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Steve Berman: Sports Radio Will Still Be Here in 20 Years, Maybe Not In 30

Berman had positive and negative thoughts on the future of sports talk radio.

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Is sports talk radio going to be around in 20 years? That was a question the Athletic’s Steve Berman answered at length this week in his mailbag. Berman is a Bay Area media and sports reporter for the site. 

“My first instinct would be that it will exist for at least 20 more years in its current form,” Berman said. “There are some obvious reasons to be skeptical. Sports talk radio needs traffic, i.e. people stuck in their cars. The move toward remote work caused by the pandemic absolutely crushed the local sports talk stations (in San Francisco), which rely on people spending hours on the highways. People are starting to go back to the office, however, so we’ll probably see some bumps in the local ratings as the year progresses.”

The journalist covered local sports for Bay Area News Group from 2004-2008 and co-founded Bay Area Sports Guy, which became the top independent site covering sports in the region. Berman noted how the shift to remote work isn’t the only roadblock for sports talk radio.

“Remote work is here to stay for some,” Berman explained. “The time spent away from daily commutes has changed some habits. That’s one reason for concern. Another is the technology available in our cars. At this point, a decent number of drivers still don’t have satellite radio, a USB port, or Wi-Fi in their vehicles. But in 20 years, we can probably assume that just about everyone will be connected in a variety of ways when they drive, so they’ll be able to easily access listening options that feature far fewer ads.”

Berman concluded his thoughts by noting some of the advantages sports talk still has on other mediums like hyperlocalized content and instant reaction ability but there are still issues to figure out.

“Sports talk radio has a few things going for it that are unique … for now. My guess is that it’ll still be around in 20 years. Maybe not 30, though.”

Earlier this year, Demetri Ravanos and Jason Barrett spoke to several market managers as part of BSM’s Meet the Market Managers series. Several marveled at their station’s digital performance during the pandemic, including Dan Bennett of Cumulus in Dallas. He noted that half of The Ticket’s audience comes from its web stream. Even if traditional broadcast signals suffered set backs during the pandemic, it is clear that local sports talk brands were still being sought out by listeners.

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WynnBET, Cumulus Announce Partnership

“WynnBET will hold multiple studio sponsorships for Cumulus’s local clusters. Hosts in those markets will also be providing live endorsements.”

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WynnBET is now one of Cumulus’s largest marketing and advertising partners. The two companies announced a deal today that will give the mobile betting app a major presence on Westwood One sports programming and on the Jim Rome Show.

Local stations will see the benefits as well. WynnBET will hold multiple studio sponsorships for Cumulus’s local clusters. Hosts in those markets will also be providing live endorsements. Messaging supporting the app will also be a part of digital products, including podcasts, station streams, and social media.

Cumulus Media’s unique advanced targeting technology allows WynnBET to customize multiple brand messages and deliver tailored content to different markets and demographics across hundreds of radio stations.  

“With Wynn’s focus on exceptional quality and high-touch customer experiences, we believe WynnBET will be a leader among the sports betting apps, and we are excited to deploy our unique assets to grow its business,” Cumulus Media CEO Mary G. Berner said in a press release. “The sports betting market is now the fastest growing advertising category, and this innovative partnership solidifies Cumulus’s position in this exciting arena.”

The deal will also see Cumulus create original, WynnBET branded content.

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Pat McAfee: ‘People Attacking Simone Biles Are Insane’

Pat McAfee was effusive in his praise for Olympic gymnast Simone Biles who recently withdrew from an event.

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Olympic phenom Simone Biles was the talk of the Olympics for the American side coming into this year’s games. She has also become the largest story so far after bowing out of the team competition, citing her mental health. This has drummed up significant conversation on social media and sports radio. Most of the feedback has been supportive of Biles, but plenty of detractors questioned the 4-time gold medalist’s and 19-time world champion’s mental toughness. Pat McAfee took to his SiriusXM show to loudly object to those talking points.

“People attacking her for that is insane to me,” McAfee said. “She was going through something and said I’m not going to be the reason that these Olympic dreams are f***** completely.”

McAfee knows first-hand what it is like to compete at the highest level, having punted for the Indianapolis Colts before getting into a meteoric podcasting career. The Pittsburgh-native has been quite vocal on Twitter in support of Biles, with numerous clips from the show also echoing that sentiment.

“We need her to remember that she is Simone f****** Biles,” he said. “She’s conquered more than anybody else in this sport. She’s been through adversity in the past and stood on the other side victorious, and she’ll do it again.”

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680 WPTF Becomes New Tar Heels Flagship

UNC Tar Heel football and men’s basketball will move from iHEARTMEDIA’s WTKK to Curtis Media Group’s WPTF.

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The North Carolina Tar Heels are beginning a new era with their basketball program following the retirement of Roy Williams giving way to his successor Hubert Davis. The football program is experiencing a bit of a resurgence by going back to a coach of old as Mack Brown has injected new life into the program in his second stint in Chapel Hill. Both programs will now have their games heard locally in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill market on WPTF moving forward, per a release from the station.

“As the largest privately owned radio group in North Carolina, we understand the power of the Carolina brand,’’ said Curtis Media Group President and COO Trip Savery. “We are very pleased to welcome Carolina alumni and fans to listen to Tar Heel football and basketball on WPTF this fall.”

Tar Heel games could previously be heard on iHeartMedia’s WTKK. The new deal comes from an agreement with Learfield and will see Jones Angell transition over to continue calling UNC action.

“We are excited about this partnership with Curtis Media Group, which will help us tell the great stories of Carolina athletics in the Triangle area and across the state,’’ said UNC Associate Athletic Director for External Communications Robbi Pickeral Evans. “We know that Carolina fans are excited about the year to come, and Curtis Media’s wide reach will help us connect and stay connected with our supporters.”

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