One of the founders of sports talk radio in Nashville will return to hosting a daily show this summer.
After nearly four decades working in radio, George Plaster spent the last two years as Belmont University’s Associate Athletic Director of Marketing. According to The Tennessean, Plaster resigned from his Belmont position earlier in the week, with plans to return to the airwaves.
Expected to debut July 15th, Plaster will host a daily sports show from 3 – 6pm on WSM 650, a 50,000 watt country music station known for being the home of The Grand Ole Opry.
“There were two things I had to have if I was ever going to get back into radio,” Plaster told The Tennessean. “The first one was I wanted a strong signal and WSM-AM is one of the twelve strongest AM signals in the country. The other was I wanted to know that management of the station was going to be supportive of me and with (WSM general manager) Chris Kulick that’s a given. He’s one of my closest friends in radio and I know he shares the exact same visions for how this is going to be done that I do.”
The 3 – 6pm timeslot is a familiar one for Plaster, having hosted those three hours from 2003 – 2012 on Nashville’s 104.5 The Zone and from 2012 – 2016 on 102.5 The Game. Last year, Plaster launched a Sunday night show on his new radio home, WSM 650. According to Plaster, listener interaction will modernize, but the formatics of his new show will mimic that of his past programs.
“We’ll talk sports. That’s not to say we’re not going to have fun doing it because we are,” Plaster said. “The other part is it’s not just going to be me talking. I want listener participation as much as anybody in this business. It will change some because the world has changed, but a lot of what we’ll do is a lot of the kinds of things we’ve done throughout all those years.”
Station GM, Chris Kulick noted with WSM continuing to carry a country music format, Plaster’s afternoon drive sports show will feature guest appearances from some of today’s biggest stars in music. The addition of Plaster to WSM will see Nashville Today move to a new time of 10am – noon.
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.