ESPN is losing a college football reporter. Allison Williams took to Instagram on Saturday to tell her fans and followers that she will not be returning to the network. She has chosen not to receive the Covid-19 vaccine and that will mean her employment will end next week.
Last month, Williams acknowledged that she would not be on the sidelines for ESPN this season. She was hesitant to get the Covid-19 vaccine because she was concerned about fertility-related side effects. She and her husband are trying for a second child.
Allison Williams is far from the first woman to express concern about the effects the vaccine would have on their ability to have children. In her post, she said she received stories from women who have seen side effect from taking the vaccine and women who have not According to the CDC, there is no evidence that the Covid- 19 vaccine has any effect on fertility, but it is a narrative that has not died.
In her post, Williams says ultimately, it is not a desire to remain unvaccinated that has her willing to lose her job. She objects to being told what to do with her body by her employer.
“I am also so morally and ethically not aligned with this. And I’ve had to really dig deep and analyze my values and my morals, and ultimately I need to put them first,” she said. “And the irony in all this is that a lot of these same values and morals that I hold dear are what made me a really good employee, what helped with the success that I’m able to have in my career.”
According to Allison Williams, in April, Disney sent a memo to all employees saying that the company’s position was that the vaccine was the best way forward for the country. The memo also said that the company respected that receiving the vaccine was a personal decision.
Williams says she could not begin to understand all of the pressures that Disney faced as a company. She respects that the corporate position had to change. She also noted that she respected the people that believed getting vaccinated was about a responsibility to others. She does not see it that way. She also noted that she is not alone.
“I know I’m not the only one walking away from a career they love, a profession that is a passion. And so many people that are in the same situation as me, serving society and benefiting this country in ways I could never do, they are nurses, they are teachers, they are doctors, they are police officers, and first responders, and they are most importantly our military, and pilots. And they too are choosing to put their beliefs first. And I just want you all to know I stand with you.”
ESPN first mandated the Covid-19 vaccine for anyone working games on location this season and as Allison Williams notes, eventually mandated it for all employees.
She says she does not know what her future holds. That may largely depend on how long the Covid pandemic lasts. Many networks have vaccine mandates in place. FOX Sports, which does not, currently requires daily testing for unvaccinated employees and has additional requirements in place for those working live events according to Awful Announcing.
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.