The Pat McAfee Show, like so many other sports radio shows across the country, touched on Tony La Russa throwing one of his own Chicago White Sox players under the bus on Thursday. While the debate seems to be about old school vs. new school mentality in the sport, McAfee says it is about La Russa’s legacy within the game.
La Russa has come under fire for first apologizing for a home run Yermin Mercedes hit on a 3-0 pitch, while the White Sox were up by 11 on the Minnesota Twins. The manager doubled down on his assertion that Mercedes needed to face consequences for breaking one of baseball’s unwritten rules on Wednesday night, when he said that he had no problem with the Twins’ Tyler Duffey throwing a ball behind Mercedes in his first at bat of the night. That was a very different reaction than Major League Baseball had. The league office suspended Duffy the following day for three games.
“Listen Tony, you’re a great coach. You’ll just always be remembered as one who can’t adapt and evolve with his players,” Pat McAfee said. “You know who could do it? Bill Belichick. You know who could do it? Andy Reid. You know who could do it? Pete Carroll. You know who could do it? Nick Saban.”
Co-host AJ Hawk recounted a story about a friend, now in his fifties, that used to pitch in Major League Baseball. Hawk says the friend is very adamant that everything about the locker room is different in 2021 from what it was in the 1980s.
McAfee reiterated that the sport doesn’t matter. Great coaches and managers adjust to their talent to get the most out of them. He joked that maybe La Russa thinks burying his own guys is the best way to do that and the average person just can’t see the strategy involved.
The deference paid to rules that are not even real isn’t just a generational problem within the sport. McAfee says it is a problem for viewers too, because so few fans are actually offended by the sort of flamboyance that La Russa has such a problem with. He thinks letting players show some personality can only be good for baseball in the long run.
“That would be awesome if it was real competition,” McAfee said, alluding to the visual effect the unwritten rules have on baseball. “Real competitive people allowing themselves to be themselves.”
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.