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Tony Massarotti on Calling Games for NESN: Big Challenge Will Be Pace

“The big challenge for me is going to be the pace. Not just because it’s baseball. But we move much faster. Talk shows move much, much faster.”

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Tony Massarotti made his NESN debut as a Boston Red Sox TV analyst for Saturday’s spring training game with the Tampa Bay Rays. Earlier this month, he was named as one of three new color commentators with Kevin Youkilis and Kevin Millar to the NESN broadcast team.

Naturally, his Felger & Mazz co-hosts Mike Felger and Jim Murray were going to ask about Massarotti’s experience and allow him to share some insights with the 98.5 The Sports Hub audience when they returned from the weekend.

But first, Felger had to tease Massarotti about using different words for hard-hit balls. “Spanked,” “tattooed,” etc. Credit to a writer for not wanting to use the same verb more than once, especially when different words are needed to express just how hard and far a home run was hit.

“We didn’t get the full Mazz, which I will just say, I think that’s smart on everyone’s part,” said Felger. “To go Full Mazz in the first couple of games is courting sort of blowback, and then we disrupt the whole thing.”

Massarotti was then asked what he struggled with or was surprised by during the TV broadcast, and he gave some intriguing insight into the difference between calling a baseball game and keeping the conversation moving on sports radio.

“The big challenge for me is going to be the pace,” said Massarotti. “Not just because it’s baseball. But we move much faster. Talk shows move much, much faster. There’s a pace to it. You want to keep going. Baseball, the game’s slow, the conversations are more level-headed, for lack of a better term. So that’s going to be an adjustment for me.”

Felger then praised Massarotti for something that’s worth noting since it’s been part of the sports media discourse in recent weeks.

“On the broadcast end, I thought it was impressive, Mazz,” said Felger. “Right out of the chute, you’re not telling a story going into the second out of an inning. The ball is put in play with two outs, you sort of shut up and make sure [Dave] O’Brien goes to commercial. Coming back with the reads, knowing when to fill dead time, was dead-on… It sort of shows you how many guys can’t do it.”

Some critics and fans have knocked Amazon hiring Kirk Herbstreit as its Thursday Night Football analyst because he wasn’t a star NFL quarterback. But observers including Dan Patrick and Andrew Marchand have defended Herbstreit by pointing out that he’s an accomplished broadcaster who knows how to get through a telecast smoothly.

Obviously, a baseball telecast is different from a sports radio show. But the point still applies. Radio hosts, especially when working with a partner or group, have to make their points succinctly without rambling on and hogging the conversation. And there’s an art to saying what you need to say before going to a break or coming out of one. At the very least, Massarotti knows how to do that.

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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