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The NFL Broadcaster Fantasy Draft

“Seven of us are putting together a fantasy broadcast booth. We all have to take a play-by-play man, an analyst, and a sideline reporter.”

Barrett Sports Media

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After a long spring and summer without football, the NFL makes its 2019 debut this week. The 2019 season begins Thursday with the Packers heading to Chicago to take on the Bears.

In the weeks leading up to the regular season, fans everywhere have been pouring over fantasy football draft guides and listening to radio segments and podcasts for advice on how to prioritize their draft in a PPR league or how much is too much to bid on Travis Kelce’s services.

Image result for fantasy football trophy

Here at Barrett Sports Media, we have a fantasy draft of our own. Seven of us are putting together a fantasy broadcast booth. We all have to take a play-by-play man, an analyst, and a sideline reporter.

Every broadcaster on the rosters of CBS, FOX, NBC, and ESPN was eligible. A random draw was done earlier to determine the draft order. Here’s how it turned out.

  1. Andy Masur
  2. Jason Barrett
  3. Demetri Ravanos
  4. Brian Noe
  5. Tyler McComas
  6. Matt Fishman
  7. Brandon Contes

Without further ado, here are the results of BSM’s first ever Fantasy Football Broadcasters Draft!

FIRST ROUND

1. Andy Masur – Tony Romo

TV is all about the analyst and the best in the business right now is Romo. Not too far removed from his playing days, he somehow sees the future. He adds so much to the broadcast from a viewer standpoint and really works well with his partner Jim Nantz. CBS better pony up or they will lose him one day! 

2. Jason Barrett – Al Michaels

It’s without hesitation that I’m using my 2nd overall selection to draft Al Michaels. When Al calls an NFL game it just feels bigger. His passion for the game, attention to detail, command of the mic, chemistry with analysts, vivid descriptions of developing game situations, and ability to seamlessly lead into or out of video pieces are what set him apart as a play by play announcer.

Whether you’re a hardcore football fan or a casual one, he makes the game easy to follow, plus he has a great feel for knowing how to use his voice to capture each moment. The bigger the situation, the better he is. When I watch a football game, I expect the broadcast team to entertain and inform me. When Al Michaels is calling the action, I have no doubt my expectations will be exceeded.

3. Demetri Ravanos – Joe Buck

Joe is sort of the voice of American sports at this point. He speaks with authority on any broadcast, but doesn’t take himself so seriously that he won’t make time to show up and make a fool of himself on Brockmeyer or The Dan Le Batard Show. Plus, in the event that someone pretends to moon the crowd or poop out a football, Joe is always willing to put on his best Helen Lovejoy and ask “WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!”

4. Brian Noe – Cris Collinsworth

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It’s impressive how much information Collinsworth provides during games without rushing to a fault. He doesn’t try to cram in six sentences when time only allows for three. He’s conversational. Besides providing outstanding analysis, Collinsworth has some punch too. He doesn’t kiss up to every player and coach in the league and isn’t shy about dishing out some fair criticism. Collinsworth has a great knowledge of the game and is a top-notch analyst.

5. Tyler McComas – Tracy Wolfson

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What?! A reporter in the first round? Is that like taking a tight end with your first pick in Fantasy Football? Look, when I see Wolfson, it’s like, okay, this is a big game. I think she’s the best at what she does and has been for a while. No, she’s not in the highest profile position on the broadcast, but that doesn’t mean she’s not elite. 

6. Matt Fishman – Charles Davis

Image result for charles davis

I have been following Charles Davis since his days as a college football analyst on TBS…amazing to think of that phrase, “College Football on TBS”. Charles is extremely knowledge, prepared, smart, and funny. He also has great chemistry with his partner Kevin Burkhardt on Fox’s best NFL broadcast team.

7. Brandon Contes – Ian Eagle

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No matter what two teams are playing, if Ian Eagle is in the booth, the broadcast is a must see and must listen.  Eagle would’ve been my first overall pick in the draft, not just because of his ability to call a game, but for his added entertainment value.  Eagle’s enthusiasm and unforced humor keeps the audience engaged even when the outcome is already decided.  “The Bird” is the perfect frontman for a sports broadcast.

