The mood is about to change on the airwaves of SportsTalk 790. And the expected changes will have an impact on morning and afternoon drive on the Houston sports radio station.
BSM reported earlier that morning host Lance Zierlein informed 790 executives of his intentions to let his contract expire this summer and become a free agent. He has since confirmed the news on social media.
790 and Zierlein are both open to continuing a part-time relationship. Whether or not that will come to fruition remains to be seen. Sports Radio 610 and Gow Media have previously served as employer’s of Zierlein’s and depending on their local needs, could also be interested.
In recent years, the popular Houston radio personality has begun contributing as an NFL Draft Analyst for the NFL Network and NFL.com. He’s seen as an emerging talent by network officials and is expected to remain involved on multiple platforms with the network. Zierlein has hosted the morning show on 790 since 2011, working with different partners including Adam Clanton and his current partner Matt Thomas.
With Zierlein leaving, BSM has learned that 790 plans to move Josh Innes into morning drive. The change isn’t expected to occur until the summer, just in time for football season. Innes’ move earlier in the day will create an opening in afternoons. Sources I spoke with said former host Charlie Pallilo is not expected to be part of the new afternoon mix.
Since returning to Houston, Innes has been a magnet for local media attention. His ratings haven’t yet sent a jolt into the marketplace but his talent is undeniable. 790 is hoping that a move earlier in the day will allow Innes to further move the ratings needle and lift the station back to a stronger overall position.
Given the stylistic differences in the way Innes hosts his show compared to 610’s MaD Radio, Houston sports radio listeners will soon have different options to consider when listening each morning. Add to the equation 97.5 ESPN, who are losing Mike and Mike as a result of ESPN splitting up the long time duo, and the fall should produce an interesting report card for mornings in Houston.
The one situation which will be clarified soon is Matt Thomas’ role with 790. Thomas is currently paired with Zierlein on the morning show and contributes as a public address and radio play by play announcer for the Houston Rockets. It’s possible the station could shift him to afternoons or return him to a midday position. Sources close to the situation were unsure of the station’s plans for him but said he would not be paired with Innes.
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.