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Steve Blass To Retire After 34 Years With Pirates

“Although Blass will step away from the broadcast booth, the Pirates lifer will remain with the organization as an ambassador.”

Brandon Contes

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2019 will mark the 60th year Steve Blass is involved with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization and his 34th season in their broadcast booth.  On Tuesday, Blass announcedthe upcoming season will be his last as a broadcaster.

“Sixty seasons with the Pirates, one organization in one city, I am so very proud of that. It ranks right up there with anything I have ever done on the baseball field. It has been a wonderful run,” said Blass.

“My wife, Karen, and I felt that it was time to step away from my broadcasting duties in order to have more time to spend together and with our family and friends. I have spent many years driving by the roses, but now it is time for me to stop and smell the roses. I am very much looking forward to the 2019 season, as it will be special for me in so many ways.”

Following a 10-year major league pitching career, from 1964 – 74 with the Pirates, Blass joined the team’s broadcast booth in 1983 as a part-time analyst, becoming full-time in 1986.  In 2005 Blass took a reduced schedule, working only home games to spend more time with his family.  Blass, like the entire Pirates roster of broadcasters, splits his airtime between both radio and television.  AT&T SportsNet serves as the TV home for the Pirates, with Entercom’s 93.7 The Fan being their flagship radio station.

“Steve is as synonymous with Pirates baseball as anyone in the history of our organization,” said Bob Nutting, Pirates Chairman. “Steve leaping up into the air following the final out in his second complete game victory of the 1971 World Series is one of the most iconic moments in Pirates history.

“For 60 seasons, Steve has represented the Pirates with humility, grace, pride and passion. Words cannot express how appreciative we at the Pirates organization are for his dedication or how beloved he is and always will be.”

Blass’ pitching career was partially defined by the “yips.” After winning the World Series in 1971 and being named to the National League All-Star team in 1972, Blass suddenly lost control, walking 84 batters in 88 2/3 innings.  Never regaining any sort of accuracy, “Steve Blass disease” became a part of baseball terminology and ultimately led to his retirement.

Although Blass will step away from the broadcast booth, the Pirates lifer will remain with the organization as an ambassador.  Play-by-play announcers Greg Brown and Joe Block, along with analysts Bob Walk and John Wehner fill out the remainder of the Pirates roster of broadcasters.

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

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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