SECOND ROUND

8. Brandon Contes – Booger McFarland

Engaging, opinionated, natural sense of humor – these are qualities I want from an analyst and Booger McFarland is all of the above.   Last season, Booger was put in a terrible spot by ESPN, being asked to offer analysis from afar while roaming the sideline in the Booger Mobile.  The broadcast was rightfully criticized, but this season he’ll shine in the booth, and from a fantasy draft perspective, would make a fantastic complimentary voice to Ian Eagle.

9. Matt Fishman – Kevin Burkhardt

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I think Kevin and Charles Davis are easily Fox’s best NFL play by play team. What I love about Burkhardt is how he paid his dues and worked his way up as a reporter for WFAN covering the Jets and covering the Mets for SNY.

10. Tyler McComas – Troy Aikman

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Troy Aikman at this spot? What an unbelievable value pick. I’ll take a big name that’s a great analyst who’s been on the call for many big games in his career. Aikman is both recognizable and respected, along with many years of experience in the booth. 

11. Brian Noe – Jim Nantz

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“Hello, friends.” Nantz came up with his signature phrase at the 2002 PGA Championship. The cryptic message was actually a hidden greeting for his father who was battling Alzheimer’s. Nantz joined CBS Sports way back in 1985. His experience in the business is extensive to say the least. He remains incredibly sharp, smooth, and excitable as an NFL play-by-play host. Nantz also makes games feel bigger thanks to his history of calling some of the biggest events in sports.

12. Demetri Ravanos – Michelle Tafoya

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There’s no bigger name left on the board at this point than Michelle Tafoya. She has the respect of every coach and player in the league. As good as her NBC partners are, it is Michelle’s sideline interviews that put the NFL’s marquee broadcast team over the top as absolutely unimpeachable.

13. Jason Barrett – Mark Schlereth

‘Stink’ has been exposed to a national football audience for well over a decade on ESPN and FOX Sports. That makes him immediately familiar to the viewer. Secondly, his passion, insight, attention to detail and comfort with delivering candid opinions make him a natural to blend in well with Al Michaels. His football and broadcasting resume would also likely meet Al’s approval. 

Additionally, anyone who’s been around Mark knows that he can talk football x’s and o’s with the best of them but he can also go off script and offer entertaining commentaries to hook the casual sports fan. Mark wouldn’t be phased by the bright lights of calling marquee events and thru his various experiences in television he’s shown he can adapt to working with anyone while delivering high quality content.

14. Andy Masur – Kevin Harlan

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To me he’s one of, if not the most versatile broadcasters today. He’s excellent on television and equally as excellent on a radio call. Great on football and just as good on basketball. Enthusiasm is never lacking when it comes to his broadcasts. He’s excellent at sneaking a little humor into a broadcast and creating catch phrases from seemingly out of nowhere. 

THIRD ROUND

15. Andy Masur – Laura Okmin

Image result for laura Okmin

There is just something about Laura’s reporting on the sideline that makes her the choice here. She’s very smooth and seemingly does a lot of homework to be as knowledgable about the teams as possible. I’m also a fan of her very solid and friendly delivery that makes the stories she reports on and tells sort of come to life. 

16. Jason Barrett – Melanie Collins

Image result for melanie collins

Most people would probably take Erin Andrews here given her big game experience, audience familiarity, and quality work on the sidelines, but I’m going to roll the dice and bet on Melanie Collins. When I was programming in the Bay Area I became aware of Melanie’s work and was very impressed with her versatility. She presents herself with great energy, a love for her job, and her questions to guests are short, focused, and on the most important issues surrounding a game. CBS saw the same qualities in her which is why she’s now working with Greg Gumbel and Trent Green.

If I’m going to count on Al Michaels and Mark Schlereth to deliver a spectacular broadcast inside the booth, they’ve got to have a strong person on the sidelines adding information they can’t. When it’s time to make that call, I’m dialing up Melanie Collins.

17. Demetri Ravanos – Rondé Barber

Okay, admittedly I grew up a Buccaneers fan, so this is a bit of a homer pick. As I look at who is left on the board though, I think he is the kind of partner that could bring out the very best of Joe Buck in the broadcast booth. He is the opposite of Troy Aikman’s serious nature. I think seeing Rondé having fun and genuinely enjoying the game in front of him would let Buck’s lighter side come out and shine.

