When the 2017 NFL season begins, the Chargers will call a new city home for the first time since 1961. As they begin the next chapter of their franchise’s history, they’re preparing to build it with a brand new radio announcer.
The team has announced that Josh Lewin, who had called the team’s games for the past 12 seasons is being replaced by Matt “Money” Smith. Lewin confirmed his departure via Twitter adding “The Chargers have decided they want a full time LA announcer so a wonderful run ends today. I’ll happily continue with the Mets and UCLA and will cherish my memories of serving Chargers fans the last 12 years. Thank you for everything Bolts fans, you’re the best!”
Smith is a longtime fixture in the Los Angeles radio market, and hosts weekday afternoons with Petros Papadakis on AM570 LA Sports. In addition to hosting afternoons, he’s also built an impressive play-by-play resume. He’s spent the past seven years calling NFL and college games for Compass Media, and has called television games for the Pac-12 Network and Fox Sports.
Smith will be accompanied in the booth by former Chargers center Nick Hardwick. Hardwick is one half of the morning show for XTRA Sports 1360 in San Diego, the team’s former flagship radio station. Initially he was critical of the team’s decision to turn its back on San Diego and bolt for Los Angeles, but as they say, time heals all wounds.
“I’d never been broken up with and I was emotional,” Hardwick told ESPN.com. “And when I get emotional, I get angry and let my emotions come out. And they were authentic, genuine and in the moment.
“All of the anger was immediately directed at the Spanos family and the Chargers organization, but my emotions around that completely subsided and I’m glad to be back in the family. I’m glad to be back with a group that gave me my opportunity, gave me my life and stuck with me through bad times and bad injuries. They’ve done nothing but support me in my career.
“I care for this team. I literally broke my neck for this organization. I played 11 years for the franchise, was a team captain for five years and I want the best for them.”
But while Hardwick may have good intentions and personal reasons for reconnecting with the franchise, he understands that it may ruffle feathers of those who continue to call San Diego home and remain bitter about the team leaving the city.
“I don’t feel like in any way this is a slight to San Diegans who are little bit like Trump supporters,” said Hardwick. “They’re leaning into each other and saying, ‘Hey, I don’t know about you, but I’m going to follow this Chargers team.’ And then they keep it quiet, because the people who are mad are mad, and you don’t want to come out against those folks. So am I going to get backlash? Sure, 100 percent. I completely expect it, and I’m cool with it. For me, it’s not their life, it’s mine. And I have to follow my own passions and be honest with myself. I’m a football guy.”
The Chargers will air their games on radio in the Los Angeles market on KFI AM-640. They currently have no radio agreement to air games in San Diego. The team also says that Spero Dedes and Hall of Fame Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts will call the team’s three-game preseason schedule on ABC7 Los Angeles.
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.
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.
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.