A few weeks ago Michael Kay was in two places at once, hosting the first hour of his radio show while simultaneously calling an afternoon Yankee game. On Tuesday, Pete Rose performed a similar trick as New York sports radio listeners were able to hear the all-time MLB hit king on two rival stations at once, WFAN and ESPN NY.
The New York sports radio war between Michael Kay and Mike Francesa has intensified as the ratings gap closed in the last year, but simultaneously broadcasting an interview with the same guest is a new battle tactic.
Francesa promoted the segment with Rose on Monday, touting it as the first stop on his new book tour, unaware that crosstown rival, Michael Kay had plans of conducting the same interview.
The Rose interview with Kay started at 3:30pm, with Francesa’s set to begin at 4pm, but Rose’s segment on WFAN was pushed to an earlier start time once YES and ESPN began broadcasting his interview with The Michael Kay Show. The ability to have an abrupt time change led many people on Twitter to assume the WFAN spot with Rose was prerecorded and Kay’s was live, when in fact it was Francesa’s show that had the live interview.
If watching the Kay Show on YES, the audience clearly saw the interview presented as “recorded earlier, but radio listeners might not have been aware Kay’s interview with Rose was the one on tape delay.
As Rose was sitting in studio with Francesa, Mike’s On producer, Brian Monzo was on Twitter, seemingly confused why he needed to prove to listeners the interview was occurring live. Newsday’s Neil Best clarified that Kay’s interview with Rose was indeed prerecorded, which caused the story to take an interesting turn.
Kay sarcastically called Best a “sleuth” on Twitter, triggering the social media account, @BackAftaThis to defend the longtime Newsday columnist.
For his next tweet, Kay referred to Francesa as a legendary broadcaster and directed his animosity toward @BackAftaThis, the Twitter account notorious for making fun of WFAN’s iconic host. @BackAftaThis has garnered a national following since Francesa unretired a year ago, by continuously sharing Francesa’s on-air gaffs. The account has yet to be shut down by Entercom and WFAN, consistently helping Francesa to go viral on social media, even if it’s due to people laughing at his mistakes.
Kay questioned whether or not the man behind the curtain of the @BackAftaThis account was working for WFAN. Although the account does bring Francesa a lot of media attention, it’s hard to imagine Mike allowing FAN to employ someone with the sole purpose of broadcasting his embarrassing mistakes as a full-time job.
What should have remained a battle between the two New York afternoon sports radio hosts, ended up as a fight between two Francesa foes, all while the Sports Pope pretended to have no idea what was going on.
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.