Jalen Rose’s playing career was a success story in itself. A cultural icon in college as a member of Michigan’s Fab Five who went on to earn more than 100 million dollars in the NBA, his accomplishments on the court should be commended. Still, for Jalen, his second career has been just as important as his first.
As a featured personality on ESPN’s NBA Countdown, Get Up and Jalen and Jacoby, Rose is just as recognizable for his media career as he is for his playing days. Opinionated and vocal, Rose has been destined for a career behind the mic with or without basketball.
Jalen comes across as a renaissance man. If basketball was never an option, Rose would’ve found somewhere else to make his mark. He “retired” at the age of 34, but Rose had no plans to be removed from the spotlight, creating his own opportunities as one of the hardest working members of the media, while quietly shaping young minds through his charter school.
I had the opportunity to talk with Rose about his media beginnings, current gigs and how his basketball talents would fit in today’s NBA.
Brandon Contes: When did Jalen and Jacoby start? You had already been with ESPN for a bit right?
Jalen Rose: I want to say eight years ago, from 2002 – 2007 I worked for various networks while I was still in the league. I appeared on ESPN with Walton and Snapper, I went on Cold Pizza, but I was mostly working with The Best Damn Sports Show during those years. I even did some things with the NFL Network. In 2007, I started working full-time with ESPN, primarily on NBA Tonight. When I saw Bill Simmons got the green light for Grantland as a subsidiary of ESPN, I was interested.
That year at the ESPYs, I knew where all the suits would be hanging out and I went to the after party and introduced myself to Bill and told him I had an idea for a podcast. Bill said to come by the office and we’ll talk about it. A month or two goes by, I go to pitch the idea and Jacoby is there because he was overseeing the podcasts with Bill. We talked about what I wanted to do and they ask, ‘so who do you wanna do it with?’ I said, well I want to do it with you – and Jacoby said ‘Me?! I’m a producer, I don’t talk on the mic, do television or anything.’
A friend of mine did a lot of research on Jacoby’s background and who he was and then we got to hangout a couple of times and it felt like it would work really well. He went from being a producer who was here 10 years longer than me, to being a personality.
BC: So you went to them before they came to you.
JR: Yea, this was a passion project, it wasn’t in either of our contracts. We did it a few years once or twice a week, depending on studio availability. We didn’t have a spot to do it consistently, it wasn’t being promoted and that’s why I came up with the term ‘pop the trunk.’ The equivalent of an artist that’s not on a major label, so they have to sell their records to the people hand to hand.
BC: I’m thinking back to 2011. Eight years ago, I didn’t listen to podcasts, I can’t remember if I even knew what they were, so for you to be on ESPN and established in the media and still have the foresight to look at this as an opportunity into something that could grow is pretty cool. Now, looking back and seeing what Jalen and Jacoby has become, is this what you envisioned?
JR: Definitely what I envisioned and prior to that, a lot of people don’t realize my major at Michigan was Mass Communications; radio, TV, film. And most of the world doesn’t end up working in the field that they received their major. I was fortunate to do that, so I understand how the landscape works.
As a member of the Pacers, I’m playing in the 2000 finals, scoring 20 plus points a game and then in 2002, I get traded to the Bulls in February and they have nine wins. We’re not going to the playoffs! So I reached out to a contact I had at BET Madd Sports and pitched them the idea to let me cover The Finals for them. It was the Lakers and New JERSEY Nets, to show you how long ago that was.
I got my own footage, clipped and edited it, they liked it and played it. Once they used it, I turned around and pitched it to The Best Damn Sports Show and they hired me while I was still in the league.
BC: You’re on Countdown, Get Up, Jalen and Jacoby – do you have one platform you like more than others?
JR: The best thing about how it worked out is that they’re all different. I get to not only look different, but feel different. The approach is different, the content is different. The things I’m talking about on Jalen and Jacoby is more TMZ type news. When I’m on Countdown, it’s more suited and booted. It’s the biggest stage in basketball. It’s Christmas Day and noon on the West Coast, so there are 4 year olds watching and there are 90 year olds watching, which means the content and jokes are different. Get Up is more like a SportsCenter type show. Being able to express myself in three different ways keeps it from ever becoming mundane.
BC: Jalen and Jacoby feels like a more personal platform – the audience gets to know you more on that show than anywhere else. They’ve seen you, and I’m sure people recognize you from everything, but you probably have a hardcore fan-base that comes from Jalen and Jacoby.
JR: It’s also the longest thing I’ve done. Get Up just started a year ago and I started doing Countdown in 2012. It is a different audience and I’ve been able to distinguish the difference. The 40 and older crowd comes up to me and talks about Get Up and Countdown; 40 and younger wants to talk about J and J.
BC: Was Mass Communications a degree you fell into, or is it something you always had an interest in when you were younger?
JR: I definitely didn’t fall into it. I’ve been very vocal and outspoken for a really long time and I felt like I needed to channel that and be part of the sport I love. I was a McDonald’s All-American and then part of the Fab Five, but you should always be thinking about what you’re going to do next.
To be able to produce a documentary for ESPN, The Fab Five, to be able to have a radio show, a podcast, contributing to Countdown, Get Up, After the Buzzer and Jalen and Jacoby – it’s a juggling act that I was hoping to have and I’m really appreciative of the opportunities.
BC: What did you do with NFL Network?
JR: I was doing breakdowns of the NFL and current events. At the time, I was on with Warren Sapp and Deion Sanders. I know and love football just as much as basketball.
BC: People know you as a basketball player, they look at you as basketball focused and your media career has been mostly focused on the NBA. Do you like that? Or do you prefer talking about a variety of sports and topics?
JR: That’s why I like having multiple opportunities. In high school, I always prided myself academically and not falling into the stereotype of being a dumb jock. It’s the same thing in the media. Closed-minded people will look at a woman and say ‘what is she doing talking about football?’ But that’s their insecurities and that’s them not being open-minded. It’s the same exact thing with me. I knew I wanted to break barriers for basketball players.
If you look at the landscape of Monday through Friday shows, the perception is that football is king, so you see a lot more football players on those shows, Golic, Marcellus Wiley, Michael Strahan, Cris Carter, Shannon Sharpe – I’m the only basketball player and it’s been like that for a really long time.
I knew this when I joined Numbers Never Lie a few years ago, because I wanted to be the person to break the barrier for former NBA players to show we can talk about the sport we played, but still have the knowledge to talk about other sports. Again, it’s not for everyone. Just because you played basketball in the league, doesn’t mean you’re a good basketball analyst. Same with the NFL – there are people who didn’t play either sport that are still great at covering it, so I don’t have a lot of those preconceived stereotypes that a lot of people have when they initially see somebody talk about something that they’re not initially famous for.
BC: Right and sometimes we see former players that go and be an analyst for one year, it might not work out, and they go away.
JR: Ohh I like what you did there. [Laughs]
BC: [Laughs] But it is crazy how fans of the NBA will look at a basketball player and if you’re talking about the NFL, they have the thought, ‘what does he know about the NFL?’ Meanwhile, they’re just a fan that assumes they know more than you about the NFL, so why can’t you also be a fan?
