Tim McKernan may be on the verge of gaining sole operating control of 590 The Fan, KFNS according to STL Today. The host of The Morning After currently has a 25% stake in the radio station, but majority owner Randy Markel has opened talks with McKernan to give him an opportunity to buy him out and take over as the station’s primary owner.
Markel purchased KFNS in 2015 after the radio station went bankrupt. He not only returned the radio station to the airwaves, but also invested in upgrading the towers which transmit the station’s signal.
One of the conditions in the agreement between the two men was that McKernan would receive $100,000 if the station was sold to another party. He was also given first right of refusal if Markel received any outside offers.
Although he isn’t exploring outside investors, Markel said his initial goal was to sell to McKernan in the next 4-5 years. But with other business interests requiring his focus, he’s decided there’s no better time than the present to explore a potential sale.
“I thought, ‘Why not sell now?’ Markel told STL Today. “I will make a cool half a million dollars-plus in a (little over) a year. I’ve got $2 million in it, I want a half-million profit. That’s what I deserve.”
In addition to being the majority owner of KFNS, Markel also owns Chuck’s Boots stores throughout the St. Louis area, and he’s building a youth baseball complex at the Lake of the Ozarks which will have nine fields and is expected to draw teams from all over the country. Former St. Louis sports radio hosts Bob Ramsey and Jeff Vernetti are overseeing that project for Markel.
“I had to make a decision — do I want to go all-in with the radio station or all-in with the ballparks? I couldn’t do both unless I sold Chuck’s Boots, but that still is in the works and could take some time” said Markel. “I thought about it, the radio station has the potential to be great, and in Tim’s hands. That’s what he’s always wanted (to own his own sports station). I said, ‘You come up with 1½ million (dollars), I will finance the other million at 6 percent, over 1-3 years, at interest only.”
The only question now is how long will it take the two sides to complete a deal. Markel is optimistic of finalizing an agreement quickly, whereas McKernan is taking a more cautious approach. Let the negotiations begin.
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.