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97.1 the Ticket Responds To Rob Parker’s Diversity Criticism

“We know that having diverse voices on our air that represent our city is important, and we agree that we have missed the mark.”

Brandon Contes

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The sports broadcast industry’s lack of diversity is a documented issue, but just acknowledging the problem hasn’t solved it. Recently, FS1 host and Deadspin columnist Rob Parker highlighted the diversity issues at 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit. 

Although the station has experienced great ratings success in recent books, it’s lineup isn’t a cultural representation of the city.

“Talk about a lack of diversity. In a city that is 82.7 percent Black, according to the latest census, the only all-sports talk radio station in town — 97.1 The Ticket — has NO full-time black hosts on the air,” Parker wrote for Deadspin.

“It would be one thing if this was a radio station in Iowa or Nebraska. But in Motown, the Blackest city in America?” Parker questioned.

The Ticket is not alone in sports radio’s need to address diversity, it’s a problem which has plagued the industry even as it continues to be discussed. Entercom New York Market Manager Chris Oliviero recently highlighted the issue for one of the country’s most iconic sports radio stations WFAN. 

“Your host should reflect the community you serve across the spectrum – diversity, age, however you want to define that,” Oliviero told Newsday last month. “So to me that’s going to be the goal with FAN moving forward. If you put a mirror up to FAN, does it reflect New York? Clearly, we have a lot of work to do on that front. We recognize that.”

Mike Valenti’s former on-air partner Terry Foster wrote on his blog that the problem for Detroit sports radio is much more serious than a lack of diversity.

“When I did radio at 97.1 with Mike Valenti I was taught that if you only talked sports that eventually you’d go out of business because you could not get a large enough audience in Detroit to attract advertisers and compete with the big boys in radio. There are not enough passionate sports fans in the Metro Detroit area to sustain an all sports station.”

Regarding The Ticket, Detroit FOX 2 anchor Huel Perkins recently moderated a roundtable discussion which included Rob Parker, local radio host Ryan Ermanni, sports anchor Woody Woodriffe and radio agent Mort Meisner. During the discussion, Meisner stated he’s been in talks with The Ticket “regarding an addition they’re looking to make,” alluding to those conversations involving a minority talent. During the roundtable discussion, The Ticket’s parent company Entercom provided FOX 2 with the following statement, acknowledging the need to add diversity to their lineup. 

“We strive to deliver the best and most engaging sports content to fans in the great city of Detroit,” said Debbie Kenyon, SVP and Market Manager of Entercom Detroit. “We know that having diverse voices on our air that represent our city is important, and we agree that we have missed the mark. We are committed to doing our part to make sports talk radio as diverse as it should be, and we are taking active measures to ensure that we get it right at 97.1FM The Ticket.”

Meisner, who also represents The Ticket’s popular afternoon host Mike Valenti, later sent a tweet offering support for his highly successful client, but also told everyone to “stay tuned.” 

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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Sports Radio News

Jonas Knox: Adrian Wojnarowski’s NBA Draft Reporting Was Desperate Ratings Ploy

“The idea that Woj is going to get duped by Orlando Magic in the draft! The first time he’s ever been duped in his career?”

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Thursday’s NBA Draft is a moment the guys waiting to hear their names called had been waiting for since the day they picked up a basketball. While his draft came decades ago in the NFL, LaVar Arrington could relate to what they were feeling.

“It’s a dream recognized,” he said on Friday’s episode of FOX Sports Radio’s 2 Pros and a Cup of Joe. “You work so hard for so long. So, when you’re sitting there waiting for them to call your name, it’s a surreal moment.”

His partner, Jonas Knox, wasn’t in such a nostalgic or celebratory mood. He had a problem with the information leading up to draft night and just how much the narrative that Auburn’s Jabari Smith would be taken by the Orlando Magic with the first pick was pushed before all the sudden, it wasn’t.

“What a bunch of crap that we are being fed by Adrian Wojnarowski, ESPN, the Orlando Magic,” he said. “Whoever’s feeding it is full of crap.”

Wojnarowski tweeted an hour before the Draft that Jabari Smith was still the favorite to be taken, but he was hearing that the Magic weren’t ruling out Duke’s Paolo Banchero. 

When the first pick was announced, it was Paolo Banchero that heard his name called, not Smith. 

“One of three things happened,” Knox said. “Either ESPN is so desperate for ratings and for people to give a crap about the NBA Draft and their sport that they waited until the final hour to pump up some interest, realizing we’ve got a problem here based on some ratings and some reports on some ratings in the NBA Finals, so they waited until an hour before and had Woj drop a ‘Woj Bomb’ that it could not be Jabari Smith, that it could be Banchero who’s gonna go number one overall. It’s either that or Woj is in some kind of cahoots with the Orlando Magic.”

That is a powerful accusation. Knox finds it hard to believe the information got to ESPN’s renowned NBA Insider so late in the process.

“The idea that Woj is going to get duped by Orlando Magic in the draft! The first time he’s ever been duped in his career?”

He didn’t rule out that someone was trying to make money behind the scenes. As late as Thursday afternoon, the Duke Forward was still in plus territory to be the top pick on many sportsbooks’ odds boards. The odds had gone as high as +1600 last week.

“I call BS. I think it’s all shenanigans and I think somebody needs to get called out for it,” Knox concluded. “That pisses me off, man.”

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