Coach ‘em hard and hug ‘em later. This was the philosophy of legendary Alabama head football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. It’s a style that is imitated by Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians and also executed by San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. They have the ability to aggressively demand the best of their players, while at the same time showing them great respect and care.
Switching gears and having a healthy mixture of both is challenging. The same holds true in sports radio. It can be difficult for hosts to convey strong stances while still remaining likable. It’s challenging to be intense and also amusing. Not every host can do both. It’s an approach that Rob Parker of FOX Sports Radio and FS1 has mastered. He has a unique blend of delivering strong opinions while keeping things fun with his lighthearted humor.
Rob is truly one of the great dudes in the industry. He’s also is a busy man. Rob hosts The Odd Couple with Chris Broussard on FOX Sports Radio weeknights from 4-7pm PT. He also teaches at USC, hosts the Inside the Parker podcast, and appears regularly on FS1’s Undisputed and The Herd. Rob made time to touch on many key points in this interview including the importance of incorporating old school and new school and a willingness to be the lone wolf. Rob also talks about the most rewarding experience he’s ever had, the worst brand of radio anybody can do, and faxes.
Yes, faxes. Enjoy.
Brian Noe: What year was it when you hosted your first sports radio show?
Rob Parker: I always had an interest in sports radio when I was a kid. I can remember growing up in New York — John Sterling, who’s now the Yankees radio voice, he had a show on WMCA. I used to be glued to it and listen to him like crazy. The other guy was Art Rush Jr. who had a sports show at WABC in New York. I remember those two guys very vividly. I’m talking about I was a young guy at 8, 9, 10 listening to sports talk radio, which normally that’s not what kids that age are doing. But I used to be mad when the show went off because I couldn’t get enough.
I always had an interest in radio from that standpoint. I never thought about doing or having my own show. But I go to Detroit and I’m a columnist at the Free Press. In 1994 they’re starting Detroit’s first all sports station WDFN AM 1130. I hear about it. I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know who’s the boss. I don’t know anything. I just heard they’re going to start this all sports station in Detroit.
I’m up in Fenway Park for Opening Day. This is pre cell phones and all that. There’s a phone call in the press box and they say hey, is Rob Parker in the press box? I’m like who’s calling me at Fenway Park on Opening Day? I’m like did something bad happen? Who would be calling me?
It’s Lorna Gladstone who was the PD for this new station that she was starting up. She calls me and she says hey, I talked to a lot of people around town. Your name came up often. They think you’re very opinionated and would be good to do a talk show. So I’m like oh, okay. Wow, okay. She said I know you’re obviously at Opening Day. When you come back from Boston would you meet with me? I’m like great.
Literally, I get back and we have this meeting. Five minutes in — I had never hosted a show, I had been on a couple of shows but I had never hosted a show — she says I know this isn’t good for negotiations but I want to hire you. I was just like what? Literally. She said yep. Not only that, this was the other part that just blew me away, so I’m thinking I’m going to get a weekend show or midday. She said you’re going to do afternoon drive and you’re going to pick your partner. I was the first person ever hired at WDFN the all sports station. Then I got to pick my partner, which was incredible.
Noe: How did you go about picking your partner?
Rob: I did the show called The Odd Couple. It was me and a guy named Mike Stone, who at the time was a producer at the local News Channel 4 in Detroit. I had known Stoney a little bit just from covering stuff, but I didn’t know him, know him. When we did talk, we used to always disagree on everything. He’d come with his side. I had my side. I remembered that.
Lorna brought in a couple of other guys for me to go out to lunch with and to meet. They were from all over the country. In those days they did a search for people. None of them really clicked with me. At that point she was going to hire Stoney to do evenings on a show called Mike and Ike. I said well, what about Stoney? I think we would be a good pair. She said really? I said yeah, we kind of clash a lot when we talk about sports. The show was billed, “Can this sports writer and this sports fan share a radio show without driving each other crazy?” That was my first show.
It was — right out of the box — wildly successful. So much so, Brian, this is the crazy part, I was only on the show for less than a year because I wound up leaving to go to New York to be a columnist. Five or six months into the show, we go to a Red Wings game. What I used to say to Stoney all the time when he’d say something crazy, I used to always say, “Come on, Stoney. What are you talking about?” It became a thing. We’re at a Red Wings game and no lie, somebody holds up a sign in the crowd that said, “Come on, Stoney.” I just could not believe it.
