14-year old Mo Gaba is a Baltimore sports superfan who never sought to be a local celebrity, but it came naturally with his infectious laugh and personality. An Orioles Hall-of-Famer, inspiration, friend and hero to many, Lil’ Mo’s passing was met with heavy hearts Wednesday night.
Having lost his vision at just nine months old, Lil’ Mo spent an estimated 75% of his life in the hospital and was battling cancer for the fourth time, but never lost his positive spirit. Thursday morning, CBS Sports Radio’s Damon Amendolara and 105.7 The Fan’s Jeremy Conn, two sports radio hosts who also became two of Lil Mo’s biggest fans discussed the friendship they built with Gaba.
“Realistically you never know what he’s going to say,” Conn said on The DA Show with a laugh. “We were at Orioles FanFest and he told Manny Machado not to get suspended, we were doing the show with John Harbaugh and he said he thought the Tennessee Titans were a little bit more prepared. He’s just a kid and sometimes we’d forget it because he is so intelligent and knows what he’s talking about.”
Conn became close with Gaba and his family in recent months, going to his house to play video games and even co-host a radio show with him on 105.7 The Fan. During the last five years, Lil’ Mo became a regular caller into Baltimore sports radio station 105.7 The Fan, where his enthusiasm, laugh and wit quickly won over the hosts and listeners, helping build his celebrity status. Thursday morning Conn also shared a picture of his new Mo Strong tattoo.
Conn, who has two teenage children of his own, said he loves coaching basketball where he becomes a mentor and father figure to kids on the team. He described his initial relationship with Gaba as being similar to the kids he coaches, but added that the 14-year old stole a piece of his heart, became his friend and like a little brother.
“This one cuts deep,” Conn told DA. Amendolara regularly refers to Mo as his hero, having kept in touch with the superfan even after his show left the Baltimore market a couple years ago. DA was brought to tears Thursday morning as he spoke about his friend’s passing.
“Most of us at 14 years old are barely getting a grip on this earth, on this life, on this society, on what it means to live,” DA said. “In 14 years, Little Mo changed the world. How did he do it? He woke up every day and made a choice, ‘today I’m happy and I pass that on to others.’ He is and forever will be, my hero.”
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.