Cumulus Media employees can return in force on Oct. 11, with a catch.
CEO Mary Berner stated in a video message that all employees “must be fully vaccinated” by the official return-to-office date. Employees designated “permanent remote” do not have to get the vaccine. All Access reached out to Cumulus for a comment and told the site they are not giving one at this time.
Berner cited growing concerns over the Delta variant of COVID-19 as a contributing factor to the decision.
In the video, Berner said, “All employees, except for those few who are already designated permanent remote like our traffic organization, must be fully vaccinated by our grand reopening date.”
Cumulus Media is the first known radio broadcasting company to institute a vaccine mandate. The entire salesforce at Cumulus and corporate employees in their New York and Atlanta corporate offices fall under this umbrella.
Berner noted that a large majority of Cumulus employees have already received the vaccine. “There will be no exceptions unless it’s mandated by law,” Berner continued in the video. “If you are someone who has not made that choice, it is for your own protection.”
Cumulus Media is involved with 413 stations across 86 markets, on top of their oversight of Westwood One. As of December 2019, Cumulus employed 4,732 people, 3,139 of which are full-time staffers.
Cumulus is stepping into uncharted waters in the audio industry with this move. Other entities like Audacy mandated the vaccine for new employees, but have not done so for employees hired before the vaccines became widely available.
CNN has already fired three unvaccinated employees who did not comply with their vaccine advisory — which CNN requires for employees who want to work from the office. NBCUniversal has the same advisory in place for their in-office workers as well.
A Townsquare Media executive confirmed to Streamline Publishing that the company has “encouraged our team to get vaccinated given the benefits and protection it provides from COVID-19. We have provided [Paid Time Off] to allow the time to get vaccinated. But, we have not mandated it as a condition of employment.”
It’s been all quiet on this front for iHeartMedia. The company hasn’t issued any advisories, mandates, or statements regarding the COVID-19 vaccine and its employees.
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.