JR: Right! You get to talk about every sport, but I only get to talk about the NBA!
BC: It’s crazy that becoming a professional athlete takes away the ability to talk about or analyze whatever sport you want, but I can talk about any sport because I never played. It’s an odd stereotype to have to overcome.
JR: [Laughs] It’s hypocritical, but I’m here to break those barriers. I worked for Top Rank boxing for years, I was doing things with the NFL – you just have to earn the respect of the public and I’ve been able to do that. But that’s why I like having different shows. Because on Countdown the focus is NBA, on Get Up it’s current events and on Jalen and Jacoby it’s whatever we want to talk about, so I have that freedom to talk about more than basketball.
BC: Being a Mass Communications major, if you didn’t make it in the NBA, do you think you would be as successful in media as you are? Was it the NBA that gave you that opportunity? I mean you’re opinionated, you look good and sound good on camera – would media opportunities still have been there without the NBA?
JR: I hope so. It wasn’t because people felt like I was such a superstar that I got an opportunity. I had to work for it. A lot of people that now work in the industry that I see on national platforms, I covered them when they played. As I see them wanting to work in the media, they treat me as someone they want to come to for advice because they see the opportunities I’ve been able to garner. So I’d like to think I would have made opportunities even without basketball.
BC: Was it disappointing the way Get Up transformed so quickly? At first it was going to be Greeny, you and Michelle and it quickly changed. You’re still featured on it, but it’s not what the show was promoted as in the beginning.
JR: Right and that’s the industry. We work in sports. Teams and coaching staffs change all the time. Just because you draw it up one way, that doesn’t mean that’s how it will end up.
The premise of Get Up still got accomplished. The show initially started in April and the NBA Finals were a sweep in June. We all know when it’s the dog days of baseball and there’s no basketball or football in July and August, that’s your chance to rail against a show and everybody took their shots.
There are tiers to it as well. You’re ESPN. You’re the bully on the block. People question it because “you have the nerve to box us out and take more real estate?”.
A lot of the chatter on blogs and social media can also come from competitors and enemies, so it might not be unbiased. The other thing is just the competitive spirit of the industry. People will question, “they’re starting a new show and I’m not on it?” People that are talent for this network and other networks were calling their agents to say they want to be on this show.
Beadle decided with the company to make a change. She felt more comfortable being in LA and they found a way to make that happen. But now all of a sudden in September you go from three hours to two hours, the rating is going to be better. Having a show during football and NBA season, the ratings, again, will be better. Now all of a sudden the show has staying power. For me, it’s just been about learning to ignore the noise.
BC: How about with NBA Countdown and the amount of times it’s transformed since starting in 2002 compared to TNT where they’ve had mostly the same crew for decades. Should Countdown have more stability with personnel on the show?
JR: I think people need to put more respect on Countdown’s name. As the longest tenured person on that show, I’ve seen the dynamics of searching for respect and an identity with the public, to now this year, where whether it’s ratings or social clips, it’s looking eye to eye with Inside the NBA on TNT. That’s an absolute fact. It’s different media. We’re a pregame show that sometimes comes on at noon. They’re late night television. So yeah, they can have their feet up on the desk.
First off, I love them; Ernie, Kenny and Chuck. I actually worked there. I did sideline and studio for them earlier in my career. They are the best. I do love them tremendously and I’m entertained by their show as much as anybody.
They have their lane, they own it and they’re great, but we have our lane too. We have to continue to own it. When you continue to make certain changes, whether it’s on or off the camera, it just gives people the opportunity to say, ‘if they don’t believe in it than why should we?!’ This year’s team was great. I love working with Beadle, Paul and Chauncey. We’ve done just as well, if not better, than any time the show has been on ESPN. That’s not an opinion, it’s a fact.
BC: As busy as you are in media with all of the different shows on ESPN, you also have the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. I’m sure you’ve heard this a lot in the last year, but I only heard about your charter school after LeBron James started the “I Promise” school.
JR: Interesting. Thank you, LeBron, for making this mainstream. So we’re tuition-free, public charter, open enrollment. I’m the founder of the school, president of the board and we were founded in 2011. We decided to stagger the enrollment to create a culture of learning and at the time, 90% of the students we were getting couldn’t do math or read at a 9th grade level. We have special needs students as well. We’re grades nine through 12 for high school and have 13 through 16 support for all of our scholars, whether it’s college, military or trade school. I’m really proud to have a successful 9 through 16 model where this year, not only did we see another class graduate high school, but also have some scholars graduate college, which really saw the model play out the way we hoped.
BC: What made you start JRLA?
JR: We deal with kids in the inner city of Detroit that obviously have their family challenges, as well as a fiscal dynamic to overcome. We call it bridging the education gap because we have students that get $7,800 from the state, no scholarship money for college, zero state funding for our facilities.
We’re taking that young person and having them compete for the same spot in college and life opportunities as the kids going to suburban public and private schools are afforded. Unfortunately, in our country the quality of your education is not necessarily determined by your skill and will, it’s determined by your zip code.
BC: Were you motivated to start it on your own, or did someone else have the idea and ask you for help?
JR: As a student athlete, I took pride in my academics. I took pride in being a really good student and making the honor roll in high school. In college, as part of the Fab Five, I was proud to make the Dean’s List. I’m proud to be a college graduate and I’m fortunate to be a former player that left school early and went back to get my degree. Education was always important to me.
BC: I’m curious if you have any interest in creating a sports media program for kids to teach them about TV, radio and media. You mentioned wanting to pave the way and break barriers for NBA players, how about doing the same to create more diversity in media? You look around the industry and it’s still white male dominated.
JR: Well the beautiful thing about our school is that’s actually happening. We basically operate as an 11-month school. In July, we created something called “Summer Session.” For students that fail a class, they go to summer school. For every other student, they get a college experience, and/or set up with an internship of their choice.
For example, we’ve had students intern with a friend of mine at Funny or Die, Mike Farah. We’ve had internships at Quicken Loans with Dan Gilbert, internships with the Pistons, Roc Nation.
If you’ve ever heard the word Detroit or seen Michigan on a map, I’ve probably reached out to you for a donation, to get the word out or an internship because the point you made is exactly what I hope to do. We’re doing things that, respectfully, don’t get done in this space with a public school budget and without a corporation standing behind me with a blank check. We need relationships with businesses like Jeep and Puma, because it’s been reported that public education and many schools can be extinct in 20 years. Those relationships and our donors are the heartbeat that makes us tick.
BC: I think it’s really cool to see how involved you are in the school as someone that played in the NBA, was a star player, but still graduated college and emphasizes education. And you’ve used that education to help with a successful second career in the media. I think it helps to improve diversity in itself because kids can see someone who worked hard at it first-hand.
JR: And in the off-season in particular, when I’m in Detroit and I’m doing Get Up or Jalen and Jacoby, I’m actually doing it from the school, JLRA. So I continue to talk to students and show them what it’s like in front of and behind the camera, and expose them to jobs that they don’t necessarily know exist, which is really important to the point you made.
