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Is It Time For ESPN To Split Up Mike and Mike?

Jason Barrett

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Pairing two people together and developing a great show isn’t easy. Turning that show into a mainstream brand is even harder. Sustaining it for nearly two decades is virtually impossible.

Yet ESPN has done that with “Mike and Mike”, their morning show on ESPN Radio and ESPN 2.

To enter a sports fan’s mind for that period of time takes a ton of talent, patience, support, consistency, and whole lot of luck. Yet as we’ve seen many times in sports and the media business, even the biggest stars and shows eventually reach their finish line.

But how can you tell when a dominant program with revenue and ratings success has run out of gas? If the true measure of a show’s success is to deliver ratings, revenue and relevance, and a program is providing it, then isn’t it the role of management to stick with them and get out of the way?

This is the dilemma ESPN is facing with Mike and Mike.

On one hand, the show continues to perform both on radio and television. Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic have spent more than 16 years together, and continue to be the face of the ESPN Radio network, and a morning show which many sports fans across the nation take their cues from. Greeny and Golic entered the NAB radio hall of fame this past April, and still sound informed, engaged, and interested in delivering a quality program. They also have one of the strongest guests lists on radio.

But on the other hand, many critics say their act has grown tired and it’s time to turn the page. The common criticism is that the show lacks bold opinions, unpredictability and hasn’t refreshed itself, despite growing competition.

According to Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated, ESPN is considering breaking up the show and moving Greenberg to a morning show hosting role on television and pairing Golic with his son.

To many in radio circles, that possibility is nothing new. ESPN has made this noise before. In recent years, the network began to tinker with the show, challenging Greeny and Golic to add more opinion, more live reads, more bits, and more contributions from opinionated personalities (First Take, His & Hers). They’ve also experimented with adding Cris Carter as a third voice during football season, and utilized Molly Qerim in a part-time third host role.

There seem to be two trains of thought when it comes to Mike and Mike. You have one group of people who value what Greeny and Golic bring to the air and want to continue letting them operate the way they’re most comfortable. Then you have another faction which feels the show is corny, too safe, and lacks the opinions necessary to make the network a bigger destination each morning.

As I spoke to executives across the country, I learned that many feel the ESPN Radio brand has lost some of its luster. The network previously rolled out popular stars such as Dan Patrick, Colin Cowherd, Scott Van Pelt, and Tony Kornheiser, along with Mike and Mike, and when you start to lose high profile faces and voices, it takes time to develop the next crop of talent.

But therein lies the issue.

Many insiders aren’t convinced that ESPN Radio has found the next wave of superstars. The consensus is that Dan Le Batard is one of those superior talents along with Mike and Mike, but the rest of the shows are viewed a tier below. With more time and opportunity, opinions could change towards those other on-air talents. But when you’re in the leadership position that ESPN is in, and partners are counting on you to roll out programs with recognizable talent in order to help them win and generate immediate revenue, folks are less patient.

Which makes the idea of eliminating Mike and Mike a tough one for some network executives to wrestle with. Do you break up one of your most powerful brands and leave the radio network in a position where it doesn’t have huge star power? Won’t that further add to the narrative that the network is losing many of its best performers? Or do you sit tight and continue the ride while others continue to get better and listener and viewer tastes continue to change?

In talking to a number of executives, the consensus was that ESPN Radio would lose value without Mike and Mike. Some told me it would force them to reevaluate whether or not to continue their affiliation. But it was clear that there was a down the middle split on whether or not to cancel the show. I asked seven decision makers five key questions about Mike and Mike and here are their responses. The names of the individuals who took part in this piece have been kept private for obvious reasons.

What do you believe makes Mike and Mike a great show? 

Executive 1: The chemistry. They have worked together so long that they know each other and how to react to what the other person says. It is also about the resources, every ESPN expert is available to the show to provide insight and perspective that you can only get from those who have the access to the players and coaches from all the sports including the NFL, MLB, NBA and major college. The production staff is second to none and helps keep the Mike’s up to date on what matters most to the audience. The program is also great at covering the big story. No show is as good as Mike and Mike in taking the audience behind the curtain.

Executive 2: Chemistry and tenure. They anticipate each other’s thoughts and words.

