After it was announced Mark Chernoff would be retiring from his longtime PD position with WFAN, morning producer Al Dukes jumped in to offer programming advice to the station’s midday show, suggesting they shouldn’t interview Lawrence Taylor.
The programming guidance by Dukes stemmed from a Twitter debate with midday co-host Maggie Gray, regarding the Mets involvement in their former manager Mickey Callaway’s sexual harassment scandal.
On Monday, The Athletic reported Callaway aggressively pursued at least five women in sports media. It’s the second sexual harassment scandal to hit Major League Baseball in the last two weeks, the other being now former Mets general manager Jared Porter. Both Porter and Callaway were hired for positions of power within the Mets organization by current team president Sandy Alderson.
While Gray never placed blame on Alderson for errors in judgement, she does believe the Mets may need to correct potential flaws in their hiring process. Realistically, every organization in every sport might need to adjust their hiring process to better vet the character and personality traits of prospective employees.
But Dukes took issue with any criticism being sent Alderson’s way and quickly connected it to former Giants star Lawrence Taylor being a planned guest on Gray’s midday show with co-host Marc Malusis.
“You cannot blame Sandy Alderson for something Mickey Callaway did, and then have Lawrence Taylor on as a guest,” Dukes wrote on Twitter.
The Twitter exchange between both WFAN personalities led to Gray joining the station’s morning show Boomer & Gio where she continued the debate with Dukes.
“Maggie, who seems to stand up for women’s rights, as well she should, is having a guest on who has been convicted of bad things against underage women,” Dukes said. “Why give him a platform?”
“Having L.T. on for 10 minutes is not me hiring someone who has a pattern of overstepping when it comes to women,” Gray said, referring to the Callaway story.
Ultimately, Taylor canceled and did not join WFAN’s midday show. The former linebacker was pulled from all of his scheduled media appearances for the day.
This was not the first time Taylor was a point of contention between two WFAN shows. In 2010, Taylor was charged with sexually assaulting a minor. Three years later, WFAN’s Craig Carton called out then afternoon host Mike Francesa for taking a soft stance on Taylor’s actions.
SURVEY: 16.9% of All Sports Radio Listeners Are Streaming
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 Nielsen reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.
According to Nielsen, All 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 its 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.