St. Louis sports fans are mourning this evening after receiving the news of the passing of former Cardinal and local radio host Chris Duncan. He was just 38 years old.
The son of longtime MLB pitching Dave Duncan, Chris made a name for himself in the Cardinals organization, playing a key role during the team’s World Series championship run in 2006. He’d go on to play a total of 5 seasons in St. Louis before being dealt to the Boston Red Sox in 2009. Injuries though would take their toll forcing him to leave the game and find a second career to sink his energy into.
To the surprise of many, he’d find it in the least likely of places – the media. Duncan, who admittedly wasn’t a fan of dealing with the media as a player, became a popular radio host on the airwaves of 101 ESPN. He was hired in 2011 as an on-air baseball analyst but quickly rose up the ranks earning a spot on the station’s afternoon show ‘The Fast Lane’ before shifting into middays to create ‘The Turn’ with Anthony Stalter.
But just as Duncan’s media career began to take off, health problems started to affect him. He was diagnosed in 2012 with glioblastoma, the same brain cancer his mother Jeanine suffered from. Thru treatment he was able to make a recovery and return to the air alongside Stalter until the same tumor returned in March 2018, forcing him to take a leave of absence.
As his battle with brain cancer intensified, it required full time attention, and in January 2019 Duncan announced that he’d be leaving 101 ESPN to concentrate on his health. He continued to fight against the disease until his passing earlier today.
Though he may be gone, what shouldn’t be forgotten is how Chris Duncan turned himself from a local hero on a baseball field to an important media voice in a passionate sports city. He moved into the business with a desire to be great, and demonstrated his commitment by preparing his ass off, taking every shift available, and bouncing ideas and questions off of anyone who would listen.
Chris wasn’t just a former baseball player who could talk about the sport he played. He invested himself in being a complete host who was able to discuss hockey, football, college sports and whatever mattered most to the St. Louis sports fan. In the process, he turned his cynics into fans, and his partnership with Stalter, and contributions on The Fast Lane helped 101 ESPN enjoy great ratings success.
Chris Duncan is survived by his wife, Amy; his father, Dave; and his brother, Shelley. Funeral arrangements are pending.
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.