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Mike and Mike’s Differences Helped Make Them Great

Jason Barrett

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Mike and Mike

In 1998, I was just learning how the radio business worked. I was at a small station that powered down at night, making $200 per week, and had no idea if this industry was one I wanted to build a career in. My son Dylan hadn’t even been born yet and I had a full head of hair, although the early signs of scalp evacuations had just begun.

During that same year, Bill Clinton became president. John Elway won his first Super Bowl, defeating Brett Favre’s Green Bay Packers 31-24. The New York Yankees won the World Series, sweeping the San Diego Padres, and Michael Jordan was knocking down a jumper after moving Byron Russell aside to lead the Chicago Bulls to another NBA Title at the expense of the Utah Jazz.

All of that happened just as Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic were crossing paths and preparing to embark on a radio adventure together, one which has lasted for nineteen years. Greeny and Golic became a true staple of sports radio and television and it’s hard to believe that we’ve reached the end of the line when each still has plenty to offer. Golic will continue soon on the radio with Trey Wingo and his son Mike Jr. and Greeny will move over to television to launch a new show “Get Up” in 2018 on ESPN.

Before Mike and Mike were born, there was Bruno and Golic. Tony Bruno and Mike Golic owned the morning drive real estate on ESPN Radio from 1995 to 1998 and had Tony not left, who knows if the past 19 years of sports radio and television history would’ve gone the way they have. But so much in life is about timing, and the way this story has evolved had everything to do with it.

When ESPN began looking for a replacement for Bruno, the idea of Greenberg becoming the permanent host wasn’t high on anyone’s list. It wasn’t even a job that was attractive to Greenberg. He considered the opportunity because he thought it would help him earn more recognition from network executives, paving the way to a higher profile position on television. In fact, Greeny insisted on remaining involved as a host on SportsCenter, doing more than 100 shows per year for 11 years.

At that time, Greenberg was seen as a SportsCenter anchor with a future in television. Golic had little familiarity with him. Complicating things further was the perception of the radio network. Clearance of ESPN Radio’s programming was minimal, and although the network’s lineup featured some great hosts such as Golic, Dan Patrick, Tony Kornheiser and Chuck Wilson, it hadn’t yet become the national powerhouse that it is today.

But then something happened.

Five minutes before the first audition together in 1998, the two men began chatting. Greenberg began busting Golic’s balls over his weight, and being the self-deprecating guy that he is, Golic had fun with it. Greeny has told the story numerous times of how he referred to the pair as a number 10, Golic being the burger and himself being the bun, and their immediate chemistry, humor and differences opened the door for the two to become a permanent team. Even Golic’s wife took notice during the audition process, telling her husband “he’s the one.”

ESPN worked the two Mikes together for a number of additional shows and began talking to Greeny about becoming part of the mix in 99, finally making them the network’s morning show in 2000. They haven’t looked back since. Mike and Mike became the national sports radio soundtrack for hundreds of stations across the country and along the way earned an induction into the NAB Radio Hall of Fame in 2016.

If ever there was a slogan that perfectly described a show, it was the one that Mike and Mike embraced. “What makes them different, makes them great” was how the network described the program, and everything from their on-air content execution to their radio promos, TV commercials and appearances on TV shows, sitcoms and movies, all captured that branding. They were radio’s version of Felix and Oscar (The Odd Couple), a louder and heavier alpha-male former jock sharing the same space with the thin, bright, dorky, metrosexual sports fan turned broadcaster. Individually and collectively they had a firm grasp on who they were and understood what made their combination appealing to the audience.

It was Greeny and Golic’s success that sparked stations across the country to further explore on-air combinations featuring broadcasters and athletes. The growth of their program on television led to the network gaining confidence to introduce additional radio-television simulcasts. Plus those who made an impact on the show behind the scenes, often found themselves advancing in their careers. As a result of working with Mike and Mike, Pete Gianesini, Justin Craig, Scott Shapiro, Ray Necci, Jason Romano, Amanda Gifford and Liam Chapman all moved up the ladder. A number of others in our industry have gained bigger roles too after working with Greeny and Golic.

I was fortunate to be at the network between 2004-2006 when the show started to gain traction and a bigger focus from network executives. Bruce Gilbert was a big proponent of Mike and Mike. He believed in the pair being given stronger exposure. Given that they were on the air during morning drive, it made a lot of sense. Prior to that, the network had placed a bigger emphasis on middays with Dan Patrick and Tony Kornheiser.

