 1st ever draft selection Rex Chapman. To hear any of the episodes click here.

Chicago sports radio personality Jason Goff has been a busy man as of late. The former 670 The Score afternoon host has appeared on Laurence Holmes‘ “House of L Podcast” and been a frequent contributor on television, making visits to NBC Sports Chicago, ABC-7 and FOX-32. Goff has also spread his wings beyond the windy city hosting on WFNZ in Charlotte and Mad Dog Radio and the NBA Channel on SiriusXM.

Kate Scott made a return to the Bay Area radio airwaves for a fill-in assignment on her former station KNBR 680. Scott stepped in to host for Paul MacCaffrey on Tuesday July 3rd working alongside former morning colleague Brian Murphy.

Props to 790 The Ticket in Miami for once again providing live and local overnight programming on the night of NBA Free Agency. It was the 3rd straight year the station created a live show to report and let listeners sound-off on one of the biggest night’s of the NBA off-season. Despite the flood of news pouring in at midnight on Saturday/Sunday, a time when radio station’s don’t usually sell sponsorships, The Ticket’s sales team used the specialized the event to generated new revenue from three clients. A nice job by all involved.

Miami is also where you’ll find sports radio veteran Josh Darrow diving into the podcasting space. Darrow’s forthcoming digital audio offering will be titled “The 5 Rings” and will focus heavily on the Miami Hurricanes. The podcast will be part of the 5 Reasons Sports Network which was co-founded by former Miami Herald writer and 790 The Ticket afternoon host Ethan Skolnick.

1010XL in Jacksonville recently made some internal adjustments. The station has moved afternoon personality Lauren Brooks into mornings alongside Jeff Prosser and Dan Hicken. A few producer moves have occurred as well. Midday producer Andrew Gibson has shifted to afternoons, morning producer Tyler Devitte has moved to middays, and afternoon producer Ryan “Big Country” Bonifant has taken on new responsibilities behind the scenes and left the afternoon show.

The stars continue to align for former 1010XL on-air contributor MacKenzie Thirkill. Thirkill announced in late June on social media that after two and a half years working with the Orlando City Soccer Club she was leaving her on-air position for a new opportunity. That new opportunity involves reporting and hosting for the Orlando Magic on their digital platforms. Thirkill says she’ll also make television appearances on FOX Sports Florida during the NBA regular season.

The end of the line has been reached by John Semar in St. Louis. After ten years behind the scenes working for 101 ESPN and 590 The Fan in St. Louis and 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, “The Sea Monster” as he was known to colleagues has decided to leave the radio business. During his career Semar produced shows featuring Bryan Burwell, Bob Stelton, Pat Parris, Tim McKernan, Zach McCrite, Rick Venturi and the Rise Guys.

Continuing in St. Louis, congrats are in order for former Jim Rome Show producer Austin Huff. The Mizzou graduate has accepted a position working for 101 ESPN. Huff spent three years in California on Rome’s program after starting his radio career in Nashville working for both 104.5 The Zone and 102.5 The Game. While at The Game he served as an EP for FOX Sports Radio personality Steve Gorman.

SB Nation Radio is undergoing a lineup overhaul. The network is searching for a new afternoon host after Sean Salisbury left for SportsTalk 790 in Houston. That isn’t the only drive time affected though. Mornings are changing too after the network made the decision to pull the plug on its previous show featuring Steve Solomon, Tim Murray, and Scott Linn. In order to figure out the best way forward, SB Nation Radio is bringing in Jason Page, Carter Bryant and Eytan Shander for fill-in shows. Other names may also be added to the mix as time progresses.

Staying in Houston, Sports Radio 610 host Marc Ryan has earned an opportunity to expand his presence on the national circuit. Ryan has been tabbed by the CBS Sports Radio Network to make his on-air debut this Sunday night from 6p-10p ET. Among his scheduled guests for his debut program include actor Seth Rogen, Kristen Ledlow and Ryan’s former Tampa radio teammate and new Monday Night Football sideline analyst Anthony “Booger” McFarland.

Also in Houston, former SB Nation Radio producer Joe George has moved over to Sports Radio 610. Meanwhile his former SB Nation Radio teammate Adam Sager who produced Sean Salisbury’s show has seen his time at the network come to an end after four years. Sources say there could be interest from 790 to bring Sager on board but as of now he remains a free agent. You can contact him for opportunities by clicking here.

Ann Meyers Drysdale and John Ramsey are the newest members of the So Cal Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame. The duo will be inducted at the 28th annual SCSB Awards Luncheon on January 2019. Drysdale enjoyed a long broadcasting career working for the UCLA Radio Network, Pac-12 Network, ESPN, the LA Sparks and covered a number of Olympic games for ABC, NBC and TNT. Ramsey was the original public address announcer for the Angels, Dodgers, Kings, Lakers and L.A. Raiders as well as the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, five Super Bowls including the first Super Bowl, seven World Series, two Major League All Star Games, two NBA All Star Games and ten NBA finals. For more information click here.

Some unfortunate news for Molly Sullivan. After six years on the sidelines with the Philadelphia 76ers, Sullivan was informed by NBC Sports Philadelphia that she wasn’t being brought back. The decision caught her off guard and has led to Philadelphia sports fans being upset by the decision. For a deeper read and listen to Sullivan’s side of the story with Richard Deitsch of The Athletic click here.

Sullivan wasn’t the only one covering the Sixers to be let go by NBC Sports Philadelphia. Jessica Camerato announced on Twitter on Thursday that she too was informed her time had come to an end after two and a half years.

National Sports TV interviewer Graham Bensinger has announced that his program In Depth with Graham Bensinger is now available in podcast form. The full uninterrupted interviews that Bensinger conducts with high profile national sports figures can be heard by clicking here.

In writing news, the Chicago-Tribune has named Jimmy Greenfield their new Chicago Blackhawks beat reporter. The Athletic has hired Antonio Morales to cover USC Football for their Los Angeles outlet, and the Arizona Cardinals have added radio veterans Mike Jurecki and Craig Giralou to their digital team. Both men will host podcasts, videos, and pre/post game shows for the Cardinals. Meanwhile the Boston Globe .

And finally, Amanda Stein has agreed to join the New Jersey Devils full-time as their All-Access host and digital reporter.

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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