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Mike Francesa Lashes Out At MLB Safety Guidelines

“Last week, MLB offered their proposal to the players union which included financial givebacks and specific guidelines of how to keep everyone safe.”

Brandon Contes

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The question for Major League Baseball has recently turned from ‘when can they start the season,’ to ‘how can they start a season?’

Everyone is eager for sports to return from its COVID-19 caused hiatus, and fans are seemingly ready to take games any way they can get them. Without fans in the seats, with fake crowd noise, without traditional divisions, with the DH in both leagues – various scenarios have been discussed.  

Last week, MLB offered their proposal to the players union which included financial givebacks and specific guidelines of how to keep everyone safe. During his Sunday morning show on WFAN, iconic radio host Mike Francesa reacted to some of those “absurd guidelines.” 

“You’ve always wanted to get close to the players if you’re a fan, well maybe not anymore,” Francesa said. “Because players will be discouraged from showering at the stadium after games.”

Francesa, a noted stock trader, also offered fans some advice regarding Uber and Lyft, because according to the recently proposed plan by MLB, players won’t be allowed to use taxis or ride-sharing services.  

“If you own Uber or Lyft stock – sell it,” Francesa said. “Because the players aren’t using it, they’re being discouraged from using ride-sharing. So on Monday, check Uber, see how it does because this could be a major hit for them because no taxis and no ride-sharing apps are to be used on the road.” Major League Baseball has discussed increasing team roster sizes to 50 players for the unusual season, which would mean 1,500 less Uber and Lyft customers. 

Francesa touched on more of the proposed guidelines, including MLB encouraging fielders and baserunners to practice social distancing during games. 

“How absurd is this, this almost makes you wanna close it down. Fielders would be encouraged to retreat several steps away from baserunners between pitches. Really,” Francesa said with disgust. “The guy takes a lead from second, instead of the second baseman cheating toward the bag to make sure he’s holding the runner on you want him to run away from the player? That sounds like a good strategy.”

Francesa also commented on the league mandating multiple temperature screenings for each player daily. Mike took the idea one step further, suggesting they post the players temperatures on the scoreboard and selling sponsorships for it. “You’re not only posting their batting average, OBP, RBIs and homeruns, you post their temperature at game time. ‘Game time temperature 98.6.’ You know Trout will have a 98.6 anyway, you don’t have to worry about it, he’s the perfect player,” added Francesa.

“How utterly ridiculous has this whole thing gotten,” he later said.

While Francesa does not appear to be a fan of the guidelines that Major League Baseball deems necessary for the sport to safely return to action, he’s also been notably outspoken against President Trump’s handling of COVID-19.

His late March tirade about the president garnered close to three million views before Francesa had it removed from social media.

Sports Radio News

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.

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Streaming Radio

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.

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Sports Radio News

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.

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MLB Radio

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.

Radio Listeners to MLB

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.

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Sports Radio News

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”

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Jeff Dean Show

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”

Jeff Dean Facebook

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.

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