Although they did a lot right, Mike and Mike weren’t without faults. Earlier in his career Greeny would shy away from accepting guests on the show who he had been previously critical of. The Mike and Mike wedding in 2006 was an event which left many in the building confused by, even though some executives liked how it produced additional publicity for the show outside of sports circles. Golic had his share of times on the air where it was clear he wasn’t dialed in on what happened the night before, and the show’s conservative approach in delivering opinions and confronting guests drew frustration from fellow media members and led executives to constantly tinker with the show in search of more opinion, even installing rotating third hosts at one point.

When you add it all up, the highs certainly outweigh the lows. If you execute a show under the nation’s eyes and ears for over 19 years, you’re going to have some ups and downs. Nonetheless, there was no better national program in recognizing which topics mattered most to sports fans each morning. If a major story broke, you knew Mike and Mike would be on it. When newsmakers needed to be heard from, Mike and Mike had them. You could drive your kid to school, watch the show with your wife or girlfriend, or listen at your office desk and know that it’d be topical, informative, entertaining and comfortable. More importantly, you knew they’d be themselves.

The criticisms that have been directed at Greeny and Golic throughout the years have often been due to not relating to their personalities or style. That’s understandable. No show strikes a perfect chord with every listener. But as people, Mike and Mike were comfortable in their skin and they executed that way on the air. They were proud of the fact that they presented a sports show which a family could listen to. They were OK with not diving into discussions that divided a room. They accepted that some people wouldn’t tune them in because they weren’t edgy enough or willing to embrace men’s room humor.

Some shows relied on aggressive language, colorful humor and hot takes to make their points. Mike and Mike took a different path. They trusted their smarts, chemistry, love for sports and the best sports guest list in morning drive to help them win. They weren’t afraid to have fun either. Whether it meant Greeny milking a cow, professing his love for Chad Pennington in song or dressing up as Justin Bieber, Mike Golic being waxed, recreating the Kim Kardashian nude photo or stuffing his face with donuts, bits being created with Joaquin (Curt Kaplan), Liam’s mom and Frank Caliendo, or the two men joining forces to execute longtime benchmarks like the “Just Shut Up” award and “Stone Cold Lead Pipe Locks”, Greeny and Golic delivered a good blend of laughter and learning in a way that made sense to them.

That may not sit well with everyone, especially some local media members, but what I appreciate about it is that they understood who they were, what they wanted to be, and why it was important to stick to their principles. Authenticity is vital to any show’s success and Mike and Mike found their own way to succeed for 19 years. Their run together produced healthy ratings for a number of markets including Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Pittsburgh, Columbus, St. Louis and New York. I’m likely leaving out a few others but you get the point.

Too many times in our business we look to find faults in individuals and shows rather than understanding and appreciating their styles and strengths. Mike and Mike became the morning sports page for fans across the nation on a network as large as ESPN for close to two decades because they were dependable, topical, informative and entertaining. Their chemistry was off the charts but above all else, they were genuine and honest.

On this final day of their show, I thought it was worth highlighting how they left us with one final memory and lesson.

If you follow Mike and Mike on Twitter, you’ve likely noticed over the past month how Greeny, Golic, and their production staff have engaged with listeners via tweets and videos. Huge credit to Megan Judge on leading the charge to implement the way these guys have closed out their show on social media. The Mike and Mike twitter account has over 1.6 million followers and responding to the flood of activity they’ve been hit with must’ve been daunting yet they’ve made it a point to be consistent. They’ve used the hashtag #MMSayThanks and have gone above and beyond to thank listeners individually for their support, many times personalizing their commentaries.

By utilizing this strategy, Mike and Mike showed their audience that they pay attention and appreciate their support. Since introducing the approach to wind down the show, a number of high profile sports figures and organizations have gotten involved, passing along tweets, photos and videos thanking the duo for an amazing run. That type of publicity is invaluable.

I’ve been critical of our industry in the past for its lack of social engagement. Too often I see brands push content at people yet fail to acknowledge or respond when listeners try to interact. However, this was a great example of acknowledging, respecting, and personally connecting with the audience. Each time Mike and Mike and their crew weighed in on social media, their fans told others about it. Listeners and viewers were made to feel special which in return gives those fans reason to root for both men’s future success.

As I wrap this up, I want to thank Greeny and Golic for being great peers, partners, and professionals. They made the morning commute for millions of people a lot less stressful and more enjoyable, and their place in the history of the sports media business can never be taken away. Everything we do in sports broadcasting circles back to connecting with an audience. Little differences help make us unique and worth spending time with. For Mike and Mike, it was enough to earn them nineteen wonderful years on the air, a hall of fame honor, and a lifetime of memories, connections and friendships. If that isn’t the definition of success, then I’m not really sure what is.

