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Don Martin: Pandemic Brought The Best Out Of Petros & Money

“While other fish were out there flipping and flopping not knowing what to do for content, the two of you shone like a north star in our business.”

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It was incontrovertibly an unparalleled four-and-a-half months devoid of live sporting events at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, one that left sports fans fervently searching for something new to follow on a day-to-day basis. Sports networks, including ESPN, had to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to reconstruct their programming to continue bringing in ratings and revenue. Most notably for “The Worldwide Leader in Sports,” the 10-part documentary chronicling Michael Jordan’s career and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls, “The Last Dance,” was moved up from June to April, and, partly due to the abeyance of new content, was the number one program in television since mid-March. Additionally, it averaged approximately 5.6 million viewers per episode, making it the most watched ESPN documentary of all time.

Aside from the odyssey sports fans found refuge in the early stages of the pandemic, they also sojourned in international and niche sports, such as the Korean Baseball League and Formula One Racing. Many networks also showed replays of iconic contests from over the years in baseball, basketball and hockey, engendering a nostalgic catharsis on a mission to make satiable the unquenchable thirst sports fans had.

Tuesday afternoon, The Petros and Money Show on AM 570 LA Sports in Los Angeles harkened back to these uncertain, melancholic times, and how their show, centered on sports talk, was able to withstand these hardships and have a successful stretch on the air in their segment, “Top Story of the Day.”

“Today’s top story is reminiscent of something that we did at the beginning of that stretch of what our boss Don Martin called ‘Maybe the best two months of The Petros and Money Show I have ever had the great honor of listening to,’” divulged Matt “Money” Smith, co-host of the afternoon program and current play-by-play announcer for the NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers on KFI AM 640. Speaking from the perspective of the Senior Vice President of Premier Radio Network, Fox Sports Radio, and LA iHeartMedia Don Martin, Smith continued: “While other fish were out there flipping and flopping not knowing what to do for content, the two of you shone like a north star in our business.”

Indeed, AM 570 LA Sports ratings’ improved in June 2020, with the station gaining a tenth-of-a-point in Nielsen PPM numbers in a time where live sports had come to a halt. Utilizing the aspects of showmanship and entertainment embedded within the nascent being of sports radio, The Petros and Money Show finished ninth in the 2020 Barrett Sports Media list of Top 20 Major Market sports radio afternoon shows presented by Steve Stone Voiceovers.

“We asked the question — as baseball and basketball and hockey was all shut down [sic] — would you watch NASCAR?; Would you watch the truck series?; Would you watch golf?,” said Smith. “Would you watch these sports that you were never interested in your sporting fandom life before because it was the only thing that was on?”

Fast-forward to October 26, 2021 — Matt “Money” Smith began to ponder over that same question the sports world answered for itself last year in his monologue, contextualizing it in the terms of the current state of sports in Los Angeles.

“I’m trying to figure out if the Dodgers, who were overwhelming favorites to win the World Series at the start of the year, [have caused too much emotional distress for] Los Angeles sporting fans… to immediately shift their sporting focus to what is now available,” said Smith. “Will they support the 1-4-1 Kings? Will they support the old-ass Lakers, who seemingly lose a player a day? Will they get into NFL football; the Rams are 6-1, a game back [of] the best record in the NFC; the Chargers are 4-2, a game back [of] the best record in the AFC.”

In a city full of sports and entertainment stars, such as LeBron James, Mookie Betts, Mike Trout, Kawhi Leonard, Aaron Donald, Anthony Davis, Drew Doughty and an innumerable amount of others, everyone has begun to wonder who is satisfying the craving for live sports in Los Angeles. As a play-by-play announcer and radio broadcaster, Smith knows that those in his field can become quite emotionally invested in the teams they cover, much like a fan, to try to propagate the conversation, and ultimately the focus of Los Angeles sports fans, to their specific team.

“We get excited about our assignments — we get involved,” explained Smith. “We want you to watch; we want you to be entertained; we hope we’re a part of a product that you find to be to your liking.”

Smith’s fascination with the inherent fandom of those who cover the team, such as LA Clippers studio host and co-host of “UCLA Health Zone” Adam Auslund, whose Twitter feed during games contains many creative pseudonyms for Clippers players, including forward Isaiah Hartenstein and guard Luke Kennard.

“I envision him with a number two pencil and a yellow legal pad,” divulged Smith, “and he has each player’s name and [is] working through these nicknames he’s going to put out in the Twitterverse.”

Long story short — having live sports back as a constant in everyday life has stimulated new modes of thought for broadcasters, fans, reporters and others about which sports they consume and how much they support each team. On a “Tu Hermano Tuesday,” Matt “Money” Smith, in conversation with co-host Petros Papadakis, assuredly renewed a conversation that will endure for many months and years to come as the sports media world enters a “new normal” in all aspects of the industry.

Sports Radio News

NEW STUDY: 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 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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Sports Radio News

Jonas Knox: Adrian Wojnarowski’s NBA Draft Reporting Was Desperate Ratings Ploy

“The idea that Woj is going to get duped by Orlando Magic in the draft! The first time he’s ever been duped in his career?”

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Thursday’s NBA Draft is a moment the guys waiting to hear their names called had been waiting for since the day they picked up a basketball. While his draft came decades ago in the NFL, LaVar Arrington could relate to what they were feeling.

“It’s a dream recognized,” he said on Friday’s episode of FOX Sports Radio’s 2 Pros and a Cup of Joe. “You work so hard for so long. So, when you’re sitting there waiting for them to call your name, it’s a surreal moment.”

His partner, Jonas Knox, wasn’t in such a nostalgic or celebratory mood. He had a problem with the information leading up to draft night and just how much the narrative that Auburn’s Jabari Smith would be taken by the Orlando Magic with the first pick was pushed before all the sudden, it wasn’t.

“What a bunch of crap that we are being fed by Adrian Wojnarowski, ESPN, the Orlando Magic,” he said. “Whoever’s feeding it is full of crap.”

Wojnarowski tweeted an hour before the Draft that Jabari Smith was still the favorite to be taken, but he was hearing that the Magic weren’t ruling out Duke’s Paolo Banchero. 

When the first pick was announced, it was Paolo Banchero that heard his name called, not Smith. 

“One of three things happened,” Knox said. “Either ESPN is so desperate for ratings and for people to give a crap about the NBA Draft and their sport that they waited until the final hour to pump up some interest, realizing we’ve got a problem here based on some ratings and some reports on some ratings in the NBA Finals, so they waited until an hour before and had Woj drop a ‘Woj Bomb’ that it could not be Jabari Smith, that it could be Banchero who’s gonna go number one overall. It’s either that or Woj is in some kind of cahoots with the Orlando Magic.”

That is a powerful accusation. Knox finds it hard to believe the information got to ESPN’s renowned NBA Insider so late in the process.

“The idea that Woj is going to get duped by Orlando Magic in the draft! The first time he’s ever been duped in his career?”

He didn’t rule out that someone was trying to make money behind the scenes. As late as Thursday afternoon, the Duke Forward was still in plus territory to be the top pick on many sportsbooks’ odds boards. The odds had gone as high as +1600 last week.

“I call BS. I think it’s all shenanigans and I think somebody needs to get called out for it,” Knox concluded. “That pisses me off, man.”

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