Lance Zierlein and John Granato enjoyed a lot of radio success together before going in separate directions. But in the crazy world of sports talk radio, things have a way of coming full circle. Now after years apart and working at different companies, the two men are joining forces once again to try and reclaim their position as one of Houston’s best sports talk shows.
The talented duo will take over morning drive on ESPN 97.5 FM from 7a-9a starting Monday November 27th. The two men will remain on the air together from 9a-9:30a with midday host Raheel Ramzanali. Granato stays on with Ramzanali each day until 11am.
In taking over the morning slot, Zierlein and Granato gain the majority of hours which were previously occupied by ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike. Houston had been a market where ESPN Radio had performed well in mornings. The change leaves ESPN Radio’s new show with Trey Wingo and Mike Golic with two less hours of air time each day in one of its top rated markets.
“Reuniting John and Lance is a homerun”, said David Gow, CEO of Gow Media. “For years, people have asked me when those two could do a show again, and now the stars have aligned.”
Recognized by the Houston Press for Best Radio Show and as Best Radio Host, and a longtime analyst for NFL.com, Zierlein began his career at Sports Radio 610 before joining Granato for the launch of Gow Media’s 1560 AM in 2007. Zierlein had been a mainstay in mornings on SportsTalk 790 but elected to exit the radio station this past June, paving the way for Josh Innes to takeover the timeslot.
“I’m really excited about getting back together with John Granato and being part of what David Gow is building with 97.5, Sports Map and Culture Map,” says Zierlein. “John and I had the most talked-about show in Houston because of our chemistry and the fun we had on the air. That’s missing from a lot of the radio shows out there today. It’s time to bring that back in the mornings.”
Granato, who also enjoyed a successful ten-year run at 610, is equally excited about the benefits the new show will provide to his personal and professional relationship with Zierlein.
“It’s huge for me to have Lance back” added Granato. “Not only is he a great friend but I owe a lot to him in my career. And he’s one of the funniest guys I know. A lot of people woke up to us over the years. Hopefully they’ll be back and we’ll get a bunch of new people as well. I’m really excited about being in morning drive again (Except that whole waking up early thing).”
The addition of Zierlein is another big local move by Gow Media. The company previously convinced SportsTalk 790 afternoon host Charlie Pallilo to jump on board, and struck a deal to acquire CultureMap, an online social scene website that started in Houston and expanded to Austin and Dallas.
Reflecting on a busy 2017, David Gow believes bigger things are in store for his Houston-based multi-platform media company. “Lance caps off a great year for us”, observes Gow. “With Ken Hoffman, Charlie Pallilo and now Lance Zierlein joining our already-strong roster of talent, we believe we’ve built the ‘dream team’ that Houston’s sports fans are looking for”.
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.