Barrett Blogs

BSM’s Black Friday SALE on BSM Summit Tickets is Underway!

Jason Barrett

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Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to BSMSummit.com. This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

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Barrett Blogs

Mina Kimes, Bruce Gilbert, Mitch Rosen, and Stacey Kauffman Join the 2023 BSM Summit

“By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference.”

Jason Barrett

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The 2023 BSM Summit is returning to Los Angeles on March 21-22, 2023, live from the Founders Club at the Galen Center at the campus of the University of Southern California. Information on tickets and hotel rooms can be found at BSMSummit.com.

We’ve previously announced sixteen participants for our upcoming show, and I’m excited today to confirm the additions of four more more smart, successful professionals to be part of the event. Before I do that, I’d like to thank The Volume for signing on as our Badge sponsor, the Motor Racing Network for securing the gift bag sponsorship, and Bonneville International for coming on board as a Session sponsor. We do have some opportunities available but things are moving fast this year, so if you’re interested in being involved, email Stephanie Eads at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

Now let’s talk about a few of the speaker additions for the show.

First, I am thrilled to welcome ESPN’s Mina Kimes to the Summit for her first appearance. Mina and I had the pleasure recently of connecting on a podcast (go listen to it) and I’ve been a fan of her work for years. Her intellect, wit, football acumen, and likeability have served her well on television, podcasts, and in print. She’s excelled as an analyst on NFL Live and Rams preseason football games, as a former host of the ESPN Daily podcast, and her appearances on Around The Horn and previously on Highly Questionable and the Dan Le Batard Show were always entertaining. I’m looking forward to having Mina join FS1’s Joy Taylor and ESPN LA 710 PD Amanda Brown for an insightful conversation about the industry.

Next is another newcomer. I’m looking forward to having Audacy San Francisco and Sacramento Regional Vice President Stacey Kauffman in the building for our 2023 show. In addition to overseeing a number of music brands, Stacey also oversees a dominant news/talk outlet, and two sports radio brands. Among them are my former station 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, and ESPN 1320 in Sacramento. I’m looking forward to having her participate in our GM panel with Good Karma’s Sam Pines, iHeart’s Don Martin, and led by Bonneville’s Executive Vice President Scott Sutherland.

From there, it’s time to welcome back two of the sharpest sports radio minds in the business. Bruce Gilbert is the SVP of Sports for Westwood One and Cumulus Media. He’s seen and done it all on the local and national level and anytime he’s in the room to share his programming knowledge with attendees, everyone leaves the room smarter. I’m anticipating another great conversation on the state of sports radio, which FOX Sports Radio VP of programming Scott Shapiro will be a part of.

Another student of the game and one of the top programmers in the format today is 670 The Score in Chicago PD, Mitch Rosen. The former Mark Chernoff Award recipient and recently appointed VP of the BetQL Network juggles managing a top 3 market sports brand while being charged with moving an emerging sports betting network forward. Count on Mr. Rosen to offer his insights and opinions during another of our branding and programming discussions.

By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference. My focus now is on finalizing our business and digital sessions, research, tech and sports betting panels, securing our locations and sponsorships for the After Party and Kickoff Party, plus working out the details for a few high-profile executive appearances and a couple of surprises.

For those looking to attend and save a few dollars on tickets, we’ll be holding a special Black Friday Sale this Friday November 25th. Just log on to BSMSummit.com that day to save $50 on individual tickets. In addition, thanks to the generosity of voice talent extraordinaire Steve Kamer, we’ll be giving away 10 tickets leading up to the conference. Stay tuned for details on the giveaway in the months ahead.

Still to come is an announcement about our special ticket rate for college students looking to attend the show and learn. We also do an annual contest for college kids to attend the event for free which I’m hoping to have ready in the next few weeks. It’s also likely we’ll give away a few tickets to industry professionals leading up to Christmas, so keep an eye out.

If you work in the sports media industry and value making connections, celebrating those who create an impact, and learning about the business from folks who have experienced success, failure, and everything in between, the Summit is worth your time. I’m excited to have Mina, Bruce, Mitch and Stacey join us for the show, and look forward to spending a few days with the industry’s best and brightest this March! Hope to see you there.

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Barrett Blogs

Barrett Media is Making Changes To Better Serve Our Sports and News Media Readers

“We had the right plan of attack in 2020, but poor timing. So we’re learning from the past and adjusting for the future.”

