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Bensinger’s In-Depth Rolls On

Jason Barrett

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St. Louisan Graham Bensinger has begun the fifth season of his nationally syndicated sports interview TV show, and for now can put his monetary worries to rest.

He said “In Depth with Graham Bensinger” has stabilized financially after some rough times last year, when he greatly expanded the operation by adding staff and affiliates. That came after he was a one-man show in the early days, when he not only was conducting the interviews but also was selling advertising and lining up outlets to carry the program plus booking travel and guests. Now he has nine full-time staffers.

“Everything’s going in the right direction,’’ he said Thursday. “It’s been a bit of a battle. There’s been financial pressure in growing it.”

That sounds like an understatement. Bensinger, 28, said after making a small profit the first three seasons when the show was on a smaller scale, last year was a loser. That’s when he syndicated the show, which had been on cable and the internet, to over-the-air stations across the country.

It was a big risk.

Last year he said he funded the expanded business with “the money I had made to that point plus my life savings. I said, ‘What the hell, I want to give this a shot.’’’

A long shot?

“Without a doubt this past year has been the toughest of my life,’’ he said. “I don’t think I ever realized how much the financial pressure would impact me. I’d go to bed thinking about it, get up thinking about it. That was pretty much the life I lived the last year.

“It was entirely self induced. I made the decision to invest every last dollar I could into the show, whether it be in production quality or hiring additional people. I believe that was necessary to grow it. If I had reined it in slightly, there wouldn’t have been the financial pressure. But looking back, I’m glad I made the decisions I made. But it definitely taught me a valuable lesson in that I never want to have to go through that again.”

He was on vacation with his parents this summer when he finalized a sponsorship deal that would not only put him into the black for the coming season, but assure that he also would cover last season’s losses. It was an emotional experience.

“Never in a million years would I have expected this reaction, but I just went down to tell my mom and burst out crying because it’s just been a long path to get to this place,’’ Bensinger said.

He is in a more prominent time slot locally this season, at 10:35 p.m. Sundays on KTVI (Channel 2) after being on at 6:30 a.m. Saturdays last year.

Basketball personality Charles Barkley was the subject last week in the season debut of the half-hour program, with tennis’ Caroline Wozniacki the focus this week. Among topics she discusses is golfer Rory McIIroy recently breaking off their engagement. Football’s Emmitt Smith and Ray Lewis follow next.

It’s been a prominent — albeit different — path for Bensinger, who at one time seemed to be gliding on the fast track to a network reporter’s role. At age 19, he scored a big interview for ESPN with receiver Terrell Owens, who in the conversation talked his way out of a job with the Philadelphia Eagles. He also did other reports for the network.

But he always had wanted to try to make his mark on his own, not by working for someone else.

“Had I looked for an opportunity where I would have been employed by a media outlet, it would have been more financially lucrative the past several years,’’ he said. “So it has been exciting to get (the show) to the place where it is now.

“It’s still far and away the most satisfying work I’ve ever done. In prior roles, I’d only conduct an interview or book an interview. Now I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in every facet of building this.”

And there is a key bottom line.

“It’s exciting that there’s no longer the day-to-day financial pressure that there has been in the past,’’ he said. “It’s been a long five years.”

For more, read Dan Caesar’s column at STL Today where this was originally published

Sports Radio News

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.

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Streaming Radio

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.

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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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