A changing of the guard was officially announced by WFAN. After nearly a decade of the same lineup, led off by Boomer and Carton from 6-10 in the morning, Benigno and Roberts 10-1 in the midday, and Mike Francesa’s solo 1-6:30 show, the number one sports radio station in the country will undergo an overhaul.
WFAN was aware for two years the station’s anchor of nearly 30 years, Mike Francesa, was targeting December 15th 2017 as his final show. Former “Mike and the Maddog” producer and most recently WIP’s afternoon host in Philly, Chris Carlin will be teamed up with ex-NFL player Bart Scott and CBS Sports Radio host Maggie Gray. Carlin was the original sports anchor for Boomer and Carton and produced the afternoon show on WFAN for over six years, but he did say he has not spoken to Francesa since 2010.
Carlin joined Philadelphia’s WIP as their afternoon host along with Ike Reese just over a year ago. When asked whether or not he was concerned Carlin might have his eye on the future WFAN opening when he joined the station, WIP’s Program Director Spike Eskin told me:
“I had no concern about the WFAN opening when we hired Chris. I believed then, and I believe now, that Chris came to WIP to make this his home and help WIP win for years. But situations change, as they almost always do in radio. You can never guess what things will change, just that they almost always will.”
Regarding WIP’s own changes after Carlin’s departure Spike said, “The idea of having a deep roster of talent, is having the ability to not just withstand a situation like this, but continue to grow. I believe Jon Marks is the best choice for afternoons on WIP in the entire country, and we will hit the ground running. I’m also really excited to be able to have Joe Giglio on WIP every night, which will give him even more opportunity to show everyone how good he is, and get even better. ”
The three person team to fill Francesa’s slot was questioned by former WFAN host Chris Russo. On his SiriusXM afternoon show, Mad Dog was most curious about the addition of Bart Scott, “He’s not from here. (He’s from Detroit.) He doesn’t know anything about New York. You have to be honest. You have to be fair. I should keep my mouth shut because I’ll get in trouble here. But there’s a lot of talk show hosts who have New York roots around the country. You’re telling me you couldn’t get someone in there and give him a shot?”
It’s a fair question from Russo as Francesa’s show was always baseball heavy during the summer, even when he was on vacation and the midday show filled in. When Mickey Callaway pulls Noah Syndergaard after six shutout innings only to watch the bullpen lose the game, how will the city respond to Carlin, a Texas Rangers fan, Scott an ex-NFL player who grew up in Detroit, and Gray from Binghamton? Time will tell, but there’s no question the hosts are being handed prime radio real estate to work with and fans of the station should give them a chance to succeed.
WFAN hasn’t experienced as much turnover as other sports radio stations throughout the country in their history, but when Don Imus departed the station in 2007, WFAN Program Director, Mark Chernoff hit a ratings home run with Boomer and Carton as his replacement.
When I checked in with Chernoff regarding the station’s announcement he said, “My only comment is how excited I am about the new show and how much I want to thank Mike for his 30 wonderful years here and anchoring afternoon drive since September, 1989 first with Dog, then solo. An amazing run.”
Amidst the two year debate of who should replace Francesa, Chernoff was also hit with the sudden dismissal of popular morning show co-host Craig Carton. WFAN confirmed this morning, former Joe and Evan producer and current CBS Sports Radio morning host, Gregg Giannotti will be Boomer Esiason’s new full-time partner to solidify the 6-10am timeslot.
During the announcement, Giannotti mentioned he received an unexpected phone call from Craig Carton. Gio said the conversation “really did mean the world to me,” and Carton was “unbelievably nice as you could possibly be.” Boomer followed by saying “I didn’t expect anything less because that’s the guy we knew,” referring to his former partner. Boomer also stated emphatically, “He’ll be back.”
The new schedule for WFAN launches January 2nd, 2018 with the Boomer and Gio show 6-10am ET, which can also be viewed on the CBS Sports Network, Benigno and Roberts in the midday with an additional hour from 10-2, and The Afternoon Drive with Carlin, Bart and Maggie from 2-6:30pm.
The only piece of the puzzle still missing is who will replace Giannotti in mornings on the CBS Sports Radio Network opposite Brian Jones.
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.