Noe: Do you think you would get bored if you were doing radio with a partner that viewed things very similarly as yourself?
Rob: I think so. I think it would be boring. To me it’s not personal. It’s just a sports opinion. That’s all it is. I say the only thing you can’t argue about is math. Two and two is four no matter who’s doing the math. Everything else is debatable.
I don’t look at it as a bad thing if we disagree. I don’t think you can force it or try to pretend, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I think it’s a good thing. I’m always trying to get my partner to change his mind or at least take a look at what I’m saying and where I’m coming from.
Noe: When you go back to the early days, what was an important lesson you needed to learn about sports radio that you didn’t know initially?
Rob: I think early on maybe I wasn’t as much fun as I am now. Where you laugh at yourself. Remember I was coming from a newspaper columnist job. There wasn’t a lot of comedy in that. I think I just learned that everything is not that serious. People are driving in their cars, going to wherever they are. They’re looking for something to kill the time and make it enjoyable. Everything is not life and death. Everything is not the end of the world. I can laugh at myself. I can laugh at other people. Once I understood that, I got even better at it.
Noe: What was it that made you realize that?
Rob: A couple of things. People would respond. I could just see the response. Back then, I know I’m dating myself, but there were no emails or anything. People used to fax in because they couldn’t call from work. (Laughs.) What a novel idea. Isn’t that great? They used to fax in. We would get faxes if we did something funny or silly and people would just go crazy about it. They would love it.
Noe: How many years had you been covering sports as a writer before you got into sports radio?
Rob: I started in 1986 and got my first show in ‘94. So what is that eight years? Yeah, and it was good from the standpoint that I came in with a little something extra than maybe most guys on the radio who hadn’t covered teams and haven’t been around. I always felt like I spoke from authority. I think that really helped, ‘cause I’m at the games. We’re talking about a player, I talked to him one-on-one earlier today, or yesterday, or last week. I always felt like my voice was more authoritative from the access and the people that I knew.
Noe: What’s something about writing that sports radio doesn’t provide, or something about sports radio that writing never provided you?
Rob: The immediacy of sports radio and actually connecting with the fan. I think that’s neat. I love to talk to callers. I love to see what the average Joe is thinking. Most people are calling in listening to hear my opinion, which I get, but sometimes I think you’ve got to have a little voice of the fan as well because they see things a little differently than we do.
Noe: What’s the most nervous you’ve been in your entire career?
Rob: It might have been — and only for a brief moment — but I think the first time me and my partner got to fill in on Sporting News Radio nationally. At first I was just thinking wow, this is going to be on all over the country. Maybe for a minute I thought about it and it was like daunting. Then we started the show and we just did what we normally did. Leading up to it, I was just like this is a big break. Maybe they might like us. So I was a little nervous.
Noe: What would you say is your proudest achievement so far?
Rob: I think the show that I’m on now with Chris — The Odd Couple. From this standpoint, I don’t know and I’m not positive, but I think it’s the first nationally syndicated show with two African-American hosts. For a long time, most national shows didn’t have any African Americans hosting. I think it’s a fun, informative show. I really think people like it. I really think it struck a nerve from being mad at me or Chris, or laughing with me and Chris, and just feeling like it’s a part of your day. I really believe that for some people it’s a part of their day.
We’ve been on for 10 months and we still get calls every day when people say they’re so compelled to tell us how much they like the show. I thought that would wear off after two or three months, you know when something’s new. They all say the same thing; man, you make my commute so much better for my 30- 40-minute drive home from work. I listen every day. You can’t ask for anything better than for people to say that.
Noe: Some people that agree with you will preface their call by stating how rarely it happens. It’s like, “Rob, man, I hardly ever agree with you, but I agree with you on this.” Does that make you laugh?
Rob: It makes me laugh all the time. It’s like am I from Mars? You never agree with me ever? Wow, I don’t think I’m that radical. You know what I mean?
Noe: Yeah, it’s funny like that. What are some of the emotions you feel about being successful in this business, and you happen to be black, in an industry that lacks diversity?
