Stephen Brunt and Bob McCown, one of Canada’s most popular sports radio duos, are no more.
Several sources close to Rogers Media say the split was the result of McCown’s unhappiness over Brunt’s guest appearances on the new and popular Tim & Sid television show, which is broadcast nationally in the same time slot as Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown. Brunt has been McCown’s longest-serving co-host, dating back to the late 1990s, but in recent years his television and writing duties with Rogers have reduced his Prime Time appearances to 20 weeks a year.
The tipping point, the sources said, came two weeks ago when Brunt filled in for Tim & Sid co-host Sid Seixeiro on a day he was not scheduled to be on Prime Time. While there was no direct confrontation between Brunt and McCown, the end of the radio relationship came quickly. Discussions about a replacement are under way, and Prime Time will continue with its usual variety of co-hosts.
McCown admitted Tuesday he was not happy with Brunt’s appearance as a co-host on Tim & Sid with Tim Micallef. But he said the main reason for Brunt’s departure was that he could not commit to being his co-host for more than 20 weeks a year.
Brunt, who is heavily involved in Sportsnet’s television coverage of the Toronto Blue Jays march to the playoffs, will now appear regularly on Sportsnet Radio’s Baseball Central with host Jeff Blair in addition to Tim & Sid. He will also continue writing for Sportsnet’s magazine and website. At the same time, Brunt signed a contract extension with Rogers that one source said was for 10 years.
“No, I wasn’t flinging ash trays, but I wasn’t happy they chose him [as a substitute co-host],” McCown said.
“The issue is his deal is 20 weeks and, truthfully, he probably didn’t work the 20 weeks last year. I think he felt he had other things to do, TV commitments or whatever, so he took days off when he was supposed to be with me.
“If Brunt wanted to do 40 weeks and commit to Prime Time, I’d be happy with that.”
“I’m fully involved in covering the first Blue Jays’ pennant race in 20 years, I will be working with Jeff Blair a lot and I will be working with Tim and Sid a lot,” Brunt said. “I’m having a great time and looking forward to finishing out my working life at Sportsnet.”
Scott Moore, president of Sportsnet and NHL for Rogers, could not be reached for comment.
One potential replacement for Brunt is Damien Cox, who once shared Prime Time co-hosting duties with Brunt. Cox moved to television full-time when Rogers landed the national broadcast rights to the NHL, and he is willing to come back if it can be worked around his hockey obligations.
McCown, with a well-earned reputation as a curmudgeon, has not hesitated to make it clear he did not like the company’s decision to move Tim & Sidfrom the afternoon radio slot that led into his own show to directly opposite him on television. Management’s rationale was that Tim & Sid appealed to a younger audience than Prime Time, and boosted television ratings in the supper hour.
The move came on July 1, and Tim & Sid is heavily promoted in commercials on Blue Jay broadcasts as well as on McCown’s radio show, which some staffers say is another sore point. McCown said his resentment does not stem from Tim & Sid.
“My issue is not the promotion they’re getting. My issue is: why am I not getting that and never have gotten that?” he said. “The only thing I look at is if you are prepared to do this kind of promotion with them, why don’t you do it for us?”
Credit to the Toronto Globe and Mail where this story was originally published
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.