Reunions of Mike Francesa and Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo are not as rare as they used to be, but when they happen, they are still must-listen radio for New York sports fans. Wednesday night another one of those reunions happened on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio and it sounded a lot like old times.
After opening by praising Derek Jeter’s Hall of Fame career, Francesa ripped the Yankees for their recent struggles, calling recently-acquired Joey Gallo “an embarrassment!”. Both Mike & Mad Dog laid into the coaches of the Jets and Giants. The names they were discussing may have changed, but the passion and the takes sounded a lot like the late-90s and early 2000s during afternoon drive.
When the subject turned to the New York Mets, Russo pointed out that the team’s new owner seemed more interested in their jobs than his own, saying Steve Cohen “wants to be a sports talk radio star.”
“This hierarchy makes the Wilpons look like the Waltons,” Francesa said noting that maybe Cohen should have invested in WFAN instead of the Mets.
“He didn’t have to buy the team. He could have bought the station for a lot less.”
While the two sounded very comfortable together, there was not a lot of reminiscing going on. That was especially surprising given that this Saturday will mark twenty years since the terrorist attacks of September 11. To have a reunion of one of New York City’s most iconic radio duos and not mention that fact at all was a surprise.
Another media observation from Mike Francesa was focused on college football. Russo asked him about the great ratings the sport got across multiple networks over the weekend. Francesca pointed out that the sport is one of the few showing consistent growth on television. This season, the further spread of sports betting is helping.
“You have more people gambling now than ever. It’s insane. We are creating a country, a population of 18-year-olds, 20-year-olds, up to 40-year-olds, that are doing nothing but gambling,” Francesa said. “That’s all they do. They tweet on their phones. They go to TikTok. And they gamble on the games.”
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.