Rob: I think it’s positive not only for me but for guys that come after. That’s what I’m always looking at. I give the bosses at FOX Sports Radio, Don Martin and Scott Shapiro, a lot of credit from this standpoint; this is not your traditional way of doing things. Normally Chris and I, and this is the way we started, would have been paired up with guys who are radio guys. We come from the writing side.
They just decided that they didn’t have to do that. They thought our opinions and our approach were strong enough that we could just do it with two writers without having to have a quote unquote radio guy. Granted, I’ve had a radio show for a long time, but you know what I mean, people who are trained to be radio guys. I give them credit for that. Years from now when other guys get their chances, that’s what I’m most proud of.
Noe: Is there pressure? Do you feel like you better come correct or you could be costing somebody else an opportunity down the road?
Rob: I don’t look at it that way, but I could see where some people would. I approach it as my job, which I take very seriously and work hard at. But I always feel like I’m going to be successful no matter what. I do believe in that. If Chris and I are really successful and have a show that people like and there’s a buzz about it and we’re doing well, that’s going to open the door. Other stations and PDs are going to look and say, that FOX Sports Radio, they had these two brothas on and it did really well. I think it opens up the idea.
I sit here right now and tell you the most disappointed I am in sports talk radio is in the city of Detroit, which you know Detroit is 85 percent black. They have no full-time black hosts on talk radio in Detroit, which is mind-boggling. Especially since in 1994, when they started The Fan in Detroit I was doing afternoon drive. The guy after me from 6 to 10, Ike Griffin, is black and he did the nighttime show. Our sports update anchor on the morning show was black. This is 1994. They start a station. Two of the hosts are black and the main update guy in the morning is black. Now here we are in 2019 and there are no black guys on the radio. I don’t know how they live with themselves as a city that’s mostly black. I find it to be disheartening and disappointing.
Noe: When your strong opinions fire up some of the moron listeners that respond with racist comments, does it bother you?
Rob: What bothers me is that do they really believe that I’m talking about Tom Brady because he’s white? I just find that to be comical because I rip on LeBron James. Is he white? LeBron is one of the greatest players who ever played. So it obviously has nothing to do with race. That’s the thing that I just can’t get over. Or my comparison — I’m saying Joe Montana is the greatest quarterback I ever saw. Joe Montana is white. How in the world can it be a race thing? I’m not saying Doug Williams is the greatest quarterback who ever played. If I said Doug Williams is the greatest quarterback who ever played, then you have a case.
Noe: You like to crack jokes and have fun. When you get crazy stuff like that thrown at you, does it ever impact your mood or approach to the show?
Rob: Nah, I brush it to the side. I’ve been in the business way too long. I’ve seen a lot. Along with the negative stuff, I get so much positive stuff. It rejuvenates me from the standpoint of — I get, “Man, you keep it 100 all the time. Man, I love what you do. Don’t let anybody change you. Don’t follow suit with all the other guys.” They know I’m willing to stand out there and be the lone wolf. People appreciate it.
When I hear that stuff, I know I’m on the right track. I’m touching people out there every day and they appreciate the work I’m doing. I always say I work for the fans. That’s who I work for.
Noe: What’s something you’ve learned about Chris that you didn’t know before you were doing the show with him?
Rob: That’s a good question because Chris and I have known each other for 25 years, but obviously not in this capacity, as writers in the night covering games and stuff like that. He’s smart, he’s well prepared, and he has a great sense of humor, which I did know he had. He can laugh at himself. But his preparation is impressive to me. You expect him to know the NBA, but football and even when we talk baseball, he’s prepared and he’s ready to go. I like that.
Noe: Do you think some of that preparation comes from wanting to prove people wrong? He covered the NBA for so many years, it’s similar to a basketball player breaking into the industry who’s looked at as, “Well, you’re just a basketball guy. What you know about football?” Do you think that drives Chris?
Rob: I do. I do. I think he knows that he has to shake a tag. The tag is not negative that you’re an expert in one sport, but to get people to listen to you about other things, it’s not easy. Like a Shannon Sharpe who had to convince people that he knew more. Okay we’ll give you the NFL. You played in it. You’re a Hall of Famer. But to be able to have me listen to you for 20 minutes on an NBA topic and know that you know what you’re talking about. That’s not easy to do.
