No official announcements have been made by WFAN as to how they’re replacing Mike Francesa in afternoon drive, but the radio icon himself has been open about his new role, which will include a 30-minute weekday show.
As WFAN looks to retool their lineup for the second time in two years, Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts are expected to take over the 2 – 6pm timeslot with Maggie Gray and Marc Malusis likely headed to the midday. But as Francesa recently stepped down from his afternoon post, he has continued to make it clear that he’s not leaving the station completely.
On Tuesday, Francesa appeared as a guest with Julie Stewart-Binks on her fubo Sports Network show, Call It a Night to promote the upcoming film he has a small role in Uncut Gems. During the appearance, Francesa removed himself as a potential candidate to be the next head coach of the Giants, but did discuss his future with WFAN and their parent company Entercom.
According to Francesa, his daily WFAN gig from 6 – 6:30pm will be fast paced and unlike his previous shows, probably won’t take a lot of calls.
“My show always moved very quickly anyway,” Francesa told host Julie Stewart-Binks. “That’s how I did things. I disposed of callers very quickly. I moved everything along very quickly. That’s just my way. I went through a very high volume of stuff. I think the show has to move. I hate when it drags.”
Keeping with the plan of moving quickly, the half hour show will only have five-minutes of commercials, but Francesa said he’s still working on the format.
“I’m gonna change up how I do it, there’s not going to be a lot of calls. There will be some, but very few. Maybe even only one a day. I thought about maybe that. I’m still formulating the half-hour. I’m going to make it something we haven’t done before.”
In addition to maintaining a daily presence on WFAN, Francesa will also have an expanded role with RADIO.COM, which he previously stated will include content on both sports and politics.
Francesa told Stewart-Binks that he has a fascination with finance and politics. While he’s satisfied with show options in the finance space, Francesa believes there’s room for improvement with available political content.
The radio host has never shied away from stating his support for President Trump, but when it comes to the political content he wants to create, Francesa says he’ll play it right down the middle. While most political shows and networks are heavily in favor of the left or right, Francesa hopes to be an unbiased voice.
Stewart-Binks asked Francesa about the often spewed ‘stick to sports’ mandate. “Tell ‘em to shut up, I don’t care what they think,” Francesa answered.
Francesa’s RADIO.COM hour is expected to air weekdays at 5pm ET, preceding his six o’clock show on the FAN and totaling 90 minutes of airtime a day for the longtime sports radio host.
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.