WEEI morning co-host Kirk Minihane returned to the airwaves Friday morning after announcing on Twitter he was hospitalized for “suicidal thoughts” last week.
“I’ve talked a lot about my issues with depression, and I’ve battled it the last three months or so. Last Thursday night I checked into the ER at Winchester Hospital with suicidal thoughts. I was then moved to McLean, where I was treated and released earlier this week,” Minihane wrote on Twitter Thursday afternoon.
Minihane continued, “I’ll be back at work tomorrow, and I’m a little nervous about it. But I’m not ashamed or embarrassed. And we’ll do what we do – we’ll talk about it,” referring to Friday’s show.
During the second hour of Friday’s Kirk & Callahan Show Minihane opened up to the audience about his fight with depression and suicidal thoughts. The conversation between Kirk and Callahan was so candid that as a listener, I had to remind myself what Minihane dealt with was reality. Callahan approached the situation from a rational standpoint, asking Kirk questions about how could someone with young children leave their family? To which Kirk responded by saying it’s a sickness, luckily he wasn’t as sick as those who actually took their life which is why he’s still here.
Minihane said he started thinking about how he would do it (referring to suicide) and the best way to do it which led him to focus on trains. He rode the train a few times and walked the route, but Thursday afternoon Kirk went to watch the train go by. He checked the schedule and found himself waiting for the train minutes before it came. Kirk said “I was lying to myself, I think…in saying that I’m just going to go look.” He began walking around for a few minutes and knew he didn’t want to die, but was struggling with what he was feeling.
“I felt for the past couple weeks that I was having a heart attack almost all the time, I was having a heart attack breathing and then I was also playing this character..A, on the air who was feeling good around my family, who was feeling good talking to my brothers, who was feeling good and joking and doing that, meanwhile sort of dying on the inside. I said I simply cannot live like this anymore. I have to give over, I have to give up whatever power I have and I drove the car to Winchester hospital, walked up to the emergency room woman and said, I’m having very dangerous thoughts.”
Minihane later said while he feels better now, he understands depression and anxiety is still something he will continue dealing with.
“The important thing for me is to recognize that I have these down times and tell people right away as opposed to hiding it and hiding it and hiding it. It doesn’t benefit me at all and it all comes from childhood stuff like everything else, I have to figure that out, but right now I feel okay, I feel pretty good, I think I sort of have a temporary high right now because I’ve been able to talk about it. Two weeks from now, three weeks from now, I’m sure I won’t feel great for a while and I just have to be honest about it.”
He acknowledged loving his job, his family and the support group he has to rely on moving forward.
Minihane also mentioned a lighter note that occurred shortly after being in the hospital. “The security guy was a very nice guy, he was probably in his late 20s or early 30s. I’m in there for about an hour or so and I’m a mess. He comes up to me, shakes my hand he says, I just want you to know I’m a big fan, but I gotta ask you a question, what’s Portnoy like?”
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.