BC: It’s not only difficult for minorities in the industry, but women as well. What did you think about it taking LaVar Ball going on First Take and being disrespectful to Molly for ESPN to back away from using him? Even though this isn’t new for LaVar, we saw him be disrespectful to Christine Leahy on Fox Sports, but continue to be flaunted in the media.
JR: She appreciated how ESPN came out to support her. The one thing about being married to someone, is you have to applaud their strength and trust their ability to handle things, and the way she handled herself on and off camera, I applaud that. My whole context of what was said and how it was said was to first and foremost ask her what she thought and how she felt, because I was watching it live, but I wanted to ask her how she felt about it when she finished work. Once I realized her feelings mirrored how I felt about it, then I respectfully – because I’ve been one of the most supportive people for the Ball family, I even jokingly asked LaVar to adopt me at one point – but after it went down, I did reach out to him via text and tried to call him.
I didn’t want it to leave a stain. I didn’t want Molly to be upset or feel disrespected at her job and feel like she didn’t get the support she needs or deserves, but I also didn’t want LaVar and I to be trending in the wrong way because that’s counterproductive for everyone. He’s a husband, a father, a CEO of a company, so I understand what comes with that and the way you’re expected to carry yourself. I just applaud how Molly carried herself. She’s a veteran in this industry, she’s a professional, she’s strong and that’s what I love about her.
I’m not here to give him advice, but if I was LaVar and I noticed the comment rubbed her the wrong way and was consumed in a way that was unflattering – I understand he’s always been unapologetic, but I still would’ve taken the opportunity to note in my press release ‘for Molly and anyone that was offended.’ But I’ll get a chance to talk with him and we’ll see where it goes from there.
BC: I grew up watching you so I need to ask you about basketball. How would you have fared in today’s NBA? You’re 6’7”, 6’8”, you can play big at the point, shoot the three – how would your talents have translated to today’s NBA?
JR: I was fortunate enough to be one of the best players on a team that went to the NBA Finals. I won Most Improved Player, Player of the Week and I was fortunate enough to walk into a front office where they paid me maximum dollars to play NBA basketball. If I was able to accomplish that in an era where the rules were different and a lot more physical compared to now, you have more three point shooting, load management is a real thing – I think my averages would’ve jumped a bit.
BC: Would you have focused on the three-pointer more?
JR: Reggie Miller, as one of the greatest shooters we’ve ever seen in the game, I think the most three’s he ever took in one game is what James Harden and Steph Curry are taking EVERY game. We came from an era of efficiency – if you miss a couple of threes, you weren’t going to keep shooting. You wouldn’t get the chance to take 15 or 20 threes in a game. Now, the league has become three-point happy with the feeling that a contested three is a better shot than an open two. But we just saw an NBA Finals where a team that didn’t have a lottery pick on their roster, focused on taking the best shot available and they won the championship. I would say that’s how I would still play.
BC: Do you like the way the NBA has changed and continues to modernize every year?
JR: First off, I think the NBA has the best commissioner in sports with Adam Silver. Even moves like changing the lottery odds for teams that were tanking, then the lottery happens, you look up and it’s LA, New York, Memphis and New Orleans as the Final Four. Every conspiracy theorist at that moment knows it’s going to be LA and New York going one and two! Then when it’s New Orleans and Memphis getting the top two picks, the two smallest markets in the league, it’s a method that no longer rewards tanking, so yea, I love the progression of the NBA with things like that.
I like pace and space. I like open floor. Everyone calls it a guard driven league, but the dominant wing ultimately has a say in who wins a championship, and the big man has slowly made a resurgence. You look around the league and you see Giannis, Anthony Davis, Jokic, Embiid – there are some great quality big men in the league right now.
BC: You mention big men making a resurgence, is everything cyclical? Will analytics ever become less important with more emphasis on the eye test? Or do you see the league going even more the way of specialized stats like baseball, even football using it for things like judging where and when you want a running back to attack an o-lineman.
JR: Right now it’s going more down that path of advanced metrics and analytics. Having all of the information is never bad. Knowing how many times a running back can go off tackle or how many times a lineman can absorb a hit, I want that information. I want everything that’s available. But I don’t think the final decision should be based on a metric or number. If I’m buying a car, I wanna touch it, I wanna smell it, I wanna feel it, I wanna get in and out of the car, test drive it, pose by it. I want all of the information that’s under the hood, even though I’m never going to put my head under the hood. But I’m not buying a car online. I’m not making a decision based on only stats or numbers. Numbers can be manipulated. I like when I’m looking at a player and the measurables I see and the comps they remind me of add up with the numbers, not the other way around.
The Houston Rockets have been at the forefront of analytics and I love Daryl Morey. I voted James Harden MVP, I played for Mike D’Antoni. And right now they go into the offseason thinking, ‘how can we make more threes than twos’, but the opposing defense knows that too.
BC: With everything you’ve done and accomplished, you’re a great role model for kids to have goals and work hard, but professional athletes have different views on whether or not they’re role models. Did you always view yourself as that? Because even when I was younger, I didn’t like superheros or Power Rangers, I liked basketball, and they filled that entertainment void.
I rooted for the Knicks, but the Pacers were the antagonist and villains I built in my head. If I saw you, Reggie Miller or Rik Smits walking in the street, I probably would’ve ran as if I saw Shredder from the Ninja Turtles, so you’re naturally going to be viewed as larger than life characters by kids.
JR: [Laughs] Respectfully, I understand it’s just hard enough for us to function as people because we’re consumed by so much information constantly. Some people only want to focus on your backyard, not wanting to accept the responsibility that comes with influencing others in a positive way because you have your own friends and family and kids. It is an extra effort.
But the idea that any person can’t be a role model is naïve. You don’t have to be an athlete or an entertainer. You can be a parent, guardian, teacher, you can just be a leader in your community, and that’s how I was raised. I saw people in my family that always tried to give back and help others, so that was instilled in me and I always felt like if I got in the position to do so, if I was fortunate enough to do so, I would be a role model. And it doesn’t mean you need to be perfect, you just need to care about others and do what you can to influence people in a positive way.
Unusually, one of the things that helped spark it for me, was the realization that so many people were naming their kids Jalen.
BC: Right, you said your mom invented that name?!
JR: Yes, my biological father is James Walker, number 1 pick in the 1967 NBA draft and my uncle Leonard took her to the hospital to give birth. I recall being a young NBA player and people would come up to me that were named Jalen. A couple years ago, I’m watching the NFL draft and you hear Jalen Ramsey, and the NBA draft, Jaylen Brown. It’s taken on a life of its own and people don’t name their kids after people they don’t like or don’t respect, because names are symbols.
BC: What are your future goals? I know Stephen A. Smith has talked about wanting a late night show, we’ve seen Michael Strahan gobble up jobs in the media to where now there are probably some people that watch him every day and don’t even know he used to play football. Where do you see your career going?
