It’s been well documented on this website the past two weeks that the spring ratings across the sports radio format weren’t as strong as they usually are. Aside from 98.5 The Sports Hub, 97.1 The Ticket and Sports Radio WIP, most brands experienced a little bit of a setback due to the pandemic, a lack of sports, and listening behavior being different than usual.
But in Charlotte, they must’ve put something in the water because WFNZ overcame some amazing obstacles to deliver one of their best quarters yet.
Before I dive into the breakdowns, consider what this radio station went thru over the past few months. Dealing with a pandemic and lack of sports is challenging enough, but the radio station saw former PD Tony DiGiacomo exit in early March, just before the spring book. A month later, operations manager Darrin Ariens passed away due to COVID-19. If ever a station deserved a break, this one did, and they got it this quarter.
Starting with the Men 25-54 numbers in weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p), WFNZ finished 6th with a 5.6. The station was actually as high as 4th during 2 of the 3 spring months. For the full week (M-SU 6a-Mid) the radio station was 9th in the market with a 4.3.
The story was even better among Men 18-34. WFNZ was 1st overall in weekday prime with an 11.2, and 2nd for the full week with a 7.8. One exceptional stat to share, their TSL for the month of June among 18-34 Men was just under 16 hours. Keep in mind, they’re doing this on an AM stick with a 5,000 watt signal and a low powered FM translator.
Looking at the station’s key shows, The Mac Attack with Chris McClain and Travis ‘TBone’ Hancock came in 7th with a 5.4 thanks to the 2nd best TSL in the market among Men 25-54. Even more impressive, the show was 1st overall with Men 18-34 with a 13.3. The month of May in particular jumped out as the morning team delivered a massive 17.2 in the 18-34 demo. Mac and TBone had no issue keeping younger listeners tuned in either, they were tops in TSL including a huge 6+ hours of listening in the month of June.
In middays, the talented team of Nick Wilson and Josh Parcell were also 7th for the spring, but with three more tenths of a point than the morning show. Wilson and Parcell produced a 5.7 with Men 25-54, and were also 1st overall with Men 18-34 with a 11.5. Similar to the morning crew, middays was best in TSL with Men 18-34 led by June’s dominant 7+ hours of listening.
From 2p-6p, The Clubhouse with Kyle Bailey turned in a 7th place finish as well, also recording a 5.7 with Men 25-54. Bailey’s program was a hit too with Men 18-34, finishing 2nd with a 10.6, thanks to strong TSL. Similar to the station’s other two shows, TSL in June during afternoons was just under 5 hours of listening per week.
Rounding things out, The Final Drive with Josh Parcell produced the best ranking position for the entire weekday lineup. Parcell’s solo hour was tied for 5th with a 4.7 among Men 25-54. With Men 18-34 the story was great too. Parcell came in 2nd with a 7.2, led by strong TSL. In June alone, he was 1st in the market with 4:45 of listening per week.
What’s especially impressive is that just one year ago with Men 25-54, the morning show produced a mid 3 share, and middays and afternoons were both just under a mid 4 share. That means Wilson & Parcell and Kyle Bailey each gained a point, and Mac and TBone picked up two points.
Congrats is in order for Matt Hanlon and the entire WFNZ programming staff. With new PD Terry Foxx now in the building, the pressure will be on to lift the brand to even greater heights in the summer book.
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.