Detroit’s 97.1 The Ticket recently acknowledged they’ve “missed the mark” in building a lineup that reflects their diverse city. Two weeks later, the station is taking action with the addition of veteran local sports host Rico Beard to their afternoon show.
Beginning Aug. 3, The Ticket’s afternoon drive program will rebrand as The Mike Valenti Show with Rico, airing weekdays from 2 – 6pm.
“I am extremely blessed and honored in becoming a host on The Mike Valenti Show on 97.1 The Ticket,” Beard said in Entercom’s press release. “I was flattered when Mike Valenti himself asked me to join his show. My job will be to bring in a new voice and opinions to a show that is already one of the best shows not only in Detroit but in the sports talk radio industry throughout the U.S.”
Rico brings with him more than two decades of local sports media experience, having recently hosted The Spartan Beat for The Team 92.1 and The Ryan and Rico Show on Detroit Sports 105.1.
According to Debbie Kenyon, SVP and Market Manager of Entercom Detroit, Beard has long been on the company’s “wish list” of talent to add.
“I’ve wanted to work with Rico for several years now and it is simply fantastic the occasion has arrived,” said Valenti. “Adding Rico to our show represents a massive opportunity to not only stay at No. 1 but to evolve and become even stronger. I’m really proud of the show we created.”
The Ticket also announced Valenti’s producer and on-air contributor Mike Sullivan will be departing the show for a new opportunity.
“Sullivan has meant a lot to this show, to the station and to me personally,” Valenti added. “I’m excited about his new opportunity and wish him all the success in the world.”
While The Ticket may have been interested in adding Beard to their lineup for some time, the announcement comes just three weeks after a former local radio host and current FS1 personality Rob Parker highlighted the station’s diversity issues in a column on Deadspin.
“Talk about a lack of diversity. In a city that is 82.7 percent Black, according to the latest census, the only all-sports talk radio station in town — 97.1 The Ticket — has NO full-time black hosts on the air,” Parker wrote for Deadspin.
“It would be one thing if this was a radio station in Iowa or Nebraska. But in Motown, the Blackest city in America?” Parker questioned.
The sports talk prowess and perspective of Detroit native Rico Beard is a welcome addition to The Ticket’s daily lineup.
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.