18. Brian Noe – Erin Andrews

I like the feel of having an All-Star crew — Nantz is synonymous with CBS, Collinsworth began his first stint with NBC in 1990, and Erin Andrews has been with FOX Sports since 2012. Andrews is one of the most recognizable sideline reporters in sports history. Her notoriety extends beyond the sideline thanks to her work on Good Morning America, Dancing with the Stars, and as a co-host on the CMT Music Awards. She brings a big presence to NFL games and helps complete this power lineup quite nicely.

19. Tyler McComas – Joe Tessitore

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I really like Tess. Unfortunately for him, I think his broadcast is starting to get a negative rap because of the chaos surrounding the Monday Night Football analyst roll. But don’t let that fool you, there’s a reason he’s calling Monday Night Football. Highly talented. 

20. Matt Fishman – Lindsey Czarniak

Image result for czarniak sideline

Lindsey is an experienced sports reporter and anchor. I thought that’s she has been at her best as a pit reporter covering NASCAR. Those same skills will serve her well roaming the NFL sidelines for Fox.

21. Brandon Contes – Pam Oliver

Image result for pam oliver

Ending up with Pam Oliver this late in the draft, speaks to the quality of sideline reporters in the NFL.  A pioneer in the industry for women and African Americans, Oliver has been an exemplary sportscaster for decades.  As one of the first sideline reporters I can remember watching, with John Madden and Pat Summerall, Oliver is synonymous with the NFL and will enhance any broadcast.

So just to recap here are our teams.

Andy Masur: Kevin Harlan, Tony Romo, Laura Okmin

Jason Barrett: Al Michaels, Mark Schlereth, Michelle Collins

Demetri Ravanos: Joe Buck, Rondé Barber, Michelle Tafoya

Brian Noe: Jim Nantz, Cris Collinsworth, Erin Andrews

Tyler McComas: Joe Tessitore, Troy Aikman, Tracy Wolfson

Matt Fishman: Kevin Harlan, Charles Davis, Lindsey Czarniak

Brandon Contes: Ian Eagle, Booger McFarland, Pam Oliver

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Ryan Clark is Ready for ‘The Pivot’ to Grow with Channing Crowder, Fred Taylor and Fanatics

“We want to be a place where you can just be yourself and you can love yourself and truly tell your story and show people who you are.”

Derek Futterman

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Ryan Clark
Courtesy: The Pivot

Answering a call from Emmy Award-winning producer Alicia Zubikowsi, Ryan Clark learned of a potential new media venture in a niche space. Zubikowski had produced the I Am Athlete podcast for nearly two years, which rapidly proliferated in size, scope and prominence. A financial dispute among the colleagues, however, led to the departures of Channing Crowder and Fred Taylor from the roster, along with Zubikowski, and they branched out on their own to actualize a new vision. After speaking with Zubikowski, Clark met with Crowder virtually and evinced compatibility that compelled him to become involved in the project.

Less than two years later, The Pivot Podcast has quickly amassed notoriety and prestige within sports media. The athlete-driven podcast contains weekly conversations with contemporaries and luminaries alike, to talk sports, music and entertainment. Clark, Crowder and Taylor possess an evident rapport and retains the audience while encouraging prospective listeners to hear the genuine endeavor.

“We felt like there was some synergy there, we thought we could do some good things and we decided to give it a try,” Clark said. “I had already been doing my own podcast that I was funding myself, editing myself and cutting promos myself just because I understood what the space was and I knew that that’s where a lot of media was going, and at the time I didn’t have a partnership or anyone kind of showing me the way, but I was like, ‘These people have already been successful.’”

Since its launch in the winter of 2022, The Pivot Podcast has amassed over 158 million views and 870,000 subscribers on YouTube alone. The show has welcomed guests across a variety of professions, some of whom have included Caleb Williams, Snoop Dogg, Gayle King and Travis Kelce. During its time in circulation, it has made an indelible impact on the landscape and recently agreed to a multi-year partnership with Fanatics.

Through the deal, The Pivot Podcast will feature Fanatics’ verticals surrounding commerce, betting, collectibles and events, and the Fanatics Sportsbook garnering the title of the “official sportsbook” of the show. Additionally, the program will be part of company events such as Fanatics Fest NYC and its annual Super Bowl party.

