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3 Sports Media Stories Worthy of a 30 For 30

Jason Barrett

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What if I told you, that another sports media show or personality would be given a future 30 for 30 documentary. Who would you nominate to earn that honor?

On Thursday evening July 13th, ESPN premiered the 30 for 30 film on WFAN’s longtime afternoon show, Mike and the Mad Dog. The story revolved around Mike Francesa and Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, and the New York sports radio duo’s rise to prominence in the big apple. Mike and Chris enjoyed nineteen successful years on the air together, and in the process, influenced the growth of the entire sports radio format, and many of the broadcasters who operate in it today.

By the end of the episode, Twitter was exploding with conversation about the film, making it one of the evening’s top trending topics. The film ran sixty minutes in length, which I felt was short, but the episode brought back many great memories for those who were familiar with Mike and Chris and their importance to the sports radio format.

When the ratings came out, the film was ESPN’s highest rated 30 for 30 episode in New York City. However, it failed to gain traction outside of the nation’s top media market. Given the regional nature of sports talk radio and its personalities that wasn’t surprising.

After learning about the ratings, I began thinking to myself, which other sports media shows, hosts, stations or stories would be worthy of a similar honor? 30 for 30 films aren’t handed out to just anyone. To earn that type of respect and recognition as a media personality or show, a significant contribution to the industry must be made for a lengthy period of time.

I began jotting down ideas and contemplating who had blazed a large enough trail in the sports media business to warrant consideration. I don’t claim for this list to be bulletproof. But maybe it spurs additional ideas, and reminds us to appreciate the style, skill and special qualities that many great broadcasters have brought to the airwaves, and the life lasting connections they’ve formed with the audience.

There are many giants in our industry. Some have retired after decades of excellence. Some continue to steal the spotlight on television and radio, adding to the legacies they’ve already established. And others have joined the guy in the sky after owning space in the hearts and minds of sports fans during the length of their broadcasting careers.

It’s easy to make a case for Chris Berman, Mike and Mike, Jim Rome, Stephen A. Smith, Pardon The Interruption, Bob Costas and Al Michaels. The same can be said for Stuart Scott, John Saunders, Harry Caray and Craig Sager. And there are many others that belong in the conversation as well.

I don’t expect ESPN to create future 30 for 30 documentaries on these individuals, let alone the ones that I’m making a case for in this article, but since this is the land of make believe, and we’re all allowed to dream, I’ve laid out a few thoughts on who I think is worthy of having their story told. Each of these candidates have left an indelible mark on the sports broadcasting profession, and their ability to resonate with fans on a national level would create greater public interest in their documentaries.

If 30 for 30’s writers, filmmakers, and producers choose down the line to develop a film from one of these ideas, a simple thank you to Barrett Sports Media in the final credits will suffice. Unless of course you’re paying seven figures. In that case, call me!

But while I spend my time sitting around waiting for their call, use your next few minutes to review the three candidates that I’ve chosen, and the reasons why they deserve consideration to be featured in a future 30 for 30 documentary.

Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann – Before the landscape of sports television exploded with tons of options and channels, Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann owned the attention of every sports fan across America for a five year period. The times may have been simpler, the competition less formidable, and the production quality and studio display less appealing, but when Dan and Keith took the air to host The Big Show, viewers adjusted their schedules to make sure they were in front of a television to watch them perform.

From their signature catchphrases to their on-camera chemistry and the sheer joy in which they informed you about the best moments each night from the world of sports, Dan and Keith became television rock stars. They were your friends on SportsCenter and the guys who both fans and athletes each wanted to spend time hanging out and having a beer with. Their style was contagious, their laughs were natural and they inspired many to want to stand in front of camera and develop a career calling sports highlights.

The only downside to Dan and Keith’s tenure is that it didn’t last long enough. Patrick stayed at ESPN until 2006, but Olbermann was long gone, departing in 1997. Upon his exit from Bristol, a town in which Keith was not fond of and had publicly been critical of, sources said there was a better chance of hell freezing over before Olbermann would be welcomed back.

