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Fox Strikes Out With Its World Series Coverage

Jason Barrett

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Regardless of the result, sports always leaves us with a decision to second guess. No better example exists today than the one we saw unfold last night in Game 5 of the World Series when Mets Manager Terry Collins stuck with his ace Matt Harvey, only to watch the Royals rally to tie the game in the 9th inning, and then win the championship in the 12th.

Well, the broadcasting business is no different. We all have opinions that differ on individual personalities, radio stations, and television networks, and I have a few I’d like to share on Fox’s presentation this year during the World Series.

It’s well documented that Game 1 was a technical nightmare for the network due to losing power and causing a delay in the action. Pete Rose not being part of the entire series, due to prior obligations was also a bad blemish on the network. It’s the freaking World Series! How do you hire an analyst, and not have them available for every single broadcast during the year’s biggest games?

bighurtEqually disappointing were the contributions of Frank Thomas. When asked for a prediction at the start of the series, Thomas said “ask me after Game 3“. While I don’t put much stock into analyst predictions, giving one shouldn’t be difficult.

Even more disappointing was his commentary on the post-game show. Last night after the Royals won the World Series, Thomas said “The Mets have nothing to hold their heads down for, except they didn’t play that well, and gave away the World Series“.

The broadcast team of Joe Buck, Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci also had their fare share of problems. In recent years, we became annoyed with Tim McCarver’s explanations, and opinions, but that same authoritative presence, and understanding of game situations, was what made him good. Unfortunately this crew lacks that strong personality with big stage experience, and it hurt the broadcast.

Joe Buck, despite the criticism that follows him wherever he goes, did a really good job during this Series. He presented the storylines, advanced the dialogue, knew when to interject, and when to sit out. Last night for example, before it even became an issue, Buck was the first to point out “Terry Collins is going to have an interesting decision to make about whether or not to stick with Harvey or turn it over to his closer Familia“. Fox’s cameras then caught video of Harvey in the dugout being told he was done, and then additional footage of the Mets ace making his pitch to Collins to stay in. That added to the drama, and was an excellent job by the Fox production team.

hrWhen the biggest moments in a game arise, Harold Reynolds is at his worst. During Game 5 last night, when Kelly Johnson of the Mets came up to bat, Reynolds added “Kelly Johnson can hit home runs with the best of them“. Any good baseball fan knows that remark is untrue. Johnson is not in the same category with Giancarlo Stanton, Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, or even his own teammate Yoenis Cespedes. He’s also not even in his team’s starting lineup.

Reynolds also presents information at times without even thinking it through. On two occasions last night he said things that had me questioning whether or not an analyst was even necessary in the booth. The first one was during the start of the broadcast when he added “the pressure tonight is more on the Mets than the Royals“. Then later in the game he uttered “this is the most important pitch of the at-bat. The count’s 2-1. After this, it’ll be 3-1, or 2-2, or a base hit, or an out“.

When your lead analyst provides incorrect information, and delivers commentaries that do little to advance the situation, it takes away from the experience rather than add to it. He even said “Michael Conforto had ice in his veins and the stuff of greatness” when he produced a two out single in the 12th against Wade Davis while the Mets were down 5 runs. This is supposed to be the game’s best analyst, and I find myself tuning him out during big moments of a game, which is when we should be listening most to the commentary of a lead analyst.

wsVerducci, while astute, prepared, and well balanced, comes across with too many cliches for my tastes. I like reading Tom’s work and I thought he did a nice job previously as an in-game reporter, but in that booth, there has to be an understanding of what’s happening on the field, and an ability to explain situations, and how people think and react. Tom doesn’t stand out in those areas.

During this series, he became attached to stating the obvious. For example, last night when Christian Colon entered the game in the 12th inning to pinch-hit, Verducci added “what a time to take your first post-season at bat“. When Lucas Duda failed to make a good throw home to get Eric Hosmer, he said “a good throw gets him“. As Matt Harvey was in the dugout pleading his case to pitch the 9th to Terry Collins, Verducci stated “Terry Collins can’t just think about this moment, he also has to think about the future“.