Noe: What are the classes that you teach at USC and how has that been going for you?
Rob: It is the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had. I just cannot get over how much I enjoy it. How great the kids are. How into it they are. They get my juices flowing because I see they’re ambitious and want to achieve or want to do big things in journalism. I just love it. I taught Sports Commentary. This coming semester in September I’m teaching Introduction Into Sports Media. So it’ll be about radio, digital and print, and television. It’ll be awesome.
Noe: There’s so much to tell someone about being in sports radio. What are two of the top things that you think are the most important to tell someone that is new to the industry?
Rob: I would say A) Don’t guess. Be prepared. If you’re talking about a topic, you should be prepared on it. You shouldn’t ask questions or say well, I’m not sure. I don’t know. You should prep for it. But number one, you’ve got to have an opinion. You just have to. This whole we’ll wait and see and all that, that’s the worst radio you can do. Obviously we could do that, but as I tell people on the radio all the time, we have three hours to kill today. I can’t wait ‘till his career is over to evaluate him. You know? It doesn’t work like that.
Noe: How much have you learned from the kids based on what they’ll say to you, what they’ll ask, what they’re interested in? How much has helped you?
Rob: Oh, it has helped me a lot. The millennials and these young kids — where their head is. What it is that they like. What they want to hear. I do take some from them and try to incorporate it. I never want to get too bogged down on numbers and analytics and all that. It’s important to include some, but it’s not the end-all be-all. I think you kind of have to incorporate old school and new school.
The one thing that I found interesting when talking about stuff that I’ve done or whatever, they love the old stories. They love when I talk about being there, or being at Michael Jordan’s game when he hit that shot against Craig Ehlo, or being at the 1986 World Series when the ball goes through Bill Buckner’s legs. They love those old stories, which you wouldn’t think, but it kind of puts context to everything. It also tells them who they’re listening to. Their professor is somebody who’s been there and done that and been around.
I think that’s what gets them going. It’s like man, this guy covered that. This guy was at that. It’s one thing to have a professor — and I’m not knocking any teachers or anything — but it’s another thing to have a guy who you just watched in the morning before you came to school. You watched me on Undisputed on FS1. Then you came to school and I’m teaching you. I think that’s powerful.
Noe: At USC you get to reach some younger kids. You do your thing on The Odd Couple and reach a big audience. You also have your baseball podcast and reach another audience. Is that the coolest thing right now that you have a wide reach of different ages and backgrounds?
Rob: Absolutely. It’s incredible. Here’s the other thing; being in New York this week on vacation and just kind of bopping around, because I’ve been on TV for a long time, I expect people every once in awhile to say hey, it’s Rob. Or, Rob, what’s up? But what’s changed is when people say oh, I love the show.
I say oh, that’s cool. Undisputed? You know what they say? No, The Odd Couple. I listen all the time. It’s just a change. It used to only be the TV and now the radio has kicked in to where people always bring up the radio show.
Noe: As far as the [Inside the Parker] podcast, how much have you been enjoying that?
Rob: Absolutely love it. Oh my God. Love it so much that this is my vacation week and I refused to not do it. I did it on my vacation. That’s the only thing I did this week was my podcast. I cannot believe when I look at the downloads how many people are downloading it. It’s incredible.
Noe: I know you’re such a baseball fan, but you know the deal. You’re not going to be doing three hours of baseball on a national radio show. What’s it like for you to be really interested in a sport that’s lower in the pecking order?
Rob: I get it. I don’t always agree with it. I think in sports talk radio there’s a lot of lazy radio going on. That’s what I call it. We talked about the same four or five people and subjects in the NBA, the same four or five in the NFL. That’s what we do, which means we don’t have to watch as much stuff or care about everything going on. I think that’s the one thing I wish we wouldn’t do.
I get it. Play the hits. I’m not a fool. But there are some other stories and as long as you can make stuff compelling, that’s all you have to do. I don’t expect to break down a Twins game on a Tuesday night for three hours. Do you know what I mean? If something compelling happens in baseball, we should talk about it. It should be no doubt about it. Just talk about it.
Noe: When you’re listening to other hosts — just stylistically — what’s a style that makes you roll your eyes like, “Is this guy serious right now?”