JR: I absolutely love what I’m doing right now. NBA Countdown is the biggest stage in basketball. Christmas Day, the whole world is watching, The NBA Finals is on ABC – network television. Jalen and Jacoby and Get Up are both Monday through Friday shows and I’m really fortunate to work on both of them, but I would like to produce more projects.
I produced a Fab Five documentary, I co-produced Jalen vs. Everybody, a project with Nahnatchka Khan. I would like to do more of that, I also love game shows and trivia shows! Family Feud, Jeopardy, Price is Right. I love game shows and would like to host one of those and lastly, to own the Detroit Pistons.
Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.
Programmers Offer Ideas To Refresh The ManningCast in Year 3
Matt Edgar, Matt Fishman, Parker Hills, Q Meyers, Jimmy Powers and Kraig Riley share their thoughts.
Monday night brought the second season of The ManningCast to a close. ESPN’s alternate broadcast of Monday Night Football featuring Peyton and Eli Manning remains a trail blazer. Plenty of other networks and other sports have tried to copy the formula. It just never seems to work as well. There is something about these guys, their chemistry, and their view of football that just works.
Still, the ManningCast missed that feeling of freshness this year. It’s nobody’s fault. We had expectations. That is very different from 2021, when this was a wild, new concept.
The circumstances at ESPN have changed too. In 2021, the network was looking for a crew that could capture the big game feel of the Monday night slot, because it didn’t have it on the main broadcast. Now, it has Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, arguably the two voices most identified with big NFL games. That means the Mannings have to do more than just provide a star-powered alternative to the main broadcast.
Going into 2023, the ManningCast will be facing a problem that is pretty common in radio. How do you improve something that works? Reinvention isn’t necessary for the broadcast, but a recalibration would certainly raise the ceiling.
“Disney isn’t looking at Peyton Manning as part of ESPN,” I wrote in 2021. “They are looking at him as Mickey Mouse or Iron Man or Baby Yoda. He is another of Disney’s mega-brands that is talked about on investor calls and upfront presentations.”
With that kind of commitment from the network in mind, I asked six radio program directors to answer two questions.
1. Going into year 3, how has your view of the ManningCast changed since its debut?
Matt Edgar (680 The Fan in Atlanta) – I view the ManningCast as the standard of all alternate game broadcasts, nothing really comes close.
Matt Fishman (850 ESPN in Cleveland) – The real challenge is how to be more interesting and entertaining each week. The first year was a great novelty. A real breath of fresh air, especially with some underwhelming games.
Now that ESPN MNF’s main broadcast is the powerhouse of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, you need to be bigger and more unique to get people to check it out.
Parker Hillis (Sports Radio 610 in Houston) – Early on I was skeptical of the ManningCast. I wanted a “two guys hanging out at the bar talking football” vibe that was less formal and more fun. What I got in the beginning was not that. The broadcasts leaned heavily into Peyton’s football IQ, diving way too deep into X and O analysis in real-time and providing more of a distraction than a benefit. The production and pacing felt clunky and awkward, another distraction. And most frustratingly, I didn’t get anything out of Peyton and Eli’s personalities.
Somewhere along the way, as the concept has been refined and Peyton and Eli clearly have gotten more comfortable, they’ve gotten there. Two goofy football nerds with incredible insight and experience seamlessly meshing smart analysis with real football fandom. They’re inviting me in to watch the game with them, not telling me what I need to know about what’s going on, and that is something I can get into and really enjoy.
Q Myers (ESPN Las Vegas & Raider Nation Radio in Las Vegas) – For me personally it hasn’t changed much. I find it entertaining but only in a small serving size. I might pop on for an interview with a guest that I really want to hear from but then tune out. I really enjoy the game being the bigger feature, and I realize for a lot of the games that aren’t that great this could help out a bit.
Jimmy Powers (97.1 The Ticket in Detroit) – It hasn’t really. I’ve enjoyed it from the beginning and thought it was genius when it debuted! I think it has given many sports fans an alternative option to the traditional broadcast, which allows them to get a better understanding of what is going on. In my opinion, the knowledge and entertainment value they bring to the viewer is excellent!
Kraig Riley (93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh) – My view has changed in that, as much as I loved it when it debuted, I questioned the long-term sustainability given how driven it was by the guests they welcomed in. I always wanted more of the Peyton-Eli brotherly relationship part of it. Their breakdowns of the game were good and so were the guests, but what were they going to do to add to that? Since they’ve shown more of their personalities, it stands out more in a way that separates itself from just watching the standard broadcast of the game.
2. As a programmer, what would you do to freshen up this brand next season?
Edgar – You don’t want to get gimmicky or clownish, but I’d love to see them talk with a mic’d up player, similar to what they do on Sunday Night Baseball. They obviously can’t speak with a player between the lines, but what about someone who is in the mix and actually playing, like a linebacker after the defense comes off the field?
Fishman – To me, the biggest “miss” is not having Eli and Peyton in the same place. It creates a certain sloppiness and a decent amount of talking over each other. Some of that gives it the casualness that’s appealing and some of it is just messy. It’s sort of like Zoom calls. They were fine when you needed them during the pandemic, but if you can do it in person, it’s better.
Hillis – It might not be “freshening it up”, but the biggest thing I would do to tweak the Manningcast is limit the interviews. Peyton and Eli can carry the broadcast with their personalities and knowledge alone.
Having big name guests from the NFL, the sports world, and pop culture makes for a great promotion piece to draw in a different audience, but at the end of the day, it’s distracting and pulls away from the game I’m watching and the brand of the broadcast itself. I want to connect with Peyton and Eli… that’s what the brand is built around, so give me more of them.
Myers – I think keeping it a little more tight as far as breakdowns and analysis from the two make it good. A lot of times when it gets off the rails it does tend to be funny, but I don’t feel like I learn a lot from it. It feels to me like a lot of the comedic side of things is forced at times, when it happens organically it just seems better. For example, with Peyton walking off after Maher missed his 3rd kick. That felt like what we all were doing at the time.
Powers – Since they only do a number of games, I would put the two of them together in the same room to view the games. You could still split the screens and have the same look – but it would prevent (or at least limit) the talking over each other because of the delay. That is especially a problem when they bring in 3rd person.
Riley – I would push for more of the content that stands out aside from the game and can be pushed on social. I think the original audience will always need more in order to continue engaging with them over the standard broadcast of the game. That audience knows their broadcast is different, but what about the audience that hasn’t engaged yet or has possibly disengaged?
Serve them up with some breakdowns of the game that only Peyton and Eli can provide. Give them the best clips of the interviews. But super-serve them on the entertainment and personality sides so that the audience knows they’re getting something more than just the game. They can consume that elsewhere.
The ManningCast is not in danger. It’s one of the most influential sports television products of the last 15 years. Even radio is trying to figure out a way to make it work. Edgar’s station, 680 The Fan, delivered a conversational alternate broadcast of the Peach Bowl this year.
