Whether or not you are a fan of Mike Francesa, you cannot deny that he is one of the best known and most valuable names in the history of sports radio. On New Year’s Eve, he officially became a free agent and the sports talk legend may have his eyes on returning to broadcasting.
Mike Francesa told Newsday’s Neil Best that listeners shouldn’t expect to hear him on WFAN again. He said “the book is closed” on that part of his life and that he wants to see the station’s current lineup thrive.
“But that doesn’t mean I still don’t feel like broadcasting,” he added. “I’ve missed the audience. I’ve missed the buzz. I’ve missed some of that. It’s just logical.”
After leaving WFAN in 2019, Francesa spent part of 2020 as part of the Radio.com lineup. Since then, he has mostly been waiting out his contract with a few appearances on the radio station and with former partner Chris “Mad Dog” Russo on SiriusXM.
When asked if there may be a more formal relationship with Russo’s show in his future, Francesa said it didn’t seem likely.
“I would say right now, probably not. I think he’s got a pretty full schedule. He hasn’t offered that. He’s the one who has a show. I don’t.”
One aspect of Francesa’s life that could factor into his future is his horses and his home in Florida. A horse he co-owns, High Oak, will race for a chance to make the Kentucky Derby field soon. That is something that Francesa describes as a dream of his. Could a return to broadcasting be focused solely on the horse racing world? It is one he knows well.
Mike Francesa says he has definitely fielded offers since leaving WFAN. He obviously has not settled on anything as of yet. He is looking for something that is “fun or gives me a chance to have a new experience” and notes that it could end up being something no one, not even himself, is expecting.
The only thing Mike Francesa can say for sure is that he isn’t going back to WFAN. He left Audacy on good terms and notes that he is “proud” of his tenure on the station, but he has accomplished all he can there.
“FAN has had a storied life. Now it’s clearly into that second generation. It’s in the next generation, and it’s got to prove itself all over again. It’s a business where you have to prove yourself every day. Nothing stays forever.”
Suzyn Waldman ‘Still here’ at WFAN after 35 years
I don’t know if I’ve worn down the critics, but I’m still here,” Waldman told Neil Best of Newsday. “I mean, it’s 35 years, and I’m still here and I’ve had a terrific career.”
Yankees broadcaster Suzyn Waldman is celebrating 35 years on the air. Waldman, the first voice heard on WFAN, is thankful to be where she is.
“I don’t know if I’ve worn down the critics, but I’m still here,” Waldman told Neil Best of Newsday. “I mean, it’s 35 years, and I’m still here and I’ve had a terrific career.”
Waldman looked back on the experience of doing the very first update on the air at WFAN. While doing the first update alongside Jim Lampley, a fill-in for Pete Franklin, she was shocked when listeners did not approve of her updates and tied it to her being female. She thought, “Oh my God, this is not what I thought it was going to be,” she said.
That was not something she was accustomed to in the theater. Waldman had a background in musical theater before getting into radio and eventually joining WFAN as it went on the air in 1987.
“It was a rude awakening,” she said. “But it was at that moment that everything changed.”
Waldman eventually began working the overnight shift alongside Steve Somers. It was there she really honed her craft.
Suzyn has been calling Yankees games alongside John Sterling since 2005. This is her eighth season calling Yankee games on WFAN.
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.