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Heffner & Sanford Happy At WGCV

Jason Barrett

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It’s a weekday morning less than a month before the start of college football season, and Teddy Heffner and Rick Sanford, aka “Dr. Rick,” are – no surprise – disagreeing about something on their “Talkin’ Sports” radio talk show.

This day, though, the topic is not Steve Spurrier or Dabo Swinney, but the just-announced nickname of Columbia’s new minor league baseball team.

Heffner, 64 and a veteran of 25-plus years in sports radio, is not exactly enamored of the name “Fireflies,” which will debut in 2016. “Why don’t you call ’em ‘Lightning Bugs’? Who in the South says ‘Fireflies’?” he says, all but shouting.

Sanford, 57, who has as a sponsor Spirit Communications, the company whose name will grace the minor league team’s under-construction stadium, fires back. “Don’t be dissing the Fireflies,” he says with a laugh.

For long-time listeners to “Talkin’ Sports,” it’s nothing new. But, in fact, it is.

Heffner and Sanford are in their sixth month with WGCV-AM 620 and FM 105.1 (full disclosure: this writer is a weekly guest on the show). For years, they were part of an all-sports lineup at then-Clear Channel Broadcasting’s “SportsRadio 560 The Team,” until management fired virtually its entire local lineup last October, putting Heffner and Sanford on the street.

To say they’re happy to be back on the air – they were absent four months – would be a wild understatement. But there’s still this: Not everyone who listened to them before knows they’re back.

“I still have friends who say, ‘What are you doing now?’” Heffner said. “Or callers who say, ‘I just found y’all on the air.’” Four months is a lifetime in local radio.

That’s why, when Glory Communications agreed to bring them aboard, it was both a financial and emotional lifeline, especially for Heffner. “(Glory owner) Alex Snipe took a gamble on us, and I think they’re pleased with us so far,” he said.

Now, they have to keep it going. That means, Heffner knows, they have to have more listeners, and more sponsors.

“We’re not going to challenge 107.5,” he said, referring to Columbia’s 400-pound gorilla of a sports-talk station, which owns radio rights to University of South Carolina athletics. “Heck, they put us out of business at (Clear Channel).

“But we think there’s still a need for local talk radio. We want to give listeners a choice.”

Sanford, a former USC and NFL defensive back, as well as a chiropractor (hence “Dr. Rick”), says his football experience – and the “he said-he said” chemistry between the two – is part of that. “I think what we offer is, we do our homework and we’re informative,” he said.

“We keep up on local sports, and I’m going to tell you what I think – which might anger some of my USC fans when I say Clemson can be a top-10 team this year. I have no problem saying that (because) it’s true.”

Gary Pozsik, a longtime host on WGCV, served as go-between to bring the duo and the station together. Alexis Campbell, Glory’s general sales manager for 17 of her 19 years at the station, says choosing to do so wasn’t automatic, though.

“We had a morning show of inspirational music, and the concern was, with an older audience, would we lose them,” she said. “Because we have all-talk from 10 a.m.-7 p.m., though, we thought sports would be a good transition. And we didn’t lose that audience.”

“Talkin’ Sports” remains an underdog in the battle for Midlands listeners. Heffner and Sanford have put together a lineup of fall regulars that includes ex-USC linebacker (and WACH-TV sportscaster) Corey Miller and former Gamecocks and Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, as well as regulars Kirk Burnett (Airport High coach) and referee Dennis O’Keefe.

And Sanford can point to his past analyses of the Gamecocks, Heffner said. “Last fall, when everyone was saying USC was a top-10 team, Rick was saying, ‘I don’t know about that defense.’” The 7-6 Gamecocks were one of the SEC’s worst defenses, “so Rick knew what he was talking about.”

That means little if the show doesn’t draw listeners and sponsors. Campbell says WGCV has vigorously promoted “Talkin’ Sports” on social media and is negotiating a billboard campaign, “to rebrand who we are.” She says she wants the show to survive, and thrive. “They’re part of the family now,” she said.

As for the future, “we’re trying to make a living, have fun, and give Columbia sports fans an alternative,” Heffner said. “You can switch to 107.5, or to us, or both.

“We just want (listeners) to know we’re here.”

Credit to The State who originally published this article

Sports Radio News

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.

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Streaming Radio

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.

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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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