Executive 3: It’s authentic. What you hear is what you get. Mike Greenberg is a metrosexual, neurotic, Jets loving fan. Mike Golic is a food loving, family guy, former player. They never pretend to be who they are not, they are themselves. In addition, Greenberg might be the best traffic cop on sports radio. He keeps the show moving at a tremendous pace for morning drive. His teases are the very best in the business. He is incredibly smart with a large vocabulary that he uses well to paint pictures and move seamlessly from topic to topic. Golic is the guy next door, the dude you want to have a beer with. He’s friendly and goofy and reminds us of our brother or uncle that we love. The last thing that makes this show great is ESPN. The strength of ESPN helps the show get the very best guests and top of mind newsmakers. Because they’re on ESPN Radio and TV, Mike and Mike have been able to establish themselves as the show of record for sports fans in the morning.

Executive 4: It’s a great, safe, easy brand to listen to. Continuity has been their biggest asset.  In Radio you almost win by default when you’re together for that long.

Executive 5: Longevity and the chemistry between Greeny and Golic. They are always talking about the right content too.

Executive 6: There is no show that addresses the big stories better. They make the content sound big and land the biggest guests.

Executive 7: Mike & Mike’s chemistry is what has made this show great going all the way back to day 1.  They do a good job tapping into ESPN’s resources creating a well-rounded sports show. It’s an easy and comfortable listen that informs people about the nation’s biggest sports stories.

What do you believe is missing from Mike and Mike’s show? 

Executive 1: Hard hitting opinions. At times the show is probably a little too safe in how they approach certain topics. The show needs to take some chances and push opinionated content that will generate reaction from the audience. Finding ways for the audience to be interactive with the Mike’s is always a good thing that we do not hear enough of.

Executive 2: Localism. They have too wide of net to cover. That is the drawback of a national show.

Executive 3: There isn’t a lot missing. They have access to everything they need through ESPN and their years of credibility and existence. At times the show could use more humor/fun, but it’s not a glaring miss. What it probably lacks the most is a steady fill-in because the two Mike’s are on vacation WAY too much.

Executive 4: The show could benefit from adding a woman to the cast.

Executive 5: Not one thing. I have not been one of those executives who has thought they needed to add to the show. I know the thought processes behind them doing it but I don’t feel it was necessary. Case in point, I tuned out last year during the Cris Carter segments.

Executive 6: For any show that has been successful and wants to stay on top, there has to be a refresh. They need to continue to bring big names into their show on a consistent basis that have strong opinions and can  push the story forward.

Executive 7: There is a level of unpredictability missing from the show. The guys rarely take chances and offer outspoken opinions, and they’ve settled to remain within their comfort zone.

How does the show sound now compared to 5-10 years ago? 

Executive 1: Mike and Mike used to be a radio show on TV. The show is now a TV show on radio. This is an important distinction in terms of what comes out of the speakers. The show is still enjoyable to consume, however the presentation is different because of the focus on television.

Executive 2: They have more experience and are further established. The show has an easy flow and tempo and their years together work in their favor as they are able to recall memorable moments to past shows.

Executive 3: Too cluttered. They have gotten crazy with the amount of live reads in the program.

Executive 4: The show is still very commercial/network, and non local. It’s safe and easy like McDonald’s – you know what you’re getting.  They don’t provide many opinions just the facts.

Executive 5: Just like any relationship that lasts that long, you hope it gets better with age. They understand each other better, they know how to get the best out of each other and push one another’s buttons. One way the show has suffered is that it’s no longer a radio show, it’s a TV program simulcast on radio.

Executive 6: The show has definitely digressed. I think they understood radio and the importance of keeping things moving years ago. They are best when hitting the big stories and reacting to them. For some reason they got away from that and tried to make it more of a morning zoo crew type of show. Play to your strengths, and humor is definitely not one of them, but they continue to try to incorporate it into the show.

Executive 7: The show was at its best ten years ago when it was undoubtedly the sports show of record each morning. As competition has increased, the show has gone the other way. Mike and Mike needed to step up their game and have that same entrepreneurial spirit that made it successful 16 years ago, but they’ve become more stale and predictable. As a result, the “need” to listen has waned. The shtick has stayed consistent, but in my opinion, the guys have lost their fastball. Additionally, the amount of sales clutter and promotion for company initiatives has caused far too many tune-outs.