Rob: That is the read the internet and regurgitate what you read from other people. Horrible. Like you offer nothing. You’re not giving people anything. You have to offer up something. Own a story. Make a phone call. Talk to somebody. Do a little more research. Be able to deliver something more than just, okay today LeBron couldn’t give his number to Anthony Davis. Oh, ain’t that a shame.
Whereas more might be taking a look at it and just making it like LeBron should have known better. Or he has a pattern of jumping the gun. Or my story that day was Nike nixed the deal because LeBron’s jerseys don’t sell like they used to. That’s a knock on LeBron that they wouldn’t do it. Why are there boxes and boxes of Laker LeBron jerseys laying around that they don’t want to take a hit on? That’s the way I would look at it. To me that’s the story. Nike wasn’t willing to eat the LeBron jerseys, and they don’t think that Anthony Davis is going to sell enough jerseys to offset that.
Noe: It just dawned on me and I don’t know why — when are you going to get those Jordans and when am I going to get my chicken wings from Chris [Broussard] after our winning bets?
Rob: You still haven’t gotten your — I’m gonna get on Chris when we get back together. I’ll get on Chris because you know I pay my bets off.
Noe: Yes. Every time.
Rob: I’m never getting those Jordans because Chris is a cheapskate.
Noe: (Laughs.) What was the bet for the Jordans?
Rob: I said that the Lakers wouldn’t make the playoffs last season. That’s a pretty big bet, right? His out clause was, well, if LeBron is hurt the bet’s off. I’m like that’s not how it goes. “Oh, but if LeBron’s out there’s no way you can” — I said no, that’s not how you make a bet. So you’re telling me if he pulls a hammy and he’s out for five days that’s going to negate the bet? That’s basically giving himself an out. I don’t believe in that. That’s a big bet for me to say that a LeBron James team isn’t making the playoffs.
Noe: Sure it is. He owes you some Jordans, man. When you look at your career, is there anything you would change if you were able to?
Rob: Yeah, I think I would. If I could have done it all over again, I would have covered a hockey team for a couple of years as a beat guy. I did everything else and I think that would have made me a little more well rounded. That’s the only thing I didn’t do. Even though I covered a lot of hockey. I covered hockey in New York. I covered hockey in Detroit. I obviously covered Stanley Cups, playoffs, all that.
Actually one of the funniest lines I ever wrote was about a hockey game. You’re too young but there was a goalie named Tim Cheveldae who was with the Red Wings. It’s the playoffs and Tim Cheveldae gave up a couple of soft goals in the game and they lost. I wrote that it was the worst performance by a man in a mask since Adam West played Batman on the old TV sitcom.
So here’s the bad part about it; you ready? The writer from Sports Illustrated — I can’t remember his name — loved the line so much that he used it in his article. He used that line, but didn’t give me credit. He wrote, “One Detroit columnist wrote,” and I just thought to myself, somebody with that kind of line that you’re going to use and [no credit] — so everybody in the business thought, at that time Mitch Albom was the big columnist in Detroit — everybody had to believe that Mitch wrote that. He didn’t give me credit.
Noe: That’s messed up, man.
Rob: Come on. A black guy writes a line like that about a hockey player? And don’t get credit?
Noe: Is there anything that you’d still like to accomplish that you haven’t been able to yet?
Rob: Yeah, I mean a TV show. A national TV show. I love being on Undisputed. I love being on The Herd. But I would love a shot at doing a show with Chris maybe on television.
Noe: Would you say that’s your main goal going forward?
Rob: Yeah, because once I made my debut on the baseball Whiparound show on FS1, that was a big step. That was a proud moment because I do believe, and I’m not 100 percent positive, but I do believe it’s the first time that a national black baseball analyst was not a former player. I don’t think they’ve ever had a guy, a black guy, who wasn’t a former Major League player talk about baseball.
Noe: Wow, that’s crazy. How do you view it when you hear that you’re the first? It’s 2019, man.
Rob: I know. I still shake my head at it sometimes because I can’t believe it. I think I told you when I first got hired at the Detroit Free Press as a sports columnist the year was 1993. When they hired me, I was the first black sports columnist in the paper’s history. Brian, the paper was 161 years old. In Detroit. Do you hear me? How about that? Not Iowa City. In Detroit.
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 Thr 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.