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WFAN Begins Search To Replace Mike Francesa

Jason Barrett

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The summer months at WFAN are often filled by personalities who are stepping in to give the station’s main weekday hosts a much needed break prior to football season. But this year those fill-in opportunities could potentially have a lasting impact.

With Mike Francesa taking the majority of the summer off, WFAN will use the time to get a closer look at potential replacements. Francesa’s final show on The FAN is scheduled for December 15th.

In a conversation with Newsday, WFAN PD and CBS Radio’s Vice President of Programming Mark Chernoff said he hopes to have a succession plan in place by Labor Day.

The early favorite to be part of the afternoon mix appears to be Evan Roberts, who currently works middays with Joe Beningo. The thirty three year old host has been working full-time at FAN since 2007 and has a proven track record and long-term growth potential.

Chernoff plans to have Benigno and Roberts spend most of the summer working apart, but no matter what happens over the next few months, each are part of the station’s future plans.

One candidate who will earn consideration and a fill-in opportunity alongside Roberts is Chris Simms. Kimberly Jones is also expected to appear on the station’s airwaves during the summer months as she has in year’s past.

Morning host Craig Carton said the station discussed the possibility of an afternoon move with him and his partner Boomer Esiason but the talks were more a matter of professional courtesy. With the station performing strong in mornings it wouldn’t be a good business decision for either side to explore such a change.

In addition to Roberts, Jones and Simms, it won’t surprise anyone if Chris Christie is given a deeper look over the next two months. What will be interesting is if Chernoff has local plans for either Gregg Giannotti, Brandon Tierney or Damon Amendolara. All three hosts have New York roots and already work inside the same building. If either were to be considered on FAN that would require additional changes on the CBS Sports Radio Network.

Another question some executives in sports radio circles have raised is whether or not The FAN will look to some of its local markets where hosts with New York connections currently occupy key weekday timeslots. Chris Carlin is working in Philadelphia for WIP, Adam The Bull is in Cleveland hosting on 92.3 The Fan, and Mike Valenti remains a strong force in Detroit for 97.1 The Ticket.

There’s also the possibility of taking a look at Danny Kanell who moved to Connecticut to work for ESPN and ESPN Radio. Kanell was let go by ESPN in late-April. He played for the New York Giants during his NFL career so he too has local familiarity.

It’s possible that Chernoff could look at talent working for different broadcast companies but that would seem to be a long shot. If he went that route, Sid Rosenberg is already in the market working for WABC, Scott Kaplan is in San Diego hosting on the Mighty 1090, and Andy Gresh, who hosted on FAN last summer, is in Providence hosting for WPRO. All three have ties to New York. A previous report in the New York Daily News stated that Adam Schein was given strong consideration for the opening, so going outside of the company can’t be entirely dismissed.

Although most of the names mentioned above may be familiar to sports radio audiences and have an attachment to the big apple, there’s always the possibility of Chernoff doing something outside the box. When FAN replaced Don Imus they brought through a number of sports radio personalities for on-air auditions. Craig Carton was not one of them yet he wound up landing the opportunity.

It may be fun to speculate about what FAN will do in the upcoming months but remember that it’s not just about talent and resumes. There are the complexities of contracts, on-air chemistry between two hosts, and who is best suited to handle the pressure that is sure to follow when Francesa departs.

Regardless of who emerges, it’s safe to say that Mark Chernoff has a number of excellent options to choose from. Whether or not they can duplicate Mike Francesa’s success is a much different conversation. Right now the main focus is to hire a good show with long-term potential and maintain the brand’s current level of success.

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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