After fourteen years in New Orleans, Gerry Vaillancourt is returning to the Queen City. The longtime Charlotte sports talk show host has been hired by ESPN 730 to take over afternoons on the station starting Monday July 17th.
Vaillancourt first appeared on the Charlotte airwaves in 1991 as host of Sports Talk on WCNT. He also spent two years hosting on WFNZ in the same capacity. Then came a switch in 1996 to WBT where he began hosting “The Gerry V” show and the “Panthers post-game show”.
As he was making inroads as a talk show host and sports anchor on local television, Vaillancourt’s prior background in coaching basketball helped him land an opportunity with the Charlotte Hornets. He was added to the team’s broadcast in 1994 where he wore a number of different hats including studio host and color analyst.
The Hornets decision to move to New Orleans is what led Vaillancourt away from Charlotte. He headed south with the franchise in 2002, continuing to work on their broadcasts until 2012 when new ownership and management chose to make sweeping changes. Altogether Vaillancourt spent 22 years working for the team.
During his New Orleans stint Vaillancourt also returned to hosting the “Gerry V Show”. He spent time hosting on Sports Radio 1280 AM when the Hornets were uprooted to Oklahoma City following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. He then resurfaced with WRNO 99.5FM in 2015 and remained installed in mornings until the end of 2016 when the station made budget cuts and began airing an out of market morning show.
With Vaillancourt returning, it does mean additional changes are necessary at ESPN 730. The most noticeable one will take place in mornings where the station will feature local programming instead of ESPN Radio’s national content. Mike and Mike are expected to end their show in the near future, and that’s convinced station management to expand their local offerings and shake things up.
The new morning team will consist of Bobby Rosinski, Walker Mehl and Molly Cotten. Rosinski had been entrenched in afternoons with Chris Allison. Mehl and Cotten have been hosting the midday show “Inside The Lines”. Allison will be moving off the air to focus on station sales.
Rounding out the station’s weekday lineup will be ESPN Radio’s Ryen Russillo Show. ESPN 730 is operated by former Carolina Panthers General Manager Marty Hurney who also makes appearances on the radio station.
SURVEY: 16.9% of All Sports Radio Listeners Are Streaming
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 Nielsen reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.
According to Nielsen, All 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 its 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.