The Charlotte Hornets and Entercom’s WFNZ (610 AM/102.5 FM) The Fan in Charlotte have inked a new multi-year deal for WFNZ to continue serving as the team’s flagship radio station. The announcement was made Monday morning.
“The Hornets are an outstanding organization in a great sports town,” said Matthew R. Hanlon, VP/GM Entercom/Charlotte. “It makes so much sense for WFNZ to be the flagship station for the Hornets’ radio network. We’re very proud to be a part of the growth and success of the Charlotte Hornets.”
“We are excited to have WFNZ once again serve as the ‘radio home of the Charlotte Hornets’ with this multi-year partnership,” said Hornets President & COO Fred Whitfield. “In addition to broadcasting all Hornets games, our fans will benefit from the increased hours of additional Hornets programming, including extended pregame and postgame shows. We look forward to working with all of the talented people at WFNZ for many years to come.”
The extended partnership between the Hornets and WFNZ will feature more Hornets programming than ever before on the radio station. All of the team’s preseason, regular-season and postseason games will be carried by WFNZ and each game broadcast will also be available to fans on the Hornets app. The new agreement includes an expanded 30-minute pregame show and a 20-minute postgame wrap-up show. Following the wrap-up show, WFNZ will provide an additional 30-minute call-in postgame show.
In addition, WFNZ is adding a weekly 60-minute Hornets show to its lineup. The new show will air Thursday nights at 6pm ET. Daily Hornets features will also air on both WFNZ and its sister station WBT (1110 AM) during the NBA season.
The two parties have confirmed the return of Steve Martin as the radio play-by-play voice. Martin has served as a radio or television broadcaster for NBA basketball in Charlotte since the team arrived in 1988. He’s expected to call all of the action at home and on the road. Former NBA player Matt Carroll joins Martin as the Hornets radio analyst for all home games.
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.