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Brandon Contes’ 5 Favorite Stories of 2018

Brandon Contes

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Sorting through all of the articles I contributed to Barrett Sports Media in the last year, there were many that stood out.  I’m grateful to all of the people in the industry that took time to sit down and have a conversation with me for a piece during the year, but I cut my list down to these five that I enjoyed rereading most.

Four months after his yearlong retirement tour, rumors of Mike Francesa returning to WFAN quickly strengthened in April.  Regardless of your feelings on Francesa as a host at this stage of his career or his ability to retire and return as quickly as Brett Favre, what I loved seeing was radio dominate the news.  In 2008, when Mike and the Mad Dog split it was on the front and back page of the paper, a decade later after plenty of modernization with how media is consumed, to still see an old medium such as radio be the big story in New York was really cool.

https://barrettsportsmedia.com/wfans-dysfunction-could-benefit-all-involved/

Barstool Sports is often criticized for its frat-like culture with complaints that the platform promotes sexual harassment and online trolling.  But in a male-dominated industry, rarely do people talk about the fact that Barstool has a female CEO and women hosting prominent radio shows and podcasts.  Rarely do people talk about all the good Barstool promotes.  Their ability to say ‘hey, trust me, this person needs help,’ and get people to open up their wallets no questions asked is inspiring.  I watched that play out first-hand in September when KFC raised thousands for a close friend of mine.

https://barrettsportsmedia.com/kfc-uses-barstool-venmo-account-for-cancer-survivor/

I listened to Craig Carton every morning for a decade, but I wouldn’t have referred to myself as a Carton fan until his WFAN tenure came to a screeching halt and I realized how much he was a part of my day.  I met Carton a few times in recent years, each time he came across genuine and easy to talk to, this conversation was no different.  I understand why people would be upset with Craig, but staring at jail-time, yet still being able to continue his energetic, brash style on-air speaks volumes to his radio talent. 

https://barrettsportsmedia.com/an-unfiltered-conversation-with-craig-carton/

“Talking about equal rights is not political. It should be offensive to people on both sides of the aisle to act like advocating for equal rights is a liberal or conservative position.”  An inarguable matter of fact statement, but it was one of the thoughts from Nick Wright that led this article to be picked up by Awful Announcing and tweeted out by many including Jemele Hill.  Wright’s one of the most talented personalities in the industry and I thoroughly enjoyed the hour I spent with him for this article.

https://barrettsportsmedia.com/nick-wright-determined-to-make-his-mark-on-fox-sports-1/

Growing up in the industry, Spike Eskin has radio in his blood, but it’s his own creative drive and passion for radio that led to his success.  Spike told me he’s never been an “industry guy,” he doesn’t read or listen to much on the subject, but there are few people I would rather discuss the industry with.   

https://barrettsportsmedia.com/a-conversation-with-spike-eskin/

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Tom Crean Added to SiriusXM NBA Draft Coverage

The former Marquette, Indiana, and Georgia men’s basketball coach will co-host SiriusXM’s NBA Draft Preview Show, alongside Eddie Johnson and Justin Termine.

Barrett Sports Media

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NBA Draft logo, SiriusXM logo and a photo of Tom Crean

The 78th edition of the NBA Draft will be the first to be held over two days. The first round will take place on Wednesday June 26 and will be followed by the second round on Thursday June 27. The draft will be held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. SiriusXM will provide full coverage on SiriusXM NBA Radio channel 86, and they have announced Tom Crean will take part in a preview show prior to each round.

The former Marquette, Indiana, and Georgia men’s basketball coach will co-host SiriusXM’s NBA Draft Preview Show, alongside Eddie Johnson and Justin Termine, on Tuesday, June 25 on Wednesday, June 26 prior to Round 1 at 4 p.m. ET, and on Thursday, June 27, prior to Round 2 at 2 p.m. ET.

Crean returned to ESPN as a college basketball analyst in December 2022 after having worked for them previously during the 2017-2018 season. Crean was fired after four seasons at Georgia, prior to his ESPN return.