Maybe I expect too much from the broadcast, but when the insights provided in the booth are equal to those being expressed by the viewing audience, that concerns me. The announcers are supposed to add to the experience, and enlighten the fans about things they’re not aware of. Unfortunately they did little to educate, and a lot to increase mute button activity.

foxwsIf there was one part of the broadcast that truly surprised me, it was Alex Rodriguez’s ability to analyze. Throughout his career he’s been labeled “phony“, “scripted” and “robotic“. He’s often sounded like a guy reading a press release or his own comments off of a teleprompter, so imagine my surprise when Fox decided to include him beyond the Pre and Post-game, and utilize him as an extra voice in the booth during select innings.

If you were watching Game 3, he really stood out during the 6th inning. He pointed out the way Noah Syndergard retired the previous 4 batters and what Royals hitters would be looking for based on his pitch sequences. He also explained how Noah’s bench pressing power has helped him with improving his slider, and shared great insights on the way the Mets hitting coach Kevin Long had worked with Daniel Murphy to improve his power hitting. The only time he didn’t provide great analysis was when Reynolds asked the silly question of “Is there any player better suited for his nickname than Noah, with the name Thor”.

When I watch the biggest series of the year, I want to hear from people who know what the pressure is like, understand the glory of winning and the agony of defeat, and possess the ability to relate to the players, the moment, and the audience. I didn’t get that from this crew.

When an analyst like John Smoltz or Curt Schilling talks about these situations, I buy what they’re selling. They’ve done it before, and know what to look for, and have a great sense of how to communicate it to the viewer. Reynolds and Verducci may be smart, and fine on MLB Tonight, but this is the World Series. Fans, and even Joe Buck, deserve more out of the broadcast than they’ve received. Hopefully Fox works to fix it immediately, and doesn’t just wait for A-Rod to retire.

Crunching The Numbers:

  • 97.1 The Fan in Columbus turned in an incredible October ratings book. For M-F 6a-7p and M-SU 6a-Mid, the station finished 3rd with Persons 25-54 and 1st with Men 25-54. The Fan also finished 1st with Men 25-34, 25-44, 25-49, 25-54, 35-44, and 35-54.
  • The Beast 980 in Los Angeles is experiencing growth throughout the station. Having been on the scene for only a little over a year, October 2015 saw the station’s morning show numbers improve by 133%, 9a-12p was up 50%, afternoons increased by 75%, and the station’s weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p) climbed 66%. All percentage increases are based on year to year performance (October 2014 vs. October 2015) in the Men 25-54 category.
  • ESPN 1000 in Chicago enjoyed a great month after strengthening their lineup with the addition of David Kaplan in September. The former WGN host finished #1 overall M-F 12p-2p with Men 25-54. “Waddle and Silvy” won afternoons in a number of key demos, including Men 25-54.
  • 105.3 The Fan and Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket in Dallas each had a compelling case for bragging rights. The Fan was 1st overall with Men 25-54 M-SU 6a-Mid. The Ticket placed 4th. However, during weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p) with Men 25-54, The Ticket was 2nd with a 6.1 and The Fan was 3rd with a 5.3. The Ticket benefitted from a big performance in mornings from “The Musers“. The Fan won head to head during middays, afternoons, and evenings.

