With the premier roster of top-rated local sports stations, and the growing nationally-focused CBS Sports Radio among its portfolio, CBS Radio announced today it was expanding its senior leadership team in charge of programming with the promotion ofMike Thomas to Vice President, Sports Programming. The announcement was made by Chris Oliviero, Executive Vice President, Programming, CBS Radio.
Thomas will continue to serve as CBS RADIO’s head of programming in Boston while also guiding the on-air presentation and strategic planning for 98.5 The Sports Hub (WBZ-FM) and 100.7 Classic Rock (WZLX-FM). The appointment is effective immediately.
In this new role, Thomas joins Mark Chernoff in overseeing CBS Radio’s nearly 30 sports formatted stations, as well as CBS Sports Radio, with more than 300 affiliates nationwide. CBS Radio owns the most listened to sports stations in the country with weekly audiences in excess of 9 million, including WFAN-AM/FM in New York, WSCR-AM in Chicago, WXYT-FM in Detroit and WIP-FM in Philadelphia, among others.
Additionally, CBS Radio stations serve as the flagship for more than two dozen professional sports teams across the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL.
“Mike’s creativity and expertise in the format is evident by The Sports Hub’s quick ascent in one of the most competitive and passionate sports towns in America,” said Oliviero. “These skills will serve CBS Radio well as Mike joins Mark in guiding our continually growing, industry leading portfolio of both local and national sports brands which combined produces nearly 300 hours a day of original content.”
Thomas has served as Program Director for CBS Radio Boston’s WZLX-FM since 2006 and 98.5 The Sports Hub (WBZ-FM) since 2009. He has nearly 20 years of top management experience as a radio program director. Prior to joining CBS Radio, Thomas was Program Director as well as midday on-air personality at KGB in San Diego, Calif. He also programmed WFBQ in Indianapolis, Ind., WTUE and WXEG in Dayton, Ohio and WYMG in Springfield, Ill.
98.5 The Sports Hub (WBZ-FM) was named Sports Station of the Year at the 2011 National Association of Broadcasters’ (NAB) Marconi Radio Awards, and consistently captures the largest share of listening among Men 18-49 and 25-54 in Boston.
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.
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.
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.