Like anything else in pop culture though, the producers always have to think about what is next. How do you tempt fans to come back for more? It’s why we don’t see Spider-Man fight the same villain in every movie. When you know the parameters, the content has to be all killer and no filler just to move the needle.
But this is a product built around live sports. By nature, there is plenty of filler in a football game broadcast. That isn’t the Mannings’ fault, and most weeks, they find a way to make gold in those moments. Going into the 2023 football season though, the novelty of the ManningCast, and frankly of alternate broadcasts in general, will have worn off. Peyton and Eli don’t have to change everything, but re-evaluating where their show stands and where it could go wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Demetri Ravanos is the Assistant Content Director for Barrett Sports Media. He hosts the Chewing Clock and Media Noise podcasts. He occasionally fills in on stations across the Carolinas. Previous stops include WAVH and WZEW in Mobile, AL, WBPT in Birmingham, AL and WBBB, WPTK and WDNC in Raleigh, NC. You can find him on Twitter @DemetriRavanos and reach him by email at DemetriTheGreek@gmail.com.
Frank Frangie Exudes Jacksonville’s Enthusiasm for the Jaguars on 1010 XL
“You want to be very enthusiastic but that enthusiasm shouldn’t spill over in a way that it takes away from the accuracy and the crispness of the broadcast.”
A Saturday night in Jacksonville in the NFL Wild Card Round. Frank Frangie, the radio play-by-play voice of the Jacksonville Jaguars is on the edge of his seat. He is behind the microphone amid a sellout crowd of 70,250 people at TIAA Bank Stadium with both the game and the season on the line.
The Los Angeles Chargers, led by quarterback Justin Herbert, held a 27-7 lead after the first half – but thanks to spirited play by the Jacksonville Jaguars, that lead has been cut to just two points – the score is now 30-28. Riley Patterson, the kicker for the Jaguars, is playing in his first NFL playoff game and the season all comes down to whether or not he puts a 36-yard field goal attempt through the goal posts.
Frangie proceeds to deliver a call for the ages as the ball sails through and the field goal is marked “good.” At that moment, Jacksonville had secured its first playoff victory since 2017, setting up a second-round matchup against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Fans watching the game on NBC heard the familiar, credible voices of Tony Dungy providing color commentary and Al Michaels supplying the play-by-play announcing. Michaels recently completed his first season broadcasting Thursday Night Football streamed on Amazon Prime Video and returned to NBC to call this game as part of his emeritus role with the network.
Although he has narrated myriad exciting calls over his lengthy career, viewers identified a lack of enthusiasm and excitement from him and his partner, criticism Michaels later called “internet compost” in an interview with The New York Post. Instead, football fans turned to Frank Frangie and the Jacksonville Jaguars radio booth, imparting a more fanatical encapsulation of the moment.
“I do think there’s an accountability and an expectation to make sure you get it right, to make sure you’re crisp and clear [and] to make sure that [the] listener knows exactly what happened,” Frangie said. “You want to be very enthusiastic but that enthusiasm shouldn’t spill over in a way that it takes away from the accuracy and the crispness of the broadcast.”
While Frangie did not hear the NBC broadcast in real time, he knows the matter in which he performs his job vastly differs from that of Michaels. He recalls someone telling him that NBA play-by-play announcer Mike Breen — when calling a national game — sounds like he has money on both teams. As the Jaguars radio play-by-play announcer, Frangie aims to do the opposite.
“I’m rooting for one team,” he said. “I’m bummed when my team loses and I’m thrilled when my team wins. The job is to combine a crisp, accurate play call so the listener very clearly knows what’s going on and hopefully to blend in our natural enthusiasm because we are rooting for that team as hard as the listener is.”
During the time he was hosting radio shows at WQIK-AM and later WNZS-AM, Frangie began to experiment with contributing to live game broadcast coverage. Because of connections he made as a writer covering sports at the University of Florida for The Florida Times-Union and The Jacksonville Journal, he began working with the Florida Gators Radio Network as a pregame and postgame host.
Additionally, he started providing play-by-play of select athletic events on campus, giving him the opportunity to hone his skills and eventually begin hosting college broadcast coverage on regional sports networks.
1992 Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta recruited Frangie to join Touchdown Radio, a new broadcast network he founded to broadcast NCAA football games and other athletic events. Aside from owning the company, Torretta worked with Frangie on live game broadcasts as the color commentator – and the duo formed synergy through an understanding of each other’s roles
“Shame on me if I talk more than the guy who won the Heisman Trophy. He knows football way better than I do,” Frangie said. “It enabled me – I call the play, then lay out and let him be the star because he was the star.”
While he was calling college football games with Torretta, Frangie had helped launch 1010 XL, the area’s first local sports talk radio station. Since its inception in 2007, which was based on a vision by co-founder and general manager Steve Griffin, it has been recognized as a trusted voice in sports media.
“He’s the leader; he’s the founder,” Frangie said of Griffin, “but there’s a lot of us that have helped Steve grow this thing and I think there’s a real connection.”
Jacksonville has a population of approximately 954,000 people, according to the 2020 U.S. census, making it the 12th-most populous city in the country; yet the most recent Nielsen ratings rank it as the No. 43 media market. Despite it being considered a mid-market radio station, what is now 1010 XL/92.5 FM Jax Sports Radio has been able to appeal to its consumers on multiple platforms through live game broadcasts, talk shows, podcasts and other multimedia content.
“I think Jacksonville has a ton of sports fans,” Frangie said. “I think sports really matter to the people of this city…. I would say 1010 XL might be – and I’m biased because I work there – the most important sports media entity that this city’s ever had.”
When the Jaguars arrived on the scene in 1995, it brought all sports fans in the area together by uniting them in their rooting interest in professional football. It also surely helped that the team advanced to the AFC championship game in its second year of existence and made the NFL playoffs for the next three years.
“The Jaguars galvanized everybody,” Frangie said. “Now all of a sudden there’s solidarity among the sports fans because everybody’s rooting for the Jaguars.”
The Jaguars, combined with the plethora of collegiate sports in the area, give radio hosts plenty to talk about over the course of any given day. The station will also discuss national news, but its main focus is on hyperlocal coverage while giving listeners unique, relatable perspectives regarding their favorite teams. Frangie expressed the Jaguars being, far and away, the most discussed topic over the airwaves – but aside from conversing about the team, the hosts also make it a point to be relatable and talk about their lives outside of sports.
“I think sports radio is about life,” Frangie said. “I think it’s about who you bumped into at the movies and ‘What’s your favorite burger?’ I think people like talking about the way they live their life and the way we live our lives.”
Broadcasting in afternoon drive means following three different shows (The Drill, Jaguars Today, and XL Primetime) from earlier dayparts, requiring Frangie and co-hosts Hays Carlyon and Lauren Brooks to bring fresh topics and opinions to the air. The Frangie Show not only seeks to inform its listeners with the latest news pertaining to Jacksonville sports but also looks to accentuate the medium’s factors of differentiation: entertainment, immediacy and relatability.
