The Rocket City Trash Pandas might not be a baseball team filled with history, but as they get set to make their debut in 2020, the Madison, AL based minor league team will have a radio broadcaster with baseball in his blood. The Trash Pandas announced Josh Caray, grandson of Harry Caray will be their radio play-by-play voice for next year’s inaugural season.
Beginning in 2020, the Los Angeles Angels Double-A affiliate, Mobile BayBears will move to Madison, AL and rebrand as the Rocket City Trash Pandas.
“I’m a southern boy. I’m living in New York right now. But Mama called me and I’m coming home,” Caray said as an ode to legendary Alabama football coach Bear Bryant, who famed the phrase “When mama calls, then you just have to come running home.”
“Baseball play-by-play is obviously in my blood,” Caray added during the announcement. “But calling games for a new franchise of this caliber is every announcer’s dream. Everywhere I go in Minor League Baseball, people are talking about the Trash Pandas and the excitement that our new team is generating throughout the country. To all the fans in Madison, Huntsville and beyond – you can be sure you’ll get my very best, every inning of every game.”
Most recently, the 37-year old Caray provided play-by-play for Stony Brook University’s football and basketball programs on Long Island. This summer, Caray will also call games for the Tampa Bay Rays minor league affiliate, Hudson Valley Renegades before joining the Trash Pandas full-time in the fall.
“Josh is just so very talented,” said Trash Pandas CEO and managing partner Ralph Nelson while standing in front of the construction site of their new stadium. “It’s not an overstatement to say his addition is as big as any announcement that we’ll make. As we promised our fans, we continue to build a Major League-style operation, and we are honored and proud to have Josh on our team.”
In addition to bringing Caray on-board as their radio voice, the Trash Pandas also announced an agreement with Cumulus Media to broadcast their games on The Ump on 103.9 FM and SportsRadio 730 AM. Josh Caray is the son of longtime Atlanta Braves broadcaster, Skip Caray who passed away in 2008 and brother of current Braves announcer Chip Caray. His legendary grandfather, Harry Caray was named to the Major League Baseball Hall-of-Fame as the 1989 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award.
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.