Mark Willard is heading home. The Bay Area native has been hired by KNBR to join their weeknight lineup starting Monday February 18th. The sports radio veteran will be heard weeknights from 7p-10p PT on the early edition of “KNBR Tonight”.
To make room for Willard, Drew Hoffar will move back a few hours to host the later version of “KNBR Tonight” from 10p-Midnight. Hoffar has hosted on KNBR for over three years, first as the primary host of “The Audible” morning show on KNBR 1050, then as the lead host of “KNBR Tonight” on KNBR 680.
Jeremiah Crowe, Program Director, KNBR, said: “I’m extremely excited to welcome Mark back to the Bay Area and into our KNBR family. “KNBR Tonight” is about connecting with fans as the games are being played, and Mark will excel in that arena across all KNBR platforms. Listeners now also get to hear Drew shine as a solo host in his own time slot. “KNBR Tonight” will continue to serve as THE nightly destination for local sports talk, and I can’t wait to hear these two dynamic personalities back-to-back on The Sports Leader!”
Willard is a Foster City native who comes to KNBR following a midday hosting stint at XTRA 1360AM in San Diego. He had been teaming with Rich Ohrnberger on the ‘Mark & Rich Show’.
Prior to moving to San Diego, Willard hosted shows in Los Angeles for FOX Sports Radio, ESPN LA 710, and ESPN’s SportsNation. He also worked earlier in his career for Sporting News Radio alongside sports radio legend Tony Bruno.
Willard said: “It is an absolute dream come true to come home and join KNBR. My primary career goal has been to have the opportunity to connect with Bay Area sports fans, so listeners can rest assured, I will never take the relationship for granted. I want to thank Jeremiah Crowe, Doug Harvill and Cumulus’ corporate leadership team for their vision. And I want to thank my wife and kids for supporting me through this adventure!”
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.