Members of the media, when working or living within a specific locality, are implicitly expected by fans to vote for guys on their local team rather than looking at the complete landscape of the league to determine who is most deserving of each regular season NBA honor. It isn’t fair, but it is a reality. There was a significant backlash to Arizona Cardinals play-by-play announcer and NBA reporter Dave Pasch, after he revealed on Twitter that he voted for Marcus Smart to win defensive player of the year over Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges.
Not all voting members of the media choose to publicize their ballots. On Tuesday, Pasch joined Wolf & Luke on Arizona Sports 98.7 to explain why he continues to publicize his awards votes each year, even if it has meant vociferously hearing the opinions of fans.
“I like to do that… every time they announce an award winner,” said Pasch. “I usually say, ‘Here’s how I voted,’ to be transparent. Had I listed all of my votes for each ballot yesterday, I don’t think there would have been as much vitriol from Suns fans.”
Pasch did not leave Bridges off of the ballot entirely, selecting him as the runner-up to win defensive player of the year honors. While he voted for various other players and personnel from the Phoenix Suns organization in other awards categories, including Monty Williams as the winner of coach of the year. He says that none of the decisions he makes are based on factors solely outside of their qualifications pertaining to the award(s) for which they are nominated.
“None of us that are among the 100 voters take this lightly,” said Pasch. “All of us do our homework. I watch a lot of games and call a lot of games – and again, I’m not trying to defend myself. I’m just stating here that I think all of us make our decisions based on who we think should win – not on where we live or what team we root for.”
These awards are not bereft in their impact, as they carry significant financial implications, especially for players who are consistently nominated. Indeed, the voting members of the media know that their decisions could make a significant impact as to whether an individual player receives bonuses stipulated in their contract, or whether a player can become eligible to receive more lucrative contracts earlier in their careers.
Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, for example, was left off of the three All-NBA teams in last year’s voting, and in so doing, was unable to take advantage of a rule allowing him to be paid a higher percentage of the salary cap. The rule, colloquially known as the “Derrick Rose Rule,” was added to the collective bargaining agreement following the 2010-11 lockout, and it cost Tatum $6.5 million in the average annual value of his salary under his new five-year extension, a total of $32.6 million through the life of the deal.
Despite the Phoenix Suns having the best record in the NBA during the 2021-22 regular season and winning the Western Conference last season, show co-host Ron Wolfey believes the team does not receive enough respect from the national media. In turn, he surmises that this inherent “lack of respect” has led to the organization being overlooked and neglected in league coverage. Nonetheless, Wolfey respects the vote and opinion of Pasch, a member of the media he affirms possesses substantial integrity.
“The one thing I know about you, my brother, is [that] you vote with your heart in your mind,” said Wolfey. “And not only that – you have more integrity in your pinky than I’ll ever have in my entire life. I know the guy you are, and because of that, I respect you greatly.”
Wolfley’s co-host agreed.
“I wish everybody would be transparent like that and put their votes up there because yours are pretty much in line,” he said to Pasch. “Whether people agree with your first or second choice, there was nothing crazy there, but [in] some years you clearly have somebody out there vote just completely off the wall and then they’re not ever held accountable for it.”
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.