When you sample their show, do you listen to it on radio or watch it on TV? 

Executive 1: Both. Depends where I am and what I am doing.

Executive 2: Both.

Executive 3: Radio when I’m home. TV when I’m on the road.

Executive 4: I monitor the show as a direct competitor.

Executive 5: Radio 100%. The move to the studio was not without growing pains but it’s an easier listen now.

Executive 6: Mostly on TV now.

Executive 7: A mixture of both. They play way too much to TV which has taken the shine off of the growth potential for the show on the radio.  It often seems they don’t care as much about the audio platform.

If you were in charge of ESPN, would you break up Mike & Mike and install a new morning show? 

Executive 1: It’s all about the big picture and what roles each of the Mike’s will have. Sports radio by nature is locally based and if you are going to have a major national show such as Mike and Mike, the talent must be able to appeal to multiple demographics and in a multi-platform world. Getting the right talent mix moving forward will require creativity and an understanding that the format is focused on serving multiple demos. For now, Mike and Mike is the best nationally syndicated sports show with a strong following. Decisions to change course will be based on more than just what is happening with the radio side of things at ESPN.

Executive 2: I would not bust up an established, successful and tenured show. It is too difficult to achieve a level of success like Mike and Mike have. History has proven this over and over again. Is ESPN’s gain worth the potential risk of the losses of a successful morning show?

Executive 3: HELL NO. They have the very best syndicated morning radio program in the country. No other entity has come close to getting the type of national audience share Mike and Mike has. While I’m a huge proponent of change and evolution, this show is still recognized as the show of record for sports fans in America.

Executive 4: I would blow it up and look to get younger.

Executive 5: Absolutely not, 100% no. ESPN has to remember that they look at Mike and Mike as a TV show that supplies the audio division—but on the ground level this is a key ratings grabber in morning drive on many affiliate stations. You don’t break up a winning show. Mike Greenberg is the glue.

Executive 6: Yes. I think they’ve gotten stale and need to bring in something new to excite viewers and listeners.

Executive 7: The only option at this point is to head in a different direction. If that isn’t possible contractually, then a consistent third voice needs to be added to improve the urgency and relevancy of the content.

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Barrett Blogs

Is Sports Journalism Still Worth Paying For?

“I know many like to declare print being dead. I’m sorry I’m not one of them. Adults still enjoy reading.”

Jason Barrett

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Courtesy: Don Nguyen

I’ve been thinking about this column all week because it’s a topic I’m passionate about and curious to hear the responses to. For starters, let me pose a few questions to you. Does quality journalism still matter? Is it worth paying for? Do advertisers see enough return on their investments with print outlets through associations with influential writers, publications and branded content? Are consumers hungry to read the full details of a story or are they satisfied with the cliff notes version and absorbing messages that fit inside of 140-280 characters?

The world we’re in is saturated with content. Attention spans are rapidly shrinking. Social media is both to blame and bless for that. The positive is that we’re exposed to more content than ever before. This means more opportunity to reach people and grow businesses. The challenge of course is standing out.

People listen, read and watch less of one thing now, opting for variety during the time they have available. The issue with that is that it often leads to being less informed. I know many like to declare print being dead. I’m sorry I’m not one of them. Adults still enjoy reading. I see nearly three million people do it on this website alone and we’re small potatoes compared to mainstream brands. Clearly people like to learn.

I raise this topic because last week, Peter King announced his retirement although he left open the door for side projects. After forty plus years of writing the gold standard of NFL columns, King revealed he wanted to slow down and invest his time in other areas of life. Among his considerations for the future after taking a breather are teaching.

In a podcast interview with Richard Deitsch, King said “We may love this column but I doubt that it made enough money for NBC to pay what they were paying me. I don’t think words are very profitable anymore. It’s a sad thing but it’s what’s happened to our business.”

Later in the conversation, King discussed the difficulty he might face if speaking to students about whether or not to pursue working in the media industry. He acknowledged that the business is bad right now. However, he pointed out that if you can write and read, and be an intelligent thinking contributing member of society, there are a lot of jobs you can do beyond being a writer for a paper covering the NFL. You can teach English, work in PR or for a team or league website. But journalism is different now, and though it’s not impossible to do, having flexibility is important.

