Attempting to predict the next personnel change on Boston’s sports radio stations has become a fan’s pastime in its own right, not unlike trying to guesstimate which excess outfielder Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington will trade before the start of the season.
There’s something of a formula to the predicting. Just look at the ratings and the years, months, or weeks remaining on individual contracts, and those with the low numbers in both categories are the ones who ought to have their agents atop their cellphone list of favorite contacts.
But sometimes it’s not as obvious. Consider this:
Scott Zolak and Andy Gresh have worked together for a dozen years, including a stint in Providence before they were reunited in the middays on 98.5 The Sports Hub in April 2010. Their ratings in that time have vacillated between steady and strong, with double-figure shares in the Nielsen Audio ratings often coming during the NFL season, their area of expertise.
Zolak, a former Patriots quarterback, is the color analyst on the team’s radio broadcasts, while Gresh is a host of the pregame and postgame programs on The Sports Hub, the flagship station. Their show, which finished second in the fall ratings period with an 8.5 share, might not be for everyone, but its performance has been remarkably stable.
This is why when fans and observers play that guessing game, few would suspect that the “Gresh and Zo” show will not be around much longer.
According to multiple industry sources, Gresh will no longer be part of the midday program after the Super Bowl.
Gresh, whose contract option was picked up by the station and parent company CBS Boston last January, will not receive a new contract and will leave the station.
Marc Bertrand, the third voice on the ratings-dominant “Felger and Massarotti” show, is expected to join Zolak as a cohost in the middle of February. However, his contract with the midday show is not official.
The front-runner to replace Bertrand as Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti’s cohort in afternoon drive is believed to be Rich Keefe, who is currently with the evening “Adam Jones Show.”
With Gresh’s departure, The Sports Hub will also shake up its Patriots pregame and postgame programming. Gary Tanguay, who briefly preceded Gresh as Zolak’s midday cohost when The Sports Hub launched in August 2009, also is not expected to return.
While Bertrand-Zolak has the makings of a very successful pairing, Gresh’s departure is somewhat puzzling because of the success and relative popularity of the program.
There have long been rumors of behind-the-scenes conflicts between Gresh and station management, but that’s hardly unique in the volatile world of radio.
Gresh and Sports Hub program director Mike Thomas did not respond to requests for comment.
Credit to the Boston Globe who published this article.
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.