Jason Barrett

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When I launched this website all I wanted to do was share news, insight and stories about broadcasters and brands. My love, passion and respect for this business is strong, and I know many of you reading this feel similar. I spent two great decades in radio watching how little attention was paid to those who played a big part in their audiences lives. The occasional clickbait story and contract drama would find their way into the newspapers but rarely did you learn about the twists and turns of a broadcaster’s career, their approach to content or the tactics and strategies needed to succeed in the industry. When personal reasons led me home to NY in 2015, I decided I was going to try my best to change that.

Since launching this brand, we’ve done a good job informing and entertaining media industry professionals, while also helping consulting clients and advertising partners improve their businesses. We’ve earned respect from the industry’s top stars, programming minds and mainstream media outlets, growing traffic from 50K per month to 500K and monthly social impressions from a few thousand to a few million. Along the way we’ve added conferences, rankings, podcasts, a member directory, and as I’ve said before, this is the best and most important work I’ve ever done, and I’m not interested in doing anything else.

If I’ve learned anything over seven years of operating a digital content company it’s that you need skill, strategy, passion, differentiating content, and good people to create impact. You also need luck, support, curiosity and an understanding of when to double down, cut bait or pivot. It’s why I added Stephanie Eads as our Director of Sales and hired additional editors, columnists and features reporters earlier this year. To run a brand like ours properly, time and investment are needed. We’ve consistently grown and continue to invest in our future, and it’s my hope that more groups will recognize the value we provide, and give greater consideration to marketing with us in the future.

But with growth comes challenges. Sometimes you can have the right idea but bad timing. I learned that when we launched Barrett News Media.

We introduced BNM in September 2020, two months before the election when emotions were high and COVID was a daily discussion. I wasn’t comfortable then of blending BNM and BSM content because I knew we’d built a trusted sports media resource, and I didn’t want to shrink one audience while trying to grow another. Given how personal the election and COVID became for folks, I knew the content mix would look and feel awkward on our site.

So we made the decision to start BNM with its own website. We ran the two brands independently and had the right plan of attack, but discovered that our timing wasn’t great.

The first nine months readership was light, which I expected since we were new and trying to build an audience from scratch. I believed in the long-term mission, which was why I stuck with it through all of the growing pains, but I also felt a responsibility to make sure our BNM writing team and the advertising partners we forged relationships with were being seen by as many people as possible. We continued with the original plan until May 2021 when after a number of back and forth debates, I finally agreed to merge the two sites. I figured if WFAN could thrive with Imus in the Morning and Mike and the Mad Dog in the afternoon, and the NY Times, LA Times, KOA, KMOX and numerous other newspaper and radio brands could find a way to blend sports and news/talk, then so could we.

And it worked.

We dove in and started to showcase both formats, building social channels and groups for each, growing newsletter databases, and with the addition of a few top notch writers, BNM began making bigger strides. Now featured under the BSM roof, the site looked bigger, the supply of daily content became massive, and our people were enjoying the increased attention.

Except now we had other issues. Too many stories meant many weren’t being read and more mistakes were slipping through the cracks. None of our crew strive to misspell a word or write a sloppy headline but when the staff and workload doubles and you’re trying to focus on two different formats, things can get missed. Hey, we’re all human.

Then a few other things happened that forced a larger discussion with my editors.

First, I thought about how much original material we were creating for BSM from our podcast network, Summit, Countdown to Coverage series, Meet the Market Managers, BSM Top 20, and began to ask myself ‘if we’re doing all of this for sports readers, what does that tell folks who read us for news?’ We then ran a survey to learn what people valued about our brand and though most of the feedback was excellent, I saw how strong the response was to our sports content, and how news had grown but felt second fiddle to those offering feedback.

Then, Andy Bloom wrote an interesting column explaining why radio hosts would be wise to stop talking about Donald Trump. It was the type of piece that should’ve been front and center on a news site all day but with 3 featured slots on the site and 7 original columns coming in that day, they couldn’t all be highlighted the way they sometimes should be. We’re actually going through that again today. That said, Andy’s column cut through. A few sports media folks didn’t like seeing it on the site, which wasn’t a surprise since Trump is a polarizing personality, but the content resonated well with the news/talk crowd.

National talk radio host Mike Gallagher was among the folks to see Andy’s piece, and he spent time on his show talking about the column. Mike’s segment was excellent, and when he referenced the article, he did the professional thing and credited our website – Barrett SPORTS Media. I was appreciative of Mike spending time on his program discussing our content but it was a reminder that we had news living under a sports roof and it deserved better than that.