Under The Radar:

  • Tim Montemayor left his position as Program Director and Morning Show Host of 1320 The Fan in Salt Lake City last month. His wife landed a great job in the Phoenix area which required the family to move. Will Smith is currently hosting the morning show, although the station has been looking for a Program Director with the ability to also perform on-air.
  • Mike Ragozino left his post as Program Director and Afternoon Host of 750 The Game in Portland in September so he could move to Fort Wayne to be closer to his family. Fletcher Johnson and Noah “Chop” Homsley have taken over afternoons on The Game. It’s unclear if the station will be adding a new Program Director or utilizing internal support for day to day operations.
  • Travis Demers took over as host of the “Rip City Drive” weekdays from 3p-5p on Rip City Radio 620 in Portland last Monday. Trail Blazers play-by-play voice Brian Wheeler had previously been hosting the show, and is now appearing as a contributor on the station’s morning and afternoon shows on game days.
  • Jake Scott was promoted to Program Director of 1280 The Zone in Salt Lake City earlier this month. Scott Garrard who previously held the PD title was promoted to Vice President of Programming and Operations.
  • Antonio Daniels left his position as a weekday sports talk show host on ESPN 1250 in San Antonio a few weeks ago. The former NBA player accepted a position as a television analyst for the Oklahoma City Thunder. As a result of his departure, ESPN 1250 is looking to find a new co-host to pair with Ari Temkin.

Barrett Blogs

Barrett Sports Media’s Top 20 National Sports Radio Shows of 2022

“A total of 101 shows were eligible for voting consideration in the National Sports Radio Shows category.”

Jason Barrett

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The 8th annual BSM Top 20 series kicks off with a look at the Top 20 National Sports Radio Shows of 2022. These shows have the largest reach in America, and are distributed by the largest networks in the industry, airing across hundreds of radio stations, as well as on various digital and television outlets.

As you review this year’s selections, please remember that the results represent the collective opinions of forty six (46) industry executives. I’d like to thank Alex Reynolds, Stephanie Eads, and Dylan Barrett for helping with the Top 20 process, and Steve Kamer Voiceovers for being our exclusive sponsor for this year’s Top 20 series. Steve’s voice is heard across the nation on many top shows, stations, and networks, and if you’re not familiar with his work, take a second to learn what makes him stellar at his craft by clicking here.

As it pertains to the voting, here are a few key things to be aware of.

– These results are based on 2022’s performance. 2023 changes have no effect on the voting.

– Our executive panel consists of forty six (46) program directors and corporate executives from a number of top broadcasting companies including Audacy, iHeart, Cumulus, Beasley, Hubbard, Good Karma Brands, ESPN Radio, FOX Sports Radio, SiriusXM, Spotify, and independently owned and operated radio stations. We involve a large number of people in this process in order to include feedback from all parts of the country, as well as to prevent the results from heavily favoring one company.

 A total of 101 shows were eligible for voting consideration in the National Sports Radio Shows category.

– Voters choose their Top 20 based on a myriad of factors including the ear test, originality, ability to entertain, multi-platform impact, on-air chemistry, and ratings success. Keep in mind that voters live in different cities, have different tastes, and value certain factors higher than others. This isn’t a perfect science, but it’s the best system we’ve been able to come up with to showcase how sports radio’s brain trust view the best in the format.

And that brings us to the rankings for this year’s National Sports Radio Shows. For only the 2nd time in 8 years, we have someone at the top other than Colin Cowherd. The winner this year for best National Sports Talk Show of 2022 is The Pat McAfee Show. It was a close race, which included Cowherd earning more first place votes, eighteen (18) to McAfee’s twelve (12), but Pat scored seven more votes in the 2-5 range, allowing him to prevail by seventeen points. McAfee’s show is now consumed through podcasts, YouTube, and social media but 2022 did include eight months of distribution on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio. We congratulate Pat, AJ, and the entire crew on earning this year’s top honor, as well as every other show which appeared on this year’s list.

Now, here are the full results of “BSM’s Top 20 National Sports Radio Shows of 2022!”

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Additional Notes:

  • The Herd w/ Colin Cowherd earned a category best eighteen (18) first place votes. The Pat McAfee Show was second with twelve (12).
  • 21-25 was occupied by Outkick 3602 Pros & a Cup of Joe, The Zach Gelb Show, Spain & Fitz, and Bart & Hahn.
  • The closest contest saw You Better You Bet edge Ben Maller by 4 points.
  • Of the 101 shows eligible for consideration this year, 9 received at least one 1st place vote.

