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Brandon Contes’ 5 Favorite Stories of 2018

Brandon Contes

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Sorting through all of the articles I contributed to Barrett Sports Media in the last year, there were many that stood out.  I’m grateful to all of the people in the industry that took time to sit down and have a conversation with me for a piece during the year, but I cut my list down to these five that I enjoyed rereading most.

Four months after his yearlong retirement tour, rumors of Mike Francesa returning to WFAN quickly strengthened in April.  Regardless of your feelings on Francesa as a host at this stage of his career or his ability to retire and return as quickly as Brett Favre, what I loved seeing was radio dominate the news.  In 2008, when Mike and the Mad Dog split it was on the front and back page of the paper, a decade later after plenty of modernization with how media is consumed, to still see an old medium such as radio be the big story in New York was really cool.

https://barrettsportsmedia.com/wfans-dysfunction-could-benefit-all-involved/

Barstool Sports is often criticized for its frat-like culture with complaints that the platform promotes sexual harassment and online trolling.  But in a male-dominated industry, rarely do people talk about the fact that Barstool has a female CEO and women hosting prominent radio shows and podcasts.  Rarely do people talk about all the good Barstool promotes.  Their ability to say ‘hey, trust me, this person needs help,’ and get people to open up their wallets no questions asked is inspiring.  I watched that play out first-hand in September when KFC raised thousands for a close friend of mine.

https://barrettsportsmedia.com/kfc-uses-barstool-venmo-account-for-cancer-survivor/

I listened to Craig Carton every morning for a decade, but I wouldn’t have referred to myself as a Carton fan until his WFAN tenure came to a screeching halt and I realized how much he was a part of my day.  I met Carton a few times in recent years, each time he came across genuine and easy to talk to, this conversation was no different.  I understand why people would be upset with Craig, but staring at jail-time, yet still being able to continue his energetic, brash style on-air speaks volumes to his radio talent. 

https://barrettsportsmedia.com/an-unfiltered-conversation-with-craig-carton/

“Talking about equal rights is not political. It should be offensive to people on both sides of the aisle to act like advocating for equal rights is a liberal or conservative position.”  An inarguable matter of fact statement, but it was one of the thoughts from Nick Wright that led this article to be picked up by Awful Announcing and tweeted out by many including Jemele Hill.  Wright’s one of the most talented personalities in the industry and I thoroughly enjoyed the hour I spent with him for this article.

https://barrettsportsmedia.com/nick-wright-determined-to-make-his-mark-on-fox-sports-1/

Growing up in the industry, Spike Eskin has radio in his blood, but it’s his own creative drive and passion for radio that led to his success.  Spike told me he’s never been an “industry guy,” he doesn’t read or listen to much on the subject, but there are few people I would rather discuss the industry with.   

https://barrettsportsmedia.com/a-conversation-with-spike-eskin/

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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Sports Radio News

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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