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Under The Radar – January 23, 2018

Jason Barrett

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Most sports radio stations are preparing for next week’s buildup to the Super Bowl. Some are invading Minneapolis to operate on radio row. Others are avoiding the cold and working out of their home studios. Although that may be the focus, it doesn’t mean the news wheel stops spinning. If you’d like to be included in this column in the future, send your information via email to JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me. Now here’s the latest activity in sports media circles.

Bad news to report out of Chicago. Cumulus Media has opted out of their multi-year agreements with the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls. Each team has aired their games on WLS AM 890. Cumulus filed for bankruptcy and as part of the process, have chosen to return a number of Chicago stations to their previous owner Merlin Media. How this will affect the Bulls and White Sox radio partnerships is unclear at this time.

Elsewhere in the windy city, 670 The Score‘s Danny Parkins is trying to make a difference. The Score midday host turned the Chicago Bulls draft night decision of selling off Jordan Bell to the Golden State Warriors into a positive. Parkins had a number of shirts customized with the text “3.5 Million” added on the back. That amount signifies what the Bulls received back for the talented rookie. The shirts are being sold for charity with a portion of the profits going to benefit Feed My Starving Children.

An interesting piece of news was shared in an article last week on the Sports Business Journal‘s website. John Ourand reported that ESPN is cutting back on travel to Minneapolis this year. The network is reportedly reducing the amount of ESPN Radio shows sent to the Super Bowl host city to provide coverage leading up to the Super Bowl.

Well wishes go out to Sports Radio WIP‘s Joe DeCamara. The Philadelphia midday host recently missed a number of shows due to being hospitalized with internal organ issues. DeCamara has since returned to hosting his daily program with Jon Ritchie. With the Eagles Super Bowl bound, DeCamara would have likely had doctors working on him during commercial breaks to make sure he was able to operate behind a microphone over these next two weeks.

101 ESPN afternoon host and former major league baseball pitcher Brad Thompson is earning a little more air time on St. Louis Cardinals television broadcasts this season according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Thompson is expected to work as the team’s color analyst alongside play by play man Dan McLaughlin for 15 games. Regular analyst Al Hrabosky is reducing his workload for the 2018 season. Tim McCarver and Ricky Horton will also continue contributing as analysts to Cardinals telecasts.

SiriusXM‘s PGA Tour channel has announced a few additions. John Cook, an 11-time winner on the PGA Tour, and golf analysts and former collegiate golfers Angela Garcia and Hally Leadbetter have signed on to host shows on the channel. Cook will be heard every Tuesday 7p-8p ET. Garcia and Leadbetter will host a show together every Monday 8p-9p ET.

After 15 years on the Dayton sports scene, Mark Neal has chosen to leave WING-AM ESPN 1410. Neal told the Dayton Daily News that he and his wife have decided to take different career directions, which will pull him him away from the radio station he’s spent the past 18 years at.

A tip of the cap to San Jose Sharks radio voice Dan Rusanowsky. The exceptional Bay Area play by play man recently called his 2,000th regular season Sharks contest.

Also out of the Bay Area, Martin Gallegos has announced he’s signed on full-time as the Oakland A’s beat reporter for the Bay Area News Group (Mercury News/East Bay Times.)

Last but not least, Michael Bish has landed a show on FOX Sports Radio 1340 in Richmond, Virginia. The program is scheduled to debut in February!

Sports Radio News

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.

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MLB Radio

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.

Radio Listeners to MLB

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.

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Sports Radio News

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”

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Jeff Dean Show

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”

Jeff Dean Facebook

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.

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Jonas Knox: Adrian Wojnarowski’s NBA Draft Reporting Was Desperate Ratings Ploy

“The idea that Woj is going to get duped by Orlando Magic in the draft! The first time he’s ever been duped in his career?”

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Thursday’s NBA Draft is a moment the guys waiting to hear their names called had been waiting for since the day they picked up a basketball. While his draft came decades ago in the NFL, LaVar Arrington could relate to what they were feeling.

“It’s a dream recognized,” he said on Friday’s episode of FOX Sports Radio’s 2 Pros and a Cup of Joe. “You work so hard for so long. So, when you’re sitting there waiting for them to call your name, it’s a surreal moment.”

His partner, Jonas Knox, wasn’t in such a nostalgic or celebratory mood. He had a problem with the information leading up to draft night and just how much the narrative that Auburn’s Jabari Smith would be taken by the Orlando Magic with the first pick was pushed before all the sudden, it wasn’t.

“What a bunch of crap that we are being fed by Adrian Wojnarowski, ESPN, the Orlando Magic,” he said. “Whoever’s feeding it is full of crap.”

Wojnarowski tweeted an hour before the Draft that Jabari Smith was still the favorite to be taken, but he was hearing that the Magic weren’t ruling out Duke’s Paolo Banchero. 

When the first pick was announced, it was Paolo Banchero that heard his name called, not Smith. 

“One of three things happened,” Knox said. “Either ESPN is so desperate for ratings and for people to give a crap about the NBA Draft and their sport that they waited until the final hour to pump up some interest, realizing we’ve got a problem here based on some ratings and some reports on some ratings in the NBA Finals, so they waited until an hour before and had Woj drop a ‘Woj Bomb’ that it could not be Jabari Smith, that it could be Banchero who’s gonna go number one overall. It’s either that or Woj is in some kind of cahoots with the Orlando Magic.”

That is a powerful accusation. Knox finds it hard to believe the information got to ESPN’s renowned NBA Insider so late in the process.

“The idea that Woj is going to get duped by Orlando Magic in the draft! The first time he’s ever been duped in his career?”

He didn’t rule out that someone was trying to make money behind the scenes. As late as Thursday afternoon, the Duke Forward was still in plus territory to be the top pick on many sportsbooks’ odds boards. The odds had gone as high as +1600 last week.

“I call BS. I think it’s all shenanigans and I think somebody needs to get called out for it,” Knox concluded. “That pisses me off, man.”

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