Here is the remaining schedule for the BSM Top 20 of 2022.

  • Tuesday February 7 = The Top 20 Major/Mid Market Sports Radio Morning Shows of 2022
  • Wednesday February 8 = The Top 20 Major/Mid Market Sports Radio Midday Shows of 2022
  • Thursday February 9 = The Top 20 Major/Mid Market Sports Radio Afternoon Shows of 2022
  • Friday February 10 = The Top 20 Major/Mid Market Sports Radio Program Directors of 2022
  • Monday February 13 = The Top 20 Major/Mid Market Sports Radio Stations of 2022

To view prior years of BSM’s Top 20 results, click here.

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Jeff Catlin, John Mamola, Gordy Rush & Maggie Clifton Join The 2023 BSM Summit Lineup

Jason Barrett

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We’re less than two months away from the 2023 BSM Summit in Los Angeles. This year’s conference takes place on March 21-22, 2023 at the Founders Room inside of the Galen Center at USC. Many industry professionals are set to attend but sports media folks tend to be a last minute crowd whether it’s buying a ticket, reserving a room or committing to be a sponsor. Yes, tickets, rooms, and a select few sponsorships are still available, but the longer you wait, the more you risk not being in the room, featured as a partner, and paying higher prices for travel. To make sure you have a seat and a place to stay, log on to BSMSummit.com. For sponsorship inquiries, email Stephanie at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

I am really excited about this year’s Summit. The venue is tremendous, the agenda is coming together nicely, and there’s no doubt we’ll have great weather when we gather in LA. Some have asked me why I don’t reveal the full schedule of sessions months in advance, and it’s because I believe in swinging for the fences and trying to do big things. To do that, you’ve got to be willing to invest time and explore every opportunity that can be impactful. It’d be much easier to fill the schedule and be done with everything but if it’s going to take a little longer to deliver the best speakers, discussions and experiences for all in the room, then that’s what I’m going to do.

Those involved in the creation of this conference know that I set a very high standard for it. We’ve run some great events over the years, and it’s because we put everything we have into making sure each session is valuable to a different segment of the industry. My goal each year is to present an action packed agenda that helps people learn, gain access to information to improve themselves and/or their brands, and create a few connections and memorable moments to justify it being worth a few days away out of the office or studio. If we can do that, it makes the sacrifices worthwhile. If we can’t execute at a high level, then I’d probably pass on doing it.

Before I tell you about the four people we’re adding to our speaker lineup, I do want to remind you that we recently announced a contest for California college students. We’re giving away ten (10) FREE tickets to the show courtesy of Steve Kamer Voiceovers. If you know a student in California please let them know about this. If they’re not in California but want to attend the event, we’ve created a special college rate to make it affordable for young people. Everything is listed on BSMSummit.com.

Now, for the new additions to the lineup.

I’m excited to welcome Jeff Catlin of The Ticket in Dallas to the Summit. This will be Jeff’s first Summit visit, and I appreciate him making time to share his programming wisdom with the rest of the room. Jeff will be part of a programming panel that kicks off day #2. That panel will include Jimmy Powers of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, Raj Sharan of Denver’s Sports Station 104.3 The Fan, and our next addition, John Mamola of WDAE. John has been at all of our events dating back to our first test event in Chicago. I’m looking forward to giving him an opportunity to offer his programming insights alongside this talented group.

Also joining the Summit lineup is Maggie Clifton, Blue Wire’s Senior Vice President of Business Development. Maggie has played a vital role in growing Blue Wire’s revenue, and I’m looking forward to having her join Barstool Sports’ SVP, Head of Sales Matt Berger, and Magellan AI’s Chief Revenue Officer John Goforth on a panel that focuses on digital monetization.

Guiding that conversation will be Guaranty Media’s Gordy Rush. The Baton Rouge Vice President and General Manager who doubles as LSU’s sideline reporter on football broadcasts is well versed in monetizing content, and understanding the opportunities and challenges broadcasters face. I’m confident those in the room charged with maximizing digital revenue for their brands will gain great value from these four professionals.