When the network celebrated 25 years of its history, Keith was the one marquee name who wasn’t present. The two sides did though finally turn the page and work together in 2013 when KO signed on to host his own self-titled nightly program. He also returned for ESPN Radio’s 25th anniversary. Patrick cut ties with the network too for a few years, but finally returned in 2015 as Scott Van Pelt’s first guest on SportsCenter.

The emergence of The Big Show gave SportsCenter the jolt of energy it needed during an important time in the show’s history. Although the program had gained ground prior to Dan and Keith’s arrival, once the two teamed up to own the 11pm ET time slot, patterns changed, allegiances were formed, and late night sports television became must-watch and must-discuss.

Since departing from the four letter network, the two broadcasters have taken different roads, enjoying varying levels of success. Olbermann expanded his profile by tossing his hat into the political arena. Patrick stayed true to his sports roots, developing a nationally syndicated radio/television show, and becoming the studio host of NBC’s Sunday Night Football. He’s also continued to make appearances in Adam Sandler films.

They say the true measure of impact is what you accomplish during the time that you’re doing it. Well, for five years Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann owned the attention of every American sports fan, athlete, coach and executive. If 30 for 30 shined the spotlight on their influence on SportsCenter and sports television, they’d earn the nation’s attention again, even if only for an hour or two.

Vin Scully – Like a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day, Vin Scully warmed the sports fan’s soul for over six decades. The graceful voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers was the epitome of class. He made sports fans feel like they were at the ballpark enjoying the sound of the crowd, the taste of the hot dogs and beer, and the smell of the grass, even as they relied on his magical voice to convey the excitement over their radio airwaves. You couldn’t think of the L.A. Dodgers without thinking of Vin Scully.

Throughout his career, Scully shined in nearly everything he did. He was behind the microphone for Hank Aaron’s record breaking 715th home run in 1974. He called NFL games for CBS including Dwight Clark’s catch from Joe Montana against the Dallas Cowboys in the 1982 NFC Championship game. He spent 1983-1989 with NBC where he called three World Series including the classic between the New York Mets and Boston Red Sox in 1986 and the 1988 A’s-Dodgers series which included Kirk Gibson’s infamous pinch hit home run against Dennis Eckersley. He also served as the network’s lead announcer for PGA coverage, working alongside Lee Trevino.

One of the more interesting sagas of his career occurred at CBS where the network chose Pat Summerall over him to work opposite John Madden. The network felt Summerall blended better with Madden, which ultimately proved to be a good decision. The sting from that situation led Scully to NBC.

The list of awards and accomplishments that Scully racked up over his broadcast career is impressive as well. He was given the Ford Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, honored with a Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award for sportscasting along with induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1995, and was named the California sportscaster of the year 32 times. He has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and was honored with the Icon Award at the 2017 ESPYS awards show.

Scully was America’s friend on the radio, a master at painting pictures with words, and his excellence continued until his final sentence was uttered in 2016.

The only challenge with producing a Vin Scully documentary is that it’s missing a lot of negativity and friction. Maybe I’m naive to think that respect, decency, and greatness would be enough to make people care, but I’d roll the dice on telling the story of one of America’s finest broadcasters. A story about Vin would not only capture a few eyeballs, but it’d also leave them wet.

Howard Cosell – Few sportscasters were as successful, influential, controversial and colorful as Howard Cosell. Many loved him. Others hated him. But all paid attention to him.

What made Cosell a trailblazer was his uncomfortable and unapologetic approach which often ruffled the feathers of many he spoke with. He was a bombastic personality with a huge ego who referred to himself as arrogant, obnoxious, vain, verbose and a little bit of a showoff. He stood firmly behind his convictions, often using the line “I’m just telling it like it is”.