I then read some of Pete Mundo, Doug Pucci and Rick Schultz’s columns and Jim Cryns’ features on Chris Ruddy, Phil Boyce, and David Santrella, and knew we were doing a lot of quality work but each time we produced stories, folks were reminded that it lived on a SPORTS site. I met a few folks who valued the site, recognized the increased focus we put on our news/talk coverage, and hoped we had plans to do more. Jim also received feedback along the lines of “good to see you guys finally in the news space, hope there’s more to come.”

Wanting to better understand our opportunities and challenges, I reviewed our workflow, looked at which content was hitting and missing the mark, thought about the increased relationships we’d worked hard to develop, and the short-term and long-term goals for BNM. I knew it was time to choose a path. Did I want to think short-term and keep everything under one roof to protect our current traffic and avoid disrupting people or was it smarter to look at the big picture and create a destination where news/talk media content could be prioritized rather than treated as BSM’s step-child?

Though I spent most of my career in sports media and established BSM first, it’s important to me to serve the news/talk media industry our very best. I want every news/talk executive, host, programmer, market manager, agent, producer, seller and advertiser to know this format matters to us. Hopefully you’ve seen that in the content we’ve created over the past two years. My goal is to deliver for news media professionals what we have for sports media folks and though that may be a tall order, we’re going to bust our asses to make it happen. To prove that this isn’t just lip service, here’s what we’re going to do.

Starting next Monday November 28th, we are relaunching BarrettNewsMedia.com. ALL new content produced by the BNM writing team will be available daily under that URL. For the first 70-days we will display news media columns from our BNM writers on both sites and support them with promotion across both of our brands social channels. The goal is to have the two sites running independent of each other by February 6, 2023.

Also starting on Monday November 28th, we will begin distributing the BNM Rundown newsletter 5 days per week. We’ve been sending out the Rundown every M-W-F since October 2021, but the time has come for us to send it out daily. With increased distribution comes two small adjustments. We will reduce our daily story count from 10 to 8 and make it a goal to deliver it to your inbox each day by 3pm ET. If you haven’t signed up to receive the Rundown, please do. You can click here to register. Be sure to scroll down past the 8@8 area.

Additionally, Barrett News Media is going to release its first edition of the BNM Top 20 of 2022. This will come out December 12-16 and 19-20. The category winners will be decided by more than 50 news/talk radio program directors and executives. Among the categories to be featured will be best Major/Mid Market Local morning, midday, and afternoon show, best Local News/Talk PD, best Local News/Talk Station, best National Talk Radio Show, and best Original Digital Show. The voting process with format decision makers begins today and will continue for two weeks. I’ve already got a number of people involved but if you work in an executive or programming role in the news/talk format and wish to be part of it, send an email to me at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.

We have one other big thing coming to Barrett News Media in 2023, which I will announce right after the BNM Top 20 on Wednesday December 21st. I’m sure news/talk professionals will like what we have planned but for now, it’ll have to be a month long tease. I promise though to pay it off.

Additionally, I’m always looking for industry folks who know and love the business and enjoy writing about it. If you’ve programmed, hosted, sold or reported in the news/talk world and have something to offer, email me. Also, if you’re a host, producer, programmer, executive, promotions or PR person and think something from your brand warrants coverage on our site, send it along. Most of what we write comes from listening to stations and digging across the web and social media. Receiving your press releases and getting a heads up on things you’re doing always helps.

If you’re a fan of BSM, this won’t affect you much. The only difference you’ll notice in the coming months is a gradual reduction of news media content on the BSM website and our social accounts sharing a little about both formats over the next two months until we’re officially split in February. We are also going to dabble a little more in marketing, research and tech content that serves both formats. If you’re a reader who enjoys both forms of our content, you’ll soon have BarrettSportsMedia.com for sports, and BarrettNewsMedia.com for news.

Our first two years in the news/talk space have been very productive but we’ve only scratched the surface. Starting November 28th, news takes center stage on BarrettNewsMedia.com and sports gets less crowded on BarrettSportsMedia.com. We had the right plan of attack in 2020, but poor timing. So we’re learning from the past and adjusting for the future. If we can count on you to remember two URL’s (add them to your bookmarks) and sign up for our newsletters, then you can count on us to continue delivering exceptional coverage of the industry you love. As always, thanks for the continued support. It makes everything we do worthwhile.

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