ESPN Radio’s national lineup of shows will soon be almost unrecognizable. After losing Stephen A. Smith earlier this year and Will Cain’s departure last month, the network has confirmed a new lineup will hit the air on August 17th.
Rarely does a network forego tweaking for a complete overhaul the way ESPN Radio is about to, but the network told affiliates today it will indeed feature four new daytime shows. Andrew Marchand of The New York Post was the first to report that possibility.
The new lineup will feature former wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, basketball analyst and former point guard Jay Williams, and SportsCenter host Zubin Mehenti in morning drive. The trio will occupy the 6a-10a timeslot.
Johnson, Williams and Mehenti as ESPN Radio’s new morning show from 6 – 10am ET, brings to an end Golic and Wingo. Golic’s impressive run on ESPN Radio looks to be ending after more than two decades with the company. Wingo’s morning show tenure falls short of three years. Both hosts have contracts that expire at the end of this year.
The Dan Le Batard Show will continue its daily start at 10am, but it will lose an hour in the process. The show will now operate weekdays from 10a-12p. They make room for Mike Greenberg, the host of ESPN’s morning TV show Get Up who previously spent 16+ years on the network hosting alongside Golic on Mike & Mike. Greeny will fill the weekday slot of 12p-2p.
Also returning to his radio roots is Max Kellerman. The First Take star has previously hosted on ESPN LA 710 and ESPN New York, and was considered for mornings, but his responsibilities opposite Stephen A. Smith would’ve made it difficult to work on both shows. Kellerman will take over weekdays from 2p-4p ET on the network.
After Kellerman, current morning show contributor Mike Golic Jr. and basketball analyst Chiney Ogwumike will team up to in afternoons from 4 – 7pm. Evenings will feature the reunited team of Jason Fitz and Sarah Spain from 7p-9p, and Freddie & Fitzsimmons from 9p-1a.
It’s interesting to see ESPN potentially go with three two-hour shows in their new weekday lineup instead of a more traditional schedule breakdown. But with five shows from 6am – 7pm, affiliates will have plenty of flexibility in mixing local talent with syndicated programming.
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.