Perhaps the New York Times described him best when they wrote his obituary in 19995. The newspaper said that Cosell entered sports broadcasting in the mid-1950s, when the predominant style was unabashed adulation. Cosell provided a brassy counterpoint which was first ridiculed, and then copied until it became the dominant note of sports broadcasting.

All of those character traits became part of Cosell’s magic. After carving out a solid niche on New York radio and television, he became a national figure thanks to his interactions with Muhammad Ali. Despite their differences as people, the two discovered an instant chemistry. They were able to cover territory in their conversations that others simply didn’t. The various twists and turns and occasional sparks, made their interviews worth the price of admission.

Cosell was one of the first sportscasters to support Ali when he refused to be inducted into the military. He also publicly supported John Carlos and Tommie Smyth after they raised their fists in a “black power” salute during the 1968 medal ceremony. Most broadcasters sought to steer clear of social and racial issues, but Cosell embraced them, enhancing his public profile, but creating mixed reactions along the way.

It was Cosell who was behind the microphone for one of the most memorable moments in professional boxing history. The brash broadcaster screamed “Down Goes Frazier. Down Goes Frazier. Down Goes Frazier” after George Foreman rattled Smokin’ Joe Frazier in round 1 of their 1973 heavyweight title fight. Foreman would go on to knock out the champion in round 2. The call remains one of the most popular in sports broadcasting history.

To have one of those moments is special enough, but another on-air moment is equally as important to Cosell’s legacy as any other. During a Monday Night Football game between the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots on December 8, 1980, Cosell stunned the audience by revealing that John Lennon of The Beatles had been shot and killed outside of his apartment in New York City. At first, Cosell was hesitant to announce the news of Lennon’s death, but after being pressed by Frank Gifford, he eventually relayed the information, making it one of the most defining on-air moments in sports television history.

There are many other acts, moments, controversies and contributions that make up the Howard Cosell story. From his introduction of the line “The Bronx Is Burning”, to his controversial remarks about Redskins wide receiver Alvin Garrett, to his best selling memoir “I Never Played The Game” which created tension at ABC and led to his dismissal, Cosell was a colorful and complicated individual. That’s usually what makes for compelling and entertaining programming. If 30 for 30 chose to tell his story, I don’t think they’d struggle to find an audience for it.The beauty of sports media is that it never stops producing interesting personalities and stories. The growing amount of networks and platforms, and interest among viewers, readers and listeners, means we’ll have plenty to choose from when determining which trendsetters and game changers warrant a documentary worthy of the world’s attention, and which ones have built a nice niche but are best remembered in their local backyards.

Maybe one day we’ll profile the digital empire Bill Simmons built. Or Barstool Sports’ influence on sports fans. Or the impact of the Woj bomb after a decade of NBA news breaking dominance. Heck, maybe another sports radio program will have a larger impact on an audience than Mike and the Mad Dog, although I have a difficult time picturing it.

Imagine the uproar if ESPN announced a 30 for 30 was in development to profile the Embrace Debate model and how it changed sports television? The social media insanity would be worth the price of admission alone. As much as people knock it and complain about it, a case could be made that it’s not only produced ratings and big media stars for ESPN, but it’s influenced the way other television networks present their own programming. And I’m not just talking about FS1.

For many in the sports media industry this is a fun topic to debate and discuss. Selfishly we love to hear about members of our business and the stories behind their careers, even if the overall interest in the subject is less when compared to the world of sports and all that it creates. That isn’t to suggest that what we do doesn’t matter or that it’s not worthy of recognition, but choosing the right story is critically important to generating success for a film.

Let me end this column by leaving you with the question that I presented in the opening paragraph. If you were in charge of developing a 30 for 30 documentary, and tasked with creating the next big hit around a sports media personality, show or story, which one would you choose?

But let’s raise the stakes. If you choose right, you earn a lifetime contract to produce films for ESPN. If you make the wrong call, you can never film anyone or anything again.

That shouldn’t be too difficult right? After all, it’s only your career that’s on the line. Choose wisely my friends.

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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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Barrett Blogs

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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