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Dan Woike: ‘I Can’t Imagine’ JJ Redick and LeBron James Podcast Will Continue

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JJ Redick
Courtesy: Phil Ellsworth, ESPN Images

Following the conclusion of the 2024 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks, JJ Redick has reportedly agreed to a contract to serve as the next head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. Redick, who recently broadcast the best-of-seven series for ESPN on ABC with play-by-play announcer Mike Breen, analyst Doris Burke and reporter Lisa Salters, is reportedly in the process of compiling his coaching staff for his first season leading the Lakers. Although Redick does not have any NBA coaching experience, he played 15 seasons in the league with six teams and has been an analyst for ESPN over parts of the last four years. Outside of his work with ESPN, Redick also built his ThreeFourTwo Productions company and co-hosted The Old Man and the Three podcast.

This past March, Redick launched a new podcast with Lakers forward and four-time NBA champion LeBron James titled Mind the Game. Episodes of the show contained nuanced basketball discussions that some people feel gave Redick an inherent edge in the head coaching search. Dan Patrick recently had Dan Woike, Lakers beat writer for the Los Angeles Times, on his program, the Dan Patrick Show, and asked about the future of the podcast with James.

“I can’t imagine it’s going to continue,” Woike said. “Sad, right? We might get a season finale episode…. Who knows what’s going to happen here.”

Woike spoke about Redick’s eclectic interests that include basketball, broadcasting, golf, wine and fancy suits. Part of this transition that Woike will be watching is how Redick makes the adjustments and focuses the energy that he has. The organization, he stated, is not hiring a podcaster and believes that Redick has an aptitude and shrewdness towards basketball and is serious about the endeavor. While Redick and James have a good relationship with strong rapport, it is relatively new and something Woike perceives as critical to everything going on. Nonetheless, he does not think they can continue the show because it would be an “unnecessary distraction” to the team.

“They’re paying him to coach, they’re not paying him to podcast,” Woike said. “His divestment from his podcast empire is sort of an interesting media side-note to this to see kind of how much he steps back and kind of what happens to it because it’s been really successful for him.”

Rather than asking him another question, Patrick presented Woike with a sentence and asked him to complete it. The statement was, “If he doesn’t have the podcast with LeBron…,” and Woike proceeded to outline that the Lakers would then have more questions about his ability to coach James. Patrick then immediately followed up by asking if he still would have landed the Lakers’ head coaching job if he did not have the podcast, to which Woike replied that he believed it would still be possible. Former Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski was reportedly advising the organization throughout its head coaching search, and Redick previously played for him at the university.

Woike referenced a specific clip from the podcast in which Redick and James were discussing analytics and three-point shooting. At one point, James pushed back against the analytics by asking what would happen if a team missed 27 straight three-point shots, as the Houston Rockets did in Game 7 of the 2018 Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors. Redick quickly replied by asking if it had happened since, leading James to admit that he was right.

“Now how that plays in the locker room at halftime when you’re down 17 to the Charlotte Hornets and everybody’s tired, who knows,” Woike said. “That is a huge question, but I think, to be quite fair, there was going to be elements of question with that with Dan Hurley too.”

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ESPN LA 710 Announces New Fall Lineup

This follows announcements made earlier in the week which saw play-by-play partnerships added with USC and the LA Kings and a new contract for afternoon show co-host Scott Kaplan.

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Logo for ESPN LA 710 and a graphic for their new fall lineup
Graphic Courtesy: ESPN LA 710

ESPN LA 710 announced more news today, introducing a new lineup which will start on Monday, September 9. This follows announcements made earlier in the week which saw play-by-play partnerships added with USC and the LA Kings and a new contract for afternoon show co-host Scott Kaplan.

The new lineup will see morning drive start with Mike Greenberg’s Greeny , followed by Travis Rodgers and Allen Sliwa moving back an hour to start at 9a PT. Steve Mason and John Ireland will then air from 12p to 3p PT followed by the afternoon team of Jorge Sedano and Scott Kaplan moving to 3p-6p PT.

In addition to USC and the Kings, the station has play-by-play agreements with the Lakers, the Rams, the Angels and LAFC.

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