Usually sports radio hosts are in the business of forming opinions on available evidence, but sometimes being a journalist takes precedence as they gather their own information.
For over a month, Carrington Harrison of Kansas City’s 610 Sports Radio held a recording of the full 11-minute recorded conversation between Chiefs wide-receiver Tyreek Hill and his fiancée, Crystal Espinal privately discussing domestic abuse allegations. The tape, released by 610 Sports earlier this week may have swayed the court of public opinion about Hill’s alleged involvement, but for Harrison the process of releasing the audio wasn’t easy.
Unable to share how he received the audio, Harrison did acknowledge he wasn’t holding onto it by choice. Although saving it for the dog days of summer helped create content during a slow period for sports, the time-frame for when to release the 11-minute recording was not dictated by Harrison. Acquiring the audio on June 7th, Harrison and 610 Sports didn’t receive clearance to release the recording until Monday July 8th at 4:40pm CST.
“I was explicitly told if I went against our legal team’s orders to not play the tape, it would be violating a direct order for my superiors,” Harrison told me.
In an attempt to gain clearance for the recording, Harrison reached out to Tyreek Hill’s attorney, agent, the Johnson County District Attorney and the Overland Park Police Department, but neither would verify the audio. It was not until these efforts were exhausted that Entercom, which owns 610 Sports, stepped in and paid for the audio to be independently verified last week.
“I personally went to Hill’s attorney to speak with him. He would not meet with me,” Harrison said, noting he was told to set an appointment which they declined when he attempted to do so. Harrison even had his personal attorney contact the DA, but he too would not verify the audio.
During the course of the last month, Harrison never believed any other media outlet had access to the tape and would release it before 610 Sports gained clearance to do so. Kansas City’s CBS affiliate, KCTV5 publicly shared excerpts from the 11-minute recording in April, but declined to release it in full. Since the full recording was made public, some have questioned why KCTV5 and their news director, Casey Clark chose select clips to release back in April.
“I couldn’t live with myself if we had taken a chunk of something like that and given life forever,” Clark said on-air, referring specifically to the part of the recording where Hill told Espinal he didn’t want to have children. “I just felt like it was best for us if we took the parts that were relevant, put them on the news.”
When I asked Harrison if he had any moral hesitations about releasing the full recording knowing the potential firestorm it would create, the radio host said, “I had a few, but they did not slow down the process of playing the audio and getting it authenticated.”
Whether or not releasing the full audio vs only select clips paints Tyreek Hill in a different light is up to the court of public opinion. For Harrison, it was important to put in the necessary work to give the public that option of forming their own opinion with the available evidence.
Carrington Harrison and Sean Levine host The Drive on 610 Sports every weekday from 2 – 6pm.
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.