I agreed with most of King’s remarks and thought about the two different ways people might respond to them.

If you’re in agreement with Peter, you’ll point to the reduction in industry jobs, the changes in salaries, the lack of trust in media outlets, the economic uncertainty facing traditional operators, the shrinking ability to uncover truth, and the data that frequently supports video being hot, and print not so much.

Those who disagree will list the New York Times and The Athletic as examples of print brands that still matter. They’ll also mention the surge in newsletters, the arrival of new online outlets, and the daily communication between millions of people each day on social media, much of it revolving around conversations created or supported by text.

Where I sit is somewhere in between.

First, the notion that it’s harder now than before is one I’ll challenge. When I entered the business, I had to mail letters, send cassette tapes, and wait months for a response. There was no internet or opportunity to create a podcast, Substack, website or video to build an audience. I had to be selected by someone to have a chance to work. There were thousands like me who wanted a way in and were at the mercy of decision makers preferring my resume over someone else’s. I did exactly what King said on the podcast when he mentioned having to do other jobs to support yourself while pursing a dream.

Where I agree with King is when he mentioned words not being as profitable anymore. Are print reporters and columnists going to make what they once did? Probably not. There will always be exceptions just as there are in television and radio, but if you think you’re going to do one specific job and making a financial killing on it, prepare to be disappointed. Today, you better be able to wear different hats and create a lot of content in multiple places. Earning a lot for doing a little is a way of the past.

The one area where I’ll differ is when it comes to advertising. I believe there’s untapped value for brands in print. Recall with the written word remains strong. There’s also less advertising clutter in written stories than audio and video programming blocks. Advertisers may not seek out traditional print advertising anymore but branded content, newsletter associations, and social media placements remain valued.

What I admire greatly about King is that he evolved over the years. His written work on SI was must-read but that didn’t stop him from leaping into the online space and launching MMQB. The arrival of that microsite was done at the right point in time, and when SI began to change, King didn’t hang on, choosing to make the bold move and jump to NBC. Upon his arrival, he started contributing on television, podcasts, and expanding his profile on social media.

What you should take away from Peter is that you’ve got to constantly examine the business, and understand when it’s time to pivot, even if it means leaving your comfort zone. You also have to recognize that things are going to change and your job description will likely be one of them. If you stay married to what you once did, you’ll be in a tough spot. If you roll with the punches and embrace what’s new, you’ll survive and thrive.

You also have to understand that you’re going to be tied further to what you produce. Does your presence and performance grow advertising revenue? Are you speaking on behalf of brands and helping them move product? Do you grow subscriptions or readership to levels that make it easy for a company to invest significantly in you? Talent is subjective. Results aren’t. Those who create quality while boosting the bottom line will remain in demand.

Remember this in a few years when artificial intelligence becomes a bigger part of content creation and discovery. Those who adapt to it and work with it will be just fine. Those who reject it will be searching for new career paths. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. There’s better stability in other industries. But there’s nothing like creating content around the world of sports and media. It just requires adaptability and being comfortable with being uncomfortable.

BSM Summit Update:

In ten days we unite the sports media business in New York City for the 2024 BSM Summit. All of the sessions are now complete. I’m excited to add Natalie Marsh, General Manager of Lotus Communications in Las Vegas, Cody Welling, Station Manager of 97.1 The Fan in Columbus, and Stephanie Prince, Vice President and Market Manager of Good Karma Brands West Palm Beach to our schedule. The full agenda for both days is posted on BSMSummit.com.

In addition, I’m thrilled to share that we’ll have a few special appearances at the ESPN Radio After Party on Wednesday March 13th. Joining us on-site will be Evan Cohen, Chris Canty and Michelle Smallmon of UnSportsmanLike, Freddie Coleman and Harry Douglas of Freddie & Harry, and Chris Carlin from Carlin vs. Joe.