“My job is, ‘That guy’s had a long day at work. That guy’s tired. He hops in that car at 4:30 or 5 or whenever it is and he’s a sports fan,’” Frangie hypothesized. “‘When he turns that radio on, I need to entertain him. He needs to have fun, he needs to laugh, he needs to enjoy it, (and) he needs to look forward to the next time he’s turning it on.’ If I can keep him in that driveway a little bit longer because he’s enjoying himself… then I’ve kind of done my job.”
Aside from live game broadcasts and sports talk radio, 1010 XL/92.5 FM Jax Sports Radio has a selection of original podcasts – some of which are specialized – and video series available to watch on multiple platforms.
Moreover, all of its radio shows are available for replay on-demand as podcasts after the fact, giving listeners the chance to catch up on parts of the show they might have missed. Frangie has always been concerned about the format being replaced by podcasts but surmises it to be a larger issue for music-based formats, validated by the increased usage of music streaming services.
“I think there’s never going to be a time where someone doesn’t pop in the car, want to hit a button and hear [me] or whoever talk about sports,” Frangie said. “As long as it’s that way, we’re going to keep on doing it just the way we do it.”
From the moment Griffin and Frangie met to discuss launching 1010 XL/92.5 FM Jax Sports Radio in 2007, they knew they aspired to find a way to one day secure the Jacksonville Jaguars’ radio rights. At the time, the rights were held by WOKV and Brian Sexton, known as the “Voice of the Jaguars,” served as the team’s radio play-by-play announcer.
After a 30-page proposal geared towards helping the franchise grow its fanbase and sell more tickets, the rights were awarded to 1010 XL/92.5 FM Jax Sports Radio (WJXL) and Frangie was named as the new radio play-by-play announcer. He called the move “the most important assignment” of his career and has assimilated into the role, now covering the team in roles based on the balance of information and opinion.
Before this run, the last time the Jaguars had qualified for the NFL playoffs was in 2017 when the team fell just one win short of playing for its first-ever Super Bowl championship. The team has the potential to sustain its success with young stars such as quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne Jr. leading the charge. However, broadcasting games for the team over the last nine seasons — no matter the result — has never been burdensome for Frangie.
“Every time I go into that booth – and I mean this very sincerely – it’s the greatest privilege and the greatest honor of my career to sit in that booth and to call an NFL game for my hometown team,” he said. “That will never change [for] as long as I’m doing it.”
This year, though, the games have undoubtedly been more exciting largely due to the Jaguars’ inclination to come back from substantial deficits. The team is riding a six-game home winning streak and has trailed by nine points or more in the previous five contests. Defying the laws of probability and achieving what some may define as impossible is what has persuaded football fans everywhere to take notice of what is going on in Duval County.
“I’m a sports fan,” Frangie stated. “I just want to share the fan excitement with other fans. It’s been unbelievably fun; I can’t wait for the next game.”
Just as the team prepares for its game by drawing up new plays, analyzing film and undergoing physical treatment, the broadcasters never show up to the booth without having done their homework. For a typical Jaguars game, Frangie’s preparation largely consists of intricately learning about the opponent more so than the Jaguars since he follows the team each week.
From Monday to Wednesday, he is gathering information about the other team and ensures he knows how the depth chart is expected to look by game day. Simultaneously, he stays updated on everything occurring with the Jaguars, although he gains more team-specific information during his meeting with head coach Doug Pederson on Thursdays.
Frangie and his broadcast team also have their own meeting every Thursday to elaborate on the forthcoming broadcast, including probing potential storylines related to the game to discuss so they are ready to perform at a high level by the weekend.
“I know our team (and) I know their team a little bit better than I did at the beginning of the week,” Frangie said. “I think the hay’s in the barn by Friday night. By Friday night, if I’m not ready to call the game, then shame on me. There’s not a lot of work to do come Saturday. Most of it is Monday through Friday.”
As a radio play-by-play announcer, Frangie looks to accurately depict what is occurring on the field so listeners can paint a picture of the game in their minds. He also looks to entertain them and is assisted by color commentators Tony Boselli and Jeff Lageman, both of whom formerly played for the Jaguars and possess shrewd insights about the game of football. Frangie knows of their reputations and looks to accentuate their presence to help the broadcast, taking the same approach he previously adopted with Torretta.
“Shame on me if I don’t do everything I can to tee them up and get out of the way [to] let them do their thing,” Frangie said. “I think if you have that point-guard mentality – and that is, ‘Let the stars be stars,’ – then I think you can pull it off and hopefully that’s what we do.”
The fundamentals of play-by-play announcing do not change whether or not the team is competing in the playoffs; that is, in terms of preparation. There is no doubt, though, that the stakes are higher in these matchups and, in turn, a prevalence of heightened emotions are conveyed ranging from euphoric to apoplectic. It was exhibited on Saturday night during Patterson’s game-winning field goal and the video of the Jaguars’ radio call has since gone viral.
“When we called a winning kick last week, we’re jumping around in that broadcast booth and high-fiving… losing our minds – that’s what we do out there,” Frangie said. “We’re all such fans of the team and we’re all such fans of this city and so respectful and appreciative of the fans who have stayed with this team even in some hard times.”
Frangie has had a long career working in sports media both as a play-by-play announcer and radio host, helping to shape the sports landscape in Jacksonville, Fla. Whether it was covering the Florida Gators’ run to the Final Four in 1994; debating about the Jacksonville Jaguars on the radio; or calling game-winning touchdowns at the college and professional level, he is proud to be associated with the city, its teams and its fans. Moreover, he wants to be there to help aspiring industry professionals build careers and find their place in sports media.
“I like to watch some of the young people have the success that some of us that have done it for a while have,” he said. “I’d like to see 1010 XL continue to thrive; we’re very proud of our radio station and what Steve has built – the culture he has built at the radio station where we have sort of this family atmosphere.”
From his formative days in the industry, Frangie has always had a respect for the microphone and the power it garners. The crevasses and inner workings of the device that enable sound to be converted into mechanical energy have given him the chance to promulgate his voice at large and represent those in the area.
As the Jaguars continue their quest for a Super Bowl championship, Frangie aspires to personify the dedication and zeal of sports fans in the city of Jacksonville and, hopefully, call a moment where the team stands alone on top of the football world.
“We get to turn on that mic and whether I’m talking to fans of the team as a play-by-play guy or… talking to listeners driving around town; what a privilege that is,” Frangie said. “It’s not going to be perfect all the time. Work hard; never pass up an opportunity to work and always recognize what a privilege it is to do what we do.”
Derek Futterman is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. In addition, he serves as the production manager for the New York Islanders Radio Network and lead sports producer at NY2C. He has also worked on live game broadcasts for the Long Island Nets and New York Riptide. He previously interned for Paramount within Showtime Networks and wrote for The Long Island Herald. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @derekfutterman.
