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Houston Radio Is Football Heavy

Jason Barrett

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When George Costanza was looking for a job, he said that he might like to be a color commentator for baseball to which Jerry Seinfeld responded, “Well, they tend to give those jobs to ex-ballplayers and people that are, you know, in broadcasting.” While this may not have seemed fair to George, it is accurate. Former athletes hold numerous positions of note in sports media, but recently a number of former NFL players have begun to not just join Houston sports media, but dominated it like their days on the field. The Koch/Kalu mid mornings show on 790 KBME is the number one sports show in the market.

In the case of the Houston sports radio landscape, a city that probably can handle two such stations but has four, the success of these former players is as much owed to their insight as their personalities. Here’s a breakdown.

Ted Johnson

Show: Triple Threat, 610 KILT afternoon drive
Former Team(s): New England Patriots
Position: Linebacker
Houston Tie: Grew up here.

Johnson grew up in Houston and made his fame as a member of the three-time champion New England Patriots. He also speaks out on concussions in the NFL as someone who has suffered issues since his days in the NFL. Johnson adds an insightful voice to a show that features veteran Rich Lord and our own Sean Pendergast. Three-man shows are not always easy to blend, but Johnson picks his spots and his experience with a dynasty is unique. Johnson cut his teeth on nighttime shows and post game call-in shows and it has paid off. When it comes to life inside the locker room, particularly one with such a storied history and winning culture, Johnson is unrivaled in the market.

ND Kalu

Show: In the Trenches, 790 KBME mid mornings
Former Team(s): Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Houston Texans
Position: Defensive Lineman
Houston Tie: Rice grad

As half of the most popular show on sports radio at the moment, ND Kalu brings a wealth of intelligence and natural chemistry match with his on-air partner, Greg Koch. It is certainly possible that the duo is better together than they would be separately, but there is no question Kalu has an interesting take on pro football. The fact that their show is exclusively football based makes it easier on them, but Kalu is good on air and I imagine he would be comfortable discussing about anything sports related.

Greg Koch
Show: In the Trenches, 790 KBME mid mornings
Former Team(s): Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings
Position: Offensive Line
Houston Tie: Native

The regular Uncle Greg segments of the show are without a doubt some of the most entertaining segments on any radio show, nevermind the behind the curtain look it provides for what NFL players do in their off time. Koch is engaging and funny. He is also opinionated and outspoken. That combination makes for a damn good radio host, former player or otherwise.

Seth Payne

Show: Mad Radio, 610 KILT lunchtime
Former Team(s): Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars
Position: Defensive Line
Houston Tie: Former Texans who settled here post playing career.

What makes Payne so successful on radio isn’t necessarily his intimate knowledge of football, but his everyman honesty when it comes to sports in general. He has something that is difficult for anyone on air to accomplish and nearly impossible to cultivate: the sense he is at ease with being himself. It helps that he is also just as engaging on social media, a key component of all forms of media these days. He and co-host Mike Meltzer have one of the more underrated shows on Houston sports radio right now.

Sean Salisbury

Show: Prime Cut, 1560 KGOW afternoon drive
Former Team(s): Seattle Seahawks, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings, Houston Oilers, San Diego Chargers
Position: Quarterback
Houston Tie: Brief stint with the Oilers.

When Pendergast left 1560 for 610, it left a complicated void next to John Granato, a guy that grew in popularity first at 610 and later at 1560 with Lance Zierlein. It appears he has met his match in Salisbury, one of numerous former journeymen quarterbacks who have found post-football success in broadcast media. Salisbury ended up with the flagship for Yahoo! sports radio after doing a show with former host and now Texans commentator John Harris. Salisbury’s knowledge of the game is impeccable and his attitude brash without being bombastic, which fits nicely with Granato’s sarcastic, dry sense of humor.

Credit to the Houston Press who originally published this article

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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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