Thumbs Up:

Chris Mortensen: Rarely does the sports media industry collectively agree on anything but you won’t find much disagreement on Chris Mortensen. He was a special talent and human being. I was fortunate to see it firsthand as a producer at ESPN Radio. I then enjoyed many interactions with Mort as a program director lining up calls on the radio stations I ran. It didn’t matter what job you did or where you worked, Chris treated you well. His work was hall of fame worthy but it was the manner in which he interacted with people that truly made him a legend. Rest in peace, Mort. I’m sure the next wave of conversations with John Clayton are going to be amazing.

Mike Felger: It would’ve been easy to pile on and publicly root for a competitor to fail and fold. Instead, Felger took the high road, acknowledging that he’s rooting for WEEI to come out of bankruptcy in good shape. That’s what smart business people. Mike is comfortable in his own skin. He has the highest rated show in Boston and having a competitor to compete against as well as a potential landing spot when contracts come up is never a bad thing. Besides, why would anyone want to see friends and respected professionals lose an opportunity to work or listeners given less choice for sports talk entertainment? Nice job, Mike.

iHeartmedia: The company’s fourth quarter results were down year-to-year but they were above prior projections. iHeart also gained 16.6% growth in podcasting revenues during Q4, and just got stronger by luring Stephen A. Smith’s podcast away from Audacy. A pretty good week for Bob Pittman and his lieutenants.

Sportico: Jason Clinkscales is an easy guy to root for. He’s written quality content for Awful Announcing, is a sharp guy who enjoys the industry, and after a year full of personal tragedies, he deserved a break. That came last week when Sportico hired him as a reporter and editor on their breaking news team. Well done Sportico. Looking forward to reading the first piece.

National Association of Broadcasters: Creating buzz for conferences isn’t easy but the NAB’s recent announcement of having Daniel Anstandig of Futuri Media present a first-of-its-kind presentation at its April show alongside Ameca, an autonomously AI-powered humanoid robot has certainly increased conversation and intrigue. I’ll be in attendance for the event and am curious like many. I’m just hoping Joe Rogan isn’t right when he suggested this week that robots will jump out of an aircraft carrier with machine guns and do damage.

Thumbs Down:

Kroenke Sports and Entertainment: This isn’t a shot at the company. It’s more about losing a talented media executive. Matt Hutchings, the company’s former COO and EVP was a key part of developing Altitude Sports. Under his watch, the Nuggets and Avalanche won titles, and the company cemented its position in the local sports radio space.

The dispute with Comcast over airing Nuggets and Avs games is well documented, and Hutchings will get some of the blame for the teams not being broadcast on local TV but I tend to believe decisions of that magnitude land at ownership’s doorstep. Regardless, KSE is weaker today than yesterday due to losing Hutchings.

New York Jets: I get it. 98.7 ESPN New York moving away from the FM dial provides a concern for the franchise, and in other cities, football does perform well on classic rock stations. I just see the fit with Q104.3 as an odd one. If Aaron Rodgers returns and the Jets finally take off the way their fans hoped they would last year, it’s going to feel strange hearing their games locally on a channel that has little content time dedicated to the team beyond game days.

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Erika Ayers and Spike Eskin Led Barstool Sports and WFAN to Success But Their Exits Raise Questions

“Rod and Spike understand the business. They know people are going to ask these questions.”

Jason Barrett

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There were two big management moves last week that have sports media folks talking. First was Erika Ayers Badan announcing her exit from Barstool Sports as the brand’s CEO. Second was the news of Spike Eskin returning to Sportsradio WIP and exiting his role as the VP of Programming for WFAN and CBS Sports Radio.

Let’s start with Erika. What she did for Barstool was spectacular. In 2016, I thought Barstool had a strong understanding of social media, unique talent and voices, podcasts that were cutting through, and a connection with younger fans that traditional outlets couldn’t deliver. They also produced events that drew a lot of public attention. But I didn’t view Barstool as a buttoned up business capable of generating hundreds of millions of dollars. Erika Nardini aka Erika Ayers Badan and Dave Portnoy deserve credit for making it one.

Erika told me at our 2020 BSM Summit that Barstool didn’t have a P&L sheet when she joined. She had to build systems, hire staff, grow the sales arm of Barstool, and help Dave Portnoy find investors. What followed were marketing deals with major brands, content partnerships with different media outlets, a massive investment from Penn National, and a changed perception of Barstool as a mainstream player. They were no longer just the cool, rebellious brand on social media and the internet that gave no f’s and generated attention. They became game changers in the sports content space.

