If you’ve been following the Nashville sports radio scene for the past year, change has been a large part of local conversation. Market leader 104.5 The Zone, navigated thru a sea of programming changes in August, which included installing a new morning show, midday show, and adjusting the personnel on its afternoon show. That was followed by their popular midday show, Midday 180 exiting for Outkick, Buck Reising stepping in to their spot, a partnership formed with A to Z Sports, and late last week, the station adding former Tennessee basketball star Ron Slay.
Though change has been a part of the narrative surrounding The Zone’s programming changes, one thing hasn’t changed, local listeners still love the radio station. In fact, listening was up in a few key areas this year compared to 2020.
In the 2021 Winter Book, The Zone shined across the board. Starting with weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p), The Zone ranked 4th with an 8.0 share among Men 25-54. That was a 2.7 increase from the station’s 2020 Winter Book.
Turning to mornings, Jason Martin and Ramon Foster delivered a 7.5 share to lock up 3rd place. The morning show was up a half point year over year and two ratings positions.
The news was even better in middays (10a-3p) where the combination of Buck Reising, and Mickey Ryan and Blaine Bishop, secured a 3rd place finish with a 9.1. share. That was a 3.6 point improvement year over year and four slots.
Finishing in afternoons, 3HL produced an impressive 6.9 share to rank 4th. Their performance was nearly double their previous year’s result. The show gained 3.4 points and enjoyed a station best eight spot jump.
Data this quarter for 102.5 The Game wasn’t available. However, a local source confirmed the station’s quarter wasn’t strong.
The Zone right now is very healthy. They’re on a different level ratings-wise, a testament to their bond with local listeners. Equally deserving of credit is program director Paul Mason and the station’s new hires. To make significant progress year over year, while undergoing lineup changes and dealing with increased noise is impressive.
102.5 The Game on the other hand has work to do to catch up. They’re hoping the recent addition of Caroline Fenton will help. A good playoff run by the Nashville Predators could provide a boost as well.
Outkick 360 (formerly Midday 180) meanwhile is likely to be heard from again in the market. The show has already gained clearance in Knoxville, and remains interested in finding a Nashville home too. Can Clay Travis and Sam Savage pull it off? I wouldn’t bet against them.
Last but not least, Josh Innes is now in town hosting mornings on 105.9 The Rock. He has proven he can create interest and produce ratings during prior stops. Will he be able to lure local sports radio listeners his way despite hosting a rock morning show? Time will tell.
The choices for Men 25-54 in Nashville are aplenty. How they’ll continue to consume sports talk content in 2021 remains to be seen, but for now, The Zone is comfortably in the driver’s seat.
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.