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Ryen Russillo: ESPN Radio Didn’t Want Me With Scott Van Pelt

“They wanted it to be Stephen A, maybe Herbstreit.”

Ricky Keeler

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From his experience hosting both national radio at ESPN or local radio in the New England area, Ryen Russillo is one of those hosts who knows the ins and outs of the sports format. Now, he is hosting The Ryen Russillo Podcast on The Ringer.

On the latest edition of The Press Box podcast with Bryan Curtis on The Ringer, Russillo spent over an hour going over the many different aspects of radio. It is an entertaining listen for those who want the “inside baseball” of the industry and want to know more about Russillo. 

In fact, before SVP & Russillo began in 2009, Russillo said that he wasn’t the first choice to be Scott Van Pelt’s co-host on ESPN Radio.

“Scott and I joined up, they didn’t want me to be Scott’s co-host. The only person who wanted me to be his co-host was Scott. They wanted it to be Stephen A, maybe Herbstreit. It was always somebody who had a million things going on and I had nothing else going on.” 

When Russillo started in local radio, he thought he was not very good at interviewing because he thought was more interested in displaying how much knowledge he had about a subject.

During his time at ESPN, Ryen Russillo realized that one of the things he was really good at was having the right instincts on which topics made the show. He said that helped him always be ready to go about anything

“Figuring out how to weave a result into a discussion is a very important part of doing talk radio every single day. You’re doing 15-20 hours a week. You better figure out the right way to do it. Playing the hits is a very simple thing to say, but I would like to play the hits, but find a different way to attack the hits than other hosts did.”

“I like my ideas. I always have felt when I walked into ESPN every morning, I knew I was ready to go and I am proud of that. That’s a hard job.”

Plenty of people have been critical of ESPN Radio in recent months. Rusillo is no different. surprisingly, he is not down on the recent turnover in the lineup. Ryen Rusillo is more put off by how much the network seems to be relying on phone calls these days. It just isn’t something he would have done during his time on a national network.

“I feel like the radio lineup for ESPN specifically at least the last couple of years, it’s a national lineup that seems to have a lot of local influences and that surprises me a little. To have it be a major part of your show on a national level, I would just be like ‘do you realize how many people are listening to this call that’s always a selfish call?’. The call’s always about what that caller’s interests are and it’s as sophomoric as ‘Do you think my Cowboys can win?’. I’m surprised that it’s used as much nationally.” 

When Curtis asked him if he felt national radio was harder than local radio, Russillo admitted that it was, but it also came with a level of satisfaction that suited the type of fan he is.

“I always had to know a little about a lot of things, where in local I had to know everything, but only about one thing. The math is easier on the local side of things. I know I’m a prep freak, so doing the national side, the amount of shit that I would do is an excessive amount of stuff.”

Sports Radio News

SURVEY: 16.9% of All Sports Radio Listeners Are Streaming

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 Nielsen reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.

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Streaming Radio

According to Nielsen, All 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 its 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.

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Sports Radio News

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.

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MLB Radio

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.

Radio Listeners to MLB

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.

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Sports Radio News

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”

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Jeff Dean Show

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”

Jeff Dean Facebook

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.

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