So why leave?

If Barstool is now clear of restrictions and able to operate without investor influence, that should be enticing, right? In her farewell video Erika said that she felt she accomplished what she set out to do. I understand and appreciate that. But I can’t help but wonder if less structure and investor involvement made it less appealing to stay. She did join the brand after The Chernin Group got involved not before it.

I have no inside knowledge on this, and I’m not suggesting Barstool won’t continue growing and dominating. They likely will. It just raises questions about how the brand will manage sales, PR, critical internal and external issues, and battles with suitors when they try to lure away Barstool’s on-air and sales talent.

The business end of Barstool appears weaker today than it did a week ago. That’s more of a testament to what Erika did than a knock on anyone still there. To grow revenue the way she did the past 8 years speaks volumes about her skill as an executive. Wherever she lands next, it’s likely she’ll make a difference.

Will it be easier to do business with Barstool moving forward? Time will tell. I don’t expect they’ll make it easier for media outlets like ours to cover them. But if I’ve learned anything in eight years of following them it’s don’t ever bet against Dave Portnoy. Too often people have. Each time he’s proven them wrong. Portnoy has built a powerhouse brand, and grown the business by zigging when others zagged. But how Barstool moves forward without Erika will be of great interest to many in 2024.

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Spike Eskin will be leaving WFAN and his position as the VP of Programming for Audacy to return to WIP and co-host the afternoon show. On paper this is a great move for WIP. Spike understands Philadelphia and WIP’s audience, he lives and breathes Philly sports, and has a great rapport with the entire lineup. He’s maintained an on-air presence through his Rights to Ricky Sanchez podcast, and I believe that moving into a host role alongside Ike Reese and Jack Fritz will be a seamless transition for all involved. Being in his mid to late 40’s, he’s also got plenty years ahead of him to cement his spot as an on-air talent. I expect Spike, Ike and Jack to do well together.

But to exit WFAN and the top programming role at Audacy in less than three years, raises a few questions. Why is this opportunity better for Spike than the programming role he just held? Was he happy at WFAN? Were folks happy with him at WFAN? Many have opinions about WFAN’s changes the past few years. Some love the fresher approach. Others don’t. That’s what makes sports radio in New York fun, people care.

As a follower of WFAN for over thirty years, it’s a different brand than the one I grew up on. That’s not a bad thing by the way. I’m almost 50. If Spike and Chris Oliviero programmed to please the Mike and the Mad Dog crowd that’d be a mistake. Attention spans are shorter, content options are larger, digital is more important and the days of a city flocking to the radio at 1pm to hear a host’s first words are gone. Judging from the ratings, revenue, and turnout for Boomer and Gio’s last live event, the station is doing well. They’ve got a lot of talent, a stronger digital game, and they’ll continue thriving. Spike deserves credit for the brand’s progress.

But why is a hosting role and less influence over a brand better for Eskin? Spike has been a part of WIP’s afternoon show before. Though leading the show vs. being the third mic is a different animal. He also programmed the station really well. In fact, Spike did such a good job at WIP that it landed him the top programming position in sports radio. Is there a personal part to this given that his father made afternoons in Philly must-listen for 25 years? Or is it about the personal relationship he has with Ike and Jack?

And how does this work from a financial standpoint? It’s likely that Spike was paid more to lead Audacy New York than Jon Marks was to host WIP’s afternoon show. If that’s the case, and nothing changes for Eskin, and WIP just adds payroll, does it affect what Chris Oliviero can spend on Audacy New York’s next brand leader? I can’t see that happening at all. Chris is going to make sure he has what he needs to land the right leader in New York.

Finances only come up because it’s known that Audacy is going through a bankruptcy process. Adding expenses right now seems unlikely. However, to add someone with Eskin’s skill and track record at a station where he previously shined is smart business, especially when you consider that he can win as a host and programmer if needed. That’s going to naturally lead to folks asking ‘will Spike eventually host PM drive and program WIP? If so, what does that mean for current PD Rod Lakin?’ ‘What happens when talent at WIP that Spike had a hand in hiring don’t like what Lakin suggests or if WIP’s ratings decline?’

