One of the major stories in sports this past week was NASCAR banning confederate flags at their racetrack as fans start to slowly be allowed back in (up to 5,000 fans will be allowed to attend the June 21 race at Talladega SuperSpeedway in Alabama). It is a strong subject that all three hours of the ESPN Radio show, Marty & McGee with Marty Smith and Ryan McGee, were devoted to this subject.
As McGee opened the show, he said that the subject that he didn’t think would ever happen, but the change became a reality.
“It’s been a week I was thankful to see. This week, you and I have covered something I didn’t believe we will ever see,” said McGee.
Smith added that it is a change in NASCAR to bring racial equality inside the garage that they hadn’t seen in a long time.
“It’s impossible to overstate what an historic moment it is. If you really want to be honest, NASCAR did more for racial equality in their own garage in a week than they did in 70 years,” said Smith.
Throughout the three-hour broadcast on Saturday Morning, Smith and McGee talked with numerous guests, including co-owner of JTG Daugherty Racing, Brad Daugherty. Warrick Scott (grandson of Wendell Scott – first full-time African-American driver in NASCAR), and ESPN personality Clinton Yates. You will find the link to all three hours here:
In the final hour of the show, Smith shared a conversation with Rayfield Milton, one of his best friends in high school, that he had earlier in the week. Smith brought up the point that every word has to be the right word. Milton gave him a call after Smith’s segment on SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt and was crying.
“Because you just said the perfect sentence. You just said something that I can’t say. It took you to say that sentence. You have seen what I had to deal with our own lives and for you to say that on that platform is amazing,” said Milton to Smith about what Milton had to go through in high school.
Smith later mentioned one more story about Milton, who he played football with in high school. He talked about writing a chapter in his book Never Settle called Forever Friday where he talks about all the lines in the world being erased on a football field. But, as Smith was driving to the grocery store one day, he thought about the words and he wondered if he was seeing things only from his perspective. So, he called Milton.
“Have I ever made you feel lesser than a human being. Have I ever made you feel anything but my friend and equal,” said an emotional Smith to Milton.
“You know what I have seen, but you have never treated me like anything but a man, an equal, and your friend,” Milton answered according to Smith.
Smith and McGee were able to get candid insight from their guests and shared their own personal experiences and conversations in what was a monumental moment for the sport of NASCAR.
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.