It’s official, Friday June 21st, is Bob McCown’s final day hosting Prime Time Sports on SportsNet 590 in Toronto and nationally syndicated throughout Canada. After a few days of rumors, SportsNet and McCown confirmed the report originally made by Toronto Sports Media’s Twitter account, @yyzsportsmedia.
After signing a “multi-year” extension in December 2017, McCown’s tenure will end a year and a half after agreeing to his most recent contract. SportsNet chose not to give any reasons as to why the iconic Bob McCown won’t be behind the mic for their afternoon drive show anymore, but the longtime host of Prime Time Sports made it clear he has no plans of retiring.
“Speculation concerning my imminent retirement are 100% inaccurate!” McCown said through his Twitter account on Thursday, adding “I’ll be back.”
“Bob is an icon in this business and a legend of our format,” SportsNet Program Director, Dave Cadeau said in a statement. “He built sports talk radio in Canada, and we are lucky to have had him on the mic and in the hallways over the last three decades. Bob will be missed but his legacy will remain with us for years to come.”
An iconic member of Canada’s sports media for over 40 years, McCown has been the primary host of Prime Time Sports since 1989, owning the areas top rated sports show for the larger part of three decades. Considered one of the best interviewers in the industry, the founder of sports radio in Canada has been known throughout his career for tenaciously challenging guests and callers, although his fiery style has toned down in recent years. Nicknamed the “Bobcat,” McCown would don a pair of sunglasses during his TV simulcast and used coined phrases such as “who gives a flying fadoo?”
“Bob McCown invented sports talk radio in Canada, period,” said co-host Stephen Brunt. “When a big sports story was breaking, when the home team was winning a championship or falling apart, everyone tuned in to Prime Time Sports to find out what Bob was saying.
“He’s an original. There will never be another one quite like him.”
Last year, Prime Time Sports, which broadcasts from 4 – 7pm retooled the show by adding John Shannon, Richard Deitsch and Stephen Brunt. Brunt previously served as McCown’s longtime co-host, but the two parted ways for a couple of years prior to their 2018 reunion. In an atypical radio format, Shannon would join McCown on Prime Time Sports during the 4pm hour only, with Deitsch and Brunt being brought into the studio to partner with the Bobcat from 5 – 7pm. With the show’s moving parts, the one constant for Prime Time Sports continued to be McCown, as he has been for 30 years.
In their statement, SportsNet 590 said they will use a variety of hosts on Prime Time Sports throughout the summer, with plans to unveil a new show for the start of the fall season.
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.