Spike told Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie that’s not on his radar and the idea of joining the afternoon show was raised by PD Rod Lakin. Some of you may read that and be surprised that Lakin would suggest it. But Rod stepped into the role that Eskin previously held. I’m sure they’ve talked plenty the past few years. If their relationship is strong that should help. I don’t know it well enough to say if it is or isn’t. This move suggests Lakin’s more concerned with strengthening WIP than worrying about himself or industry chatter.

If anyone can navigate the situation and make it work, it’s Rod Lakin. He’s calm, cool, collected, smart and doesn’t get flustered by noise and pressure. I know this because we’ve known each other for over a decade, and I introduced him to folks years ago, which led to him landing the Philly role. If you read Derek Futterman’s piece on Angelo Cataldi last month, the Philly icon shared a small example of what makes Rod a great leader.

But Rod and Spike understand the business. They know people are going to ask these questions. The flurry of texts and emails I received about this last week was insane. I’m sure it was even louder on the local level. Many will suggest that Audacy will use this as an opportunity to eventually reduce expenses and stay strong by having Eskin handle two roles. Only those involved know the answers but one thing I know is that Rod Lakin knows how to program. If he’s not supported there, he’ll have plenty of interest elsewhere.

In a perfect world, Spike excels in afternoons, Rod leads WIP to greater success, and WFAN finds a great leader to move the brand forward. But until the smoke clears, noise will fill the air in the big apple and city of brotherly love.

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Thumbs Up:

Colin Dunlap, 93.7 The Fan: While on the air last week, Dunlap received a call from a 65-year old woman named Colette. She told the Pittsburgh host that she and her husband were disabled and after undergoing 28 surgeries, she was physically struggling to clear her walkway of snow. Hearing her story moved Dunlap to react. He then called on the audience to step up and help. Shortly thereafter, one of 93.7 The Fan’s listeners, a gentleman named Tom, phoned in, and made the drive over to help out a fellow listener. That’s the power of live radio at its best, all possible by Dunlap reading and reacting to the situation perfectly.

Clay Travis, Outkick: Whether you love him or hate him, Clay delivers strong opinions and commands your attention. A perfect example was his Friday night reaction video to the demise of Sports Illustrated. If you haven’t watched it, it’s worth checking out. It’s nearing one million views at the time of my writing this.

VSiN: The sports betting network based out of Las Vegas recently redesigned its website and the new look and feel of it is excellent. Clean throughout, easy to navigate, and rich of content. Nice work by Bill Adee all involved.

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Thumbs Down:

Sports Illustrated: Laying off the majority of its staff was bad enough, but to notify people by email or have them find out on social media shows a lack of class and a disgusting approach to running a business. All of those traits by the way are the exact opposite of what SI once stood for – RESPECT.

During SI’s glory days, the content was must read. But in recent years, the outlet landed in the hands of operators who valued clicks over quality. Many predicted and expected this once storied brand to crumble. Unfortunately, the naysayers were proven right.

To those affected, I’m sorry for the crummy news. Some will rebound and help other established brands. Some will launch their own platforms or exit the industry. Anyone looking to do future freelancing work is invited to email [email protected].

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BSM Summit Update:

I’m happy to share that Good Karma Brands president Steve Politziner, Edison Research co-founder and president Larry Rosin and ESPN Chicago program director Danny Zederman have been added to our lineup. We’ve also finalized two of our four awards recipients and are working on a third. I’m hoping to share those details soon along with a few other high profile additions to this year’s show. I’ll be heading to Las Vegas during Super Bowl week, which is when we reveal our BSM Top 20 of 2023, and after that I’m hoping to finalize our schedule so it can be released by the end of February.

I know everyone likes waiting until the last minute to buy tickets and reserve hotel rooms. If you want to avoid being left out though, the time to act is now. Everything you need is posted on BSMSummit.com. Our deadline for hotel room reservations is February 13th. We’ve also sent out free ticket contests by email to the advertising community and tri-state area colleges. We’ll have two more this week for executives and programmers. Be sure to check your spam folder just in case it doesn’t arrive in your inbox.