“Luckily for us, it’s been such a blessing,” Clark said. “Some of the stories we’ve been able to tell, the people we’ve been able to work with and have as guests on the show, and then obviously now having an opportunity to partner with Fanatics and be a part of Michael Rubin’s team and sort of head their media division, especially when you’re speaking of Alicia and what she’ll be able to do, it just makes so much sense.”

Fanatics itself had inked some deals in the sports media space over the last year, including agreements with Bleacher Report and Overtime, but they were largely under the aegis of merchandising and/or live events. The company also hired Ed Hartman as its chief strategy officer in media, trying to discover content that fits various key business sectors. For The Pivot, retaining creative control and autonomy over the content was essential and being involved in other ventures added more value to the proposition.

“To be a part of those things and bringing those things to the world, but also an opportunity to showcase the athletes and entertainers that are part of the Fanatics family – and I think that’s a different and a bigger opportunity than any podcast has ever had with any partnership, and that is why it was important for us to find the right partnership,” Clark said. “And if I’m being honest, our producer has turned down multiple deals saying that she believed that this was the one before this was ever even a thing that Michael Rubin was talking about.”

Reaching this point required hard work, consistency and confidence that The Pivot would ultimately resonate with audiences and establish a rapport in the space. Luckily for Clark, he had a viable fallback plan in that he was working at ESPN as an NFL analyst, a role he had positioned himself to attain while he was still an active player.

During his career, he had worked on 93.7 The Fan hosting a radio show from a hibachi restaurant in Pittsburgh and also appeared on local television. Clark played 13 years in the NFL as a safety and won a Super Bowl championship as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2008 season.

Although Clark had been told as a player that he had a chance to thrive in sports media, his formative years in the business broadened his understanding of the landscape and how to achieve success. Upon retiring from the NFL, he signed a multi-year agreement with ESPN to appear on NFL Live, SportsCenter, ESPN Radio shows and additional network programming.

Over the last several years, he has been a consistent part of NFL Live. Clark explained that the show contains underdogs who have crafted chemistry that has coalesced into an on-air product and meaningful friendships. Laura Rutledge, Dan Orlovsky, Marcus Spears, Mina Kimes and Adam Schefter work with Clark and blend their football knowledge and expertise with entertainment.

“I could see how much work they all put into their craft, and I respected that, and then once you get that respect and you start to work together, now you get to know the people,” Clark said. “You get to know about their kids, you get to know about their home life, you get to know about what makes them tick and what makes them themselves, and then we care about each other.”

As members of the show watch NFL games every week, they remain in constant communication through a group chat. Additionally, Clark ensures that he is actively listening to what his colleagues say on the air so he can disseminate informed, substantive opinions that play a part in the overall product.

“The smartest of analysts understand what they have to be on each show based on who they’re working with,” Clark said. “I think you just also have to be versatile enough to do that. You have to know when you’re on NFL Live, that show is so heavy X and O; that show is so heavy, ‘Let’s educate – let’s talk about the things that are important in ball, even if they aren’t the most popular things.’”

Starting last season, Clark was added to Monday Night Countdown as a studio analyst as part of a revamped iteration of the program hosted by Scott Van Pelt. Joining Clark as analysts on the show were his NFL Live colleague Marcus Spears and incumbent analyst Robert Griffin III. While there were some memorable moments both in studio and on site throughout the year though, Clark felt that the show struggled to capture an essence on the air.

“I think the show is just hard because it’s sort of like rolled over the entire infrastructure and changed the people, and it happened so late that I don’t think we ever got an opportunity to find our voices on that show, and we tried to work through that throughout the season,” Clark said. “….I think last year was a learning experience where if I’m being really honest, we did bad TV sometimes, which was new for me because I felt like I haven’t done bad TV in a very long time, and it was embarrassing for me because I put so much time into it.”

Former Philadelphia Eagles center and Super Bowl champion Jason Kelce is joining the show and was formally introduced this week. During a charity golf outing this offseason, Clark had a chance to meet Kelce and learn more about him as a person while also answering questions about ESPN and the sports media business.

“I told him to be himself because being himself is what got him here,” Clark said. “He’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer in my opinion, so he has so much knowledge, experience and wisdom that people will crave, and he can give it to them uniquely with his personality, with his honesty [and] with the openness and vulnerability about who he is. Other than that, he’s going to have to learn.”

