MLB Network has picked out a name and set the talent lineup for its first-ever regular season morning show, The Wrap has learned exclusively.
On professional baseball’s highly anticipated Opening Day, Monday, April 6, “MLB Central” will debut with hosts Matt Vasgersian, Mark DeRosa and Lauren Shehadi.
“Fans are thirsting for baseball around the clock, and live is always better,” Coordinating Producer Josh Bernstein told TheWrap as he explained the programming decision and the show’s timing. “Starting our programming day a little bit earlier with live stuff — it’s exciting, and if news breaks in the middle of the night, if something changes in the morning, we’re there.”
Previously, the network rebroadcast highlights show “Quick Pitch” in the timeslot.
The three-hour morning show will be the first program to originate from MLB Network’s new, state-of-the-art 8,000 square foot Studio 21, named in honor of Hall-of-Fame baseball player Roberto Clemente’s number — a space that Bernstein promised is “mind-blowing.” The studio will also become home to the aforementioned “Quick Pitch” and the series “MLB Now.”
Of course, a huge set doesn’t solely launch a series, and Bernstein had equal praise for the trio they selected to man “MLB Central,” touting the “off-the-charts” chemistry of announcer Vasgersian, former long-term pro ballplayer DeRosa and internal talent Shehadi (“The Rundown,” “Hot Stove”).
Those three are pretty stoked for their new morning show too.
“I’m looking forward to the fact that this show is going to be a little bit different in that it’s not as tightly formatted based on games in progress,” Vasgersian told TheWrap. “I appreciate the collaboration element of this a lot, and we’ve all taken equal stakes in coming up with segment ideas in pre-production.”
“MLB Central” will air live each weekday morning, with updates and context on the latest news, on-field highlights, and long-form conversations with guests, celebrities, and insiders from around the league.
Each show will begin with “The Wake-Up Call,” a look at the biggest highlights and news stories in the game. DeRosa will give his opinion on the latest on-field performances in “The D-Train,” and the show’s analysts will offer their daily take on the hottest players and best moves in the world of fantasy baseball. Towards the end of the 180-minute block, as the 1 p.m. ET baseball games ready their first pitch, “MLB Central” will shift into pregame mode.
Other recurring features will include interviews with MLB players, managers and others inside the clubhouse and a segment inspired by the MLB Network trivia show “Baseball IQ.”
“We’re going to strike the right balance between entertainment and baseball,” Bernstein told TheWrap.
“Baseball is … America’s pastime and we breathe it here,” Bernstein concluded. “We serve the fans that are craving it. It’s never been better and that’s why the time has never been better to do the show.”
Credit to the Boston Herald who originally published this article
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.