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2-Seconds to Vent:

Jimmy Pitaro, Eric Shanks, John Skipper, Nick Khan, Colin Cowherd, Paul Finebaum, Clay Travis, Craig Carton, Adam Schein, Michael Kay, and Fred Toucher all have something in common with many others across the industry. They’re accomplished professionals with plenty on their plate yet when contacted, they always respond. Most of the time, they do so quickly. That’s greatly appreciated.

If those tasked with running the largest media companies in America, and hosting shows with content, advertising, and audience commitments can find time to respond, why is it so hard for other professionals to do the same? If you don’t want to be featured on BSM, speak at a Summit, market with us or answer a question, just say ‘not interested‘. It takes two seconds. The best in the business understand the value of relationships and promotion. Unfortunately, many do not. I don’t use this platform to draw attention to these issues but sometimes I wonder, should I?

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Original Projects:

On BNM this week we’re doing five days of features on NPR professionals as part of ‘Public Radio Week‘. It’s not easy pulling it off but we’re trying some different stuff. Next week we launch ‘Where Are They Now‘ on BSM. Peter Schwartz will have the first feature next Tuesday. Coming up in February, we drop the BSM Top 20, Derek Futterman’s ‘Day Spent With‘ series which includes spending a day with professionals across different areas of the industry, and we’ll profile a number of black voices on BNM as part of the brand’s focus on Black History month. I hope you’ll check them out whenever time allows.

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Recommended Viewing:

If you’re looking for a movie to watch during the week, check out Blackberry if you haven’t already done so. The film is about the rise and fall of the Blackberry phone, and I thought it was excellent. It had a similar feel to the movie Jobs, and the series Super Pumped: The Battle For Uber. Worth your time if you’ve got two hours available to watch something different than live games or sports programming.

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If you have a question or comment you’d like addressed in a future column, please send it to [email protected]. That same email address can be used to pass along press releases, interview requests or news tips. Thanks for reading!

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The 2024 BNM Summit is Coming To Washington D.C.

“Tickets will be regularly priced at $299.99 but for the month of January they’re on-sale for $199.99. Prices will not be this low after February 1st.”

Jason Barrett

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2024 BNM Summit

What better way to kick off the new year than to make an announcement. We’ve been working on our plan for the 2024 BNM Summit for months and I’m stoked to share the news today with the news media industry.

In 2023, we had an excellent debut event in Nashville. I recognize that I’m a new face to many in news talk radio and television. For that reason, I wasn’t sure what to expect last time. Would folks make the trip? What would our sponsor support look like? Could I create the right agenda for those in attendance? There were a lot of questions to answer. Judging from the feedback, I think we passed the test.

As we talked about the next one and reviewed industry responses, I knew we’d have to raise our game in an election year. We listed New York City, Chicago, Dallas, and Washington D.C. as possible destinations, and all were attractive for different reasons. But we can only pick one, and I’m excited to share that the 2024 BNM Summit is coming to the nation’s capital, Washington D.C..

The dates of the show will be Wednesday September 4th and Thursday September 5th. We’ll have more details leading up to the show. One thing you’ll want to take advantage of now is our special sale on tickets. Our regular price will be $299.99 but for the month of January tickets are on-sale for $199.99. Prices will not be this low after February 1st. We have 250 seats in the venue so it’s first come, first served.

When we considered the possibility of bringing the Summit to D.C., we knew it had a ton of benefits. There were great options for speakers, and numerous brands and networks operating locally. Being accessible to politicians, the NAB, and other businesses was also appealing. All that was needed was the right venue with nearby hotel options. Fortunately, we found it.

The Jack Morton Auditorium at The George Washington University will serve as our location for September’s show. It’s an awesome venue, which has been used before for high profile events. There’s also great parking and an awesome food court nearby, and it’s close to the main local landmarks. Having 3-4 hotels within walking distance was another advantage. Speaking of which, we’ll have more details on our hotel options soon.

The key information to be aware of for now are the dates of the show, and the special January ticket price. We’ll add speakers in the upcoming months and email attendees for insight on what they wish to learn at our next event. We expect this to be a strong conference, and I’m excited to bring the industry together a half a mile away from the White House.

If your group sponsored last year’s show or didn’t and would like to, reach out to Stephanie Eads. She has this year’s sponsorship deck now available. We had outstanding support last year, and expect demand for this one to be even higher. Stephanie can be reached at [email protected] or 415-312-5553.

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