Chase McCabe Embraces the Player/Coach Mentality at 102.5 The Game
“I always used Mike Salk in Seattle as an example of that. I thought ‘if he can do both, why can’t I?’“
He’s referred to as “the suit” by some of his co-workers. It’s a playful way for hosts at 102.5 The Game in Nashville to describe their program director, Chase McCabe. But Chase isn’t only the PD; he’s also a host just like them. He puts on his headphones and does a weekday show from 9-11am with Michelle Knezovic. Then, he puts on his PD hat and morphs into his alter ego, the suit. (I think “the suit” sounds superhero-ish and should be accompanied by face paint and a car that can fly. Maybe that’s just me.)
In our conversation, Chase talks about the rewards and challenges of being a PD and radio host. He’s also open and honest about his thought process regarding job offers from other radio stations. We chat about the voice of the Nashville Predators, Pete Weber, returning to the air after dealing with a brain disorder. Chase also talks about being religious, which of his roles would be harder to give up, and how receiving a McDonald’s breakfast makes him love his station even more. Enjoy!
Brian Noe: So tell me about the changes to the lineup, and how everything’s going?
Chase McCabe: I think it’s been positive so far. It’s something that was not one of those decisions that was made overnight by any means. When I took over, I wanted to feature young and upcoming talent. We had that in Caroline Fenton and Michelle Knezovic, and now we can feature them even more. That was the thought process behind all of this.
I’ve also had this view that, I think you get more out of three-hour shows. It takes a special talent to go four hours and just keep up that same energy level. That’s why we left Jared (Stillman, the station’s afternoon host) at a four-hour show because that’s all he’s ever done in his career. But I think giving people more choices throughout the day was certainly a positive in all of this, and that’s what we’ve done.
Playing the ratings game, I think it’s going to give us a better chance to improve by having more choices throughout the day. I think it’s gone well. I’m excited about it. It’s an opportunity for me to be a player/coach, still be on the air, but only two hours a day, which is definitely helpful with my schedule. It gives me a chance to coach the young talent like Michelle as we go along. I think it’s been really good.
BN: What’s your general approach to handling both the PD side and the hosting duties that you have?
CM: It’s not easy. It’s funny, when I first started in this business, my goal was just to be a host. I had never even thought about programming. As I kind of grew into it, I was a producer. One of my mentors was my old PD. He really saw something and helped me go down that path. But I was always stubborn and wanted to do both. I always used Mike Salk in Seattle as an example of that. I thought ‘if he can do both, why can’t I?’ So it became one of those personal goals of just watch me.
Once I got to the point where I became PD, I decided ‘Well, I’m going to focus on that’. I’ve been APD, but it’s the first time being PD. I stepped off the air a little bit, made some appearances here and there as a fill in, and then when we made some changes, I went back on full time. I realized that it’s a lot, especially doing a four-hour show in the middays.
It’s just really hard to do, but I was disciplined. I’m still disciplined now about it. It’s a big thing of having your schedule, knowing what you need to get done, and now that I’m off the air at 11 AM, it’s a lot easier. I come in, I’m usually in the building by eight o’clock. I’ve prepped the night before for the show. I’ll make some changes depending on what may have happened overnight and in the morning. I jump on the air, it flies by, and then the PD hat goes back on.
It’s made things run a lot smoother because I can meet with clients, I can meet with my GM, I can meet with our partners, with the Predators. I can meet with talent and coach talent. It’s really been much easier to do it that way. It’s a balance, that’s for sure. I think it makes me a more effective PD to be able to practice what I preach. If I’m sitting here telling a member of our on-air team, hey, I need you to go to break on time, this is why. Then I’m turning around and doing it, they have an example of that’s how it should be done. The whole player/coach mentality is one that I have definitely embraced.
BN: Which do you think you would miss more if you had to give up one of those roles?
CM: That is a very good question. I think I’d miss programming. I never thought that I would say that. My goal for so long was being on the air. I had to really scratch and claw to get to that, and I love it, but I’ve realized that I’ve found a role I’m so natural at, and that is being a leader and being the PD, and being able to create.
That was one thing that I miss about producing. I never really loved producing until I wasn’t doing it anymore, and that was the creating. Create the sound of the station, writing promos, building promos, working on a show lineup, helping the show’s plan. That’s really fun for me. I think I’d miss being the PD or as they call me on the air, the suit.
BN: [Laughs] There you go. Do you have any crazy stories about juggling the two roles at the same time?
CM: Yeah, I’m really bad on if I see a text or I see an email. It’s like, oh, that’s really important. Even though it can probably wait a couple hours, I’ll start responding. There’s been times we’ve been on the air and I’m responding to an important email and they go, Chase, what do you think? I just kind of look up and I go, suit duty. [Laughs] Sorry. I’ve gotten better about that. That was really early on, but we all laugh about that.
The biggest thing that happened was honestly about a month ago. We’re in the middle of the show and the Titans fire their general manager. I’m the lead host and I go, we’ve got breaking news. The Titans have fired general manager Jon Robinson. I’m in host mode. I’m talking about getting people on the air to see what they know, and all this stuff.
Then this light bulb goes off. ‘Hey, you idiot, you need a breaking news promo on the air. You need to let this person know. I literally had to wear both hats. Luckily, I had two other hosts on the show with me. One of them is a former player in Derrick Mason, so they could run with it while I got our imaging director a script for the breaking news promo. We had that on the air pretty quick, and everybody that needed to know what was going on was informed. It’s one of those things where sometimes it’s just a reminder ‘hey, you wanted this. You got to wear both hats’. I’ve gotten very good at multitasking. Let’s just put it that way.
BN: I believe it, man, that’s the only way you can do it. What’s the cliff-notes version of your career path?
CM: I started here 11 years ago as an intern. The station had just flipped to sports three months earlier. I had gotten to know Willie Daunic — who ironically became my co-host — and wanted to intern with him. He was at another station. That changed and so he moved over here. I ended up interning with him on the afternoon show. I ended up getting hired about six months later to do part time on the weekends. I was still in college; I was still finishing up at MTSU. My boss had told me ‘Hey, when you walk across the stage, text me.’ So I did. He said ‘Hey, congrats, you got a full-time gig in radio.’ I was like whoa.
I started in overnights. I did overnights for close to a year. But that was honestly really, really crucial because I learned how to edit. I would edit a bunch of stuff from the day and I learned to do sports updates and cutting spots, and just a lot of the little things involved in a radio station. Then I produced various dayparts for several years, did some fill-in work on the air, did a weekend show.
During that time I had gotten a couple of opportunities to potentially go elsewhere and didn’t because ultimately, this was the best fit, and more opportunities would open up here. In 2019, I went full time on the air as part of our midday show while still being the assistant program director. I was promoted to assistant program director in 2017, I believe.
Then when our former PD, Ryan Porth, left for Chicago, I remember thinking ‘Okay, I’m going to be interim.’ I go through this process, they’re going to interview a bunch of people and they did, they talked to a couple. Then I go in one day thinking ‘Alright, this is what the plan is going to be’, and they offered me the job. That was last year. The end of December 2021, I got my first PD gig and here I sit now.
