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WFAN’s Sal Licata on Working Overnights: ‘You Have to Love What You Do’

“It can be challenging… to be able to function at three in the morning where you’re in the middle of a show and maybe you’ve already rehashed all the topics you wanted to hit that night.”

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Sal Licata

Hosting a radio show at a legendary station in a major market is an opportunity very few would turn down. Even if that means working the overnight shift.

But doing five hours of radio from midnight to 5 a.m. is an adjustment that changes your life. Working when most are sleeping is a tough transition. Some eventually adapt to the schedule, but others never do. In some cases, it might be fighting a natural rhythm. But some are better at being nocturnal than others.

WFAN’s Sal Licata doesn’t know if he’s suited to the overnight lifestyle yet. He took over the shift in November after the legendary Steve Somers retired from regular work at the station. Getting a full-time position was the payoff after working his way up for 18 years, beginning at WFAN as an intern in 2003 and making it on the air in 2006. But Licata had to grind as a part-timer, even leaving WFAN at one point, before finally earning the gig he coveted.

Appearing on Sports Talk Chicago/WCKG with host Jon Zaghloul, Licata was asked how he manages doing overnight radio.

“I’m still trying to learn to manage it, but you have to figure out a way to balance your schedule and your time, and it’s very difficult,” Licata explained. “Also, I have the other job with SNY, so I still do both. And then my wife and I just had a baby, 11 months old, so you’re managing that as well.

“The shows themselves can be challenging, just because it’s the middle of the night. Especially when there’s no sports going on which, thankfully, right now we don’t have that problem anymore with the baseball lockout ending. But it can be challenging, five hours by yourself, limited calls, limited sports topics.

Much like 670 The Score’s Mark Grote explained to Parkins & Spiegel last week, moving to the overnight shift is not an immediate adjustment. He’s still trying to figure out a consistent routine that works, that’s sustainable.

But to Licata, it comes down to an approach that probably applies to whatever shift anyone in radio, or in any vocation, someone might work.

“I just think A) you have to love what you do. B) You have to figure out a way to get proper rest and sleep, whether it’s naps, whether it’s just six hours straight, and eating right, keeping your energy up. All things like that, to be able to function at three in the morning where you’re in the middle of a show and maybe you’ve already rehashed all the topics you wanted to hit that night, and you’ve gotta come up with something.”

Licata’s entire conversation with Zaghloul is worth your listening time. He talks about his career to this point, beginning at WFAN as an intern and a producer for Somers, then Mike & the Mad Dog before he ever made it to air. But Mike Francesa was supportive and helped him break out from behind the scenes.

Naturally, Licata also talks about New York sports — particularly the Giants, quarterback Daniel Jones, and the coach he wanted the team to hire — in addition to the Mets’ upcoming season. Oh, and Gregg Giannotti prank-calling him on the air also comes up.

You can listen to the Sports Talk Chicago podcast at the show’s website or on apps including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Sports Radio News

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.

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Streaming Radio

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.

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Sports Radio News

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.

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MLB Radio

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.

Radio Listeners to MLB

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.

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Sports Radio News

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”

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Jeff Dean Show

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”

Jeff Dean Facebook

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.

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