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Czaban Celebrates 25 Years On-Air

Jason Barrett

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Steve Czaban says it’s an oversight.

The veteran sports broadcaster, celebrating his 25th anniversary in the business, has a lengthy resume that lists work in local markets such as Washington, Chicago, Charlotte and Milwaukee, as well as national gigs with Sporting News Radio and ESPN Radio.

But there’s no mention of Fox Sports Radio, where “Czabe” spent seven years, 2002 through 2009, the last five in the morning drive spot. His contract wasn’t renewed when Fox decided to put Stephen A. Smith in the time slot instead.

“They treated us great at Fox,” Czaban said during a recent phone interview. “They wanted to go in a different direction. That happens in the business.”

He said he was unaware that Fox doesn’t appear on his bio and the omission is unintentional. But he let everyone know his thoughts in a December 2009 blog post.

“This was not my choice, or desire,” he wrote. “My agent wants me to spin it in one of those ‘we decided to mutually part ways’ for anybody who wanted to know. But I’m not good at lying.”

However, he’s great at sports talk, which is why the McLean, Virginia native spent just eight months away from the syndicated airwaves before resuming his national show via Sporting News Radio (now Yahoo! Sports Radio). “The Steve Czaban Show” is heard locally on SportsTalk 570 and he also co-hosts “The Drive” on ESPN 980, meaning he’s on air for nearly eight hours each day.

“I guess I’m lucky that there’s a different focus on the national show,” he said. “There’s a whole bunch of things we can talk about nationally. On the other one, we’re digging into the nuances of what’s important locally. I couldn’t do that many hours of one style of show each day.”

When he graduated from the University of California-Santa Barbara, Czaban dreamed of having a career like local play-by-play legend Steve Buckhantz. But Czaban quickly realized that those jobs are very limited and open infrequently. He was calling basketball games and doing a one-hour talk show on KTMS in Santa Barbara — where fellow UCSB alum Jim Rome began — when homesickness and an appetite for more passion set in. He moved back home in 1994.

“As nice as it was being in California, that side of the country moves in different rhythms,” Czaban said. “The importance of sports and fanaticism is different out there and I never felt truly at home. I didn’t miss winter but I did miss seasonality. To me, the seasons go hand-in-hand with the sports calendar.”

He did some work for WTEM-AM 570 until accepting a job in Chicago, where he spent three years before relocating to Charlotte. His afternoon show was doing fantastic when the general manager decided to give Czaban the morning slot.

Shortly thereafter, Czaban experienced his first taste of the industry’s cruel, bitter side.

“[The GM] let it go for one month exactly and decided it wasn’t working out,” he said. “I was fired summarily and not paid the rest of my contract. My first child was born four weeks prior to that. That was the fun part of the business, but it was a blessing because I started filling in for ESPN Radio after that.”

But he had no desire to relocate to Bristol, Connecticut, so he turned down a full-time offer and returned to WTEM to join “The Sports Reporters” with Andy Pollin in 2000. The two spent more than a decade together until the station paired Czaban with former Washington tight end Chris Cooley and Al Galdi in 2013.

Having grown up and spent most of his professional career in the D.C. market, Czaban said it gets a bum rap among sports towns. While it’s not in the big four of New York, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia, Czaban said D.C. is “right in the mix” with any other major area.

“It’s not our fault that there isn’t a kind of blue-collar industry that some other cities have that breed the beer-and-a-shot sports fan who goes to a little bar with no windows to watch local games, hang out and drink,” he said. “We’re a more professional city. And it’s not our fault that our teams have sucked for so long. I think we’re a very solid sports city and we don’t have anything to apologize for.”

He also has no remorse for the abundance of time spent locally on the NFL and Washington’s franchise. Local critics who claim Czaban & Co. never talk about other area teams are “flat-out wrong,” he said. “I can show them the logs.”

But he said you can’t overdo it with the NFL, particularly with storylines as juicy as that of Robert Griffin III and other burgundy-and-gold dramas.

Yahoo! gave Czaban’s a three-year renewal in October 2013, a few months before ESPN 980 extended his local contract by the same length. “Czabe is integral to the success of our station,” vice president of programming Chuck Sapienza said in a press release. “We look forward to three additional years of Czabe, Cooley and Galdi.”

Czaban never saw this coming 25 years ago.

“Being in this business like being on the run from the law,” he said. “You never take anything for granted beyond the end of your current contract. It’s a deal you have to make peace with in your mind, that ‘Hey, this may not work out and I’ll have to go to Plan B.”

Being bumped by Stephen A. and being canned in Charlotte haven’t stopped Plan A. It’s working out just fine.

Credit to the Washington Post who originally posted this article

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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