A lot has happened in 11 years. I’ve been very lucky to be in the same place during that time. Anytime something comes along, I go back to our owner walking down the hallway. A quick story and one of the reasons why I love this place so much. When I was doing overnights, I would turn all the lights off because I was the only one in the building and just had a little lamp on. The owner flies a plane and he had landed late at night. He walks in at like 2:30 in the morning. The building is dark.
He walks in and he says ‘Why do you have all the lights off?’ I said ‘Well, I’m the only one here, it saves money. There’s no reason to have all these lights on with just me, so I figured we would just save money.’ He kind of looked at me and goes ‘Huh, okay, appreciate that.’ The next night, around the same time, I hear the door opening. He walks in and he’s got just a bag full of McDonald’s. He says ‘I wanted to bring you breakfast, I appreciate what you do.’ It was that day that I realized what kind of a man Bud Walters is. He’s been very good to me and that’s one reason why I’m here and I love what I do.
BN: That’s really cool, man. What’s your hometown?
BN: Wow, that’s crazy. You grew up in Nashville, went to MTSU, you started at 102.5 about 11 years ago, and you’ve been there the whole time?
CM: The whole time. It’s the only gig I’ve ever had.
BN: I don’t know the best way to ask it, but with other gigs offered, was there ever a time before you became the full-blown PD that you thought, man, maybe I should’ve jumped?
CM: I think it’s hard not to. That’s probably the best way to put it. But I’m religious. I believe in God. I know that everything happens for a reason. I think that I just kind of would look for signs to know the path I needed to take. There’s probably been three really legitimate opportunities that I’ve had to think really hard about. It’s like ‘Hey, this is going to be what you need to do.’ But the thing I come back to is, I want to finish what I started. My goals and my journey here matched up with the radio station, with the company, with Bud, with what they wanted to do. I know that I’ve been an integral part of that, literally, since the beginning that they started.
There are days where it’s like, man, maybe I should have, but then something really good will happen here and it reminds me of why I didn’t. I think that that’s why I just keep the faith. I may not be here forever. Odds are, I won’t. But I didn’t think I’d be here for 11 years at this point.
And I sure as hell didn’t think I’d be program director in 11 years when I started as an intern, but I am. It’s one of those things that I think too many times nowadays we keep thinking what’s next, what’s next, what’s next? When if you take it literally day-by-day, it’s going to work out well for you. That’s what I did. I was impatient at times, but I stuck with it and now I’m just blessed to be in this position where I’m at.
BN: Out of curiosity, which church do you go to over there?
CM: I’m not the best at going to church. I will admit that.
CM: It is one of my goals for this year to kind of get back into that. The thing that’s so tough is a lot of times Sunday mornings, we’re doing shows. We’re doing NFL shows and things. But there’s a couple of places that I’ve found that do some midweek services that I’ve tried to go to. It’s just hard to be consistent, but I’m working on it. I pray about everything and just kind of keep my relationship that way and also trying to just be a good person.
BN: That’s cool. I lived in Nashville for a couple of years and I went to a church called Cross Point.
CM: Yeah, I’ve been to Cross Point quite a bit. The Belonging is another one. Churches like that. I like a church that has a good band. That gets me into it.
BN: There ya go. We need a heavy metal band at one of these churches. I’d go there all the time.
CM: God bless Jesus!!
BN: [Laughs] That’s right. We need that, double bass and everything. Pete Weber, he has a brain disorder, but you’ve been able to continue featuring him on some pregame coverage and some of your other shows. How important was it for you to keep him a part of the broadcasts?
CM: Very, very important. As our imaging says, the voice of the Predators since day one, Pete Weber. That’s him. He was the first. When hockey started here, Pete Weber and Terry Crisp were the voices that you heard. They taught an entire generation about the sport of hockey. I don’t think people realize just some of the elbows that Pete has bumped. He was covering the Bills when they went to four straight Super Bowls with Jim Kelly. He’s been with the LA Kings, covered Gretzky. In fact, I did an interview for our pregame show today with Eddie Olczyk from TNT. The first thing he says is ‘Hey, tell Pete I’m thinking about him. Hope he’s doing well.’
It was important for him to know that, hey, you need to take care of you. I think sometimes you get to a point where it’s like ‘I gotta keep going.’ Sometimes you’ve got to just pump the brakes and take care of you. I wanted him to know that, hey, we got you, your spot is secure. That’s why I’ve filled in on pre and post because, Max Herz, our pre and post host has been doing play-by-play. He’s doing an excellent job filling in for Pete. It’s just important to know that it’s still Pete’s chair, we’re just keeping it warm for him.
I’ve enjoyed the segments with him because he tells stories. I’ve learned more about the team and some things that I didn’t know because he’s just a walking sports encyclopedia. It’s been really cool. Pete’s doing well, he hopes to be back in the booth in a couple of weeks and be better than ever. But like I said, it’s important to all of us for Pete to know that he is the voice of the Predators.
BN: What was that process like to come up with that type of arrangement where he would still be featured?
CM: I called him and I just said ‘Hey Petey, with you not traveling, why don’t you just plan to do that opening segment of pregame with me every time.’ He loved it. I know that’s meant a lot to him. He did an article with the Predators website and said that for him to just feel like he’s still involved on those road games was important. It was important to me because I wanted him to still be on our broadcasts, even if he couldn’t travel. Those segments have been a lot of fun. He had his procedure and he’s feeling great. We’ll pick him up here probably later this week before he returns to the booth.
BN: As far as your future, what do you see in the next five to 10 years? Or is it more day-to-day for you instead of any long-term visions?
CM: It’s a good question. I hope I still have all my hair. [Laughs] Who knows with this job. I’ve thought more about that. It’s kind of funny how this has worked for me; when I started as an intern, and then eventually got hired, I was like, all right, I’m going to do this for three years. After three years, then I’m going to evaluate and see where I’m at.
Then it became, well, if I want to be on the air, I have to move to a small market. I have to go back to go forward. I was going to do that. Finally one day, somebody told me, hey, you need to just slow down and take it one day at a time. Things are going to work out. You’re a hard worker. You do the right things. You’re not a jerk to people. You’ve got a lot of people in your corner. You need to just slow down. So that’s what I’ve done.
Now that I’m older — I’m 35 — I do think about the future and do I want to go to a bigger market? Do I want to climb my way up and be in operations or what have you? Those are things that I definitely think about. It has to be the right fit. That, I’ve learned, more than anything is not always easy to find. I do think I still have more of that day-at-a-time mentality while also knowing that, all right, if I ever had the opportunity to program a station in Atlanta or Dallas or something like that, I’d probably look at it.
I love creating and teaching, so however I can continue to do that, I will. But at the same time, building this station, I’ve been at it for a year. I feel like I’ve just gotten to the point where it feels like mine. Now what is it going to do? I think a lot more about the future than I used to. I know there will come a time where it’s like, I know.
They always say if you meet that special person, when you know, you know. I think I’ll know when it’s time to do something different. But that’s one thing that I’ve definitely tried to instill on our staff. I have a lot of young people that work here. Hey, be thankful. Appreciate the little things and keep working, and then the future is going to work itself out.