Akin to Clark hosting The Pivot and working at ESPN, Kelce hosts the New Heights podcast with his brother, and will now be joining Monday Night Countdown on ESPN. Clark anticipates that Kelce will be a huge addition, referring to him as the “hottest free agent ever,” and hopes to grant him longform chances to express himself on the air. Being on the show for a second season, however, nearly was not a reality for Clark amid an expiring contract at ESPN.

“I was gone,” Clark said. “I wasn’t considering – I was done. Normally they extend your contract until it gets done most times. I was out – my contract had ended.”

Clark took part in discussions with other people in the business, some of which included having his own show and organizations starting networks around him. Throughout the process, he was cognizant about the relationships and memories he had built at ESPN and was appreciative for various personalities speaking up for him, including Mike Greenberg and Stephen A. Smith. In the end, Clark signed a multi-year extension with the network that implemented a raise and additional responsibility while also continuing his other projects.

“Obviously my family is the NFL Live crew,” Clark said. “Scott Van Pelt and I probably share one of the most memorable nights in television when Damar Hamlin went down. And so those relationships were things that I didn’t want to leave unless there was a good enough reason to leave, and I don’t think that’s just money.”

Clark started hosting Inside the NFL last season on The CW, a storied sports franchise that presents highlights, analysis and interviews every week during the NFL season. After spending approximately four decades on HBO and subsequent years on Showtime and Paramount+, the program moved to broadcast television for the first time. Clark conceptualizes his role as a point guard who is able to score when necessary and successfully facilitate his colleagues Jay Cutler, Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, Chris Long and The Pivot co-host Channing Crowder.

“I think that was the hardest adjustment with Inside the NFL initially was like, ‘Okay, how do I set these guys up for success while still doing something I’m really good at, which is analyzing football?,’” Clark said, “and it’s taken some time to really sort of find a space for it, but I think I did find that on Inside the NFL.”

In working on The Pivot, Clark built relationships organically through conversations surrounding strategy, content creation and lifestyle. One episode in particular that stands out to him is when the show interviewed former NBA forward Michael Beasley where he opened up about his mental health struggles and hardships he has endured throughout his life. Furthermore, he talked about struggling to find the right people and explained that everyone stole from him except his kids. Clark, Crowder and Taylor sympathized with Beasley and offered him assistance, underscoring the unscripted, genuine nature of the show.

“Everybody wants The Rock to be able to come on their show and talk about his battles with depression, but we also want Kevin Hart to be able to come on the show and invite him to nudist camp too,” Clark said. “We want to be a place where you can just be yourself and you can love yourself and truly tell your story and show people who you are. And I don’t necessarily know if it’s distinctive in effort or goal; I think it’s been distinctive in execution, which, in the end, is what we deliver to people.”

Through the new partnership with Fanatics, Clark looks forward to continuing to take part in candid conversations and storytelling on The Pivot while continuing to thrive in his work with ESPN and The CW. As someone who attained a successful NFL career after signing as an undrafted free agent, he maintains a mentality built on an indefatigable work ethic and resolute dedication towards his professional endeavors. Once the show signed the partnership with Fanatics, it had an opportunity to interview Tom Brady, who discussed topics including his experience being the subject of a Netflix roast and the lessons he learned playing in the NFL.

“Not everybody understands Tom Brady, right?,” Clark said. “Who knows that story? Who has ever lived that, ‘I’m the greatest to ever do something’? But everybody has understood what it’s like to struggle; what it’s like to doubt yourself, right? And so we bring them that story, and in bringing them that story, we talk about the things that Fanatics is doing and the ways that they are now moving in the sports world.”

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Christopher ‘Mad Dog’ Russo Making the Most of His Resurgence with the Help of ESPN

Far from a close-minded fuddy-duddy. He is an open-minded observer of sports, one of the greatest of all time.

John Molori

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Screengrab of First Take on ESPN with Chris Russo
Screengrab from ESPN/First Take

The true essence of Christopher ‘Mad Dog’ Russo, Version 2024 can be found in the open to the May 15 edition of First Take on ESPN.

In the aftermath of the Knicks defeating the Pacers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, superstar showstopper Stephen A. Smith opened the program with an emotionally joyous soliloquy lauding his favorite New York basketball team. Smith was jubilant, ebullient, and thrilled.

