Tuesday was an exciting day for Tony Massarotti, the Felger & Mazz show on Boston’s 98.5 The Sports Hub, NESN, and Red Sox fans.
NESN and the Red Sox announced that Massarotti will be one of three new analysts joining the TV broadcast crew for game broadcasts, along with Kevin Youkilis and Kevin Millar. (Will Middlebrooks is also joining NESN as a pre- and postgame analyst.) The new faces — and voices — join play-by-play announcer Dave O’Brien and returning analyst Dennis Eckersley.
Soon after the news was announced, Massarotti called into Felger & Mazz and, as could be expected, Mike Felger had plenty of questions for his co-host. According to Massarotti, the plan is for him to call 30 to 40 broadcasts, depending on how the season develops and availability of his fellow analysts. And he’ll do a mix of home games and road games, determined by how it fits with his radio schedule.
And if anyone was concerned that this means Massarotti is leaving 98.5 The Sports Hub, he and Felger confirmed that he’s not going anywhere.
“I am not leaving The Sports Hub,” Massarotti said. “This is why it required the cooperation of a lot of people… there’s a lot of moving parts in this thing. It took a little figuring out and it’s still going to take some. But I am not leaving The Sports Hub. I love The Sports Hub and I love the show.”
Another question some, such as Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, have had when Massarotti was reported to audition for NESN was whether he might tame his opinions on the Red Sox if he joined the broadcast team. Asked about the Red Sox’s offseason, he demonstrated that won’t be the case.
“I think it sucks, that’s what I think,” said Massarotti. “I want the Red Sox to make major moves. So the luxury tax went up to $230 million; I’d like to see them spend up to, if not over that number. They can do that. I’ve always said they should never take themselves out of the market for any kind of player, no matter the cost.”
So it’s reasonable to presume that Massarotti isn’t satisfied with adding James Paxton and Rich Hill to the starting rotation. The Red Sox are one of the teams rumored to be pursuing free agent slugger Freddie Freeman, the kind of move Massarotti is referring to. Freeman’s left-handed swing at Fenway Park would give Mazz and his new fellow analysts plenty of fun moments to call.
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.