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A Closer Look At Clay Travis

Jason Barrett

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When his job as a pro football reporter brought him to Nashville in previous years, John McClain would field questions from friends about what Titans stars Steve McNair and Eddie George were really like.

Now when McClain, the legendary reporter with the Houston Chronicle, comes to Nashville he fields the same question, but not about Titans players.

“Now when I come here it’s, ‘What is Clay Travis really like?'” McClain said. “And I tell them, ‘What do you think he’s like?’

In the past eight years, Clay Travis, a Nashville native and 1997 graduate of Martin Luther King Magnet High School, has propelled himself from a couch-crashing blogger and aspiring author to a one-man sports media brand.

Travis is one-third of the on-air team for “3HL,” the ratings-dominating afternoon rush-hour show on 104.5 The Zone. His website, OutkicktheCoverage.com, has a lucrative licensing deal with Fox Sports. And Travis has added national TV to his list of accomplishments as part of Fox Sports 1’s college football show.

He has broken stories of national interest, turned local YouTube videos into social media sensations and waded happily into any and every controversial sports topic imaginable. And he has a certain knack for provoking vitriol in a way that great sports commentators seem to relish.

Not bad for a kid whose MLK classmates voted him “most likely to fall down while bowling.”

Travis is now a full-fledged celebrity, the guy sports fans in Nashville and throughout the Southeast want to know “what he’s really like.”

But eight years ago that sort of success appeared to be far away.

Dissatisfied with practicing law, which he did as a litigator and general practitioner in the Virgin Islands after graduating from Vanderbilt University School of Law, Travis set out to write his first sports book, “Dixieland Delight.”

He scalped tickets on the cheap, slept on friends’ couches and hit up all 12 SEC stadiums for about $3,000 in the fall of 2006 for his book about the region’s football culture.

The book was a success and, combined with his growing audience as a columnist on CBSSports.com, where he started writing for free, helped Travis’ career gain traction. He went on to write for a variety of websites and was able to make a living writing about this passion.

But if things had worked out a little differently, Travis actually might have had a career in politics instead of sports commentary.

Related: Full transcript of Clay Travis interview

During his time as an undergrad student at George Washington University, Travis interned for four summers in the office of then-U.S. Rep. Bob Clement.

He got a paying job on U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper’s 2002 campaign for the Nashville-area congressional seat, but Travis was fired from that gig. Travis said he went to see his girlfriend, now wife Lara Travis, out of town and had travel problems so he couldn’t return to the campaign as scheduled. That came on the heels of crashing the car of Cooper’s wife, Martha, and Travis was let go.

“It’s interesting to think about what I would have done,” Travis said. “I never really thought I would practice law because I always thought it was too slow-moving. Politics and writing were, I think, the two things that had the most appeal for me. That probably pushed me more toward the writing side versus the politics side.”

Stirring things up

Not long after writing “Dixieland Delight,” Travis began his radio career by doing a Tuesday night show with 104.5 The Zone host Chad Withrow. It was then that the station’s program director, Brad Willis, noticed Travis’ talent on the air. Opinionated, quick on his feet and completely unafraid to wade into controversy, Travis approached broadcasting with a litigator’s ferocity and a blogger’s irreverence.

He was added to the station’s midday show, which after achieving ratings success was moved to the prime 3-6 p.m. drive time slot.

“He’s a lightning rod because he’s opinionated,” Willis said. “When you have an opinion like that — when you’re on one side of the fence or the other — you’re going to stir things up a bit.”

Travis said his contract with “3HL” expires Aug. 31, and the two sides are in negotiations about an extension. Willis declined to comment.

To read the rest of the story visit The Tennessean where it was first published

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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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