Despite being apart for eight years, Mike Francesa and Chris Russo haven’t lost any zip on their fastball.
The partners of 19 years on WFAN received raucous applause from the moment they took the stage for their three-hour reunion special LIVE from Radio City music hall. Russo opened with his classic, “Good afternoon, everybody!” and off they went, treating it just like any other show.
The show included live appearances by former Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, former Yankees manager Joe Torre, former Rangers captain Mark Messier, former Mets skipper Bobby Valentin, and former Knicks Head Coach Jeff Van Gundy. All of them spoke with Mike and Chris for 15-20 minutes about their time in New York, and their future endeavors.
One thing that remained the same for the duo was their shtick as they offered their passionate opinions.
At one point, Russo screamed at free-agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was in the audience, to re-sign with the Jets. When Francesa countered Russo by asking “How much are they going to have to give him”? Russo replied “16 million” to which Mike followed up by adding “if that’s the number he’s heading there now to sign it. You’re going to look back in a few minutes and see an empty seat because he’s left the building to sign that deal”.
Prior to the show, Francesa and Russo allowed themselves to enjoy the moment and reflect back on what they had accomplished together.
“When we started, sports talk show was at the bottom. No one respected the job,” Francesa said. “Now kids go to school to become a sports talk show host. Now being a sports talk show host is a really good job.”
Added Russo: “Sports talk creates a bond. … I didn’t realize how many 35-, 40-year-olds are so into this. Twenty years ago, they were 10, but they listened to it with their fathers. So they have a bond with their father while listening to Mike and me.”
To buildup to the reunion show, WFAN aired a “Best of Mike and the Mad Dog” throughout the afternoon and early evening yesterday. The station brought back many of Mike and Chris’ famous debates and discussions, funny moments, and special interviews including a classic conversation with former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.
The reunion special was carried LIVE on WFAN and SiriusXM radio, and on MSG television.
Credit to the New York Post who provided some of this information.
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.