There’s much more in the works that I’m looking forward to announcing in the coming weeks. Whether you own a company, manage a cluster as a GM, lead a sales team, host or produce a podcast or radio/TV show, buy advertising, oversee a brand’s social media strategy or program a network or local outlet, there’s something for every sports media professional at the BSM Summit. I invite you to come see for yourself. To do so, visit BSMSummit.com.

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Barrett Blogs

Jimmy Powers to Receive The Mark Chernoff Award at the 2023 BSM Summit

“Jimmy received the most votes from our industry panel to become our third recipient of the Mark Chernoff Award.”

Jason Barrett

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As a former programmer turned consultant, I pay more attention than most to those who lead brands, manage talent, and create consistent success. When you look across the country at the hundreds of stations delivering sports radio content, and analyze who operates at a high level, there’s maybe ten to twenty who are changing the game, and others who are rising and hoping to become a bigger part of the conversation.

What makes this annual award special in addition to having Mark Chernoff’s name on it, is that it’s voted on by eighteen industry heavyweights. These are folks tasked with overseeing radio companies, major networks, and having exceptional track records of broadcasting success. So when they vote and an individual earns an honor, it means a little more.

If you’re in the business and follow sports radio, then you’re aware of Mark Chernoff’s accomplishments as a program director. He was one of the true architects and consistent winners, and his ability to excel as a sports radio manager has influenced and shaped many careers. Mark graciously agreed to be part of our awards ceremony a few years ago when I approached him with the idea in New York City. I’m thrilled to share that although he doesn’t attend many industry conferences on the west coast, he will be with us at the 2023 BSM Summit in Los Angeles for the ceremony.

Which brings me to this year’s winner.

It is my honor to congratulate the leader of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, Jimmy Powers. Jimmy received the most votes from our industry panel to become our third recipient of the Mark Chernoff Award. He follows Rick Radzik of 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, and Mitch Rosen of 670 The Score in Chicago. Jimmy will be in attendance at the Summit to pick up the award, and will take part in a program director panel at the show. Further details on that to be shared next week.

“It’s such a great honor not only to be mentioned in the same breath with Mark Chernoff, but to receive the ‘Mark Chernoff Award’ is really, really cool” shared 97.1 The Ticket Program Director Jimmy Powers. “With so many great program directors across the country who are deserving of this award, I truly appreciate the recognition.”

Since late 2009, Powers has led the Detroit sports radio station to unmatched local success. Brought in to build upon what was created by the late great Tom Bigby, he’s helped The Ticket become one of the format’s best examples of success. The station has consistently dominated the Male 25-54 demo, while also becoming a ratings force with Persons 12+ and Adults 25-54.

“Jimmy has done an amazing job over the years running 97.1 the Ticket,” said legendary sports radio programmer Mark Chernoff. “He knows how to work with talent, and maintain balance while managing relationships with the Lions, Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons, which is not an easy job. The ratings remain high, and the Ticket continues to be one of America’s top sports stations, which reflects the great work Jimmy has done as the station’s program director.”

In addition to delivering double digit shares, quarterly ratings wins, and presenting a star studded lineup and Michigan’s top sports franchises, The Ticket has taken home plenty of hardware too. The station has won the Marconi award for best sports station in 2016 and 2022. And now, they can add the 2023 Mark Chernoff Award to their trophy case.

“2022 was another big year for The Ticket, and many in Detroit deserve credit for the brand’s consistent success, but none more so than their exceptional brand leader, Jimmy Powers,” added BSM President Jason Barrett. “Jimmy has been a staple of consistency, guiding one of the crown jewels of sports radio, managing top personalities, important play by play partnerships, and helping the brand generate large revenues. I’m thrilled that our industry voters took notice of the fantastic work Jimmy has done and look forward to celebrating his career and accomplishments in Los Angeles this March.”

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