The segment ended with Smith walking over to panelists Russo and Kendrick Perkins and hugging them in glee. After the show’s open, the Knick rapture continued, that is, until “Mad Dog” was let out of the kennel.

Russo brought things back down to earth, predicting that Indiana would win Game 6 of the series. He then went through a mental historical timeline of the Knicks choking in playoff games at home. This level of historic context is largely lost on modern sports fans, many of whom believe that nothing existed before LeBron James or Tom Brady.

Russo’s beautiful dose of reality ticked off the jovial Smith but set the discourse on a more levelheaded road. Russo is a talking history book, and let’s face it, not everybody likes history class. The difference, however, is that Christopher Russo lived this history, and indeed, made history himself. A 2022 National Radio Hall of Fame inductee, he has uniquely entertained sports fans for more than four decades, becoming one of the most memorable and imitated personalities ever.

He created Mad Dog Sports Radio on SiriusXM in 2008 and headlines the channel with his popular Mad Dog Unleashed show. In addition, he hosts the daily High Heat program on MLB Network. Still, it is one of Russo’s earliest and most recent gigs that set him apart.

Beginning in 1989 and for the next 19 years, Russo and Mike Francesa hosted the landmark Mike and the Mad Dog afternoon driveshow on WFAN radio in New York. It was a ratings mammoth and ensconced Russo as a stone-cold sports media legend.

I am going to make the case that Russo’s latest incarnation as a First Take Wednesday regular is just as significant. It has exposed a whole new audience to the Russo experience. On a more basic level, it is just really special to see a classic radio guy like Russo welcomed into the most progressive and popular sports talk show on the air right now.

Kudos to Stephen A. Smith for making Russo a regular on his program. You can tell that Smith, author of an historically significant media career himself, truly respects those who came before him and blazed the trail. In fact, to a certain extent, Smith is a media offspring of Russo. They both possess riveting personalities, unquestioned bravery, and on-air dominance. Like or dislike, agree or disagree, these are two men who must be listened to and respected.

With Max Kellerman’s 2021 exit from First Take, I was doubtful as to what would happen to the program. My worst thought was that Smith would bring in a bevy of co-hosts who would bow to his greatness – like Jerry Jones’ Cowboys’ coaching hires since Jimmy Johnson. Thankfully, Smith went in the other direction. Russo has the same cache as Smith, so there is no hero worship. He says what he feels and talks straight – real talk in a colorful and exciting manner.

As the Knicks discussion continued, Smith wanted to tap into Russo’s New York sports sensibilities and emotion asking Russo if he felt Madison Square Garden shaking during the Knicks’ Game 5 win. It didn’t work. Russo responded that at 65 years-old, he has been in the Garden for many big games and then cautioned Smith to take it easy with the Knicks.

He again harkened back to New York’s less than sparkling history in big games and menacingly joked that it is his job to “spoil Stephen A’s fun.” Russo then spectacularly took the air out of the building with an ominous What If asking what the Knicks would do if it came down to a Game 7 and the game was tied with the clock winding down.

Russo is also self-deprecating. When host Molly Qerim asked him for a prediction on the Nuggets-Timberwolves series, Russo said that he predicted that the Bills would blow out the Giants in Super Bowl XXV – the famed Scott Norwood missed field goal game. Qerim, who does an excellent job in controlling Hurricane Christopher, acknowledged the obscure reference.

While Russo has a database of past stats and stars, he is not lost in history. In fact, on this edition of First Take, he made a bold statement that the Nuggets’ Nikola Jokić has the greatest offensive skill set of any center in the history of the NBA. These are not the words of a stodgy curmudgeon whose mind cannot be changed.

Russo is an astute observer of our games. He sees greatness and gives that greatness credit. Far from a close-minded fuddy-duddy. He is an open-minded observer of sports, one of the greatest of all time. His opinions are not to be chided. They are to be listened to and appreciated.

During First Take’s Quick Takes segment, Russo ably put his encyclopedic knowledge to use. The question posed was whether the Celtics or Lakers are the greatest franchise in NBA history. Russo’s analysis was spot on and long overdue. First, he discounted the Minneapolis Lakers’ five titles as part of the pro-Lakers argument. He also cited the Celtics’ overall dominance when the two franchises have met in the NBA Finals over the decades.

Lastly, he remarked that the Celtics have had four eras of greatness: Russell in the 1960s, Havlicek-Cowens in the 1970s, Bird in the 1980s, and Pierce-Garnett in the late 2000s, while the Lakers have only two: Magic-Abdul-Jabbar in the ‘80s and Shaq-Kobe in the 2000s. It was the best analysis of a longtime debate.

In a debate about Bronny James and his NBA hopes, Russo again was the voice of reason giving a very realistic analysis of why he is not a top pro prospect. It is clear that Russo has nothing to prove, nobody to impress, and no apple to polish. He made his bones years ago, and his takes are refreshing and objective.

The cherry on top of Russo’s First Take sundae was his What Are You Mad About? segment. Viewers tuning into this part of the program are no doubt wondering who the hell, and at times, what the hell they are watching. Russo pushes the limits of his angst, heart rate, blood pressure, and decibel level picking apart several news items from the week in sports. At times, he closes his blurbs screaming to the heavens, “May God strike me down!”

In this particular segment, he went off on late NBA playoff start times, the intrigue surrounding the 2024 NFL schedule release, and his distaste towards the vulgar humor in the Tom Brady roast. Russo gets up close to the camera and goes off in a boisterous way. It is simultaneously fantastic and frightening.

In his last piece on the roast, Russo looked into the camera and yelled to Brady, “How stupid can you be!” This is the same question I will pose to anyone who dismisses Russo as an out of touch old guy. This cat is no curmudgeon. He is a killer. Elderly? No, epic. Bygone? How about straight up bad ass. That is Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo, Version 2024.

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How to Renegotiate Your Annual Sports Radio Advertising Contract

Reducing expenses within an annual radio agreement takes a strategic negotiation and budget management approach.

Jeff Caves

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Graphic that shows two people negotiating
Graphic Courtesy: Soject.com

If you are a small to medium-sized business, there is no doubt you are facing rising costs, and making ends meet is a top priority. Sometimes, that means cutting expenses on things you have committed to via contract, like a 2024 annual radio advertising agreement with level monthly payments. You are on the air each month and appreciate the value of advertising consistently. You understand the necessity to maintain a market presence within the budget you laid out last year. You negotiated a win-win contract and are happy with it. However, with your costs spiraling to deliver your services, cost-cutting measures have become critical for financial viability in the long term and better cash flow in the short term. You are now tasked with the need to reduce expenses wherever you can, and your sports radio advertising is next on the list. The station doesn’t want to lessen your committed budget. It’s time for strategic negotiation and decision-making. Here are some effective strategies to accomplish this objective while keeping your annual budget intact:

Pricing and Rates

Initiate negotiations on pricing and rates for ad spots with the radio station. They know where they have more demand than supply and could even make more money by freeing up some of your commercials to be sold to other clients, sometimes at higher rates. This is typically during the weekday drive time periods; you probably got an annual rate for your commitment. If the station is willing, you could move into off-peak nighttime buys or weekends. Off-peak hours typically come at a lower cost and can still reach a substantial audience, enabling you to stretch your budget further. Give the station 30 days to see if they can accomplish this, and if not, go to plan ‘B.’

Longer Commitments

Consider committing to a longer-term contract, like a multi-year agreement, to potentially lower your monthly cash commitment. Maybe you could move off $2,000 per month from July to December and move it to the first six months of 2025. Emphasize your dedication to maintaining a consistent advertising presence over time, which can incentivize the radio station to continue the partnership.

Frequency and Unit Length

If the station allows you to reduce the monthly budget, focus on maximizing frequency by strategically choosing the length of ad units. Instead of running only thirty and sixty-second ads, opt for :15 slots to increase frequency without exceeding your budget. Shorter units are more cost-effective per spot and can deliver well-known messages repeatedly.

Budget Reallocation and Trade

Explore avenues for reallocating funds within your annual budget to optimize expenses. For instance, negotiate a reduction in the monthly budget and allocate the saved funds to months where your cash flow is strongest. Having a payment schedule that matches your cash flow will give you the best chance to meet expenses. Furthermore, explore opportunities for service or trade to offset your monthly bill, leveraging resources you have already paid for that may match up well with what the station needs.

Reducing expenses within an annual radio agreement takes a strategic negotiation and budget management approach. Concentrating on pricing, rates, contract length, frequency, and budget reallocation can keep your station relationship intact, honor your contract, and increase cash flow.

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